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.”

Click here to read this article from

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.

Click here to read this article from Unreported Heritage News

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Morillo Headed to L.A. for Deadliest Warriors

Wabash History Professor Stephen Morillo will provide historical expertise for an upcoming episode of Deadliest Warriors, one of cable television’s most popular shows. Deadliest Warriors airs on SPIKE TV and will debut its third season in late summer or fall of 2011. Morillo will be in Los Angeles this week to tape his portions of the episode.

Morrillo will be providing comment on William the Conqueror while a long-time friend, Kelly DeVries of Loyola College in Baltimore, will be providing comment on Joan of Arc.

Click here to read this article from Wabash College

Jan Gossart, Metropolitan Museum, New York

Jan Gossart (1478-1532) straddled the medieval world and the Renaissance, segueing comfortably between spirituality and humanism according to the demands of his patrons. He conflated Christian reverence with pagan references, depicting Adam and Eve in the manner of Venus and Mars. A single altarpiece contains gothic and classical extremes: the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin beneath the diaphanous tracery of a flamboyant arch on an outer panel. Inside, John the Baptist poses beneath barrel vaults modelled on the antique.

Click here to read this article from the Financial Times

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christopher Columbus was the son of a Polish king, historian says

Christopher Columbus was a royal prince, son of a Portuguese noble lady and exiled Polish King Władysław III, according to Columbus’ new biography, COLON. La Historia Nunca Contada (COLUMBUS. The Untold Story), by Manuel Rosa, just released in Spain.

There have been several different theories that suggest Columbus did not come from Genoa, Italy, including that he was Scottish, Catalan, and even Jewish. Manuel Rose, a researcher from Duke University, has spent 20 years working investigating this story and believes that the true identity of Christopher Columbus was hidden in order to protect his father from being discovered. It is believed that Władysław III, king of Poland from 1434 and Hungary from 1440, died in 1444 at the Battle of Varna.

Click here to read this article from

‘Mind-blowing’ medieval art is unveiled in church

Rare medieval paintings thought to be “beyond compare in Wales” are being uncovered on the walls of a church.

The artwork features St George and the Dragon, said to be one of the best examples of its kind in the UK. And a mural depicting Death and the Gallant is the only one of its kind found in Wales.

These stunning 15th-century images are being painstakingly unearthed on the walls of St Cadoc’s church in Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Click here to read this article from WalesOnline

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vandals attack St John's mediaeval church in Coventry

Vandals have smashed a priceless mediaeval stained glass window at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist. Located in the mediaeval Spon Street area of Coventry City Centre, the church sits alongside numerous bars and restaurants.

Father Paul Such thinks this "may be a contributing factor" to suffering damage, saying: "It's probably a mixture of alcohol and rowdy-ism."

The latest damage is costing the cash-strapped church £5,000 to repair.

Click here to read this article from BBC News

Friday, November 26, 2010

Major medieval library in Amsterdam may have collection sold off

The upcoming sale of a medieval manuscript has raised speculation that a major academic library will be closed and have it collection sold off in order to pay off its owner’s debts. The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in the Dutch city of Amsterdam has been closed to the public and one of its major manuscripts, The Rochefoucauld Grail, is set to be auctioned off by Sotheby’s on December 7th.

The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica was founded as a private library in 1984 by JR Ritman, who owns a 60% stake in the library. The collection focuses on manuscripts and printed works in the field of the Hermetic tradition, more specifically the ‘Christian-Hermetic’ tradition, with works by Augustine, Lactantius and other medieval and Renaissance writers. The library holds more than 22,000 volumes: ca. 700 manuscripts (85 of which date before 1550), ca. 5,000 books printed before 1800 (305 of which are incunables, books printed before 1500) and ca. 17,000 books (primary and secondary sources) printed after 1800.

Click here to read this article from

Henry III Fines Rolls Project almost complete

A unique project between scholars at three institutions, to translate and digitalise documents drawn up in the thirteenth century for Henry III, is nearing completion.

The three year project by Canterbury Christ Church University, King’s College London, and the National Archives has brought to life remarkable material, which for the first time, is now freely available to everyone.

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Children 'ignorant of British history' because of trendy teaching

Pupils’ grasp of the past has been undermined because schools have “steadily downgraded” the importance of historical knowledge, it was claimed. In a letter to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, a delegation of academics and teachers today called for history to be made compulsory up to the age of 16 to reverse a “catastrophic decline” in the subject.

