Friday, April 29, 2011

Cuts threat at Cosmeston

Medieval peasants and popular family events at a South Wales beauty spot could be among the latest victims of public sector spending cuts.

Events and jobs at Cosmeston Medieval Village are under threat as part of cost-cutting plans which the Vale of Glamorgan council says will save more than £60,000.

The proposed cuts at the heritage project, which is next to Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, are part of a council-wide programme of savings.

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Ancient Roman ship found in Italy

A ship that sailed the Mediterranean in the days of the Roman empire has emerged from the ground at the ancient port of Rome, scientists said Thursday.

Archaeologists so far have uncovered a 35-foot section of one side of the ship, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. The ship was discovered during a rescue dig at the site of a new road.

Ostia was located at what was then the mouth of the Tiber River. The Emperor Claudius built facilities there that turned the town into a major port.

Click here to read this article from UPI

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Medieval history brought to life as crowds flock to extravaganza

Thousands of people flocked to Tamworth at the weekend for the St George's Day Extravaganza Jousting, archery, a medieval encampment and even a sword swallower brought entertainment to the crowds throughout the town.

Living history events filled the castle grounds and there were shows for shoppers all day Saturday. Organised by Tamworth Borough Council the annual event has been described as a "huge success" as the sun shone and as people lined the streets and filled the Castle Grounds to enjoy a feast of fun.

Click here to read this article from the Tamsworth Herald

Thursday, April 28, 2011

British Museum to host “Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relic and Devotion in Medieval Europe”

The British Museum’s major summer exhibition explores the spiritual and artistic significance of Christian relics and reliquaries in medieval Europe. Featuring some of the finest sacred treasures of the medieval age, Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe will give visitors the opportunity to see objects from more than forty institutions, many of which have not been seen in the UK before, brought together for the first time.

The exhibition, which runs between June 23rd and October 9th, will largely draw on the pre-eminent collections of the British Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, and the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Rare loans from the Vatican, including from the private chapel of the popes, the Sancta Sanctorum, as well as from lesser-known European church treasuries will also be on display. A variety of objects such as manuscripts, prints and pilgrim badges will be exhibited alongside the relics and reliquaries themselves, adding depth and context to the exhibition’s examination of this critical aspect of European history.

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Guy Gavriel Kay to do online Q&A on May 3rd

The bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay will be taking questions online at a special web Q and A on Tuesday, May 3rd. The event will promote the release of Under Heaven in paperback.

The one-hour event will have Guy using a new online conversation technology from PollStream called OneRoom. Kay tells “the Pollstream/OneRoom model offers a number of new wrinkles, including the chance for people dropping in to chat with each other while reading (and even voting on) the questions that come to the guest, and seeing his or her replies. I like this, more of a real ‘gathering’ feel. There will also be polls and videos and images popping up, as they showcase what they can do with events like this. I have no idea what numbers to expect. I compare it to a real world bookstore event – I have read for 20 people, and for hundreds, and it is rarely obvious whey one happens or the other.”

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When Berwick was ‘Barwick’

A detailed map of Berwick from the 17th century has been made available online to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first atlas of Britain.

The town plan, which is an inset in part of a map of the whole of Northumerland names Berwick as ‘Barwick’.

It was produced by John Speed, who was born in Farmdom, Cheshire in 1551.

Sixty years later his ‘Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine’ was published, the first time that comprehensive county maps were available in print.

Click here to read this article from the Berwick Advertiser

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tameside castle was built to keep 'Scots from Cheshire'

Archaeologists working on a ruined Tameside castle have concluded it was built to prevent parts of England coming under Scottish rule.

Buckton Castle in Stalybridge by the Earl of Chester was built in the 1100s. It was occupied for less than 100 years during a time when the King of Scotland lay claim to Lancashire and Cumberland.

The University of Salford's Brian Grimsditch said, due to the unrest, "local rulers like the Earl had to protect their lands."

The university's Centre for Applied Archaeology conducted a three-year dig at the castle and have now concluded it was started to offer protection from Scottish expansion, though a change in political circumstances meant it was never finished.

Click here to read the full article from the BBC

Monday, April 25, 2011

Professor Hopes to Shed New Light on Medieval Theological Education

Franklin T. Harkins, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology and medieval studies, is working to shed new light on the nature of theological education in the High Middle Ages.

As part of a yearlong Mellon Fellowship at the Pontifical Institute of Medi­aeval Studies (PIMS) in Toronto, Harkins has been researching how theology was taught and learned at the universities and in the religious houses of medieval western Europe.

