Smith: The ghosts she found in the old book

See what an El Molino grad discovered hidden in the pages of 750-year-old handmade book containing some of the first references to the legendary King Arthur and Merlin.|

Indiana Jones might envy the internationally hailed discoveries that an El Molino High and SRJC alumna is making between the covers of a book hand-made in about 1250 and containing some of the first references to the legendary King Arthur and Merlin.

Myriah Williams, 28, grew up in Guerneville and now pursues a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. She researches The Black Book of Carmarthen, described as the earliest surviving manuscript written solely in Welsh.

Perceiving that notations had been erased, Williams and her supervising prof, Paul Russell of Cambridge’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, placed the animal-skin pages beneath a black light.

Suddenly peering back at them were the eyes of two men who’d been drawn at the bottom of a page. Williams told an interviewer that she and Russell “were both like: ‘Are you seeing what I’m seeing?’”

The UV rays also revealed words written in the margins, perhaps as the book was handed about over 750 years, and then erased by the scratching of a blade or stone

Williams now analyzes her long-invisible discovery.

“I think it’s a really important example of why it’s worthwhile to look at these manuscripts closely and again,” she said. “Because you never know what you might come across.”


HENRY TRIONE DID so much for so many that a scroll bearing all the community causes he graced with fresh ideas, connections, advice, dollars and encouragement would extend from Santa Rosa to his beloved Humboldt County.

One notable beneficiary of his monetary and intangible largesse was the Luther Burbank Rose Parade & Festival, the 121st running of which steps off in downtown Santa Rosa the morning of May 16.

The equestrian, businessman and civic titan was faithful to the parade, a rolling exhibition of the youth, vitality and diversity of Sonoma County, until his death in February at 94. A simple tribute to him will lead off this year’s procession.

Leading it will be a riderless horse adorned with a wreath of roses. Accompanying the steed will be several leaders of the Sonoma County Trail Blazers, whose long rides into the countryside won’t ever again be quite as much fun.


THOSE AREN’T SHRIEKS you may hear near the junction of Sparkes Road and Baker Lane, south of Sebastopol.

Eddie Heller allows that what sometimes emits from his family’s home sounds like “The Exorcist meets Mary Poppins.”

But in fact it is the therapeutic vocalizing of his son, Ryan, who’s 16 and lives with autism.

A Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy appeared at the Hellers’ door the other day, investigating a report of alarming howls. Eddie Heller explained to the officer that his boy regulates himself through echolalia, repetitious and rhythmic vocalizations that can sound joyous or torturous or anything in between and, admittedly, can be quite loud.

Happy for the occasion to spread some knowledge about autism, Heller requests that anyone driving past his home not call 911 if his sociable and much loved teenager happens to be sounding off.

Ryan’s dad also requests this of passersby: “Please slow down on Baker Avenue. For the love of God, someone is gonna be hit or get in an accident.”

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and On Twitter @CJSPD

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