They also claimed that the curriculum should be rewritten to expose children to a more coherent narrative of British history. It was suggested that at the age of 11, pupils should learn about the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, early medieval England and the Crusades. At 12, pupils should be taught about medieval life, the English conquest of Scotland and Wales, the 100 Years’ War, the Wars of the Roses, the Renaissance, the Reformation, Elizabeth I and overseas exploration.

Click here to read this article from The Telegraph

Fears that fire cover changes would put York's historic buildings at risk

A second conservation watchdog has claimed that proposed changes in York city centre fire cover will put medieval buildings at increased risk of destruction.

The York Conservation Trust claims firefighters will take too long to get to fires in several timber-framed properties which it owns in the centre.

Click here to read this article from The York Press

Scottish town of Dunfermline to get museum, art gallery

The Scottish town of Dunfermline, which is known for its medieval heritage, will be receiving £2.8million to establish a new museum and art gallery. This announcement was made earlier this week by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which hopes that this project will transform the cultural development of the city.

Dunfermline has one of the best surviving medieval townscapes in Scotland. The Abbey and Palace were founded in the 11th century when Malcolm III established it as a new seat for royal power while the nearby Abbey Church contains the tomb of Robert the Bruce. The city also has an important collection of industrial heritage from the 18th – 20th century relating to its once thriving textile, pottery and coal industries. The new Dunfermline Museum and Art Gallery will bring together the architectural and social history for the first time to tell the story of this important Scottish city.

Click here to read this article from

Underground tunnel discovered by archaeologists at Lincoln Castle

A previously unknown underground tunnel has been discovered at Lincoln Castle.

Archaeologists uncovered the medieval structure during exploratory work at ground level prior to the installation of a lift that would take people on to the castle walls.

The tunnel, which is linked to a circular room or structure, was uncovered by Lincoln Cathedral archaeologist Dr Philip Dixon and is fast becoming the talk among archaeologists and history buffs.

Click here to read this article from the Lincolnshire Echo

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rare photos of Sutton Hoo excavation go on display

A collection of 1930s photographs taken by two holidaymakers at the excavation of one of Britain’s greatest archaeological discoveries will go on display for the first time at the National Trust’s Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. The rare images are among the few surviving records of what has become one of the ultimate discoveries – the ship burial of Anglo Saxon king Raedwald and his most treasured possessions.

Keen amateur photographers, Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff, were school mistresses holidaying in Suffolk, in 1939, shortly after the discovery of the ship burial. Thought to have been tipped off about the dig by an archaeologist, Mercie and Barbara arrived on site shortly after an iconic helmet, exquisite gold jewellery and other treasured possessions had been removed.

Click here to read this article from

Monday, November 22, 2010

Four-year-old boy unearths medieval treasure

The four-year-old unearthed a 16th century gold reliquary pendant which was used to hold religious relics. It has now been declared treasure trove by the coroner after an inquest and the British Museum could buy it. The proceeds are likely to be split between four-year-old James and the landowner.

Click here to read this article from

Handguns from the Battle of Towton discovered

Two men have discovered what are believed to be the earliest known fragments of battlefield handguns, which are thought to have been used at the Battle of Towton, fought in northern England in 1461. The find has been described as being of “genuine historical importance” and both men talk to presenter Jamie Coulson from BBC One’s Inside Out programme at 7.30pm on Monday 22 November.

Metal detectorist Simon Richardson and archaeologist Tim Sutherland found the fragments on the former battlefield of Towton near Tadcaster where 28,000 men are believed to have been killed more than 500 years ago during the Wars of the Roses.

Click here to read this article from

14th century English document found in museum in British Columbia

It's not every day that you find a document dating back to the 1300s. But that happened to the curator of the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives earlier this year. Ron Candy says he discovered the medieval parchment while going through an old collection. It was shipped to researchers in Britain who said it was a detailed inventory of a once-important manor house in eastern England, called Redgrave Manor.

Click here to read the full article from 105.7 Sun FM

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Assassin's Creed and the appropriation of history

Another week, another major video game release. And while the news is still dominated by the moneymaking behemoth that is Call of Duty: Black Ops, an altogether more intricate and richly defined title launches today.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the latest in Ubisoft's highly successful series of visually stunning action adventures. Following the travails of a secret society of assassins through hundreds of years of European history, the games combine acrobatic exploration with twisting conspiracy narratives and gutsy combat. While the opening instalment explored the chaos of the Crusades-era Middle East, Assassin's II and its follow-up move the action to Renaissance Italy, where the killer sect must once again confront its ongoing enemy, the shadowy Knights Templar order, now harboured within the increasingly powerful Catholic church.

