Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lances raised, Italian town prepares to joust

It is time for the butcher to polish up his battle-axe and the schoolmistress to stitch fresh silks on her noblewoman's gown as the hired horseman hones his lance and primes his mount for combat.

Jousting season in Sulmona, and the people of this ancient town, nestled in Italy's central mountains, are making fevered preparations for the biggest festival of their year, when Renaissance pageantry and feasting set the tone for local rivalries fought out in knightly contests on the main square.

The piazza, a natural hippodrome of tall, stone buildings with the high peaks of the Abruzzi soaring up behind, has been laid with hundreds of tonnes of sand and planted with greenery to mark out a track round which 'cavaliere' -- the knights -- will race with lances raised at breakneck speeds.

Click here to read this article from Reuters

Hideouts or Sacred Spaces? Experts Baffled by Mysterious Underground Chambers

There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits? Archeologists are now exploring the subterranean vaults to unravel their secrets.

Beate Greithanner, a dairy farmer, is barefoot as she walks up the lush meadows of the Doblberg, a mountain in Bavaria set against a backdrop of snow-capped Alpine peaks. She stops and points to a hole in the ground. "This is where the cow was grazing," she says. "Suddenly she fell in, up to her hips."

A crater had opened up beneath the unfortunate cow.

On the day after the bovine mishap, Greithanner's husband Rudi examined the hole. He was curious, so he poked his head inside and craned his neck to peer into the darkness. Could it be a hiding place for some sort of treasure, he wondered? As he climbed into the hole to investigate, it turned out to be a narrow, damp tunnel that led diagonally into the earth, like the bowels of some giant dinosaur.

Click here to read this article from Der Spiegel

Friday, July 29, 2011

500 years later, Michelangelo’s ‘greatest work of art’ may be completed

From the espresso-serving waiters to the floor of the Uffizi, Florence residents are hotly debating a suggestion by the mayor that the city should take over where Michelangelo left off five centuries ago and complete a façade for the famous San Lorenzo Basilica.

The great artist was commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X to build the front of the ornate church — one of the oldest in Florence — out of white marble from Carrara. But when the financial strain of buying and hauling the huge chunks of rock from northern Tuscany became apparent, the pope abandoned the project and assigned Michelangelo to work on another part of the church.

Construction on the façade was never initiated. A few sketches and a wood model are all that remain of Michelangelo’s 500-year-old plans.

Click here to read this article from the Toronto Star

Thursday, July 28, 2011

3,000 Roman 3rd Century coins found in Wales

More than 3,000 Roman coins have been discovered in a field, it has emerged.

The hoard of copper alloy coins, dating from the 3rd Century, was unearthed in Montgomery, Powys, several weeks ago.

About 900 were found by a member of a Welshpool metal detecting club, with the rest of the discovery made with help from archaeologists.

The exact location is being kept secret to protect the site. The Powys coroner will determine whether they qualify as treasure.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Click here to read another article from Wales Online

15th century Tudor House re-opens in Southampton

Southampton’s rich history is set to come alive once again as the city’s most important historic attraction re-opens its doors to the public after being closed for nearly ten years.

Tudor House was built towards the end of the 15th century when Southampton was a very different place. Over the years the building has been home to some of Southampton’s most important residents while kings, queens and governments have come and gone. More recently the historic venue housed a much-loved public museum.

Click here to read this article from

'Medieval' skeletons found in Kempsey flood defence work

Eight skeletons have been found in a Worcestershire village where flood defences are being built.

About 12 graves were found in Kempsey by the Environment Agency when they were digging trial trenches as part of an archaeological excavation.

The skeletons, thought to be medieval, are being exhumed and the remains will be recorded before they are reburied.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Teen author creates medieval world in trilogy

When 18-year-old Cayla Kluver set out to write her first novel in 2006, she merely wanted to create a fun story for readers to enjoy.

But as the novel became a trilogy and the Fall Creek High School graduate got deeper into the world she was creating, she found deeper ideas pouring onto the pages.

Kluver's series, which is led off by "Legacy," recently was picked up by the national publishing company Harlequin Teen and is available at Barnes and Noble bookstores everywhere.

Click here to read this article from the Leader-Telegram

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bannockburn centre to receive £3.7m in funding

The site of one of Scotland’s greatest battles will celebrate its 700th anniversary with a new state-of-the-art visitor and interpretation centre as the Heritage Lottery Fund today announced its support for the multi-million pound Battle of Bannockburn project. The project, which is a joint venture between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, was awarded a first round pass* for a grant of £3,692,100 and development funding of £163,000.