His work at PIMS involves editing and studying a Latin text, virtually unknown to modern scholars, that enjoyed wide circulation and use throughout western Europe from the 13th through the 15th centuries. This text appears in some of the manuscripts under the title Filia Magistri, or “The Daughter of the Master.”

Click here to read this article from Fordham University

The Borgias renewed for second season

Showtime has renewed The Borgias – the story of intrigue and murder set in 15th century Italy – for a second season. David Nevins, President of Entertainment at Showtime Networks, announced that ten more one-hour episodes will be filmed this summer and will air in 2012.

“The Borgias has become Sunday night appointment viewing for a broad swath of our subscribers,” said Nevins. ”Neil Jordan’s cleverly crafted tale of a 15th century papal family has proven quickly addictive. It’s a tribute to his incredible skills as an auteur and to the extraordinary cast led by Jeremy Irons that this show fits so seamlessly into our line-up of quality shows.”

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William, Agnes, among the most common names in medieval England

A study of personal names recorded in a major English medieval record source has revealed that ‘William’ was by far the most common name among the men listed in it. Meanwhile, ‘Alice’ and ‘Matilda’ are almost tied for most common female name.

Beth Hartland, one of the Research Fellows on the AHRC-funded Henry III Fine Rolls Project at King’s College London, has compiled lists – available on the project blog – of the personal names, both male and female, which occur in the Fine Rolls between the dates 1216-1242.

Using the individuals recorded in the Fine Rolls as the sample, these lists reveal something both of the diversity of personal names in use in England in the early thirteenth-century, and the frequency of those names.

Click here to read this article from

Nostalgic Poles rebuild medieval castles

Fanciful turrets flank the thick fortress walls. A cannon sits in the courtyard. Inside the castle in the eastern Polish town of Tykocin, there are brand-new electric ovens, modern radiators and sleek bathroom fixtures. A handful of Polish developers are completely rebuilding medieval castles to house museums, hotels or conference centers that they hope will recapture the enchantment of a time when Poland was a great European power,before centuries of occupation, warfare and foreign rule.

"Why should the Germans have their castles on the Rhine, the French their castles on the Loire, why should the Czechs have so many castles open to the visitors and why should the Poles have only ruins?" said Dariusz Lasecki, a businessman and one of two brothers rebuilding a medieval castle in Bobolice, a town near Czestochowa.

Click here to read this article from the Washington Examiner

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Mass Returns to Old Bulgarian Capital after 618 Years

An Easter Mass in the old Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo is going to be served at the Tsarevets fortress for the first time in 618 years.

The mass will be held Saturday evening into Sunday outside the walls of the fortress, but within the patriarchy complex since the church in the medieval fortress is not canonized.

Click here to read this article from the Sofia News Agency

Mapping the origins of a masterpiece

Published 400 years ago, the first comprehensive atlas of Great Britain is being celebrated by Cambridge University Library, home to one of only five surviving proof sets, all of which differ in their composition.

John Speed’s Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine is one of the world’s great cartographic treasures. Published in 1611/12, it marked the first time that comprehensive plans of English and Welsh counties and towns were made available in print.

To celebrate its 400th anniversary, Cambridge University Library has digitised each of the proof maps and put them online at The Library is also selling copies of the 60 plus images that make up Speed’s masterpiece.

Click here to read this article from the University of Cambridge

Debunking a myth: In medieval Christianity, dissection was often practiced

Studying dead women’s cut-up bodies was not what Katharine Park originally set out to do. “I was writing a social history of medicine in Florence, a topic I chose basically just because I got to go” to that fabled Italian city, she joked.

But while working in those ancient halls amid so much beauty, Park said, “I kept finding stories about women’s bodies being cut up. I remember I came across one entry in a diary, where the husband says his wife died, and he requested her to be autopsied. I was like, huh? Autopsy?”

Most scholars assume that autopsy and dissection were taboo in medieval Europe; if they were conducted, they were illicit and done only on the bodies of criminals by intrepid scientists and doctors, flying in the face of clerical authority in the name of pursuing knowledge.

But Park, the Samuel Zemurray Jr. and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science, discovered quite another story in the Florentine libraries. “This was a very wealthy, patrician woman. The story didn’t compute. And I kept finding little tiny bits and pieces about female bodies being opened over the years. By the late ’90s, I had a critical mass of the stuff, and it all felt so counterintuitive. It was time to see what it was all about.”

Click here to read this article from the Harvard Gazette

Friday, April 22, 2011

Please be seated - reproduction of an Anglo-Saxon stone chair at Bamburgh Castle for Time Team

A north Northumberland landmark will appear on national television this weekend and a large throne is one of the stars of the show. Channel 4’s Time Team, which airs at 5.30pm on Sunday, joined the Bamburgh Research Project at Bamburgh Castle to produce a reproduction of an Anglo-Saxon stone chair.

