Friday, December 31, 2010

Medieval crucifix may end up in Dorset museum

A medieval crucifix that was discovered by a treasure hunter may find a permanent home in Dorset.

At an inquest at County Hall in Dorchester, West Dorset coroner Michael Johnston said the artefact was found by John Sharp in a ploughed field at farmland near Winterborne Kingston in January this year.

Mr Johnston said that Mr Sharp, from Parkstone, found the silver and gold crucifix six inches below the ground using a metal detector.

Click here to read this article from the Dorset Echo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Ten Medieval Stories of 2010

For medievalists, 2010 marked a year of new discoveries and research, and a controversy over where to hold a conference. has chosen its top ten medieval stories of the year:

1. Digital Projects allow vast access to medieval resources

2. The demise of palaeography at King’s College London

3. Medieval Europe not just the home of Europeans

Click here to read this article from 

India: Inscribed stone belongs to late medieval period

Archaeological experts have confirmed that the ancient stone, with inscriptions on it, which was recently discovered by the Western Railway, belong to the late medieval period.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials said the stone dated back to the period between 13th and 15th centuries. The stone was found buried near Nalasopara railway station in the mid-20th century. It was later brought to Mahalaxmi railway scrap yard, where it has been lying for around 40 years.

Click here to read this article from The Times of India

Fire damages centuries old abbey

A medieval abbey that's home to a community of Belgian monks has been badly damaged by fire.

The abbey in Rochefort, in southern Belgium, is famous for the strong beer brewed there by the Trappist monks.

Click here to see the video report from BBC News

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

God’s Librarians: The Vatican Library enters the twenty-first century

One day early in the sixteen-twenties, an archivist working in the library of the Holy See stumbled upon a text of Procopius’s “Historia Arcana” (“The Secret History”), which painted a devastating new portrait of the Emperor Justinian and his inner circle as venal, corrupt, immoral, and un-Christian. The discovery set off a bitter debate about just who Justinian was, and raised questions about the way history is written. The tale of its discovery also exemplifies some of the paradoxical problems that have long haunted the institution in which it was found: the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, the Vatican Apostolic Library—or, as its present-day users call it, the Vat. One problem is obvious: the Vat’s collection, which has been accreting since the mid-fourteen-hundreds, is so vast that even the people who run it haven’t always known what they’re sitting on top of. Another is that although the library was founded as, essentially, a public information resource, the Vatican itself has had a historically vexed relationship to knowledge, power, secrecy, and authority.

Click here to read this article from the New Yorker

Medieval Ireland Archaeology: The secret lives of our ancestors revealed

chance find during the building of a by-pass in County Donegal led to the discovery of an ancient church and graveyard. As BBC NI's Dublin correspondent Shane Harrison now reports, an analysis of human remains has given us some extraordinary insights into the lives of our ancestors in early medieval times.

Motorists in south County Donegal are glad of the new Ballyshannon by-pass and its bridge over the mouth of the River Erne. So, too are archaeologists and historians.

Click here to read this article from BBC News

£400,000 repairs to begin on damaged stained-glass windows at Lincoln Cathedral

Work to begin repairing and restoring a set of medieval stained glass windows at Lincoln Cathedral will begin next summer.

The cathedral's works department is planning a £400,000 restoration of all four lancets underneath the Bishop's Eye Window, in the South Transept.

As reported in the Echo, a 13th-century medallion depicting Moses in a Biblical scene in one of the panels, was smashed into pieces two years ago as a would-be thief fled.

A modern copy was installed after the incident and the original will eventually be put back in.

Click here to read this article from the Lincolnshire Echo

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Medieval World' strong graphically, weak contextually

Book Review: "The Medieval World: An Illustrated Atlas," by John M. Thompson.

This book is beautifully and lavishly illustrated with period art, architecture, documents, maps, artifacts and sculpture, as well as photographs of specific locations.

Special articles highlight themes of medieval thought, significant people and events and important cities of each century. Additional page spreads show what was happening in the world beyond Europe during each century between the years 400 and 1500. The graphical layout and colors are gorgeous.

This book then is a feast for the eyes. If only it were a pleasure to read.