The Battle of Bannockburn is one of the most significant battles fought on British soil. It took place on the 23-24 June 1314 between the armies of Robert the Bruce and Edward II and resulted in victory for Bruce against almost overwhelming odds. It was a defining event in Scottish history leading to the declaration of Arbroath in 1320 and the acknowledgement of Scotland’s independence in 1328.

A new innovative visitor centre will use state-of-the-art technology to give visitors a true sense of the battle, from the social history of the time to medieval war craft. The landscape will also be enhanced to re-establish important historic views, such as to Stirling Castle.

Click here to read this article from

July issue of BBC History Magazine features the Crusades

BBC History Magazine, a leading monthly periodical on all things history, features an article about the Crusades and Christian-Muslim medieval interaction. “Traders and Crusaders”, by Thomas Asbridge of Queen Mary University of London, examines how relations between Europe and the Islamic Middle East “were about more than war and hatred.”

The article focuses on the trade relationships that developed between Muslim and Christian merchants, with Italian city-states such as Genoa and Venice establishing networks to bring in goods from Middle Eastern cities like Aleppo and Damascus. Asbridge writes, “these shared interests produced interdependency and promoted carefully regulated contact, even at times of heightened political and military conflict. In the end – even in the midst of holy war – trade was too important to be disrupted.”

Click here to read this article from

Medieval fashions all the rage at Clifford’s Tower

Fashion medieval style is all the rage at Clifford’s Tower in York this summer thanks to a team of travellers from the past.

English Heritage is offering children the chance to dress up in replica costumes from the dark ages to get a taste of life in medieval York.

The time travellers will be giving an insight into medieval table, manners, etiquette, traditions, customs and even how the people of old York would have washed their clothes.

Click here to read this article from The York Press

See also our feature on Medieval Dress

Medieval Book of Lismore returns to Cork

A warm welcome, both physically and climatically, was given to the Book of Lismore in University College Cork yesterday, as one of the most important manuscripts of medieval Ireland returned, albeit temporarily, to Co Cork.

The book started life there about 500 years earlier, having been written to mark the marriage of a local lord, Finghin Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach, to Caitilín. It was most likely kept in Kilbrittain Castle in west Cork until the mid-17th century. Later it found its way to Lismore Castle, where it remained until it was found during excavations in 1814.

Click here to read this article from the Irish Times

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ninth-century temple being restored in China

An ancient royal temple dating back to the ninth-century Gaochang Uygur kingdom in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is being repaired.

Sculptures and murals in the Xida Temple, located in the town of Beiting, are being repaired by leading restoration experts.

"Structures in the temple will be rebuilt and the site will be excavated in order to protect the royal temple," said Zhu Zhonghui, head of the construction and management bureau of the cultural relic park of Beiting.

Click here to read this article from Xinhuanet

Historic library may close as subsidy slashed

A historic London reference library containing 50,000 books, including unique, centuries-old tomes relating to the history of the British Museum, is under threat of closure.

The Paul Hamlyn public library at the British Museum, which has a unique collection of museum guidebooks dating from 1762, along with collections on archaeology, history and art, could close as the institution seeks to cut costs.

"It is with regret that the British Museum is having to consider the closure of the Paul Hamlyn Library," a spokeswoman said. The museum is scaling back to accommodate a 15 per cent cut.

Click here to read this article from The Independent

Oystermouth Castle reopens to the public

The Welsh Castle of Oystermouth has officially re-opened earlier thsi month, after the first phase of an ambitious project to improve access to medieval fortress. On July 16th a 30ft (10m) high glass bridge was unveiled that will allow visitors into a part of the castle called Alina’s Chapel for the first time in hundreds of years. From the chapel there are spectacular views across Swansea Bay.

The reopening brought hundreds of people to the castle to share in the festivities. One visitor, Claire Jones, told the South Wales Evening Post, “It is really nice to see the castle open again. My five-year-old daughter really enjoyed herself although we were too late to get on a tour and so we will be bringing her back again.”

The Welsh Government is contributing £400,000 through Cadw and £585,000 has been provided from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Welsh Government’s £19m Heritage Tourism project. It also benefits from a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the City and County of Swansea’s own resources.

Click here to read this article from

Archaeologists discover church remains in Turkish ancient city

Archeologists have unearthed remains of a church in an ancient city in the Mediterranean province of Isparta, head of the team said on Monday.

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozhanli, the head of Suleyman Demirel University's Archeology Department who heads excavations in the ancient city of Pisidian Antioch, said they had discovered remains of a church during their excavations. "We have found the remains of a three-nave church one and a half meters below the surface," Ozhanli told AA correspondent.

