Thursday, September 30, 2010

Google Translate goes Latin

In news that will be welcomed by many medieval and ancient history scholars, Google Translate has added Latin to its list of languages that can be automatically translated to other languages. The website announced the news today in a post written in Latin, entitled “Veni, vidi, verba verti” (I came, I saw, I translated the words) .

The statement, written by senior engineer Jakob Uszkoreit, continued: “Today, we announce the first language translation system by which no native speakers now make use of: the Latin. Being but a few speak Latin daily, year by year more than a hundred thousand American students receive the National Latin Exam. Besides many people all over the world study Latin.”

Click here to read this article from

Hakluyt Society books to be available as Print on Demand and ebooks

Ashgate Publishing has announced that hundreds of books from the Hakluyt Society Publications series will soon be available again, including many important translations of medieval texts. The publications are now being made available in a Print-on-Demand format, with ebook versions to go on sale starting in December.

The Hakluyt Society has published over 350 scholarly volumes of primary sources on the ‘Voyages and Travels’ undertaken by individuals across the world. The volumes address the geography, ethnology and natural history of all parts of the globe, covering all continents and every period over the last two thousand years.

Click here to read the full article on

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Underground Museum in Krakow reveals city’s medieval history

Krakow is opening its newest attraction — twenty feet under the main market square (Rynek Glowny). The new underground archaeological park will show off the city’s foundations dating back to the early Middle Ages, while multimedia exhibits immerse visitors in the ambiance of Krakow at the start of the 13th century.

Click here to see the article and video on

Acre, Crusades get spotlight in international history conference

The city of Amsterdam played host to the 21st International Congress on Historical Sciences last month, bringing hundreds of historians together from a wide range of areas. Medievalists were well-represented with over a dozen papers dedicated to the crusades and the city of Acre in particular.

The sessions were organized by Professor John France of the University of Wales-Swasnsea for the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East (SSCLE). Professor France said it was “a lively set of sessions which shows the range and depth of scholarship on the crusades.”

Click here to read the article from

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Expert from Sweden exposes mystery of Minnesota runestone

Dr. Henrik Williams, professor of Scandinavian languages at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, will present the 2010 O. Fritiof Ander Lecture in Immigration History on Friday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m. in room 102 in the Hanson Hall of Science (726 35th St.). Williams will debunk myths about the mysterious Kensington Runestone, a stone that allegedly marks the arrival of Scandinavians in central Minnesota in the 14th century.

The Kensington Runestone was discovered in 1898 by Olof Öhman on his farm near Kensington, Minnesota. According to Öhman, the 200-pound, two-and-a-half-foot high stone was under a tree and was covered with strange letters, which scholars identified as runes, or the letters used to write early Germanic languages. Its inscription describes a visit by a party of Scandinavians and is dated to 1362.

Experts on Scandinavian languages and runes have concluded that the inscription on the Kensington Runestone is not medieval. However, Williams warns against calling it a “fake,” which implies that it was created to deceive. “Almost everyone who sees the runestone as a fake will claim that it is worthless,” said Williams. “My attitude is exactly the opposite. The inscription is of interest to historians of Scandinavian languages, even though it is not as old as it declares.”

Click here to read this article from the Aledo Times Record

Alf O’Brien: Medieval history expert and dedicated socialist

Alf O’Brien, who has died aged 72, was a lecturer in the department of medieval history in University College Cork, a dedicated socialist and a leading authority on the life and times of medieval Ireland.

He had a particular interest in the growth of commercial relations between Ireland and the rest of Europe between the 11th and mid-16th centuries, a period when the “merchant prince” families of busy ports like Cork, Galway, Waterford, Dublin and other maritime cities burgeoned as trade flourished with European countries like Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

For many years, he had been working towards publication of a major book charting medieval Ireland’s strong commercial links with Europe between the years 1000 and 1540.

Click here to read the rest of this obituary from the Irish Times

University of Sydney hosts Celtic studies conference

Topics as unique and diverse as medieval Irish magic and the drinking of blood in the ritual context of mourning will be explored at the Seventh Australian Conference of Celtic Studies at the University of Sydney this week.

The influence of Celtic Studies extends throughout the world, where many Celtic languages, such as Irish and Scottish Gaelic, are still in everyday use.