Click here to read this review from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Medieval Scotland database launched

A database identifying over 15000 people in medieval Scotland has been officially launched. Paradox of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286 draws on over 6000 charters to construct a unique data-base that provides biographical information about all known people in Scotland during that period.

Historians and researchers will be able to search or browse through 15,221 persons, which is just a small percentage of the estimated half-million residents of Scotland during the central Middle Ages. The database 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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ethiopian Christ icon found 500 years on

An 15th century Ethiopian icon of the infant Christ child sitting on his mother's knee was discovered after it was cleaned by a British charity.

The central panel of the triptych had over the centuries become blackened with the sprinkling of perfume that the monks use as they worship. The hugely important and stunning painted wood panel is now visible in its original coloured glory, showing a pale-faced Jesus with black curly hair and rosy cheeks.

His hand has three digits raised and two down as if blessing the person looking at him. He has a halo and is wearing a gown and is perched on his mother's knee and she too has a halo.

Click here to read this article from The Telegraph

See also Garima Gospels found to be oldest surviving Christian illustrated manuscripts

More religion and less sentiment at Christmas in medieval Wales

Our assumptions about the celebration of Christmas are shattered when we turn back the clock to medieval Wales, argues Dr Madeleine Gray, reader in history at the University of Wales, Newport

You would expect a traditional medieval Welsh Christmas to be all about Jesus’ birth. Whatever our feelings about religion, we do think we have a picture of the first Christmas – the stable, the baby in the manger, the shepherds coming down from the cold hills. But strangely enough, there were very few pictures of this scene in medieval Wales.

Click here to read this article from the Western Mail

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Did the Scots visit Iceland? New research reveals island inhabited 70 years before Vikings

New archaeological discoveries show that Iceland was inhabited around AD 800 – nearly 70 years before the traditional dating of its Viking settlement.

One possibility is that these early inhabitants may have been related to Irish monastic communities found throughout the Scottish islands at that time, and described in Viking-Age and medieval texts.

“Questions surrounding Iceland’s first settlement in the early medieval period have been of longstanding interest for scholars,” said Professor Kristján Ahronson of Prifysgol Bangor University in Wales and Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto. He led the team that made the discoveries.

Click here to read this article from

Click here to read this article from Unreported Heritage News

The Sims Medieval Limited Edition uncloaked

The feudal system during the Middle Ages made it so peasants stayed peasants and royalty reaped the bounty of the land. In The Sims Medieval, anyone with $50 can purchase the limited edition of the game.

Electronic Arts recently announced that The Sims Medieval--due out March 22, 2011 for the PC and Mac--will score a limited-edition pack. The $50 bundle will include the main game, as well as three themed throne rooms: Barbarian, Princess, and Dark Magic. Additionally, those who pick up the LE will be awarded two exclusive outfit sets: a king and queen monarch set, as well as an executioner set, which comes with a leather apron and a black hood.

Click here to read this article from Gamespot

See also our feature on The Sims: Medieval

Evoking the Moods and Mysteries of a Medieval English Christmastide

Lionheart has wisely developed a cottage industry in thematic Christmas programs, each built around the repertories and traditions of a single country.

Tydings Trew: Feasts of Christmas in Medieval England” has become the most popular of them, partly because this finely polished vocal sextet has recorded the music — its “Tydings Trew” CD was released by Koch International Classics in 2003 — but also, no doubt, because audiences are charmed by the alternation of Latin chant and medieval English carols, which the group sings with appropriate accents and pronunciation.

Click here to read this article from the New York Times

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Retired couple find 600-year-old Medieval silver broach in farm field

A Medieval silver broach dating back 600 years which was discovered using a metal detector in a Lancashire field has been declared treasure.

An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court heard that the 35mm silver dress closure was discovered by a pair of a metal detecting enthusiasts in a farmer’s field in Croston, near Chorley, in October.

The piece is half-an-inch in diameter, with groove decorations around it and a hook believed to have been used to fasten clothes. The piece was found in “immaculate condition”, the inquest heard yesterday, by Ian Gunn, from Heath Charnock, near Chorley, and his wife Sheila.