Ozhanli said the building was constructed as a Pagan temple, however it was converted to a church after the spread of Christianity. "This is the fifth church we have brought to daylight in this ancient city," Ozhanli said.

Click here to read this article from World Bulletin

Friday, July 22, 2011

Arthurian scholars meet in Bristol

World-leading experts on the legend of King Arthur gather in Bristol next week for the 23rd Triennial Congress of the International Arthurian Society, hosted by the University of Bristol. The Society was founded in 1948 and has twelve national branches in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, and Japan.

The conference, organised by Professor Elizabeth Archibald, Dr Gareth Griffith and Professor Ad Putter of the Department of English, runs from Monday 25 to Saturday 30 July. A public lecture on “King Arthur and The Public: Popular Reaction to the Arthurian Legend” will be given by the distinguished Arthurian scholar Richard Barber on Tuesday 26 July at 8pm.

A wide-range of academic papers will be presented on the themes of Arthurian ideals and identities, late Arthurian romance, narrative techniques and styles, Arthurian manuscripts and early printed editions, Arthurian images and iconography, and the supernatural and spirituality in the Arthurian world.

Click here to read this article from

AIA to support two medieval Ireland archaeological projects

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) will fund archaeological conservation and research efforts at two medieval sites in Ireland—Blackfriary at Trim and the Priory at Tulsk. Funds for the two sites were raised through a special pledge drive held at the AIA Annual Spring Gala in New York City in April 2011.

The Blackfriary at Trim, County Meath was founded in 1263 AD by Geoffrey de Geneville, Lord of Trim. The historic significance of the site is evidenced in its choice as the location for a meeting of Irish bishops in 1291. AIA funds will be used to support conservation at the friary. A key goal for the program directors is to save the site from neglect and development. They aim to emphasize the rich history of the site by offering educational programming, by inviting local and non-local participation in excavations, and by highlighting the economic benefits of the site as a tourist-attraction.

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Medieval manuscript on medicine revealed in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan

Specialists of the Manuscripts Foundation of the Nakhchivan department of the National Academy of Science of Azerbaijan revealed a medieval manuscript on medicine in Ordubad city of Nakhchivan AR, according to sources in the information department.

'The manuscript book has no cover, its first and last pages are spoiled and illegible. However, an oval seal is in a good form. Inside it, there is a phrase in Arabic there reading ‘Hatif-al-Katib’. The studies show that the author of this manuscript is philosopher and doctor Hatif Said Ahmed Isfahaniyya-Ordubadi who lived in Ordubad in the 8th century', the source said.

Click here to read this article from News.Az

Invasion of the Viking women unearthed

So much for Hagar the Horrible, with his stay-at-home wife, Helga. Viking women may have equaled men moving to England in medieval invasions, suggests a look at ancient burials.

Vikings famously invaded Eastern England around 900 A.D., notes Shane McLeod of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Western Australia in the Early Medieval Europe journal, starting with two army invasions in the 800's, recounted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. The Viking invaders founded their own medieval kingdom, 'the Danelaw', in Eastern England.

"There is some archaeological evidence for early Norse female settlement, most obviously oval brooches, but this evidence is minimal. The more difficult to date evidence of place names, personal names, and DNA samples derived from the modern population suggests that Norse women did migrate to England at some stage, but probably in far fewer numbers than Norse men," begins the study.

Click here to read this article from USA Today

Medieval shipwreck found off Sweden – could be lost treasure ship of King Valdemar Atterdag

Swedish archaeologists have announced earlier this month the discovery what appears to be a medieval cog from built between the 12th and 14th centuries. Sonar images reveal that the vessel is 28 metres long and seven metres wide.

The shipwreck was discovered at a depth of 100 metres in waters between the islands of Gotland and Öland off the east coast of Sweden.

There is speculation that the ship might be the lost ship from the fleet of the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, who invaded Gotland in 1361. “There is a theoretical possibility that it is Atterdag’s ship,” said Richard Lundgren, who works for the exploration firm Ocean Recycling, in an interview with The Local.

Click here to read this article from

The weight of medieval armour could cause defeat in battle, new research finds

Suits of armour may have made medieval soldiers feel safe, but modern scientists have found that they were so heavy and constricting they were likely to have limited performance and even influenced the outcome of battles.

The research, by scientists at The University of Auckland, University of Leeds, and University of Milan, has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences.

“The steel plate armour worn by soldiers in medieval Europe weighed 30 to 50 kg, and there was a real trade-off between increased protection and reduced mobility,” says Dr Federico Formenti from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at The University of Auckland.