The reconstruction is based on a carved stone fragment that was found in the grounds in the 19th century, which is on display in the castle. This fragment is thought to date from around 800 AD. Jo Kirton, studying for a PhD based on Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture, researched likely decoration and composed a design for the chair.

Click here to read this article from the Northumberland Gazette

Anglo-Saxon hall unearthed at Bamburgh Castle

An archaeological research team in Northumberland has unearthed a medieval hall underneath Bamburgh Castle. Bamburgh Castle Research Project dug up a small trench under the inner courtyard at the core of the castle and discovered an Anglo-Saxon hall.

The team believes that the discovery probably dates back to medieval times. The dig was carried out after the researchers invited Channel 4's Time Team to the castle to help them with their latest archaeological project.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

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Medieval treasure back in place ahead of St John's Kirk's reopening

The Virgin Mary chandelier, which it is believed first hung in St John's Kirk in the 1400s, was hoisted into position in the north aisle adjacent to the shrine on Wednesday.

The precious piece has been loaned by Perth Museum so it can been seen by visitors to the kirk in its natural setting.

Last year the chandelier was displayed in the museum for the Skin And Bone exhibition — which formed part of Perth's 800th Anniversary celebrations — while work was carried out on the £2.75 million Vision For The Future kirk project.

Click here to read this article from the Courier

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scribbled by a community of nuns – Medieval Coptic graffiti adorns walls of 3,200 year-old Egyptian temple

Who says nuns don’t have any fun? A new research project led by Professor Jennifer Westerfeld, of the University of Louisville, is taking a look at a unique set of graffiti scribbled onto the walls of a 3,200 year old Egyptian temple.

The temple was built at Abydos by Seti I, a powerful pharaoh who pushed the borders of the Egyptian empire as far as modern day Syria. It contains two courtyards, two hypostyle halls, chapels and an enigmatic structure known as the “Osireion,” which may commemorate the Egyptian story of creation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Insight into the History of Glastonbury Abbey revealed in a new display of Artefacts

A diverse collection of objects dating from prehistory to modern times, has this week gone on display at Glastonbury Abbey in time for Easter.

The objects have all been chosen by Abbey Trustee, Dr Tim Hopkinson-Ball, and were selected because of the interesting stories they tell about the Abbey, both before and after its dissolution in 1539. Tim said of them: ‘A surprising amount can be learnt from just a few surviving objects. Some of them tell us about life at the monastery, while others help us understand how the Abbey’s history and legends have been interpreted over the years.’

Click here to read this article from the Glastonbury People

The Medieval West: The Formation and Reception of a Cultural Community

The culture of the West Country in the Middle Ages and its role in shaping the identity of Medieval England is the focus of a new research project at the University of Bristol. The project aims to bring together researchers from across the region to initiate a re-examination of the Medieval West encompassing its legends, literature and learning, architecture, church communities, and role as a frontier between the English polity and Wales, Ireland and the wider world.

The West Country – the region extending westward from Salisbury Plain to the Severn Basin, the Wye Valley and the coastlines of Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall – played a critical role in the making of medieval England. Within these landscapes were formed the legends of Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea which became the corner-stones of national identity.

Click here to read this article from

Milan museum to test whether sketch is lost Leonardo da Vinci work

Peter Hohenstatt was skeptical at first, especially when he learned the drawing dated to about 1500.

The sketch was "absolutely Leonardesque," the University of Parma art historian thought, but it was probably the product of one of the master's students, imitators or admirers. When a technical exam showed the drawing originated closer to 1473, his skepticism waned.

The reason? Leonardo da Vinci was an apprentice until the late 1470s. He didn't have any students, imitators or admirers of his own yet. "I can't be sure it's a Leonardo drawing, not scientifically or any other way," said Hohenstatt, "but I'm highly convinced that we have here one of the first drawings. I'm quite convinced it's one of his first portrait sketches."

Click here to read this article from CNN

Game of Thrones premiere draws 4.2 million viewers; Second season added

After drawing 4.2 million viewers and critical praise for its premiere episode, HBO has announced it has renewed Game of Thrones for a second season.

Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming, said “We are delighted by the way David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have brought George R.R. Martin’s amazing book series to the screen, and thrilled by the support of the media and our viewers. This is the continuation of an exciting creative partnership.”

Click here to read this article from

Battle of the cable TV medieval series

With two new medieval-set TV series premiering this month -- Starz's "Camelot" and HBO's "Game of Thrones" -- we're besieged by knights in shining armor, hearty feasts and bloody battles.