Click here to read this article from the Lancashire Evening Post

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ireland: Archaeologists warn of damage from 'draconian cuts'

The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland has called on Minister for the Environment John Gormley to reverse “draconian cuts” in spending on the heritage sector.

In a statement yesterday to coincide with the winter solstice at Newgrange, the institute said the unprecedented cuts made in the Budget would have “an immediate and long-lasting impact” on communities around the State.

It would also mean that archaeologists and other heritage professionals “will endure a bleak 2011”. Even before the cuts were made, the institute estimated that the number of archaeologists drawing a living wage had fallen from 1,750 to about 350.

Click here to read this article from the Irish Times

Click here to read the statement from the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland

Have a Medieval Christmas at the Tower of London

People looking for things to do in London in the dull days after Christmas should try Medieval Christmas at the Tower of London.

Between December 27th and 31st, the aged King Edward I will gather his family for festive fun including music and dancing, as Queen Margaret attempts to steer his thoughts away from the upcoming wars with Scotland and his tempestuous relationship with his son.

However, if visitors are unable to join in the seasonal merriment, they can still enjoy life in the medieval palace, which is ongoing until March 31st 2011.

Click here to read the full article from London Pass

Monday, December 20, 2010

13th century Welsh chapel to be restored

A chapel in the Welsh town of Llantwit Major has been awarded nearly £300,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to transform the ruined 13th century building into a new learning and exhibition centre. The Galilee Chapel adjoins the Grade I listed St. Illtud’s Church, has been described as the Westminster Abbey of Wales for its unique collection of Celtic carved stones and statues of prominent individuals.

A place of worship was first established in Llantwit Major in 500AD, including a school which is now recognised as one of Britain’s earliest centres of Christian learning. The church is integral to the story of Christianity in South Wales and has strong links with Caldey Island, St David’s, Llancarfan and Llandaff.

Click here to read this article from

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Remains of medieval monastery opened to the public in UAE

The remains of an early medieval monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates was opened to the public last week. Local authorities hope that this site will serve as a tourist destination, to compliment the island’s rich wildlife and natural areas.

The pre-Islamic monastery, which is believed to have been built around 600 AD, was initially discovered on the 87 square kilometer island of Sir Bani Yas during excavations in 1992. It is believed that site was the burial ground for a local saint or Christian holy man, and was visited by pilgrims during the early Middle Ages. A new phase of work is currently underway by archaeologists, and treasures are still being unearthed, making the site a significant focal point for history enthusiasts worldwide.

Click here to read this article from

U-Michigan exhibits images of Byzantine mystery

The exhibition, Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium, presents a series of extraordinary ultra-large-scale photographs, many over six-feet tall, by the renowned Turkish photographer Ahmet Ertug. The exhibit is at the Kelsey Museum of Archeology at the University of Michigan through Jan. 23.

Focusing on paintings, mosaics, and architecture of the Byzantine world (6th–14th centuries AD), the photos provide a journey through such venerated sites as Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and Church of Christ in Chora, as well as churches in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey, an area known for hidden Christian retreats hewn out of the region’s unusual volcanic rock formations.

Click here to read this article from Spero News

Four Arts spotlights rare English medieval alabasters in first showing in U.S.

To fully understand the pale, carved representations of Christian stories populating The Society of the Four Arts’ galleries, you have to step back in time about 600 years.

In those days, they adorned church altars or were the focal points of shrines in private homes and chapels throughout Europe. Seen in flickering candlelight, the brightly colored and gilded objects set in elaborately decorated frames or boxes inspired awe and reverence.

“Underlying them all is the strong faith we sense in the sculptor and the consumer,” said Paul Williamson, keeper of sculpture, metalwork, ceramics and glass at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, from whose collection the 60 English medieval alabaster figures and reliefs were drawn.

Click here to read this article from the Palm Beach Daily News

The battle of Towton: Nasty, brutish and not that short

The soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough—somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died—to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out.

Towton 25 suffered eight wounds to his head that day. The precise order can be worked out from the direction of fractures on his skull: when bone breaks, the cracks veer towards existing areas of weakness. The first five blows were delivered by a bladed weapon to the left-hand side of his head, presumably by a right-handed opponent standing in front of him. None is likely to have been lethal.