Click here to read this article on

Call for Papers: Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies

Our upcoming issue will be devoted to representations and interpretations of exile – political, spiritual, or intellectual – in art, chronicles, letters, literature, and music from the Middle Ages. Expulsion, banishment, or prolonged separation from one’s homeland was experienced by many in the medieval world; it is likewise one of the earliest topics in literature.

Click here to read this article on

Remnants of Medieval city gate discovered in Estonian Parnu

Construction workers and archaeologists digging at the future site of Parnu's history museum have unearthed remnants of a city gate, expected to date from the 13th or 14th century, informs ERR/LETA.

The workers discovered the gate's oak foundations and pillars, as well as a wooden walkway, during drainage works at the location.

In medieval times the gate would have been a vital city feature as the main artery for goods transported between the port to the city, Pärnu Museum director Aldur Vunk told Aktuaalne Kaamera.

Click here to read the full article from The Baltic Course

Monday, September 27, 2010

British Library digitises Greek manuscripts

The British Library has digitised over a quarter of its Greek manuscripts (284 volumes) for the first time and made them freely available online at thanks to a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

The website provides researchers with access to high quality digital images of a major part of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts collection, supported by enhanced metadata which enables users to search using key words.

Scot McKendrick, Head of History and Classical Studies at the British Library, said, “This website offers everyone, wherever they may be in the world, the opportunity to engage for the first time with over 100,000 pages of newly digitised, unique manuscripts which provide direct insights into the rich written legacy of the Greeks of classical antiquity, Byzantine times, the Renaissance and beyond. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which funded this project, has generously agreed to fund a second phase and we look forward to presenting a further 250 manuscripts in full in 2012.”

Click here to read the article and video on

Medieval manor house and Roman road discovered in Kent

Excavations in Kent have unearth an interesting historical past as archaeologists discovered not only evidence of a medieval manor house, but also a previously unknown Roman road.

South East Water employed the archaeologists to survey the 850m route of a new water pipe, which is part of a £321,000 scheme near Bearsted in Kent, as part of the company’s ongoing investment in its water supply infrastructure across the south east.

Click here to read this article on

The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty – Exhibition at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present a major international exhibition devoted to the art of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368)—one of the most dynamic and culturally rich periods in Chinese history—beginning September 28.

Bringing together over 200 works drawn principally from China, with additional loans from Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty will explore the art and material culture that flourished during the pivotal and vibrant period in Chinese culture and history dating from 1215, the year of Khubilai Khan’s birth, to 1368, the fall of the Yuan dynasty.

Click here to read this article on

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Baghdad was centre of the scientific world

The Bab al-Sharji district in the centre of Baghdad derives its name, which means east gate, from the medieval fortifications of the city. These walls were probably built around the first half of the 10th century. During the brief British stay at the end of the first world war, its gatehouse was used as a garrison church. Nothing of those medieval walls, or the east gate, remains today; I remember Bab al-Sharji as a sprawling, noisy and bustling square, with its food stalls and secondhand record shops scattered around the busy bus depot and taxi ranks.

But its name is a reminder of the expansion and transformation of this proud city over the years since its foundation in AD762 as the new seat of power of the mighty Abbasid empire. Indeed, no other city on Earth has had to put up with the levels of death and destruction that Baghdad has endured over the centuries. And yet, as the capital of one of the world's great empires, this was the richest, proudest, most supercilious city on the planet for half a millennium.

Click here to read the full article from The Guardian

Saturday, September 25, 2010

14th Century Church Fresco Uncovered In Budapest

A Hungarian priest, Zoltán Osztie, and archaeologist Imre Bodor presented a rediscovered medieval fresco to the media on Thursday.

The fresco, which portrays the infant Jesus and the Virgin Mary, was uncovered on a sanctum wall behind the main altar of the Inner City Parish Church in the midst of preparations for a repainting project in the summer.

The style and theme of the fresco suggests the early 14th Century, art restorer Éva Derdák said.

Click here to read a full description from Medieval Hungary blog

Friday, September 24, 2010

World Heritage site Hahoe Village keeps Confucian traditions alive

To a background of sharp music, masked commoners let out the inner anger and sadness they have suppressed serving the noblemen through satirical words and acting.

