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 Medievalists.net

‘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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Metro.co.uk

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

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 Medievalists.net

£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 Medievalists.net

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Medical imaging used to probe Tower of London mural

Tucked away in the Tower of London, a mysterious wall painting has been intriguing art historians. Commonly called the Byward Angel, it's one of the most well-preserved murals in the UK and the only surviving medieval interior at the castle. The style of the painting suggests it dates back to the 1390s - but nobody knows who painted it or why it's there.

Until recently, investigating the mural has been a painstaking task as it could only be analysed invasively by taking tiny samples of paint. Now, Haida Liang and her team from Nottingham Trent University have repurposed a medical imaging technique called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to peer inside the paint. "It was first developed to look at 3D in vivo imaging of the eye," says Liang. "In 2004, we started using it for paintings, but it's the first time that we're using it to scan a wall painting."

Click here to read this article from New Scientist

Monday, November 08, 2010

Viking life on display in Aberdeen

An exhibition inspired by Viking life has opened in Aberdeen. Exposure is a sound and light installation at Satrosphere and runs until 6 December.

Studies of soil samples dated up to one thousand years old at a Norse settlement in southern Greenland gave clues to the harsh life experienced by settlers at the time.

Click here to read this article from BBC News

Silbury Hill's Anglo-Saxon makeover

Silbury Hill acquired its distinctive shape in more modern times, according to new archaeological evidence. It is traditionally thought that the hill, with its steep banks and flat top, was conceived and completed in pre-historic times.

But new research presented in a new book suggests the final shape was a late Anglo-Saxon innovation. The hill, near Avebury in Wiltshire, is Europe's largest man-made prehistoric mound.

Click here to read this article and video from BBC News

1000-year-old human skeleton found in western Bulgaria

A skeleton estimated to be more than 1000 years old was discovered in the western Bulgarian town of Kyustendil during sewage maintenance work, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on November 8 2010.

Experts describe the find as a "medieval Christian gravesite". As shown by the television footage, the skeleton is in very good condition, intact, with folded upper limps and prostrate legs. It was not damaged by nearby construction work, the report said

Click here to read this article from the Sofia Echo

Friday, November 05, 2010

Harlech Castle in Wales to get upgrades

Harlech Castle in northern Wales will soon be receiving new interpretation, presentation and visitor facilities, following the acquisition of the town’s Castle Hotel and car park by Cadw, the Welsh Assembly Government’s historic environment service. The move was made to maintain access to the castle and to provide the castle with a much needed new visitor centre and improved visitor facilities. It will deliver a vastly improved sense of arrival befitting a World Heritage site. Both the hotel and car park are adjacent to the entrance of Harlech Castle.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

Battlefields, Historic Sites, to get heritage protection in Scotland

cotland’s Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop announced yesterday new legislation that will create an official registry of battlefields and assist in protecting the historic environment.

The battlefields inventory will include famous sites such as Bannockburn and Culloden. The Minister added, ”It is intrinsic to our strong sense of cultural identity and it provides the people of Scotland with a rich environment in which to live and work. The historic environment is both inspiring and has a significant role to play in developing a sustainable economic future for Scotland.”

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Bangor Pontifical Project celebrates first anniversary

The Bangor Pontifical Project, launched one year ago by Bangor University and Bangor Cathedral in Wales, has just reached its first significant milestone. Completion of phase one, funded by a Welsh Assembly grant, has enabled conservation and rebinding of the Bangor Pontifical and digitization of its 340 pages. The manuscript was photographed by the cutting-edge Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) last spring, and viewers may now zoom in on the excellent high-quality images via the open access Bangor Pontifical Project website.

The Bangor Pontifical is the only complete liturgical manuscript known to survive from the medieval diocese of Bangor, and one of just two extant books from medieval Wales as a whole to contain substantial plainchant notation. Inscribed as belonging originally to Anian, bishop of Bangor, it is now confidently dated to the first quarter of the fourteenth century.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

Rare collection of medieval coins is to be auctioned off

A hoard of medieval coins is due to go under the hammer at Lichfield Auction Centre next month. The "extremely fine collection" of gold and silver coins was discovered on one of Richard Winterton Auctioneers' valuation days last week.

"It is the best collection in terms of hammered quality that I have seen in 10 years," said coin and medal expert Stephen Wrenn. "We have had one or two hammered pieces, but not to this degree."