Click here to read this article from the Economist

Friday, December 17, 2010

National Library of Wales creates website for 15th century manuscript

A colourful medieval manuscript that depicts the story of Alexander the Great is now available online from the National Library of Wales’s website.

Peniarth 481D, one of the most elaborately decorated medieval manuscripts in the Library, has survived in its original binding. The popular medieval legendary account of the life of Alexander the Great was an ideal text for the illustrator, and the text is also lavishly decorated with borders and gilded initials. The manuscript was written on parchment in the late 15th century. The manuscript is in two parts, and it is likely that both parts were bound together as one volume from the outset, probably in England.

Click here to read this article from

Reviews in History publishes its 1,000th review

Reviews in History, the online journal of the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), publishes its 1,000th review this month. Launched in 1996, Reviews covers books and digital resources across every area of historical interest, with all reviews being undertaken by leading experts in the field. It has always been noted for its broad scope, chronologically, geographically and thematically. It now publishes a new issue every week on its recently redesigned website (, each featuring four original reviews.

From the start, the journal has published reviews of greater length than those usually found in scholarly periodicals (between 2,000 and 3,000 words), and as a consequence of its digital-only format has also been able to make them available much earlier. Reviews also allows authors and editors a right of reply, stimulating discussion and providing readers with an insight into the major debates occurring at the cutting edge of historical research.

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Newly unearthed baptismal font at Hagia Sophia to open in spring

A baptismal font unearthed during restoration of Hagia Sophia has been revealed to the press. The baptismal font dates back to the sixth century and was used in mass baptism ceremonies. The pool, which shows the cultural and architectural style of the Byzantine period, will open to visitors in the spring.

Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency head Yılmaz Kurt noted that a Google search of “Hagia Sofia” yielded 800,000 results and said Istanbul was home to popular world cultural heritage sites. “We are proud to take the initiative in the restoration of this heritage site, provide financing and finish such a huge renovation project.”

Click here to read this article from the Hurriyet Daily News

Tomb believed to have held 7th-century empress's granddaughter discovered in Nara

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a tomb here thought to have been the burial place of the granddaughter of Empress Saimei (594-661), the local board of education has announced.

The tomb was discovered during excavation work around the nearby Kengoshizuka tomb, which is thought to be the burial site of Saimei. According to the Asuka Village Board of Education, the newly discovered tomb was likely constructed at almost the same time as the Kengoshizuka tomb, in the latter half of the 7th century.

Click here to read this article from the Mainichi Daily News

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How medieval peasants prayed – research from Sweden

When people belonging to peasant communities in late medieval Sweden prayed to God they usually stood up and put their palms together. That was how they displayed their devotion before God. This is one of the conclusions of a thesis in Religious Studies from the University of Gothenburg – a unique first study to take a comprehensive look at the prayer habits of the late medieval peasant population.

During the 15th century, nine out of ten Swedes lived in peasant households. But scholars in Religious Studies and Theology who have examined prayer and piety during the late Middle Ages have so far not dedicated much attention to these people.

Click here to read this article from

Gothic Ivories Project website launched

A new medieval website was launched today which aims at including all readily available information on every surviving Gothic ivory, accompanied by at least one image. The Gothic Ivories Project, hosted by The Courtauld Institute of Art, is bringing together the resources of dozens of museums and institutions from Europe and North America.

This online resource allows users to search for ivory objects made in Europe dating from c. 1200-c. 1530, offering information on iconography, provenance, origin, post-medieval repairs and replacements, modern forgeries, and many other aspects. Ultimately, it will be possible to view in one place images and detailed information on over 4,000 items scattered in collections around the world.

Click here to read this article from

Book on Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts published

The largest surviving family-owned library of medieval manuscripts in Britain can now be enjoyed by everyone thanks to the publication of a new book telling its fascinating story.

The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts: Texts, Owners and Readers is the culmination of a major research project at The University of Nottingham into this nationally important regional collection.

The large, beautifully illustrated hardback volume tells the story of Nottinghamshire’s landowning Willoughby family, and the extensive library of rare medieval manuscripts they collected during the 15th and 16th centuries. The collection includes important examples of Latin, French, Anglo-Norman and Middle English literature from the 13th to 15th centuries.