The mask dance drama, Hahoe Byeolsingut Talnori, was the only way Korean commoners could get even with the nobility in the rigid class society of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

“I’ve never seen a nobleman and a scholar fight over a cow’s testicles to get healthy in my entire life. Isn’t it funny?” shouts an 80-year-old grandma to the audience during the show.

Click here to read this article from the Korean Herald

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Challenges of Castle Ownership

The idea of welcoming dinner guests across a drawbridge may be romantic, but if your home is a European castle, the maintenance costs can be daunting.

When Malcolm Goodbody heard that the 15th-century, 230-square-meter Dunsandle Castle in County Galway, Ireland, and its surrounding 20 forested hectares were up for sale, he knew he had to have it.

"As a boy, I grew up a mile away from Dunsandle," says Mr. Goodbody, who runs a flooring company in Galway. "We spent our summers playing in that castle—it was part of my childhood. I couldn't let someone come in and wreck it."

In 1995, he bought the roofless and crumbling sandstone castle, along with several acres of forest for £45,000 from the local authorities in Galway, and had originally planned to renovate and live in it. But he soon realized this presented a fundamental conflict.

Click here to read the article from the Wall Street Journal

Special issue of Reading Medieval Studies to focus on the crusades

A new publication focusing on the crusades has been issued by the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Reading.

This special issue of Reading Medieval Studies contains a series of articles by leading and aspiring scholars in the field of crusading history.

All the papers are united in exploring, through the language and ideas of contemporary protagonists, the complex mix of religious and political motivations and the shared collective identity which lay behind crusading and state building in the Central Middle Ages.

Click here to read this article from

Brantley Bryant brings medieval history to life

An up and coming celebrity walks among the Sonoma State University staff. Portions of literature professor Brantley Bryant's wildly popular blog, "Geoffrey Chaucer hath a Blog," has recently been published as part of the book series "The New Middle Ages" to widespread critical acclaim.

Bryant is an assistant literature professor in the English Department and the Written English Proficiency Test (WEPT) Coordinator. Since he arrived at SSU in 2007, Bryant has taught 11 different English courses in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. He is the chair of the Academic Freedom Subcommittee, has four degrees under his belt, has written a number of academic articles and recently became a published author.

Click here to read this article from the Sonoma State Star

Classics professor finds niche with obscure poet Fortunatus

Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature Joseph Pucci remembers a grad school professor joking, "If anyone wants to make a name for him or herself" in the field of classics, "Fortunatus is the poet you want to study." Years later, Pucci is now offering what he believes is the only class in the world focusing exclusively on Fortunatus, a medieval Latin poet.

This is Pucci's third semester offering the class, which he also taught in 2005 and 2008. He hopes to make it a regular part of Brown's classics curriculum.

"I will offer it regularly as an advanced Latin class," he said, adding that he now has 28 students enrolled, which is "exciting."

Click here to read this article from The Brown Daily Herald

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Medieval Atlantic Association holds conference at Dalhousie University

The association also holds an annual conference - this year’s runs September 24 and 25 - and, for the first time, it’s being hosted by Dalhousie. Dr. Fournier, an AMA member, was the lead organizer. Nearly a dozen professors from Dalhousie and the University of King’s College will join forces with visiting academics, presenting papers with such juicy subjects as “Assassins and Suicides in Dante’s inferno” (King’s’ Dr. Thomas Curran’s offering.)

Topics include everything from history to music to archaeology. “There are papers which cover the range, philosophy to literature... It covers a lot of different interests and approaches,” says Dr. Fournier. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Stephen Gersh of the University of Notre Dame, presenting a paper entitled “Hellenism in 15th Century Philosophy: Two Case-Studies (Nicholas of Cusa and Marsilio Ficino.)”

Click here to read the article from Dalhousie University

Negotiating Trade: Commercial Institutions and Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Medieval and Early Modern World

The Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CEMERS) at Binghampton University will host an international conference called “Negotiating Trade: Commercial Institutions and Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Medieval and Early Modern World.”

The conference, on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-25, will feature 40 speakers, a plenary panel and two keynotes: On Friday, Paul Freedman (Yale University) will discuss “International Luxury Products: Scarcity, Value and Uniqueness.” On Friday and Saturday, Leonard Blussé (University of Leiden) will discuss “Making Ends Meet: The Emporia of Monsoon Asia and the Newcomers from Europe.”