What's interesting about the series is its successful use history as a game mechanic, and its ability to construct realistic environments around the largely fantastical story. The evocations of cities such as Jerusalem and Rome, while not always painstakingly accurate, have a sense of place and life that is almost unique in the video game sector.

Click here to read this article from The Guardian

James McEvoy: Tireless, popular teacher and a committed and dignified scholar

The Reverend Prof James McEvoy, who has died aged 66, was among the outstanding philosophers/ medievalists of his generation.

His reputation was established with the publication of The Philosophy of Robert Grosseteste(1982), now the standard reference work to the 13th-century scholar-bishop of Lincoln.

He maintained a lifelong interest in the study and promotion of Grosseteste, the first chancellor of Oxford University, and was president of the International Grosseteste Society.

Click here to read his obituary at The Irish Times

Residents furious as 'historic stone wall' is demolished by builders

Residents of a "beautiful and ancient" uphill road called in city planners after builders demolished what householders believe to be a remnant of medieval Lincoln.

Work has been under way on a new house at the end of the narrow James Street, off Eastgate, since June last year - but recently, builders took down an old stone wall and replaced it with a new one that has a block-work core.

That led worried neighbours to fear a precedent was being set that could see more people take down aspects of the city's heritage.

Click here to read this article from the Lincolnshire Echo

Native American came to Iceland over a thousand years ago, research finds

New genetic research has uncovered evidence that suggests a Native North American woman came to Iceland in the year 1000, most probably as a captive of Viking marauders. This early contact between medieval Europeans and Native Americans has led to at least 80 Icelanders carrying her genes.

The story behind this finding was revealed this week in the article, “A new subclade of mtDNA haplogroup C1 found in icelanders: Evidence of pre-columbian contact?” in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The Icelandic and Spanish authors came across the discovery as they were doing research on the genetic background of contemporary Icelanders.

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, November 18, 2010

History Professor Publishes Groundbreaking Book on Monasticism and Gender

In Dark Age Bodies: Gender and Monastic Practice in the Early Medieval West professor Lynda L. Coon, chair of the University of Arkansas’ department of history, reconstructs the gender ideology of monastic masculinity through an investigation of early medieval readings of the body.

Click here to read this article from

East Oxford residents fight new plan to build on leper hospital site

East Oxford residents are reviving their campaign against plans to build student accommodation near a medieval leper hospital.

Oxford University’s Oriel College says it will appeal over a scheme to create 31 rooms for graduate students, on the site of a former nursery school in the Bartlemas conservation area, off Cowley Road.

Last year a planning inspector rejected the college’s plans for a three-storey building, on the grounds that it infringed on the site of a farmhouse, one of three historic buildings on the site.

Click here to read this article from the Oxford Mail

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Medieval Studies Scholar Parses Modern Bodice-Rippers

As a medievalist and specialist of medieval literature, Nicola McDonald, D.Phil., might be expected to quote from Chaucer: “Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”

But McDonald read from a very different text during her presentation on Oct. 20 at the William D. Walsh Family Library: “Tension gripped Lisette’s body instantly. Her mouth went dry, and her heart beat so fast she could scarcely catch her breath,” she said.

McDonald, an expert on romances written in Middle English during the 13th through 15th centuries, has, for the moment, shifted her focus to examine how the medieval period is portrayed in modern Harlequin-style romances.

Click here to read this article from Inside Fordham Online

Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches

A history of the humanities in the 20th century could be chronicled in “isms” — formalism, Freudianism, structuralism, postcolonialism — grand intellectual cathedrals from which assorted interpretations of literature, politics and culture spread.

The next big idea in language, history and the arts? Data.

Members of a new generation of digitally savvy humanists argue it is time to stop looking for inspiration in the next political or philosophical “ism” and start exploring how technology is changing our understanding of the liberal arts. This latest frontier is about method, they say, using powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials that previous humanities scholars did not have.

Click here to read this article from the New York Times

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mediaeval graffiti casts light on everyday workers at nunnery

Historians in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia announced on Tuesday that they have deciphered mysterious 500-year-old graffiti left in an old abbey attic. The etchings are likely practice drawings made by handwork apprentices.

For years people working in the former St. Katherina Church near Langerwehe had noticed the enigmatic drawings, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the LVR regional authority for monument preservation began closely examining their origins, spokeswoman Sabine Cornelius told The Local.

They were surprised to find that the forty-by-two-metre plaster wall bore the tentative marks of young apprentices in the 15th century.