Click here to read this article from

Our Lady’s Lawsuits – new translations of two 14th-century poems

Judith Davis, Professor Emerita of French and Humanities at Goshen College, and Ron Akehurst of the University of Minnesota have recently completed their book containing translations of two 14th-century poems. Published in May by The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies, the book, titled Our Lady’s Lawsuits, presents first-time English translations of two examples of medieval French religious literature.

The two poems, “L’Advocacie Nostre Dame (Our Lady’s Advocacy)” and “Chapelerie Nostre Dame de Baiex (The Benefice of Our Lady’s Chapel in Bayeux),” were originally written by an anonymous cleric during the first quarter of the 14th century and evoke various contemporary religious disputes.

Click here to read this article from

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Treadmill shows medieval armour influenced battles

Medieval suits of armour were so exhausting to wear that they could have affected the outcomes of famous battles, a study suggests.

Scientists monitored volunteers fitted with 15th Century replica armour as they walked and ran on treadmills. They found that the subjects used high levels of energy, bore immense weight on their legs and suffered from restricted breathing.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The effect of the heavy armour was so great, that the researchers believe it may have have had an impact on the Battle of Agincourt.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Database explains strange survival of irregular verbs

An historical study of the development of irregular verbs in the hundreds of Romance languages including French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan has revealed how these structures survive. Experts have also examined why they are learned by successive generations despite ‘making no sense’ or, apparently, having any function in the language.

Oxford University has published an online database displaying the irregularities of the verb systems of 80 Romance languages and dialects – those that developed from Latin – to highlight the research. The database is useful to specialists and others with an interest in Romance languages.

Click here to read this article from 

Aga Khan Trust helps restore 16th century tomb

The Sunderwala Burj, a 16th century mausoleum adjacent to Mughal emperor Humayun's tomb, has been given a major facelift by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, with the US embassy funding and support of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The mausoleum, part of the Humayun's tomb complex, was restored at a cost of $50,000 from the American Ambassador's Fund for Culture Preservation and a matching grant of the Aga Khan Trust, said conservation architect Ratish Nanda, who head the trust's projects in India.

Click here to read this article from the India Gazette

New online version of The Acts and Monuments by John Foxe released

A new interactive version of The Acts and Monuments by John Foxe has been published online by the University of Sheffield. This work, available at, is an ecclesiastical history that is regarded as an essential resource for researchers of English history, religion and literature.

The Acts and Monuments details the history of the Protestants who were executed for heresy in the sixteenth century. The text was instrumental in creating anti-Catholic sentiments which informed the prejudices of the English people and the public policy of English governments, from the reign of Elizabeth I to that of William IV – from 1560 to 1835.

The text is a foundation source for the history of the English Reformation and the late Medieval Church, as well as being a cornerstone resource for scholars of English literature and religion.

Click here to read this article from

Historic sites have all the signs of gross ineptitude

While attending an academic conference in Ireland, I went with friends to see Slane and Monasterboice, two extraordinary historical sites by any European or international standards.

The monastic ruins at Slane in Co Meath stand proud and tall above the Boyne Valley in a landscape of timeless beauty. A few miles to the north at Monasterboice in Co Louth the ruins are more understated, hiding behind a garden hedge on a winding Irish lane.

But the majestic Round Tower at Monasterboice, rising well above 100ft – Ireland’s unique architectural contribution to medieval Europe – proclaims this place to have once been of great importance. These – and so many other Irish medieval ruins – are known not only to specialist scholars, but to discerning tourists from across the world, as once having been key centres in the nurturing and development of that phenomenon we call European civilisation.

Click here to read this article from The Irish Times

Monday, July 18, 2011

Research uncovers Scotland’s pottery industry in the 12th century

A team of researchers, funded by Historic Scotland, have discovered evidence of a much larger pottery industry in Scotland in the early 12th century than was previously documented.

By applying new identification methods to determine the origin of Scottish redware pottery and tiles, the researchers have been able to pinpoint for the first time different sources of production – even to the extent of identifying sites half a mile apart.

It had been thought that a lot of the medieval tiles found in Scotland had been produced in the Low Countries, however new research suggests that the industry in Scotland was much larger than suspected, and certainly less dependant on imports.

Click here to read this article from

Cologne uncovers an ancient Jewish past

The remains of an ancient Jewish quarter - right in the centre of the German city of Cologne, and still being uncovered - are little short of an archaeological sensation.

The excavations, which began in 2007, have already revealed remains of a synagogue, hospital, bakery, community hall and mikveh, or bathhouse used for ritual purification.