"Camelot" (10 p.m. Fridays) is inspired by the legend of chivalrous King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table; "Game of Thrones" (9 p.m. Sundays) is based on the popular fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin. In the spirit of the lawless days of yore, we throw down the gauntlet and pit these series against each other. It's a duel!

Click here to read this article from Delaware Online

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

History is uncovered in work on Finsbury baths facelift

Experts have discovered tiles and pottery which are hundreds of years old while examining the grade-two listed facility in Ironmonger Row, Finsbury.

Peter Moore, project manager from Pre-Construct Ltd which is carrying out the work for Islington Council, said: “The biggest surprise has been the fact the archaeology has survived under the basement of the bath house which is amazing.

“The high value of the materials was also surprising. We were expecting run of the mill stuff but these items are very rare.”

Click here to read this article from the Islington Gazette

Large find of medieval artefacts in Lincolnshire

More than 45,000 medieval artefacts have been unearthed in Lincolnshire. Excavations at the Crown Estate in Sempringham, between Sleaford and Bourne, involved 10 archaeologists and took almost seven weeks to complete.

They unearthed thousands of artefacts including a tap, belt buckle, animal bell and chalice cover. The items are currently being held and studied at the Lincolnshire Archives. Although not on public display they can be viewed on request.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Sunday, April 17, 2011

For sale: entire medieval Italian village for £485,000

But for anyone tired of Britain's crippling property prices and inclement weather, £485,000 will buy the historic village of Valle Piola, which is surrounded by wild and mountainous terrain in the heart of one of the country's biggest national parks.

Italy is littered with abandoned hill villages but Valle Piola is a particular gem, consisting of 11 crumbling stone buildings, including a half-ruined 13th century church and two shepherds' houses. It lies in the middle of the Gran Sasso national park in the central Abruzzo region, an area that has been severely depopulated by a decline in sheep farming.

The settlement was first mentioned in records in 1059 and some of the houses have distinctively-shaped wooden balconies believed to have been influenced by Lombard invaders from Italy's north.

Click here to read this article from the Telegraph

Rich Old Hungarian grave could have belonged to prince

Rich grave finds from the Conquest Era of the Magyars or Hungarians have been uncovered by archaeologists in Pest Country, including ninth Century horse furniture and a belt, with a particularly rich sabretache, or pouch.

The “Gravediggers’ Journal” blog (in Hungarian, with good photos) says the initial dig took place April 5 to 8 after agricultural work overturned one of the graves. The “rescue dig”, followed when citizens called in the archaeologists of the Pest County Museums Management. Analysis of the finds and publication in archaeological journals will follow in due course.

Click here to read this article from the Digital Journal

Friday, April 15, 2011

Archaeologists find ancient 'freezer' at flood defences dig

An old freezer is being investigated after being found dumped in the middle of Craigmillar.
But the case is unlikely to trouble the city's fly-tipping patrols, as the discovery dates back hundreds of years.

The 18th century ice house is just one of a series of new discoveries made by archaeologists at the Niddrie Marischal estate over the past few weeks ahead of flood prevention work in the area.

Pottery has also been recovered from medieval ditches - dating back to the 15th century or possibly even earlier - and evidence of a 17th century farm has been uncovered.

Click here to read this article from the Edinburgh Evening News

A Fantasy World of Strange Feuding Kingdoms

With the amount of money apparently spent on “Game of Thrones,” the fantasy epic set in a quasi-medieval somewhereland beginning Sunday on HBO, a show like “Mad Men” might have the financing to continue into the second term of a Malia Obama presidency. “Game of Thrones” is a cast-of-at-least-many-hundreds production, with sweeping “Braveheart” shots of warrior hordes. Keeping track of the principals alone feels as though it requires the focused memory of someone who can play bridge at a Warren Buffett level of adeptness. In a sense the series, which will span 10 episodes, ought to come with a warning like, “If you can’t count cards, please return to reruns of ‘Sex and the City.’”

Shot largely on location in the fields and hills of Northern Ireland and Malta, “Game of Thrones” is green and ripe and good-looking. Here the term green carries double meaning as both visual descriptive and allegory. Embedded in the narrative is a vague global-warming horror story. Rival dynasties vie for control over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros — a territory where summers are measured in years, not months, and where winters can extend for decades.

Click here to read this article from the New York Times

Rare medieval ring unearthed in Leicestershire is sold for £42,000

A rare medieval gold and diamond ring unearthed by a metal detector enthusiast in Leicestershire has sold at auction for £42,000.