Click here to read this article from

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Treasures of the Medicis on Display in Paris

The Medicis, a family of illustrious Florentine bankers that rose to power in the 14th and 15th centuries, produced popes, princes and two queens of France. Patrons of the arts and arbiters of taste and fashion over a period of more 300 years, they used art as a tool of diplomacy and as an expression of power.

On Sept. 29, the Musée Maillol in Paris, now under the direction of the Italian Renaissance expert Patrizzia Nitti, will open “Treasures of the Medicis,” a four-month-long show of art from the collection of the house of Medici, tracing their centuries-old influence on art, politics and everyday life.

Click here to read the article from the New York Times

Robin Hood DVD released

The DVD and Blu-Ray versions of Robin Hood have been released. They contain the theatrical version of the film as well as an unrated version, which is approximately 15 minutes longer.

Other extras on the film include twelve minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, with optional commentary and an introduction by editor Pietro Scalia; an hour-long documentary called Rise and Rise Again: Making Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood; and The Art of Nottingham, which offers viewers a snapshot of the pre-vis/storyboard effort, productions design, costuming, and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos. The Blu-Ray version also contains a “Director’s Notebook,” which is a pop-up feature that runs during the picture, stopping to showcase production featurettes, stills, storyboards, “Ridleygrams,” and general filmmaking effort.

Click here to see the full article from

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meet Helen Cassidy – Castle seller

Ireland is home to dozens of medieval castles which are in private hands, and in recent years many entrepreneurs have been looking to buy these properties so they can restore them and turn them into hotels or historic homes. If they are interested in buying, it is most likely they will want to contact Helen Cassidy

Cassidy, a real-estate agent and auctioneer, operates out of the town of Clonbur in the west of Ireland, and has been selling all kinds of properties. She notes, “I grapple with a wide variety of rather gripping, glamorous properties, from Castles in varying states of repair, to huge Islands accessable only by boat, chopper and waders, to pretty Western Cottages and lakeshore abbodes”.

Click here to read this article from

Renowned archeologists agree on tomb of ancient Chinese legendary ruler

More than 120 renowned Chinese archaeologists on Sunday agreed that an ancient tomb belonged to Cao Cao, a cunning general and ruler who lived some 1,800 years ago, amid doubts about its authenticity.

"After discussions about excavated items from the tomb, a consensus has been reached that it belongs to Cao Cao", Bai Yunxiang, deputy director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told a symposium after a brief study of the tomb in Xigaoxue Village of Anyang, Henan Province, and some excavations on Saturday, along with some 120 archaeologists.

"The location of tomb does not contradict the historical records," said Han Lisen, director with the Archaeological Institute of Hebei Province.

Click here to read this article from the Xinhua News Agency

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ancient and Medieval art galleries revamped at Rhode Island Museum

As a major launching pad for young artists and designers, the Rhode Island School of Design is necessarily focused on the future. It’s a place where the cutting-edge is commonplace.

But on Friday, the past, not the future, will take center stage as the school’s Museum of Art unveils two newly renovated gallery areas — one devoted to ancient Greek and Roman art, the other to paintings, sculptures and other artworks from the Medieval and early Renaissance eras.

According to museum officials, the year-long $1.4-million renovation campaign represents the galleries’ first major overhaul since the 1930s.

Click here to read the full article from the Providence Journal

New Arabic Prof Researches Arabic-Islamic Civilization

For new professor of Arabic Erez Naaman, love of the Arabic language goes beyond its modern practicality and its importance in understanding historical texts. Growing up in Israel, Naaman occasionally heard his grandmother—who hailed from Yemen—speaking a Yemeni Arabic dialect at home. In addition, he was intrigued from a young age by the language’s elegant written appearance and sound.

“In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful languages,” he says. “The language is very rich and really unique in its depth of vocabulary, its architectonic syntax, and also its morphology. There’s no end to how much one can acquire and learn because there are so many aspects that you can always improve on.”

Click here to read this article from American University 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Viking Fortress Discovered in Ireland

A Viking fortress of major importance has been discovered at Annagassan, County Louth in Ireland. The extensive site, which was uncovered following targeted research excavation, is believed to be the infamous Viking base of Linn Duchaill. A defensive rampart, consisting of a deep ditch and a bank, was excavated and while radio carbon dates are awaited to confirm the date the rampart has all the appearances of the main fortification of the Viking Fortress.