The city now plans to enclose the entire site to create a new Jewish museum outside the former Cologne city hall.

Click here to read this article from Monsters and Critics

Friday, July 15, 2011

Museum of Somerset to reopen with the Frome Hoard

One of the largest collections of Roman coins ever found, a shrunken head from South America and Judge Jeffreys’ medical bill are a few of the many new exhibits which will be on display at the new Museum of Somerset, opening on Thursday 29 September.

For the first time in three years, the Museum of Somerset will be throwing open its doors in spectacular fashion to welcome the public from midday onwards after a £6.93m redevelopment.

Click here to read this article from

Newly rediscovered Da Vinci painting to go on display at the National Gallery

he National Gallery in England will be having the first public showing of a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci work, Salvator Mundi, which was created in the late 15th or early 16th century. It will be featured during the Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan exhibition, from November 9, 2011 to February 5, 2012.

The Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) depicts a half-length figure of Christ facing frontally, holding a crystal orb in his left hand as he raises his right in blessing. One of some 15 surviving Leonardo oil paintings, this is the first time that one of his painting’s was discovered since 1909, when the Benois Madonna, now in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, came to light.

Click here to read this article from

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Dance with Dragons, the fifth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, released

The long-awaited fifth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, entitled A Dance with Dragons, was released this week. The work, written by George R.R. Martin, has earned huge sales and positive reviews.

A Dance with Dragons is set in the fictional world of Westeros, but takes many elements from medieval Europe mixed with fantasy. The series has gained new popularity with the launch of the Game of Thrones television series on HBO, which is based on the first book. Martin’s novels have sold 16 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 20 languages.

The fifth novel runs to 1014 pages and has already reached the #1 spot on’s bestseller list.

Click here to read this article on

Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Christian Complex during Sofia Metro Construction

A large complex of small Christian churches has been gradually unearthed by Bulgarian archaeologists in downtown Sofia during continuing excavations at the construction sites of the Sofia Metro.

During the excavations near the Serdica metro station and the TZUM department store in the downtown of the Bulgarian capital last summer, the archaeologists found the remains of a medieval church.

They have now found two more medieval churches dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries located within 70 meters from one another, archaeologist Snezhana Goryanova has revealed.

Click here to read this article from the Sofia News Agency

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Views from the Walls: the story of Chester's most notable feature

A new exhibition celebrating Chester’s famous city walls will open at the Grosvenor Museum this week (Saturday 16 July).

Chester's city walls form the most complete circuit of walls in Britain, so Chester is rightly renowned as 'The Walled City'.

The ‘Views from the Walls’ exhibition takes you on a tour around the walls and all the sites along the route, exploring their Roman origins, Saxon and Medieval additions, Civil War conflict and Georgian elegance with objects and art from the museum collections.

Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Stuart Parker, said: “More than 3 million people visit Chester’s city walls each and every year. The walls have many stories to share and this exhibition will give viewers fascinating insight into the history of a structure that dates back to the Roman times. I would encourage anyone with an interest in Chester’s extensive past to visit the Grosvenor Museum’s exhibition.”

The exhibition will open with a morning of special events. Visitors to the exhibition between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm will be able to get hands on with the history of the walls with our handling table in the exhibition gallery, and can have a go at making their own tower to take home.

A tour around the walls, run by Chester’s Blue Badge Guides, will be taking place at 2pm, leaving from the Visitor Information Centre in the Town Hall Square. To book a place on the tour please call 0845 647 7868.
An exciting programme of events associated with the exhibition, including talks, tours and fun craft activities, will be running throughout the exhibition, which is open until 2 October.

For further details, please contact Elizabeth Royles at the Grosvenor Museum on 01244 402025 or visit the Grosvenor Museum page.

Source: Cheshire West and Chester Council

Debt fears over medieval St Mary's Church, Rhuddlan

There are fears for the future of a 700-year-old Denbighshire church, a year after a £120,000 refurbishment.

St Mary's Church in Rhuddlan owes £13,500 to the diocese of St Asaph, and the debt is expected to rise to at least £20,000.

Priest-in-charge, the Reverend Peter Allsworth, said the church needed to almost quadruple its £173 weekly income to remain viable.

The Diocese of St Asaph said it had "no intention of seeing the church shut".

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekend News on the theft of the Codex Calixtinus

The main local newspaper El Correo Gallego is reporting that the police are investigating a set of footprints found inside the Cathedral's archive, and are working on theory that thief or thieves came into the church during regular hours, hid somewhere until it closed, and used the cover of night to steal the famous 12th-century manuscript.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais interviewed the chief prosecutor of Galicia, Carlos Varela, who believes that their would be "high demand" on the international market for the manuscript, but Spanish scholar Xosé Ramón Barreiro disagrees, and believes that the culprit may have taken the Codex as a "prank." Whatever the motive, if caught, the person would face up to five years in jail for the crime.