John Stevens, who found the ring on land near Fleckney, was celebrating after learning it had sold for more than twice the estimated price yesterday.

The 15th century ring was described as an "extraordinary" find by experts at auctioneer Bonhams, in London.

Click here to read this article from the Leicester Mercury

Thursday, April 14, 2011

$20 Million of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts donated to the University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries have received a major collection of 280 Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, valued at over $20 million, from long-time benefactors and Library Board members Lawrence J. Schoenberg and Barbara Brizdle Schoenberg. To promote the use of this and other manuscript collections at Penn, the Libraries will create the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies.

“Through their extraordinary philanthropy and vision, Larry and Barbara have helped build the foundation for a strong medieval studies program at Penn,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “This new gift of an unparalleled collection of Medieval and Renaissance artifacts builds on that foundation. For generations to come, the collection and Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies will have a profound impact on the study of human knowledge and creative invention.”

Click here to read this article from

32nd Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum at Plymouth State University

More than 100 scholars from around the world will present their latest research on many aspects of medieval and Renaissance culture at the 32nd annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum, April 15-16 at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

The Forum opens at 9 a.m. Friday with a procession from Rounds Hall to the Hartman Union Building (HUB). A traditional opening ceremony follows in the HUB Fireplace Lounge.

The theme of this year’s event is “Love, Friendship, Marriage,” exploring how secular and religious love, affection and devotion were perceived and expressed in a variety of contexts.

Click here to read this article from

Medieval congress free to local residents who register early

Kalamazoo County residents and members of the Western Michigan University community may attend the 46th International Congress on Medieval Studies for free if they register online or in person by the Wednesday, April 27, deadline for early registration.

WMU's congress is the world's largest annual gathering of people interested in the Middle Ages. This year's event will take place Thursday through Sunday, May 12-15, primarily at venues on the WMU campus in Kalamazoo. It is hosted by the University's Medieval Institute.

Congress organizers expect some 3,000 people to register for the 2011 congress, and those interested in attending for free are encouraged to register by the early registration deadline.

Click here to read this article from WMU News

Click here to see our section on the International Congress on Medieval Studies

Fairfield University launches Kells to Clonmacnoise exhibition

In Connecticut, Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art opens a new exhibition of replicas of historic Irish artifacts on Monday, April 18th entitled Kells to Clonmacnoise: Medieval Irish Art in Context. The exhibition will be open to the public, with a free reception at the museum from 5-7pm on opening evening.

The display, located on the lower level of Bellarmine Hall, will continue until Tuesday, May 24th. In tandem, a month-long program of events at the museum will include talks and films which are also free to the public, with a family day taking place on Saturday, May 14th from 12-5pm.

Click here to read this article from the Irish Emigrant

Midlands Viking Symposium to explore the legacy of the Vikings in Ireland

This year’s Midlands Viking Symposium will be taking place outside the United Kingdom for the first time in its history as scholars focus on the role of the Norse in Ireland.

The symposium (April 29th – May 1st) will be held in Dublin, with the opening address and reception taking place at the National Museum of Ireland.

Click here to read this article from

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dig unearths more than 45,000 medieval artefacts in just seven weeks

More than 45,000 medieval marvels unearthed in Lincolnshire have excited archeological experts.

The finds were brought into the light at a single site in Sempringham, south of Sleaford, during a dig that took ten archeologists seven weeks to finish.

Sempringham was once the focus of religious pilgrimages and aerial photographs of the area reveal a 12th-century abbey, comparable to Westminster Abbey in size.

Many of the artefacts are being housed at The Collection's archive in Lincoln and officers hope some of the finer finds will be on display for the public.

Click here to read this article from the Lincolnshire Echo

Face of Viking Woman Reconstructed

Researchers at the University of Dundee have helped recreate the face of a Viking woman who lived in medieval York. The reconstruction is now being displaced at the JORVIK Viking Centre.

York Archaeological Trust, owner of JORVIK, has used the most advanced scientific and archaeological research techniques to bring York’s Vikings to life and allow the public to come face to face with the most accurate picture of Vikings at two new exhibitions at the Centre, which were launched this week.

The Trust has enlisted the skills of academics at the University of Dundee to produce a facial reconstruction of a female skeleton – one of four excavated at Coppergate in York over 30 years ago.

Click here to read this article from

Click here to see our section on Medieval Vikings

Jordan creates online archaeology treasure trove

Jordan on Tuesday launched the world's largest online antiquities database, which details every archaeological site in the country and aims to help preserve its treasures. Its creators said the Web platform could be a model for Iraq, where looters have plundered its ancient heritage.

