mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
I hate the fact that these damned things always seem to be on PDF, but I suppose it's the easiest way to present a Master's thesis.

Heraldry and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur

The fun thing about Arthurian legend is that it's anachronism stew from the onset. European heraldry as we know it really didn't take off until the High Middle Ages, and the historical King Arthur (Arturius, Artuir, Arturia) lived during the cusp between the Late Roman Period and the Early Middle Ages. But the anachronism stew is what makes it so entertaining!
mediaevalist: (crossdressing)
I'm sure he considered saying the Elizabethan equivalent.

Scholar examines alchemy mystery from 16th-century England

It involves a printer, the far-reaching power of a monarch, possible censorship, three English alchemists dedicated to uncovering the secret of transmutation and a whole lot of unanswered questions. Earlier this summer, Dr. Teresa Burns, University of Wisconsin-Platteville Department of Humanities professor, presented a paper at the Western Michigan University International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo that helps to unravel a 16th-century mystery.

Burns’ topic, which examined the link between the 1591 publication and suppression of the first English printing of George Ripley’s “Compound of Alchemy” and what may have ended a planned long-distance partnership between John Dee and Edward Kelley just a few weeks after it began, was sponsored by Societas Alchimica, a society affiliated with UW-Platteville and led by Burns and colleague Dr. Nancy Turner as vice president and president respectively.

Someone write a novel on this, it's fascinating stuff.
mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
The Round Table might have been found.

Yep, Scootland.

The King's Knot, a geometrical earthwork in the former royal gardens below Stirling Castle, has been shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years. Though the Knot as it appears today dates from the 1620s, its flat-topped central mound is thought to be much older. Writers going back more than six centuries have linked the landmark to the legend of King Arthur.

I've seen this mound when I visited Stirling Castle. At the time, I was more fixated on the crazy-ass story about how James II had murdered the 8th Earl of Douglas when he refused to end his alliance with the Earl of Ross and the Earl of Crawford (which James considered treasonous) by stabbing him 26 times (how did they find that number?) and tossing the body out the window into the garden below.

If I had know the friggin Round Table was out in the King's Knot, I would have paid less attention to the possibility of Douglas's ghost wandering around the inner garden.

Archaeologists from Glasgow University, working with the Stirling Local History Society and Stirling Field and Archaeological Society, conducted the first ever non-invasive survey of the site in May and June in a bid to uncover some of its secrets.

Yeah, well. Glasgow. There was a reason I was sent there for Celtic Archaeology studies.

Historian John Harrison, chair of the SLHS, who initiated the project, said: "Archaeologists using remote-sensing geophysics, have located remains of a circular ditch and other earth works beneath the King's Knot.

"The finds show that the present mound was created on an older site and throws new light on a tradition that King Arthur's Round Table was located in this vicinity."

Stories have been told about the curious geometrical mound for hundreds of years -- including that it was the Round Table where King Arthur gathered his knights.

Around 1375 the Scots poet John Barbour said that "the round table" was south of Stirling Castle, and in 1478 William of Worcester told how "King Arthur kept the Round Table at Stirling Castle".

Oh, but it gets even better.

It has also been suggested the site is partly Iron Age or medieval, or was used as a Roman fort.

Considering that most evidence points to Camelot having been a former Roman fort?

If Camelot turns out to be Stirling Castle, I will laugh my derriere off. No, seriously, I will.

But once again, I maintain careful scepticism. As massively cool as this would be, the evidence must support it.

Mr Harrison, who has studied the King's Knot for 20 years, said: "It is a mystery which the documents cannot solve, but geophysics has given us new insights.

"Of course, we cannot say that King Arthur was there, but the feature which surrounds the core of the Knot could explain the stories and beliefs that people held."
mediaevalist: (WTS)
Figures that I only remember this blog when I have a bad history rant.

I was linked to this article on Women in Reasonable Armour, which makes me squee in delight, since one of the things that annoys me is a lack of accuracy in lieu of fanservice. That goes for anything, really... there's a fine line between the Rule of Cool and outright ridiculousness. I should not be seeing panty-flashes in the middle of a swordfight.

But this article in turn linked to this, which then linked to this. Now, the blog itself is pretty objective, and doesn't attempt to draw conclusions from an inconclusive article that dryly observes numbers and begins forming theories, and saying nothing about the combat status of these women. But the comments are just... no. Way to jump to fluffybunny New Age wish-fulfilment conclusions, girls.

I've ranted on this silliness before, but I suppose it bears repeating yet again. (I especially like the almost word-for-word recitation of the debunked myth here, which has further been proven false here as well. Never let reality spoil your dreams)

Yet another women warrior rant, you have been warned )
mediaevalist: (Now THIS=a good feminist reimagining)
This journal has a fair bit of dust on it, doesn't it?  Time for some linkage:

Roman gladiator cemetery found in England

Scientists have found 80 skeletons in the "unique" cemetery under the city of York, northern England, since 2003.