Click here to read this article from the Lichfield Mercury

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Black Death came from China, study finds

An international team of scientists have concluded that the plague known as the Black Death originated in China over 2600 years ago. In the article, ‘Yersinia pestis genome sequencing identifies patterns of global phylogenetic diversity’, which was published this week in the online edition of the journal Nature Genetics, the team used used genome sequencing to track the spread of the plague from the medieval period to the 19th century.

The plague evolved in the vicinity of China over 2000 years ago and spread repeatedly around the world in deadly pandemics. The scientists compared 17 complete plague genome sequences and 933 variable DNA sites on a unique global collection of plague isolates (bacterial strains). This information allowed the team to track the progress of historical pandemics throughout the world, and to calculate the age of different waves. Most of these events could be linked to known major historical events, such as the Black Death.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

Chivalry isn't dead at World Joust event

Ever since Lance Armstrong watched a dodgeball tournament on ESPN the Ocho, niche sports enthusiasts claim everything this side of cup stacking deserves a programming slot. And we've seen all kinds of variants invited onto the stage including roque, flugtag, kickball, wife carrying, over-the-line and punkin chunkin, just to name a few.

Flip through the ESPN family of channels in the wee hours of the night, and you're bound to catch poker, billiards, bowling, auto racing, and tractor-trailer truck pulling. So before you tell me a medieval pastime has no chance of seeing the light of cable TV, imagine the guy on the couch …

Feet kicked up, remote in one hand, longneck in the other. He watches as two dudes in armor race toward each other on horseback with 11-foot-long lances aimed at each other's vena cava in perfect HD quality on his 42-inch plasma.

Click here to read this article from ESPN

Early medieval manuscripts give new view of English life under the Normans

A new study of early medieval manuscripts written in the English language has revealed that the Normans, who conquered England in 1066, were not the destructive force of popular belief. The project, ‘The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060-1220′ was funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and provides contextual information and a catalogue of all the surviving books that were written between 1060 and 1220 that contain text written in the English language. This descriptive catalogue is freely available to other scholars in the field.

The new story shows English people living under Norman rule continued to write, read and preach in the English language as they had done under the Anglo-Saxon kings in earlier centuries, in the new social and political climate.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

How did the Baltic Crusades shape European society as we know it today?

A new University of Reading led study aims to investigate the environmental and cultural impact of the Baltic Crusades and its role in shaping modern Europe. Whilst the Crusades are famously associated with European attempts to recover the Holy Land, they were also a key feature of the expansion of European society in other frontier regions.

Using a range of state-of-the-art techniques in scientific archaeology and historical studies, researchers aim to discover to what extent were new forms of agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting techniques and resource exploitation strategies, part of the ‘cultural package’ introduced as a result of the Crusades.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

Ancient well discovery sheds light on city's medieval past

Archaeologists have unearthed a medieval well over 3m (9ft) deep which had lain undiscovered for over 800 years. The University of Sheffield's archaeological consultancy firm ARCUS made the unexpected find in Sheffield's city centre.

The discovery was made during the team's excavation at Carmel House on Fargate in Sheffield city centre, as part of the redevelopment of the site by Hermes Property Unit Trust.

University academics said it was "unprecedented evidence" about how Sheffield would have looked in medieval times, when it was a small market town until its massive growth during the industrial revolution. The dating of the well, dug into sandstone bedrock, suggested it was contemporary with the rebuilding of Sheffield Castle in stone in 1270 and the granting of Sheffield's market charter by Edward I in 1296.

Click here to read this article from the Yorkshire Post

Monday, November 01, 2010

Medieval Warwick study day

A one day workshop for people interested in the medieval history of Warwick is to be run by Warwickshire County Council. On Monday 8 November, Warwickshire County Record Office is hosting a study day exploring the medieval history of Warwick. The day covers four main areas:

The first session, The Origins and Growth of Early Medieval Warwick, will explore the evidence that suggests Warwick was actually founded on a minster of seventh century foundation.

Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net

Program's small size a strength, say medieval students

Students in large concentrations often relish the opportunity to trade big lecture halls for the intimacy of the seminar room. For students in small concentrations, tight-knit seminars and personal attention are the rule, not the exception.

Currently only 10 students are concentrating in Medieval Studies at Brown, pursuing either the medieval cultures or late antique cultures track. According to Amy Remensnyder, an associate professor of history and the program's director, this is an example of "growing interest among students" in the program.

This spring the seven seniors graduating with a Medieval Studies concentration will represent the largest group the program has produced thus far, according to Remensnyder.

Click here to read this article from The Brown Daily Herald