Talbot Tower, Kilkenny
Talbot’s Tower, the south-west angle of the city’s Hightown fortifications. The excavation uncovered rare evidence for the earliest Anglo-Norman defences on the site. These comprised a deep ditch which was overlooked by an enormous earthen bank which would have been topped by a stout oak palisade. Sealed beneath the bank was an ancient agricultural soil from which barley grains were obtained. These were radiocarbon dated to the ninth century AD and provide the oldest definite evidence for agricultural activity from the Kilkenny area. The earthen defences were replaced in the mid-13th century by the stone tower and walls, which survived relatively intact until the 20th century. Conservation work is ongoing at Talbot’s tower and it is envisaged a public park will be built around the tower in the near future.
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The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.