Time Magazine's report on the theft includes some quotes from medieval scholar Richard Oram, who says "Any expert or even someone with basic knowledge would be able to instantly identify [the Codex], and know that it was stolen," he says. "So it would be impossible to sell."

The ‘Big Society’ is a Medieval Society

More than 1,600 experts on the Middle Ages have gathered at the International Medieval Congress, which began today at the University of Leeds. The academic conference is the biggest of its kind in the United Kingdom, and the largest medieval themed conference in Europe. This year’s focus will be the contentious themes of poverty and wealth. The conference will examine the approaches and views taken by medieval societies to these issues and compare them to today’s. Delegates will learn that the spirit of volunteering was strong in medieval times, drawing parallels with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s modern day vision of a ‘Big Society’.

Click here to read this article from

Medieval graffiti reveals how ordinary people practised their faith

Whether you consider graffiti an eye-sore or an art form, scholars at this year’s International Medieval Congress will debate the use of graffiti as an historical source.

Matt Champion of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey will identify graffiti as a normal practise, he said: “Much of the graffiti, far from being hidden away in dark corners, was not only highly visible but was tolerated and an accepted and acceptable part of the medieval Christian experience within the parish church.”

Matt Champion describes graffiti as “lay piety”, as it represented a method of devotion and spirituality that did not require the intervention of clergy men.

Click here to read this article from

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Medieval Sites in Italy, Syria, Turkey and Vietnam added to World Heritage List

Twenty-five sites were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List last month, including four which date from the Middle Ages. The 35th session of the World Heritage Committee was held last month in Paris, where 25 of the 35 proposed sites received final approval to be included on the List, which marks places that are particularly important for their natural or cultural significance.

The World Heritage List now numbers 936 properties: 183 natural sites; 725 cultural; and 28 mixed.

Click here to read the article from

International Medieval Congress to examine disabilities, deserving and undeserving poor, in the Middle Ages

More than 1,600 experts on the Middle Ages will gather next week at the International Medieval Congress to be held at the University of Leeds. The academic conference is the biggest of its kind in the UK, and the largest medieval themed conference in Europe. On Monday academics will discuss the problems medieval authorities had in distributing welfare to the disabled, and the lessons that we can draw from this in the light of Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’.

The British Government’s Welfare Reform Bill, due for its second reading at the House of Lords later this month, attempts to redraw the boundary between those deserving and undeserving of state support. Disability being scrutinised is nothing new, and similar debates happened in the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries.

Click here to read this article from

Friday, July 08, 2011

Latest News on the theft of the Codex Calixtinus

The Spanish newspaper El Pais is reporting that the police are looking over hundreds of hours of video footage and having teams go into the cathedral at Santiago de Compostella to look for forensic evidence. A helicopter flew over the church as well, to see if there was a hole in its roof which could have been used by the thief to enter the building. Click here to read the article from El Pais

Correo Gallego reports that many questions are asked about the security in the cathedral, including where the key to the safe which held the 12th-century manuscript was kept. Click here to read the article from Correo Gallego.

The Associated Press adds that Galicia regional police are setting up a special unit to try to recover the Calixtinus Codex. They also quoteM ariano Rajoy, head of Spain's leading conservative Popular Party, as saying "The theft of the codex strikes me as disgraceful because it was very important for Santiago, Spain and the world." Click here to read this article.

And yes, someone produced this little bit ;)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Codex Calixtinus stolen from Santiago de Compostela

In what is being called the ‘robbery of the century’, a priceless 12th-century manuscript has been stolen from the Santiago de Compostela. The Codex Calixtinus, which contains a kind of travel guide to the famous pilgrimage way of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, was found missing from the cathedral’s archives on Tuesday. It is believed that the manuscript may have been removed on Sunday, but the theft went unnoticed for days.

On Tuesday afternoon an archivist found the safe which held the Codex unlocked (with the key still in the locking mechanism) and the manuscript missing. Church staff spent hours looking for the manuscript before calling in the local police at 10pm that evening. Dozens of police experts have since been examining the cathedral for any evidence and reviewing the video from five security cameras. Unfortunately, none of the video cameras was trained onto the area where the safe was kept.

Click here to read this article from

12th century manuscript goes missing from Spanish cathedral

A hugely valuable illuminated manuscript has disappeared from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, say police. The Codex Calixtinus dates from the 12th Century and was compiled as a guidebook for medieval pilgrims following the Way of Saint James.

