The Story of the Three Little Pigs
How the story of the three little pigs relates to the development of Britain
I was watching a show tonight that sparked something in me that I didn’t expect. I’m a huge fan of ancient history, especially Ancient Britons. One of my favorite documentary series is a show called Mystic Britain. I love that they try to go back as far in time as possible. So how does any of this relate to the story of the three little pigs? Allow me to explain my “epiphany”.
We all know the story of the three little pigs. They try to avoid the big bad wolf by building houses to keep them safe. There’s a house of straw, a house of sticks, and a house of bricks. The last is the only one that isn’t susceptible to the wolf’s terror. Now, up to the point of watching a particular episode of Mystic Britain, I would have never put these 2 concepts together. But hear me out.
The episode I watched was called Ice Age Shaman and it discussed an area known as Star Carr. This site has produced finds that go back some 11,000 years. One of the things found at Star Carr is signs of holding one of the oldest “houses” in all of Britain. Archaeologists deduced from stains and potholes found in the ground that the “house” was most likely a small, round hut. The show’s host and 2 archaeo-architects created what they thought the house would look like, using only materials that would have been available to humans that far back in time. They created a small house made of straw.
They estimate the time of the house, and the archaeology around it, to be around 11,000 years old. That would put it around the end of the last ice age, meaning that the world was colder than it is now. There would have been plenty of vegetation, but still very cold. Though they think this area was occupied for some 800 years, straw huts would still have been at the mercy of heavy winds and devastating fires.
Fast forward several thousand years to a time when the Romans are leaving the Isle of Britain and the Anglo-Saxons begin their invasion. Along with them, they bring the architecture of longhouses and the motte-and-baileys. Large buildings and enclosures made primarily of wood, a.k.a., big sticks. Though they were large and well-made, they still had their flaws.
Being extremely flammable goes without saying. This gave rise to the motte-and-bailey design. The longhouse or main building would have stood at the center of a complex of other buildings. This would have included workshops, stables, and houses. The entire site would have set inside a wooden enclosure surrounded by an earthen ditch. It was meant to keep those within the walls, safe. However, in the event of a disaster within the walls, it may have been hard to get back out.
Shortly after that, the Normans invaded and brought with them, great castles made of stone. They were massive, impressive, and nearly impenetrable. They proved to be much safer than any straw or wooden building and could help protect all those living within its perimeters. They were safe from the elements of wind and rain. And though they weren’t impervious to fire, chances of surviving a fire-or even putting the fire out-were greatly enhanced.
There were many other civilizations who had already built in stone, including the Romans throughout the British Isles. I just found it ironic how the story of the three little pigs related to British history. I’m sure there are many other parallels between old stories and world history. I hope I’m lucky enough to be the one to come up with those ideas. After all, isn’t that were a lot of modern theories began?