Click here to read this article from

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bangor Pontifical doodles show us the middle ages were juvenile, too

It looks like something Jake and Dinos Chapman might do if they turned their hand to the creative defacement of illuminated manuscripts: the Viz-style gargoyle just to the left of the plainchant notation on page 77 of the nearly 700-year-old Bangor Pontifical, one of the treasures of the Welsh medieval world. On a road trip through the country to create a Welsh Christmas for this Saturday's Music Matters, I saw, handled and turned the pages of this book at Bangor University.

Click here to read this article from The Guardian

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tiny letters found on the Mona Lisa, researcher finds

Italian researchers have discovered tiny letters on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa portrait, which they believe will shed light on who the model was. Silvano Vinceti of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage explained in interviews that the letters can easily be seen with a magnifying glass and can be seen on her eyes.

“Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo’s initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting,” said Vinceti.

Click here to read this article from

The medieval mystery of Nine Men's Morris investigated at Creswell Crags in Derbyshire

When archaeologists working through the Victorian spoil heaps at Creswell Crags in 2006 uncovered a stone with a familiar carved geometric pattern, it opened yet another aspect of the ever-developing story of the important prehistoric caves.

What the experts from Sheffield University had unearthed was in fact a medieval incarnation of the strategy board game Nine Men’s Morris, which had been popular since Roman times.

Click here to read this article from Culture 24

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Medieval scholar to take one-year trip to explore Iceland’s sagas

A Cambridge scholar is starting a one-year journey across Iceland, to examine the history and significance of Icelandic sagas. Dr Emily Lethbridge, who just completed her post-doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, will be driving around the small nation using an old ambulance as she explores the many places associated with Íslendingasögur (‘sagas of Icelanders’).

The sagas focus on Iceland and Icelandic society in the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, and describe both the everyday life of the first generations of island-settlers, and the conflicts that arose between individuals and families. Along the way, they present a great number of highly individual and memorable characters.

Click here to read this article from

Local historian delves into the story of Dinefwr Castle and the Lord Rhys

Believe it or not but Llandeilo was once the capital of its very own kingdom, called Deheubarth, which comprised modern-day Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembroke.

By far the greatest figure to have come from the Llandeilo area was the medieval warrior-prince Rhys ap Gruffudd (1130-1197), or the Lord Rhys, as he is often called.

In the late twelfth century he was the most powerful of the several native princes ruling Welsh-speaking Wales, and he was responsible for the building of Dinefwr Castle high on a crag above the river Towy at Llandeilo. He was also one of the few native princes to regain land from English kings.

Click here to read this article from the South Wales Guardian

Friday, December 10, 2010

Students embark on history crusade

A group of students from The University of Queensland will travel to southern France next July as part of a course in medieval history. They will study themes of crusade, conquest and colonisation in the High Middle Ages, by examining their impact on European society and culture.

Course coordinator Dr Kriston Rennie said the aim was to broaden the students' experience and exposure to history. “The Middle Ages can sometimes seem strange and remote,” he said. “There's no better way to understand the past than to witness its impressive legacies up close and personal."

Click here to read this article from the University of Queensland

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Jesus' great grandmother was St. Ismeria according to medieval manuscript

The great grandmother of Jesus was a woman named Ismeria, according to Florentine medieval manuscripts analyzed by a historian.

The legend of St. Ismeria, presented in the current Journal of Medieval History, sheds light on both the Biblical Virgin Mary's family and also on religious and cultural values of 14th-century Florence.

"I don't think any other woman is mentioned" as Mary's grandmother in the Bible, Catherine Lawless, author of the paper, told Discovery News. "Mary's patrilineal lineage is the only one given."

Click here to read this article from Discovery News

Unearthed Mosaic Dating Back to Byzantine Era in Syria

Archaeological Excavation works at its second season unearthed mosaic and bronze coins representing the picture of Emperor Justinian at the archaeological site of Ain Salem, 25 KM to Jableh city in Lattakia coastal province. Head of Antiquities Department of Jableh Ibrahim Younis Kherbaik said that excavation works uncovered a number of clay pieces and some bronze coins in addition to mosaic ground dating back to the Byzantine Era.