This is the oldest copy of the manuscript and is unsaleable on the open market. Only a handful of people had access to the room in which it was kept.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Priceless medieval Spanish pilgrim guide 'missing'

A priceless 12th century guide to Spain's Way of Saint James pilgrimage, the Codex Calixtinus, has disappeared from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, police said Thursday. One of the Western world's first 'guidebooks', it is only shown to the public on special occasions such as Pope Benedict XVI's visit last November to the northeastern Spanish city.

Cathedral staff reported it missing on Wednesday afternoon, said a police spokeswoman. "We are investigating its disappearance," the spokeswoman said. "It is usually kept in a room to which only half a dozen people have access," she said, and special security measures are taken whenever it is unveiled to the public

Click here to read this article from Agence France-Presse

Click here to read an article from the Spanish media Correo Gallego: Robo del siglo: desaparece el Códice Calixtino de la Catedral de Santiago

See also this article from El Pais: El Códice Calixtino sustraído de la Catedral de Santiago no estaba asegurado

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Castle for Sale in Spain

Vicfred’s Castle
Catalonia, Spain

Asking Price: € 590,000

This medieval fortress was rebuilt into a seigneurial house in the seventeenth century. It is surrounded by a wall built in the eighteenth century. Click here to read more about it on

International Medieval Congress begins next week

More than 1,600 experts from all over the world will come together and take a medieval look at the contentious themes of poverty and wealth, at a forthcoming conference at the University of Leeds.

The 17th annual International Medieval Congress, organised by the University’s Institute for Medieval Studies, is the biggest academic event of its kind in the UK and the largest medieval-themed academic conference in Europe.

This year’s Congress will look at the gulf between the rich and poor, examining the approaches and views taken by medieval societies to these issues and comparing them to today’s. Delegates will learn that the spirit of volunteering was strong in medieval times, drawing parallels with Prime Minister David Cameron’s modern day vision of a ‘Big Society’. The conference will also consider topics including medieval social welfare, graffiti, and the relationship poverty had with the likes of disability and education.

Click here to read this article from

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The painting once sold for £45 'is a long-lost Leonardo worth £120million'

A painting once sold for £45 at auction has been identified as a work by Leonardo Da Vinci and is estimated to be worth a world record £120 million.

The oil on wood panel painting, Salvator Mundi, or Saviour of the World, depicts Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding a globe.

It was attributed to a pupil of Da Vinci. But now an international group of experts has established that it was by the master himself.

Click here to read this article from the Daily Mail

New medieval carvings discovered in Royston Cave

Underneath 500-years-worth of dirt, new carvings were revealed today on the floor of a medieval cave. The discovery of what is thought to be burial plaques was made at the start of an investigation to restore and protect the 13th century mystical drawings in a 5,000-year-old chalk cavern 40ft below street level in Royston.

Click here to read this article from The Hertfordshire Mercury

Work begins to preserve historic carvings at Royston Cave

Conservationists in Hertfordshire are working to preserve historic underground carvings.Dating from the 14th Century, the wall carvings at Royston Cave feature a range of religious symbols.

Since its discovery in the 18th Century, the cave has experienced a marked deterioration in the detail of its carvings. Experts believe the damage is being caused by worms feeding on nutrients in the chalk walls.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Viking Living History House in Sweden destroyed by fire

A Living History museum and house dedicated to Viking history was destroyed by fire on the weekend in Sweden. The house was located in the town of Frosaker, which is in central Sweden near Stockholm. Five people were inside in the house when the fire started, but they all managed to escape.

Here are two news reports in Swedish:

And here is a posting from Uhara: The Gazette, with her report on the fire, as well as photos of the site.

Medieval recipe book reveals wealth of Evesham's monks

A Worcestershire historian has compiled a book of recipes used by Benedictine monks of Evesham Abbey. David Snowden of the Evesham Historical Society has published Pies and Flans, containing ingredients and dishes from medieval times.

They are all recipes the monks used to make at the abbey, founded in 701, by St. Ecgwine, third Bishop of Worcester. He said: "I managed to find a hard core of recipes which related to the abbey of St Mary and St Ecgwine."

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Monday, July 04, 2011

Book of Lismore goes on display at University College Cork

University College Cork (UCC) will be hosting an exhibit featuring a major medieval Irish manuscripts, the Book of Lismore. The fifteenth-century manuscript will be on public display from 22 July to 30 October at the Glucksman Gallery in an exhibition titled: Travelled Tales – Leabhar Siúlach, Scéalach: The Book of Lismore at University College Cork. The exhibition will also include ancillary material, including related Irish manuscripts and an important Van Dyck portrait. The manuscript has never before been displayed publicly.

