Eclipses and comets and portents (oh my)

Contrary to popular opinion medieval people did not think that the world was flat. Educated people worked on an Aristotelean idea that the world was round and that it had different zones (including places that were either too hot or too cold to live in). However, medieval people, just in Antiquity, did not know that …

Undying Love

I met my love in the first year: it was one of those strange encounters with a new culture which I had not heard of before. I am talking about my love for all things medieval here – a love that has outlasted almost everything else. I fell for it deeply: ‘the Discreet Charm of …

Feasting the Dead: Hallowe’en

Today is Hallowe’en which according to many sources is based on ‘Celtic’ traditions, because the Celtic year begun on the first of November. While Hallowe’en is not necessarily about the dead (more about the undead) it falls on the night before All Saints’ Day. The Hallow part of the word is derived from Old English …

Prophecies and politics (or: anarchy in ASE)

Bob Geldof has joined the ranks of doom mongers when he predicted that the world only has a good 17 years left to go. While there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic, given all the current wars and human tragedy, the idea that the end is nigh has been around for a long time. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Robin Hood and Arthur

Arthur and Robin are salient figures in our imagined medieval world; they are international; and they appear both to be symbolic of significant values; but somehow they are different. Arguments rage as to the ‘reality’ of both Robin and Arthur. With Robin, however, these arguments are more acute, because the legends associate him with a …