Click here to read this article from The Local

Relics of Richard II discovered at the National Portrait Gallery

An archivist at the National Portrait Gallery has found relics from the tomb of King Richard II which may allow scholars to accurately reconstruct how the 14th century English king looked like. The items were found while cataloguing the papers of the Gallery’s first Director Sir George Scharf (1820-1895). Among the hundreds of diaries and notebooks left behind in boxes not opened for years were contents from the coffin of a medieval English king, and sketches of his skull and bones.

Click here to read this article from

Masons' marks get a revival

It's the flat-pack furniture problem that almost all of us have faced. You open the box, trawl through its contents, lay everything out, then cross-reference the instructions. You look at them every which way since they appear to be in Sanskrit, then have a go, and feel like you've done a decent job. Only then, disaster strikes. You turn around and see an extra three pieces of your flat-packed furniture kit lying innocently behind you. Will the bed collapse in the night?

But a remedy could be in sight. New research into the work patterns of medieval masons by academics at the University of Warwick could spell an end to the leaflet-grappling, component-finding problem of furniture assembly. So build-your-own cupboard and bed designers, listen up.

Click here to read this article from The Guardian

BU to hold last medieval conference

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, many may look to the future. But one organization at Binghamton University is showing that the gears of globalization have been turning for hundreds of years.

BU’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) will present the last of 10 workshop lectures for this semester, “The Annual Bernardo Lecture,” on Thursday in the Anderson Center.

Sarah Kay, a professor of French at Princeton University, will be lecturing on how troubadour songs relate to the cultural geography of Europe.

Click here to read this article from Pipe Dream (Binghamton University's student-run newspaper)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Call for Papers – The Language of Maps: Communicating through cartography during the Middle Ages and Renaissance

A colloquium and exhibition at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25 2011

Historic maps have broad appeal in contemporary cultures around the world. One reason for this – it might be thought – is because the ‘language of maps’ is universal and straightforward, but is it? How do maps communicate to us? How do they work? This Colloquium seeks to explore these important questions by bringing together scholars whose interest lies in the visual and textual ‘languages’ of manuscript and printed maps from the medieval and Renaissance periods of European history. Original paper contributions on the theme of ‘communicating through cartography’ are sought that will help further our understanding and appreciation of the complexity of medieval and Renaissance maps and map-making. Papers may be theoretical, empirical or methodological in orientation, as long as they address ‘how maps work’.

Click here for more information from

Getty Museum hosts exhibition: Imagining the Past in France, 1250—1500

A major exhibit featuring over 70 objects celebrating medieval manuscript images will begin tomorrow at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Imagining the Past in France, 1250—1500 will be running from November 16th to February 6th, and will display images from the Middle Ages depicting epic figures such as Hector of Troy, Alexander the Great, and Charlemagne.

Imagining the Past in France is the first major exhibition devoted to the theme of history in manuscripts, focusing on the use of images to enhance and influence the reader’s experience of the text. This monumental exhibition brings together more than 70 objects from the collections of over 25 museums and libraries across Europe and the United States.

Click here to read this article from

William Monahan Tackling Becket

He has Colin Farrell/Keira Knightley/Colin Farrell gangster romance London Boulevard about to hit cinemas, but writer William Monahan has already targeted his next directing job. He’s planning to adapt and shoot a fresh take on Jean Anouilh’s play Becket.

The stage work charts the disintegration of the friendship between King Henry II and Thomas Becket, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until 1170. While the pair initially agreed about the King’s reach with regards to religion in England, their disagreement flared into conflict and Becket was brutally murdered by followers of the monarch.

Click here to read this article from Empire Magazine

Mystery treasure could be in forgotten medieval code

An amateur enthusiast has unearthed a mysterious treasure said to bear inscriptions from a forgotten medieval code. Ivor Miller’s find is thought to be a medieval silver seal containing a Roman-era jewel and engraved with as-yet undeciphered lettering.

Some have speculated a medieval farm labourer may have found the Roman jewel, a semi-precious stone, and handed it to their noble or lord, who placed it into their correspondence seal. Although it has not yet been valued, it could be worth about £2,000.

Click here to read this article from the Northern Echo

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cordoba: Name Debate Echoes an Old Clash of Faiths

The great mosque of Córdoba was begun by the Muslim caliphs in the eighth century, its forest of pillars and red-and-white striped arches meant to convey a powerful sense of the infinite. With the Christian reconquest of Spain in the 13th century, it was consecrated as a cathedral.

Today, signs throughout this whitewashed Andalusian city refer to the monument, a Unesco World Heritage site, as the “mosque-cathedral” of Córdoba. But that terminology is now in question. Last month, the bishop of Córdoba began a provocative appeal for the city to stop referring to the monument as a mosque so as not to “confuse” visitors.