The history of the Book of Lismore begins in the late fifteenth century, when it was compiled for noble patrons, Finghin Mac Cárthaigh (McCarthy) Riabhach, and his wife, Caitilín. The writing probably took place at the Franciscan house at Timoleague, in west Cork, which was associated with the family of Mac Carthaigh Riabhach since its foundation.

Click here to read this article from

Knights Hospitaller preceptory discovered at Mourneabbey in Ireland

A rare link between North Cork and an order of 13th century Christian knights has been revealed following a Cork County Council archaeological survey of Mourneabbey near Mallow. Excavations at the site of a 13th century church uncovered the remains of a headquarters or preceptory of the Knights Hospitaller, of whom little other evidence exists in Ireland today.

The findings of the survey mean that the site of the church remains at Mourneabbey is of great historical significance and it has already been included on the tourist route of the Avondhu Blackwater Group. Cork County Council Archaeologist Cathryn Power and consultant archaeologist Eamonn Cotter revealed their findings to Mallow Field Club and Mourneabbey Community Council at a talk held at the site on Tuesday, June 21.

"This national monument is very important in a worldwide context; it is one of the few remaining Knights Hospitallers sites in Ireland," said Ms Power.

Click here to read this article from The Corkman

Czech Republic: Experts uncover unique medieval tile in Cistercian basilica

Archaeologists have uncovered rare finds from the High Middle Ages, including a unique tile with a symbol of dragon, during the archeological research accompanying the restoration of the basilica in Velehrad, a popular church pilgrimage complex.

Dragon, embodiment of evil, appears only rarely in the Cistercian premises such as the Velehrad basilica, Zdenek Schenk, from the Archaia Olomouc organisation, told CTK Saturday.

The tile was uncovered inside a brick construction in front of the entrance of the church belonging to the Velehrad monastery. "It is a Gothic tile decorated with a relief with the dragon motif, a really wonderfully worked-out symbol of evil forces and of the devil himself in terms of the Christian ideology," Schenk said.

Click here to read this article from the Prague Daily Monitor

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Camelot: Starz TV Series Cancelled, No Season Two

Starz has decided to cancel their Camelot TV series after one season. While the ratings weren’t bad for the Arthurian show, the numbers aren’t necessarily the whole reason why there won’t be a second season.

Camelot, as you might have guessed, is based on the legend of King Arthur. The series stars Jamie Campbell Bower as a young King Arthur, with Joseph Fiennes as Merlin, Eva Green as Morgan, and Tamsin Egerton as Guinevere.

Click here to read this article from TV Series Finale

Cosmeston: Archaeologists express concern over potential loss of 'living' medieval village

Archaeologists concerned about the future of Cosmeston Medieval Village have been joined by Penarth Assembly Member Vaughan Gething, in calling on the Vale Council to think again on its proposals for the site.

As previously reported, the council identified changes to the Medieval Village as part of proposed savings agreed at the end of February.

The proposal involves opening the village up as free entry, resulting in a reduction in staff and savings of £60,000 per year.

Click here to read this article from the Penarth Times

Friday, July 01, 2011

Viking silver coin hoard discovered in northern England

A Viking treasure hoard of silver coins has been discovered in the northern English country of Cumbria. The find is being billed as ‘the missing link’ by experts who say it is the long-awaited significant evidence of 9th and 10th Century AD material culture of the settlers upon the area around Barrow-in-Furness.

The 92 silver coins and artefacts (several ingots and one near-complete silver bracelet) were discovered and brought to the surface in May by a locally-based metal detectorist. Amongst the coins is a pair of Arabic dirhams – silver currency which circulated in 10th century Europe but rarely found in the United Kingdom.

Click here to read this article from

Scholars examine life and writings of Jocelin of Furness

Jocelin of Furness was one of the most significant writers to emerge from England’s north-west during the Middle Ages, but historians have tended to overlook his work. Now a team of researchers are trying to increase awareness of his importance and what his writings tell us about life at the turn of the 13th century.

A conference about one of the most significant, but shadowy figures in Cumbria’s medieval past will take place next week, as part of a wider project to uncover more about his life and works.

Jocelin of Furness was a monk who lived at the turn of the 13th century, and spent most of his life at Furness Abbey in Cumbria, as his name suggests. He was a hagiographer – a writer of Saints lives – and produced four great works including a life of Ireland’s patron Saint, Patrick.

Click here to read this article from