Click here to read this article from DP News

Students Present Research at National Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Earlier this month, four Lafayette students presented research at the Fifth Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Moravian College. More than 100 students from colleges and universities across the nation participated.

The Lafayette presenters were part the Byzantine Art course taught by Ida Sinkevic, associate professor of art. The class explores the art and architecture of Asian, Balkan, Eastern European, and Mediterranean countries during the period of Byzantine rule from 343-1453. Under Sinkevic’s guidance, the students extended their research beyond the course requirements, and their papers were accepted by a professional jury.

Click here to read this article from Lafayette College

University of Arizona acquires Major Collection of Medieval Work

Heiko A. Oberman spent his career amassing a reputation for being one of the most famous Reformation scholars in the world with a personal library collection to match.

Before his passing in 2001, the Regents’ Professor and founding director of the now renowned University of Arizona Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies promised to grant his extensive library to the UA should the institution raise enough funds to endow a faculty chair.

Both efforts have come to fruition.

Click here to read this article from the University of Arizona

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Disease, Disability and Medicine in Early Medieval Europe workshop at the University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham will be hosting a workshop this Sunday and Monday that will examine how disability, in all its forms, was viewed and treated during the Middle Ages. Disease, Disability and Medicine in Early Medieval Europe AD 400-1200 will feature over a dozen scholars who will examine the cultural, religious, social and even legal implications for those afflicted with a malady of the mind or body.

It will cover topics usually considered to be relatively modern issues including mental illness, male infertility, health and safety at work and body image.

Click here to read this article from

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Museum Secrets – New Television Series to Premiere in January

Museum Secrets is a six-part television series where viewers are invited into the world’s greatest museums to uncover surprising stories and revealing secrets. Premiering on Canada’s History Network on January 6, the Kensington Communications production plans to air internationally later this year.

Many medieval and ancient history treasures will be featured in these episodes, such as a medieval parchment that reveals the true story behind the fall of the Knights Templar and a forensic examination on an Egyptian mummy solves the murder of a mighty Pharaoh.

Click here to read this article from

14th-century King Arthur manuscript sold for £2.4m

An illuminated 14th century manuscript containing what is believed to be the oldest surviving account of the legends of King Arthur sold today for more than £2 million.

The Rochefoucauld Grail, a colourful illustrated account of the knights of the round table, Merlin and the Holy Grail, was sold by auction house Sotheby's in London.

It had been estimated to sell for between £1.5 million and £2 million but eventually went for £2.39 million.

Click here to read this article from The Independent

Monday, December 06, 2010

Medieval England had a per capita income over $1000, research shows

New research led by economists at the University of Warwick reveals that medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world’s poorest nations today.

University of Warwick economist Professor Stephen Broadberry, who led the research said, “Our work sheds new light on England’s economic past, revealing that per capita incomes in medieval England were substantially higher than the “bare bones subsistence” levels experienced by people living in poor countries in our modern world."

Click here to read this article from

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Westminster Abbey to get million pound makeover in time for the royal wedding

The Abbey, which is expected to host up to 3,000 guests at the royal wedding in April, including Royals and heads of state from around the world, is to receive a grant from an American bank to conserve more than 10 of its most important treasures.

Among the artefacts to be restored in the run-up to the wedding include the Cosmati Pavement, the medieval tile mosaic in front of the High Altar where Prince William and Miss Middleton are expected to take their vows.

A 14th century portrait of King Richard II, which hangs on a pillar by the Great West Door and will be one of the first things that members of the wedding procession see as they enter the Abbey, will also be restored.

Click here to read this article from The Telegraph

Archaeologists dig into history of Winchester fire station

Archaeologists have been busy in Winchester delving into the past before development again covers it over. At the fire station, the foundations and walls of an ancient building has been found only a few feet under the yard.

A service spokesman said: “A second dig had been due but we are postponing that until the site is vacated so the archaeologists won’t have fire service operations going on around them. They have uncovered something but we don’t know what it is yet. It hasn’t come as a surprise as the site is within the medieval walls.”