For now, the matter is largely semantic because the mayor says the city will not change its signs. But the debate goes far beyond signs. It is the latest chapter in the rich history of the most emblematic monument in Christian-Muslim relations in Europe — and a tussle over the legacy of “Al Andalus,” when part of Spain, under the Muslim caliphs, was a place of complex coexistence among Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Click here to read this article from the New York Times

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Irresistible: How the Ghent Altarpiece Became the World's Most Frequently Stolen Artwork

A tiny city in a small European country, the medieval enclave of Ghent, Belgium, is home today to just under a quarter million people. It is also the current residence of a 15th-century artwork — a sumptuous, sprawling, and theologically complex 12-panel altarpiece known variously as the Ghent Altarpiece, "The Mystic Lamb," or, in Flemish, "Het Lam Gods" ("The Lamb of God") — that scholars consider to be one of the great masterpieces of Western civilization.

In a crowded and competitive field of admirers, one of the altarpiece's most ardent contemporary devotees is Noah Charney, the author of a new history called "Stealing the Mystic Lamb" that ascribes another superlative to the piece: the world's most frequently stolen artwork. In the book, with the breathless voice of a lover smitten with the one that got away (again and again), Charney charts the wrangling over a work that "collectors, dukes, generals, kings, and entire armies desired to such an extent that they killed, stole, and altered the strategic course of war to possess."

Click here to read this article from ArtInfo

Friday, November 12, 2010

Medieval Manuscript expects to fetch up to £2 million at auction

The Rochefoucauld Grail, a 14th century manuscript that offers illustrated Arthurian tales, is going to be sold at auction on Tuesday, December 7th. Sotherby’s, who is holding the auction in London, estimates that the three-volume work will sell for betwettn £1.5 and £2 million.

The Rochefoucauld Grail has stories of the quest for the Holy Grail, of the Lady of the Lake, of King Arthur and his court at Camelot, and of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere. Written and illuminated in Flanders or Artois in the early-14th century (circa 1315-23), it was probably produced for Guy VII, Baron de Rochefoucauld, head of one of the leading aristocratic families of medieval France, and representative of King Philip V of France in Flanders.

Click here to read this article this article from

Moravian Conference Will Explore Medieval Era from a Variety of Perspectives

Moravian College, located on Bethelem, Pennsylvania, will host the Fifth Annual Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies on Saturday, December 4. The interdisciplinary conference explores and celebrates the literature, history, art, and philosophy of the periods ranging from 500 CE to 1800 CE. More than 100 students from thirty-plus colleges across the country will present papers and performances.

In addition to the student presentations and performances, the day’s schedule will feature a plenary presentation by musicologist Emma Dillon of the University of Pennsylvania, a performance by the early music ensemble Cambiata (free for conference registrants), a visual arts exhibit and artisan demonstrations, and a reception

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Putting romance into the Middle Ages

When Elisabeth Taburet-Delahaye was a schoolgirl, growing up in the suburbs outside Paris, she fell in love with history. More precisely, she fell in love with the history of the Middle Ages. It was a double attraction, she says: to the science, "to try to know precisely what happened, how it happened, in what context"; and to history's imaginative qualities.

"I have always been interested in fantasy and imagination, and the Middle Ages is a wonderful period for that," she says. "There was the invention of romance at that time, and so many other things. It's a false approach to think that the Middle Ages is above all a religious period. It is, certainly, but it's also other things."

Click here to read this article from the Australian

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Medieval Week comes to Edinburgh

High levels of illiteracy during medieval times meant the ‘dark’ ages were actually a period of surprising cultural richness, with the majority of people relying on vibrant art, drama and music to learn. In a special week of events organised by the British Academy and Royal Society of Edinburgh, new light will be cast on the cultural life this fascinating period in history.

Eight events across Medieval Week (all free to the public) will uncover the truth behind preconceived notions of the Dark or Middle Ages (c.500 – 1400 AD). In a series of talks, lectures and ‘in conversation’ events, experts will come to Edinburgh to explore different aspects of medieval life, highlighting the similarities and differences from our own time.

Click here to read this article from

£7.5m project to revitalize Chester Cathedral

The Cheshire West and Chester Executive Council has given the go-ahead for a £7.5m project that will bring major changes to the Chester Cathedral. The council will now issue a tender for a single contractor to oversee the first phase of the “Cathedral at Height” project.

“Cathedral at Height” aims to convert the medieval tower into a unique viewing gallery. The council hopes to ‘open-up’ the ideal city-centre setting for Chester’s top tourist attraction, plus add a new flexible stage in the Nave providing a venue seating between 1,200-1,800.

Click here to read this article from