Linn Duchaill was founded by Vikings in 841 AD – according to medieval Irish annals, the Norsemen used this place to raid throughout Ireland, trade good and export Irish slaves. A battle was recorded as having taken place her in 851, and in 927 the Vikings abandoned Linn Duchaill in order to move to Britain.

Click here to read the full article from

Gongsan Fortress revives memories of Baekje Kingdom

It’s easy to see that Gongsan Fortress is no ordinary site, with the solemn figure of a carved guard keeping watch. The meandering ivy mingles with the surrounding forest that encloses the mountain castle, which in turn grasps firmly to the swooping ranges, speaking of its long history. Looking down from the watchtower affords the visitor a view unmatched in its beauty.

This stronghold is said to be representative of the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-660 A.D.), located in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province. These consecrated walls were once called Ungjin Fortress, which protected the seat of government in the eponymous capital, now present-day Gongju.

In ancient times, King Munju (475 A.D.) moved the capital of Baekje from Seoul to Ungjin and the fortress was built around the new hub, protecting five generations of rulers for 64 years.

Click here to read this article from the Korean Times

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stirling Castle hosts “Secrets of the Skeletons”

The secrets of medieval skeletons discovered at Stirling Castle will be revealed during an evening with renowned forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black from the University of Dundee and leading archaeologist Gordon Ewart. The skeletons were part of a group discovered by Mr Ewart and his team when they were excavating a lost royal chapel at the castle.

The “Secrets of the Skeletons” talks will take place in Stirling Castle’s magnificent Great Hall on Wednesday, September 22nd.

Click here to read the full article from

I am a Viking! DNA test reveals shock result for Leicestershire villager

Little did village heritage warden Wayne Coleman realise what a simple DNA test would reveal about his family. He had just wanted to help build up a picture of the history of his home village of Kibworth Beauchamp.

For hundreds of years the Coleman family has been part of the rural life of the community. Mr Coleman, who has done much to protect the fabric of the village, readily took the swab of the inside of his mouth and sent off the sample.

But the test result was a surprise. It shows his DNA is full-blooded, axe-wielding Norse Viking.

Click here to read this article from the Leicester Mercury

Funding for Glyndwr 'prince' site in Denbighshire

The site where Owain Glyndwr is said to have declared himself prince of Wales is set to undergo conservation work. The announcement by the assembly government comes on the 610th anniversary of the proclamation at Glyndyfrdwy near Corwen, Denbighshire.

Work will be carried out on the mound or motte as part of a £2m programme to preserve Welsh medieval sites. Without conservation, historical experts fear the remains of the motte are in danger of collapsing.

Click here to read the full article from the BBC

National Expedition Restores Archeological Byzantine Burial in Palmyra

The national expedition at Palmyra Antiquities Department has ended the process of restoring and rehabilitating an archeological tow-story house tomb belonging to a Palmyrene family. Vice-Chairman of Palmyra Antiquities Department Khalil al-Hariri said that the square-shaped tomb was one of the defensive towers during the Byzantine Era, indicating that it was built on the northern defensive wall of Palmyra.

Al-Hariri added that the tomb has been completely restored and become ready to receive its visitors. He said that inside the house burial, there are six tombs built of limestone slabs and a stone stair connecting the cellar with the ground floor.

The burial consists of a cellar and ground floor with tow entrances and a destroyed stone-made door.The thick black soil near the edifice indicates that it was burnt during the Byzantine era.

Click here to read the full article from the Syrian Arab News Agency

Unique Byzantine seal found in ancient Thracian city of Perperokon

A unique Byzantine seal has been found in the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, archaeologist Nikoklay Ovcharov announced for FOCUS News Agency.

The seal is of patrician Teodorokan. The seal is made of lead. In the past such seals were used for decree-letters. These seals in some way resemble post cards. They bear the name, the surname, the title and the rank of the person.

Click here to read the full article from the FOCUS News Agency

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Archaeologists surprised by medieval skeletons found at Chickerell site

Medieval skeletons have been uncovered during the first stage of £200,000 building work to revamp a church in Chickerell.

Archaeologists were called in when the remains of two children, thought to be from as early as the 13th century, were found close to the main building of St Mary the Virgin Parish Church.

