The Far Traveller

I have just come back from a range of different research trips which took me to Shetland, Iceland, Germany and Ireland in a very brief time span. While I have really enjoyed the opportunities to talk with my colleagues, I am less keen on the travel itself, especially since flying is not very comfortable, airports …

Different Strokes

Last Sunday I joined the community cycle ride as part of the University of Nottingham’s Life Cycle 3, and while I was cycling along with my IMR colleague Gaby Neher I was pondering the nature of stroke rehabilitation in Anglo-Saxon England. For all the difference between Anglo-Saxon life experience and our own, there are some …

Comparing technologies of publication

About five and a half centuries ago, printing with moveable type became possible, a result of Johannes Gutenberg’s inventiveness, but also because the necessary materials, including the right kinds of metal to make type, became available. Over the subsequent fifty years or so, this technology spread and became commercially viable: more printed books circulated, especially …

The Enduring Past

Last Friday the Nottingham Medievalists celebrated the 25th anniversary of our Institute and it was a great opportunity to talk to colleagues and students old and new, but it was especially wonderful to see so many people from outside the university. It is very obvious that medieval matters to many people despite the inaccurate ways …

The drama of good government

Next Friday (June 7), I will be attending an extraordinary performance next Friday: an uncut production of Sir David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis at Linlithgow Peel. Ane Satyre is the first surviving play text in Older Scots: it is a personification play, most akin to Mankind , Everyman or even Magnificence. The …

An earlier Iron Lady?

Baroness Thatcher is not the only Margaret to have had a significant impact on the history of Scotland. There is Margaret of Denmark, wife of James III, who seems to have kept the peace between her husband and her eldest son, James IV; there is also her daughter-in-law, Margaret Tudor, who provided her great-grandson (through …

Frost and Famine

The ongoing cold weather continues to dominate our news. March in Old English is hreðmonað ‘rough/cruel month’ and this March certainly plays up to its medieval title. With a fear of energy shortages we may perhaps understand why winter and early spring were difficult times for our medieval ancestors. Most of the food that had …

Rehabilitating Macbeth

Apparently inspired by the exhumation and identification of Richard III, there has been a call from a Member of the Scottish Parliament to re-examine and revise the Shakespearian view of Macbeth. This has provoked all kinds of comment, some of which you can see here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-21421001, here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21483159 and here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/rehabilitate-macbeth-scotland-shakespeare?INTCMP=SRCH. That the Shakespearian image …

Deadly companions: a world without antibiotics

In the wake of headlines telling us about the imminent threat of antibiotic resistance I had to think about my own research on the impact of epidemics on early medieval societies. The medieval period can clearly show us what a world without effective antibiotics could be like.  When the Middle Ages are portrayed in popular …

What books reveal about us

If, for some unimaginable reason, all that remained of the culture of 2012 in 2512 was a battered and annotated copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, a printed programme of the Olympic Games, and video footage of Have I Got News for You?, what conclusions about us would our descendants reach, and how would they …