Experts said the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities is the first such countrywide system. The site uses Geographic Information System, similar to Google Earth, to map 11,000 registered sites in the country -- and a click on each reveals inventories of what they contain and reports on their conditions.

The public can use the material for planning visits. Scholars and inspectors approved by Jordan's Antiquities can update the information in a user-friendly way for other professionals to follow and for authorities to keep track of threats to the sites.

Click here to read this article from the Boston Globe

13th Century 'Facebook'

Professor Dauvit Broun, the Glasgow expert in medieval Scottish history was the principal investigator of the Paradox of Medieval Scotland project, or PoMS for short, which took three years to complete and also involved researchers from Edinburgh and King's College London.

The project, to develop the most comprehensive database ever compiled of any European kingdom's inhabitants in the central middle ages, has been published online and is open to anyone with an interest in Scottish history to study the people of a medieval kingdom in unprecedented detail.

The multi-faceted database contains information on everyone mentioned in more than 6000 documents from Scotland between 1093 and 1286. It shows not only who they were, but gives an insight into how they related to each other as individuals, as different parts of society, and as Gaels and non-Gaels.

Click here to read this article from the University of Glasgow

See also our our article Medieval Scotland database launched

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Research uncovers connections between charcoal and the church in medieval Norway

Norway’s more than 1,000 year-old-city and historical capital, Trondheim, was a beehive of activity in medieval times. Recent archeological research in the city’s popular public forest, “Bymarka”, has uncovered more than 500 charcoal pits, tell-tale signs of substantial medieval metal working activity.

For centuries, Trondheim – or Nidaros as it was then called – was home to the Archdiocese of Norway, and also for the Faeroe Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Man, Iceland and Greenland. Nidaros Cathedral, the city’s gothic cathedral, held reliquaries from St. Olaf and thus attracted thousands of pilgrims.

And the cathedral was not the only church in town. While just two of the many churches erected in the town center in medieval times still stand, 25 stone churches were built during the Middle Ages in the countryside around Trondheim.

Click here to read this article from

Immigration issues take forefront at the Medieval Academy of America meeting

The subjects of immigration, migration and borders will be the focus of the Medieval Academy of America when it begins it annual meeting in Arizona this week. The academy and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) decided to make these topics a priority as a response to the controversy of having the conference take place in the state.

The annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America is taking place from April 14th to 16th in the city of Scottsdale, and is one of the most important gatherings of medievalists in North America. Over 140 papers are being given.

Click here to read this article from

Monday, April 11, 2011

Your Highness Reviews

Controversial plans to revamp historic Merseyside church set to be approved

Controversial plans to carry out a major revamp at Liverpool’s only surviving medieval church are due to get the go-ahead.

The proposals for All Saints Church, a grade I-listed building in Childwall, would see the creation of an extension and glass-covered walkway over a former burial site.

The plans have attracted controversy both because of the age of the building – with the oldest part dating back to the 14th century – and the fact that they could involve the exhumation of bodies.

Click here to read this article from the Liverpool Daily Post

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recreation of Sutton Hoo king's burial chamber

The burial chamber believed to be Anglo Saxon King Raedwald's, found in a wooden ship at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, is being reconstructured for visitors.

The chamber, unearthed just before the World War II, revealed his body and a wealth of treasures buried nearly 1,400 years ago.

Click here to see the video report from the BBC

Medieval 'Thrones' Unites Thrusts of HBO's Strategy

With its new "Game of Thrones," HBO is digging into the Middle Ages. But the premium pay-TV channel is counting on the fantasy series, which is set against a medieval backdrop, to move it into the future.

"Thrones," the story of a handful of feuding families vying for power over a fictional kingdom, doesn't premiere until Sunday, but it has already become HBO's best-selling property abroad, according to people close to the network.

It also will be the first series in which the network makes available some episodes—before they are televised—through HBO Go, its new streaming-video service. HBO Go offers subscribers free access to HBO's library of movies and original series like "Sex and the City."

Click here to read this article from the Wall Street Journal

Friday, April 08, 2011

Complex operation to put cross on Wiltshire cathedral

A new stone cross was lowered into its permanent position in one of Britain's finest medieval cathedrals yesterday.

The cross, which was carved from a single block of stone and took 220 hours to complete, was placed in Salisbury Cathedral at the apex of the north east gable.

It was only the third cross to be carved during the cathedral's major repair programme. The others were fixed on to the cathedral in the 1990s.

Click here to read this article from The Gazette and Herald

Bones of Leper Warrior Found in Medieval Cemetery

The bones of a soldier with leprosy who may have died in battle have been found in a medieval Italian cemetery, along with skeletons of men who survived blows to the head with battle-axes and maces.