Builders had expected to uncover remains during their work to create a two-storey extension on the former vestry site but not so close to ground level.

Care is now being taken to record the skeletons as they were found and to re-inter them elsewhere in the churchyard.

Click here to read this article from the Dorset Echo

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Roman Helmet found in Cumbria goes to auction

A bronze Roman helmet discovered earlier this year in northwest England will be going up for auction next month at Christie’s, and is expected to sell for £200,000 to £300,000. Discovered by a metal detectorist in May, the Crosby Garrett Helmet dates from the late 1st-2nd Century A.D. and is one of only three comparable examples ever to have been discovered in the United Kingdom complete with face-mask in the last 250 years. It will be on public display for the first time at Christie’s locations in London from 14 September before being offered at auction on 7 October.

Click here to read the full article from History of the Ancient World

Vatican Library reopens after restoration

Following three years of restoration work, the Vatican Apostolic Library is due to reopen its doors on 20 September. The announcement was made in a press conference, held Monday morning in the Sistine Hall of the Vatican Museums by Vatican officials and the company in charge of the restoration work.

Click here to read the full article and see three video reports at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book on medieval astrology wins award

Dr. Scott Hendrix, assistant professor of history at Carroll University, has published a new book that has been awarded the D. Simon Evans Prize for “Outstanding Contributions to Medieval Studies.”

How Albert the Great’s Speculum Astronomiae Was Interpreted and Used by Four Centuries of Readers: A Study in Late Medieval Medicine, Astronomy and Astrology was published this year by The Edwin Mellen Press.

Click here to read the full article on

Review of The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages, by Robert Fossier

A Unified Theory of Everything is the holy grail of the physical sciences, and, by the same token, a unified history of the European Middle Ages would be wonderful were it possible.

Robert Fossier's The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages aims to be just that. It is a grand-scale, breathless, dizzying tour, whisking us through a labyrinth of concepts, texts, authors and centuries in pursuit of the lives of the ordinary people who make up the world of medieval Europe.

But it is very much one man's idiosyncratic tour, and that man is an 80-year-old Frenchman. His perspective of the Middle Ages is not mine, and I wonder if it's a perspective that could be assimilated by Australian readers of the 21st century.

Click here to read the full review from The Australian

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Archaeological dig opens up secrets of Paisley Abbey drain

Treasure hunters are aiming to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Paisley’s medieval past – by staging an archaeological dig at the town’s most famous landmark.

The 12-day dig is under way at Paisley Abbey as experts hope to find out more about its historic drain and the layout of the church itself.

Click here to read the full article from the Paisley Daily Express

Rare Medieval Bible bought by American University

A medieval Bible written in Oxford, England, around 1240, has been purchased by the University of South Carolina for $77 000. The small-sized bible will be added to other medieval holdings at the university’s Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.

“This Bible is exceptionally fine,” says Dr. Scott Gwara, a USC medievalist who recommended the acquisition and funding for its purchase from the B. H. Breslauer Foundation. “Even though it’s written in Latin, the 1,000-page manuscript is from England, produced around 1240.”

Click here to read the full article from

Early 19th-century edition of Chaucer’s works uncovered

A previously unknown early 19th-century edition of The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer has been identified by University of Otago senior lecturer in English Dr Simone Celine Marshall, with important ramifications internationally for the study of medieval literature.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1320-1400) is frequently regarded as the father of English literature, having written an extensive amount of English poetry, most famously The Canterbury Tales. Living prior to the invention of the printing press, it has been difficult to establish exactly which poems are his, and for many centuries a great number were wrongly attributed to him.

Click here to read the full article from

New Zealand medieval scholar wins award from university

Dr Simone Celine Marshall has been named one of the 2010 recipients of the University of Otago’s Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research for her work work on medieval literature. The awards are given out by the university for outstanding research achievements and comes with $5000 to support their research and scholarly development.

Dr Marshall is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English where she conducts research into medieval literature. After studying at Victoria University of Wellington and Waikato University, she completed a PhD at the University of Sydney in 2005.

Click here to read the full article from

Archaeologists Find Pre-Viking Ship Burial

Another ship burial discovered this year in the village of Salme may turn out to be a pre-viking era battleground burial, an unparalleled find in Europe. So far, 16 skeletons of men killed in battle have been discovered on the site.