They announced their discoveries on Sunday, ahead of a documentary about the site due to air in Britain on June 14. This was one of two big archaeological developments, with Israeli scientists announcing the discovery of a huge cache of ancient religious objects.

They first thought the graveyard might contain the remains of criminals or political purges.

But that doesn't explain the teeth mark.
Did the Crusaders have a Muslim ally in the First Crusade?

A new article is examining the relationship between Islamic states and the Crusader army during the First Crusade (1096-99) and suggests that the Fatimid kingdom of Egypt did attempt to ally with the Crusaders.


Abu-Munshar also questions the assumption that the Fatimids were ignorant of the Crusader's ultimate goals. He writes, "How could the Fatimids misunderstand the crusaders’ aim when we know that the latter started their journey from Europe and took months, even years, to arrive in the east, with the clear aim of regaining Islamic Jerusalem from the Muslims? It is possible that most Muslims, Saljuqs and Fatimids alike, were at least partially aware of the crusaders’ intentions."

Ivy offers protection for historical buildings, study says

English Heritage commissioned a team of Oxford University academics to research the likely effects of ivy on historic buildings. In the three-year project, Oxford researchers analysed the effects of ivy growing on buildings in five different parts of England and discovered that the plant plays a protective role. They found that an ivy canopy was like a thermal shield, combating the extremes of temperature which often cause walls to crack.
mediaevalist: (Default)
In lieu of yet another Feis na Samhna post...

Mysterious carved stone could be Templar relic

Reports indicate that a mysterious carved stone has been uncovered alongside a 12th-century church associated with the Knights Templar in Scotland.

According to a report in the Scotsman, what appears to be the carved top of a sarcophagus, was unearthed when builders were excavating and reinforcing a wall alongside the old ruined church in Temple, Midlothian.


The inscriptions, which include symbols similar to those found in Viking monuments, in medieval graves and in West Highland Celtic carvings, have baffled archaeologists.

mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
I've already mentioned this in passing, but apparently there are others even more invested in research into the historical King Arthur than I am.

Author David F. Carroll self-published Arturius - The Quest for Camelot and went so far as to bet £1,000 that the "Legend of King Arthur" was inspired by Arturius, the son of Aidan MacGabran, the 6th century AD King of the Scots of Dál Riata. It's been 11 years since The Scotsman reported this, and so far he's had no takers.

Oh, and the book is free. And we all like free stuff, right? So go download it and help history literacy!
mediaevalist: (Default)
4,300-year-old pyramid discovered in Egypt
Egypt's chief archeologist has announced the discovery of a 4,300-year-old pyramid in Saqqara, the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis.

The pyramid is said to belong to Queen Sesheshet, the mother of King Teti who was the founder of the sixth dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom.

Just when you think you've uncovered everything there is to find in Egypt, something else crops up.  Let this be a lesson: never believe that you know everything there is to know about a subject.  And never believe that we've uncovered all the secrets of the universe.  We've just got the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

WW II vet held in Nazi slave camp breaks silence
Anthony Acevedo thumbs through the worn, yellowed pages of his diary emblazoned with the words "A Wartime Log" on its cover. It's a catalog of deaths and atrocities he says were carried out on U.S. soldiers held by Nazis at a slave labor camp during World War II -- a largely forgotten legacy of the war.


He was one of 350 U.S. soldiers held at Berga am Elster, a satellite camp of the Nazis' notorious Buchenwald concentration camp. The soldiers, working 12-hour days, were used by the German army to dig tunnels and hide equipment in the final weeks of the war. Less than half of the soldiers survived their captivity and a subsequent death march, he says.

Since there is not really any need for secrecy at this point in time, I personally thank Acevedo for coming forward and for keeping such a detailed record of his experiences.

We not only owe him greatly for his service to his country, but for maintaining an invaluable record for future generations.
mediaevalist: (crossdressing)
Fascinating article in Slate today about the economic causes of witch hunts.  Now, as an archaeologist and mediaevalist, economics really aren't my forte.  But it is precisely what we need to examine to have a clearer picture of history in general and the mediaeval period in particular.

Why it's dangerous to be a witch in a recession )


17 Sep 2008 12:47 pm
mediaevalist: (WTS)
Well, now.  I just found out I'm Jewish!  *cue headdesking*

Once more, because apparently word is still circulating that Samhain itself is a festival (Sheesh, folks...could you actually read the Wiki article on it?  Please?):

(an t-)Samhain(n) is the Irish Gaelic/Scottish Gaelic word for what is approximately the month of November.