Studying ancient leprosy, which is caused by a bacterial infection, may help scientists figure out how the infectious disease evolved.

The find also reveals the warlike ways of the semi-nomadic people who lived in the area between the sixth and eighth centuries, said study researcher Mauro Rubini, an anthropologist at Foggia University in Italy. The war wounds, which showed evidence of surgical intervention, provide a peek into the medical capabilities of medieval inhabitants of Italy.

Click here to read this article from LiveScience

Medieval-style organ unveiled at St Fagans museum

A working reconstruction of a medieval church organ is being unveiled at the National History Museum at St Fagans, Cardiff.

No originals have survived intact after the 16th Century Reformation and the organ has taken nine months to complete.

It recreates a unique sound not heard for hundreds of years.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Thursday, April 07, 2011

St Bride's Bay grave remains recorded by archaeologists

Archaeologists are excavating early medieval remains from a cemetery before they are washed away by the sea.

It is known the site at St Bride's Bay in Pembrokeshire contains graves that date back to the 9th and 10th Centuries.

The graves are close to the edge of low cliffs, and Dyfed Archaeological Trust is keen to analyse their contents before they disappear.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Click here to see St Bride's 2011 Dig Diary

In search of Genghis Khan's tomb

Albert Lin is hunting for Genghis Khan.

Legend has it that Khan, the ruthless conqueror who was the first emperor of the Mongol Empire, was buried in an unmarked tomb in northern Mongolia about 800 years ago.

But finding that tomb is a task that has eluded scientists for years. Mongolia encompasses more than 600,000 square miles of largely uncharted, rural territory, which makes Lin's mission extremely challenging.

Luckily, the explorer and research scientist at the University of California at San Diego has more than 7,000 people around the world helping with his mission, called the Valley of the Khans Project. The idea is to find the tombs of Genghis Khan and his descendants, and other ancient Mongolian artifacts.

Click here to read this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bedlam mass grave uncovered in London

Archaeologists in central London have uncovered a 16th century mass grave containing the remains of patients from the former St Bethlehem's mental hospital, known as Bedlam.

The archaeologists were preparing the way for construction of a new underground rail link.

It is thought thousands of skeletons might have to be removed to enable the building of a new ticket hall.

Click here to read this article from ABC News

Click here to watch a video report from the BBC

Videos released on the Staffordshire Hoard conservation program

The Conservation Team at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have started video blogging about their conservation work on the Staffordshire Hoard. Three videos have so far been released on the museum’s Youtube page.

The first one introduces the three person team carrying out the conservation work: Deborah Cane, the project manager, Cymbeline Storey and Deborah Magnoler.

Click here to read this article from

Remains of Crusader / Templar army discovered in Israel

Archaeologists and historians working in northern Israel have discovered the remains of a Templar and Crusader army who were slaughtered by Saladin in one of the major battles of the Crusades. The results of the excavations are now being broadcast on the program “Last Stand of the Templars”, which is being shown this week on the National Geographic Channel.

The Battle of Jacob’s Ford, which was an intense siege of an important Crusader castle, took place in the late summer of 1179, ended with over 800 Templars and Crusaders being killed, and hundreds more being taken prisoner. It is considered one of the most important victories by the Muslim commander Saladin, allowing him to retake Jerusalem from the Crusaders eight years later.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Shetland’s Viking Age to be explored in research project

A new research project is being set up to further explore the Viking age in Shetland, including the origins of the Norse settlers and when, and where, they first established their communities.

The Centre for Nordic Studies, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, has been awarded £17,000 from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) to establish the Hjaltland (old Norse for Shetland) Research Network. This will bring together international scholars of place-names, archaeology, folklore and genetics to plan a research project entitled Mapping Viking Age Shetland. Results will be published online.

Click here to read this article from

New Publisher: Punctum Books offers outlet for non-conventional medievalists

A pair of medieval scholars have teamed to create a new publishing company that promises to offer interesting new insights into the Middle Ages.

punctum books is an open-access and print-on-demand publisher created by Eileen A. Joy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Nicola Masciandaro of Brooklyn College, CUNY. They explain that they will “specialize in neo-traditional and non-conventional scholarly work that productively twists and/or ignores academic norms, with an emphasis on books that fall length-wise between the article and the monograph—id est, novellas, in one sense or another. This is a space for the imp-orphans of your thought and pen, an ale-serving church for little vagabonds.”

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An Asbo in 14th Century Britain

Today we are urged to report fly-tipping and other nuisances - just as our forebears did 700 years ago. Their complaints survive in a rare medieval document, the Assize of Nuisance, which sheds new light on an age-old problem.