There is no doubt that a fierce struggle took place some 1,250 years ago near what is now the village of Salme on the island of Saaremaa, said Jüri Peets, professor of archaeology at Tallinn University. "Our estimate is 30 casualties, plus the same amount of injured. The skeletons bear sword marks. This shows the battle took place on land - you can't reach the enemy with a sword from a boat. There were also arrowheads found in the skeletons and in a shield."

Click here to read the full article from Estonian Public Broadcasting

Moothill at Scone’s Palace about a thousand years old, archaeologists find

Archaeologists have discovered that the Moothill built at Scone Palace in central Scotland was built between the late ninth century and early 11th century. The Moothill has been famous for being the site where Robert Bruce was crowned King of Scots in 1306.

Dr Oliver O’Grady of the MASS Project (Moothill and Abbey Survey Scone) was able to determine the date from scientific analysis of carbon samples retrieved during excavations of a massive ditch that once surrounded the Moothill.

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Medievalists work to restore damaged 14th century manuscript

A team of medieval scholars are undertaking a project to restore a 14th century manuscript, which was had been badly damaged in the Second World War, and was believed to have been unrecoverable.

Gregory Heyworth, associate professor of English at the University of Mississippi, and three students are using a portable, high-power, multispectral digital imaging laboratory to reveal writing found in a text called Les Esches d’Amour (The Chess of Love), which is a 14th century Middle French poem.

Click here to read the article on

Project examines 13th century music

The Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney is part of a team that has been awarded the equivalent of over one million Australian dollars to help re-catalogue, research and produce sound recordings of an important but largely neglected genre of 13th-century vocal music.

Titled Cantum pulcriorem invenire: Thirteenth-century Latin Poetry and Music, the three-year project will examine manuscripts kept in archives across Europe and will collate all the information on these manuscripts, the music and the poetry, to create a digitally searchable database which will enable a far more wide-ranging study of the conductus than has previously been possible.

Click here to read the article from

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A New Theory on the Origin of the Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen are the most famous and important chess pieces in history. They have a long historical and scholarly record, part of which is that they were made in Norway roughly 800 years ago. But now two Icelandic men are challenging that belief and trying to prove that the pieces came from their country.

The pieces were discovered on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in 1831 — hence their name. Carved mostly out of walrus tusk, they were found in a small carrying-case made of stone inside a sand dune. There are different theories about how they ended up there, including that they were left over from a shipwreck or that they were stolen and buried on the island and then forgotten.

Click here to read this article from the New York Times

Monday, September 06, 2010

Cloistered away in New York City

Welcome to The Cloisters. It’s officially a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it rests at the northern tip of Manhattan Island, in a beautifully remote woodland setting known as Fort Tryon Park.

It takes its name from a series of five self-enclosed French medieval gardens that were re-assembled here from their original structures in the late 1930s, all part of a giant gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Every effort was made to see that the buildings were as historically accurate as possible and although the overall castle is not based on any one structure it somehow reflects a feeling of total authenticity.

Click here to read this article from the Toronto Star

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Archaeologists find 13th century burial site in Estonia

Ongoing archeological excavations in the late medieval church yard of Valjala, an old settlement on the island of Saaremaa off the western Estonian mainland, have revealed 15 graves from the mid 13th century.

Five people were originally buried in limestone coffins but fragments of wood, some of it resembling birch bark, still await exploration and, according to the local newspaper Saarte Hääl, they give reason to believe that at least one child had been buried in a wooden coffin.

The height of one of the men was at least 180 centimeters and he had a remarkably sturdy bone structure, which contributes to the hypothesis based on historical records that Saaremaa's population in general was significantly taller than other Europeans in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Click here to read this article from Estonia Public Broadcasting

Friday, September 03, 2010

Rare Anglo-Saxon treasure sees the light of day

A very rare Anglo-Saxon gold ring is to go on display at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire after being shown in the BBC2 series Digging for Britain. The series also features excavations at Berkeley carried out by archaeologists from the University of Bristol who have uncovered evidence for a Dark Age monastery before the castle was constructed in the eleventh century.

The gold ring is believed to have been found as long ago as the eighteenth century and was first recorded in the castle’s collections in 1860. However, in recent years it has only been shown in public once at an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1972.