Click here to read this article from the Hampshire Chronicle

Art review: 'Imagining the Past in France: 1250-1500' at the J. Paul Getty Museum

An extraordinary embellished scroll opens "Imagining the Past in France: 1250-1500," the similarly extraordinary exhibition recently opened at the J. Paul Getty Museum. It introduces one of the strangest, most coercive if successful ideas to have taken hold in Europe in the past two millenniums.

Painted and written by one or more now unknown artists and scribes and dubbed "The Universal Chronicle," the scroll, nearly 34 feet in length, is one of 29 surviving copies from the late 15th century. Partially unfurled here to show a long and critically important central sequence, with small painted medallions sprinkled into four columns of text, it is not the most beautiful among the show's 58 French manuscripts and individual sheets. But it says a lot.

Click here to read this article from the Los Angeles Times

Review: Medieval Mass makes for a new musical world

Da Camera, seizing on a medieval exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, presented Houston with a likely first Thursday at the Villa de Matel.

Guillaume de Machaut's Mass of circa 1364 is an icon in Western classical music that most people never hear live. It's the first known, complete musical Mass by a single composer. It represents a world of music utterly unrelated to our common, harmony-based style (classical and pop). That ear-opening quality was vividly present in the performance by France's Ensemble Organum and director Marcel Peres.

The group is making a brief Da Camera-produced U.S. tour that hits Houston, Dallas (for the show The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculpture From the Court of Burgundy) and New York.

Click here to read this article from the Houston Chron

Friday, December 03, 2010

Historvius – new history travel portal website

Historvius, a recently launched website, is offering viewers great ways to explore and plan out trips to historic places around the world. Information on hundreds of medieval and ancient historical sites is already available with more to come as it allows for users to upload their favorite locations.

Click here to read the article from

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Rewriting history: royal conspiracies in late medieval England

Royal intrigues are by no means a modern phenomenon – medieval monarchs were involved in conspiracies and cover-ups, according to best-selling author Ian Mortimer. Ian will be giving an open lecture on medieval conspiracies, in particular the impact of an allegation that Edward II was not murdered in 1327 but was still alive in 1330 and possibly even a decade after that.

A qualified archivist and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Ian has been called a Bill Bryson of the past. His work The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England appeared at number six in the Sunday Times bestselling paperback list in April 2010. He describes himself as “emphatically not an academic but a writer whose prime historical interests are research methodologies, new literary forms, and relationships between the present and the past.”

Click here to read this article from

With a scholar of German studies under siege, medievalists mobilise

Dozens of scholars in medieval German studies are running an international campaign of support for a University of Bristol academic threatened with redundancy.

After 18 years of service, Anne Simon, a specialist in medieval and early modern German literature, has been told that her post is at risk as the university disinvests in the field.

Fellow medievalists from across the world have flooded Bristol with letters and emails criticising the decision, which, they say, will severely undermine study of the subject.

Click here to read this article from Times Higher Education

Student wins scholarship to study early medieval Scottish history

Just five months after she graduated from University of California – Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in history, Cynthia Thickpenny received a life-changing phone call. She learned in late November that she had just won a Marshall Scholarship–one of the most prestigious awards that American undergraduates can receive–to study at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She plans to specialize in Early Medieval Scottish history–particularly the culture of the Picts, a Celtic people she says are one of the most understudied groups of the Middle Ages.

“I pretty much had to pick myself up off the floor when the phone call came from the British Consulate,” recalled Thickpenny. “I am still stunned, and it has not sunk in all the way yet. To study in Scotland is one of my biggest dreams.”

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From Iran to Corinth – Pottery research shows Greek city engaged in long distance trade during medieval times

At the end of ancient times, Corinth, one of the most famous cities in the Greek world, lay partly in ruins.

“The mid 6th century city fell victim first to bubonic plague, with high mortality levels, and subsequently a deep economic recession that lasted, according to the archaeological finds, for 500 years,” write archaeologists from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in an overview on their website. The school has been excavating Corinth since 1896.

The city didn’t recover until well into the Middle Ages. But recover it did – starting in the 9th century it began to expand.

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