Alice Wade, who lived in 14th Century London, could not countenance the smell of her own poo. In an era when many of her fellow citizens relieved themselves in chamber pots and surreptitiously tipped the stinking contents out the window, she had a toilet in its own small room. But 700 years ago, a toilet was a hole cut in a wooden platform over a cesspool. The smells that emanated were most foul.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Game of Thrones begins April 17th

Debuting April 17th on HBO in North America, Game of Thrones is based on the bestselling fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin. Game of Thrones follows kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

New Mappa Mundi Exhibition at Hereford Cathedral

After three years of planning a new Mappa Mundi exhibition will open at Hereford Cathedral on Monday 4 April. Working in co-operation with cathedral staff a team from Haley Sharpe Design of Leicester has spent the last three weeks removing the old exhibition and installing the new one.

Paying tribute to members of the cathedral staff for their hard work Canon Chris Pullin, the cathedral’s chancellor, said ‘They are a great team. They’ve thrown themselves into this heart and soul. We’ve been very lucky to be working with world-class designers Haley Sharpe, who brought years of experience and flair to the project.’

Click here to read this article from

Learn Latin at Ohio Dominican University this summer

Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio is set to offer a summer program in Latin this summer. Under the direction of Dr. Matthew Ponesse, Associate Professor of History, the program is aimed at students pursuing graduate studies in the fields of medieval history, literature, philosophy, or theology.

The summer program begins on June 13th, with two courses offered concurrently: Beginner/Review course and Intermediate Medieval Latin. The latter will involve students reading Medieval Latin texts typically selected from the Vulgate Bible, sermons, hymns, chronicles, hagiographical texts, scholastic treatises and poetry.

Click here to read this article from

Your surname tells how rich you are

A new research has suggested that surnames, which indicated nobility and wealth in medieval times, are still richer even today.

"Moneyed" surnames, such as Darcy, Percy, Baskerville and Mandeville continue to have more cash than those with "poor" names, such as Smith, Mason and Cooper, reports the Daily Mail.

The research, which used university admissions, probate records and official information going as far back as the Domesday Book, tracked what happened to those whose surnames suggest their forebears were either aristocratic or "artisans'' from the working class.

Click here to read this article from the Times of India

Click here to see the research article, Regression to Mediocrity? Surnames and Social Mobility in England, 1200-2009, and other news articles, from

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Jeremy Irons on finding the good side of bad guys

Jeremy Irons looked up from the latest tiny cigarette he’d rolled and raised an eyebrow. It’s amazing how much meaning some people can convey with one bit of facial hair. We’d been talking about the licentiousness of Rodrigo Borgia, the character Irons plays in the new nine-part series The Borgias, who schemed his way into the Vatican as Pope Alexander VI in 1492. Rodrigo caroused, slept around, left his by-blows all over Spain and Italy. It really was a different time, wasn’t it? Right?

“He did have a mistress,” said Irons in that famous, just-rolled-out-of-the-wrong-bed voice – the voice of Scar, the bad lion, and Claus von Bulow, the bad husband, and now Borgia, the bad pope. “But I have a Cardinal friend at the moment who's had a mistress for 12 years. He's a Cardinal today, and a great man!”

Click here to read this article from the Globe and Mail

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Going medieval: Three series take viewers back to time of power struggles, steamy love stories

Cable TV seems to be going Middle Ages crazy.

Three sumptuous new series from premium channels Starz, HBO and Showtime transport us to medieval worlds of raging power struggles, bloody battles and lavish trappings. Prepare to be treated to more castles, sword fights, noblemen, bodice-heaving maids and master manipulators than you've ever seen at one time on television.

One show comes from legend: Camelot. Another is derived from fictional fantasy: Game of Thrones (from the best-selling novels by George R.R. Martin). The third — The Borgias — is rooted in history and explores one of most infamous families of 15th-century (technically Renaissance) Italy, the clan that reportedly inspired Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather.

Click here to read this article from the Houston Chronicle

Hug a Medievalist

Today is International Hug a Medievalist Day. Do I really want to hug a medievalist?, you wonder. Yes! you do. Medievalists are the best kind of historian, in my opinion (which is why I majored in medieval history in college): they are always very interested in the body, the bawdy, and the beautiful, by which I mean they have a profound interest in the nitty-gritty of Western culture—in its material composition and the spiritual and intellectual urges that give rise to it. Perhaps because they delight in details and see worlds within them, medievalists are uniformly possessed of an excellent if slightly juvenile sense of humor, which becomes more pronounced when they drink and their inherent social awkwardness wears off.

Click here to read this article from the New Yorker