Now, thanks to renewed interest in Anglo-Saxon Berkeley due to the University of Bristol’s excavations, the castle authorities have decided to display the ring for a limited period during September.

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Project to examine images of Hell in the medieval churches of Crete

Frescoes from the island of Crete depicting scenes of Hell and the punishments of the damned are the focus of a new research project led by historians in England and Germany.

Angeliki Lymberopoulou of The Open University, and Vasiliki Tsamakda, from the University of Mainz, aim to place and assess these representations within a wider geographical and cultural context involving both Greek-Orthodox and contemporary western examples (the Balkans, Cyprus, Cappadocia and Italy). The material will be accessible to scholars and will provide a stepping stone for future research in key iconographic subjects for understanding their social and historic context.

Click here to read this article from

The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: Evidence, Memories, Inventions

What constitutes ‘Britishness’ is turning out to be more complicated than many people previously believed. An innovative multidisciplinary research programme led by the University of Leicester is set to investigate its many dimensions and components.

The University is to receive a £1.37 million Research Programme Award granted by the Leverhulme Trust, over five years, to carry out a major study on The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: Evidence, Memories, Inventions. This wide-ranging project will investigate the impact of the movement of people in the distant past on the cultural, linguistic and population history of the British Isles. It will also examine the influence of ancient diasporas – remembered or suppressed, perhaps exaggerated or even invented – on the construction of British identities, past and present.

Click here to read this article from

'World's Oldest Movable Type' Found

A Korean academic said Wednesday he has found the world's oldest movable metal print, which predates what is believed to be the world's oldest book printed using movable metal type, "Jikji Simche Yojeol" from 1377. The newly found letters are possibly 138 years older.

Prof. Nam Kwon-heui of Kyungpook National University said, "After analyzing around 100 movable metal letters that were in the private collection of a Korean, we have confirmed that 12 of them were made in the early 13th century."

Click here to read the article from the Chosun Ilbo

Click here to read an article about the same story from the Korean Times

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lawyers Laid Bare: The Private Lives of Medieval and Early Tudor Lawyers

The results of a two year project will soon reveal new insights into the rise of lawyers in the medieval and Tudor periods. Professor Anthony Musson, a legal historian at the University of Exeter, is about to complete a new book entitled, Lawyers Laid Bare: The Private Lives of Medieval and Early Tudor Lawyers, which seeks to provide a broader picture outside of the familiar portrayal of lawyers as figures of fun or revulsion.

Professor Musson was supported by an £80,640 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). His research examined lawyers in medieval and early modern society (years 1258-1558). This entailed identifying how they managed their estates, where they lived, what their families and households were like, how they conducted themselves, their religious beliefs, philanthropy, and the nature of their marriages and alliances.

Click here to read this news article from

Piece of medieval history for sale at knockdown price

It's a slice of medieval history at a bargain price. But anyone who buys the 14th century tithe barn at Easington in Holderness may find development opportunities limited.

The listed building will go under the hammer at a property auction on September 16 at a guide price of £125,000. The barn, at the rear of Rectory Farm, next to All Saints Church in the village, would have once been used to store tithes paid to the church as a tax – equivalent to one-tenth of the villagers' produce.

It is now a scheduled ancient monument, with the highest level of protection that can be given to any building or site.

Click here to read this article from the Yorkshire Post

New Professor Teaches Medieval Literature at Westmont College

Jamie Friedman, who joins Westmont as an assistant professor of English this fall, became fascinated by medieval studies when an English professor visited her history class to discuss Beowulf, the Old English epic poem. “He had us beat on the desks while he chanted the verse,” Friedman says. “The content of the poem and the sounds reverberated in my gut, and I was hooked.”

At Whitworth University, Friedman focused on English literature and French language and literature with an emphasis on medieval studies. She earned master’s degrees at Portland State University and Cornell University and a doctorate in medieval studies at Cornell.

Her research and teaching interests focus on literary, identity and gender theories. “I’ve found that identity studies are one way of getting at who we are and how we exist in our skin as humans in the world,” she says. “I think medieval writers, especially in the 14th century, are also interested in identity and how identities can be questioned. It happens to be an interesting time to think about the big ideas that matter now.”

Click here to read the full article from the Westmont College website