The words you're looking for are Feis na Samhna, i.e., 'Feast of November' (Note the declension, kids!)  If you're going to say it the old-fashioned way, at the very least you could make the attempt to get it right.  Otherwise, just call it 'Hallowe'en', mmkay?

But this isn't what has me facepalming the most.  No, what has me in laugh-or-else-I'll-cry mode is that it's been turned into a Jewish observance.  You see, 'sabbat' is a corruption of the Hebrew word Sabbath, derived from the verb shabbat, or 'to cease'.  It's not a celebration: it's the weekly period of rest observed in both Judaism and Christianity.

There's an interesting theory here about how the term 'sabbat' came to be connected to witches, but it really has no historical bearing other than common folklore.  If you're discussing the modern Wiccan/neopagan observance, it's one thing. But use of the term to describe the historical occurrence of Hallowe'en/Feis na Samhna is, well, facepalm-worthy.
mediaevalist: (Gryff)
Like or dislike the Bard, you have to admit we as a civilisation would be poorer without him.  Some proof?

10 Words and Phrases You Won't Believe Shakespeare Invented


12 Apr 2008 11:37 am
mediaevalist: (WTF)
Protesters in San Francisco seem to have forgotten where the 1936 Olympics were hosted.

Though I wonder if perhaps this is simply an attempt at reminding everyone that the Olympics have been hosted in some rather unsavoury places throughout the years?* If it's simply ignorance...Heaven help us.

* - The 'Free Tibet' crowd (I believe those are prayer flags on the placard, and two other protesters are carrying the Tibetan flag at the rear, so this is probably them) are usually better-educated than this, so my own hypothesis is that this is a deliberate reminder of the 1936 Olympics. At least I hope this is the case.
mediaevalist: (Default)
As many people in the States probably already know, it's Saint Patrick's Day. It's also the second day of Holy Week (yesterday having been Palm Sunday). This happens once in a while, when a saint's feast day falls some time within Holy Week, and because of this the saint's feast day is not officially observed by the Church.

You didn't really expect this to be short, did you? )
mediaevalist: (Default)
This is what I get for neglecting to post as often as I should. All the cool stuff happens while I'm procrastinating working.

Export of the Dering Roll (13th Century roll of arms) has been delayed in order to raise enough money to keep it in the UK.

If only I had several million...My kingdom for a tax write-off.

Da Vinci Code film actually good for something: Rosslyn Chapel nets £1.35m surplus from visitors.

I suppose even atrocious 'history' has a silver lining now and then. You won't find the Holy Grail in the 15th Century Scottish church, though (You'll have to go to the Louvre for that).

Archaeologists closer to finding home of of the first King of unified Scotland.

GU makes the archaeological news yet again. Apparently, the site is somewhere in Perthshire, which would make sense. The region is the traditional border between the Lowlands and the Highlands and at the time was the juncture between the Dál Riata Irish to the west, Northumbrians to the south, and the Picts to the north.

Site of a 17th Century Japanese village found in Cambodia.

From what I can tell, this may have been a pilgrimage/tourism site, much like Canterbury in the UK, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, or even Jerusalem in Israel in the Middle Ages. Knowledge of this site would have come in handy for that Pilgrimage & Tourism course I took back at uni.
mediaevalist: (Default)
Though we may have them in the foreseeable future. Thanks to cutting-edge underwater sonar cameras, we may be able to see images of Britain's 'Atlantis', the sunken city of Dunwich. Earning its nickname from its gradual disappearance due to coastal erosion, Dunwich was the capital of East Anglia 1,500 years ago.

There have been numerous dives since marine archaeologist Stuart Bacon discovered debris from the site in 1970, but high silt levels prevent visibility beyond a few centimetres.

From the article:

Mr Sear, professor in physical geography at the University of Southampton, said: "Technical advances have massively improved our ability to create accurate acoustic images of the seafloor."

The expedition will use the latest sonar, underwater camera and scanning equipment to build up a picture of the ancient sunken city, that lies between 10ft (3m) and 50ft (15m) down.
mediaevalist: (Default)
It was in the Louvre all along, possibly.

A Glasgow historian believes he may have solved the world's most ancient mystery - and found the Holy Grail. Mark Oxbrow is preparing to export his amazing discovery to the US leaving fans of book and movie blockbuster the Da Vinci Code with a new theory to consider.

That Dan Brown was full of it?

I know, I know. But some people still believe 'symbology' is a real word and that 'da Vinci' is a last name.

During a trip to Paris, Mark, 36, from the West End, stumbled across what he believes is the real Holy Grail - and it's not a bloodline between Jesus and Mary Magdalene as claimed in the book and film.

You don't say. I could have told them that, and for less money.

Seriously, though. First the real "da Vinci code" being discovered by an Italian musician and now this. They both make more sense than a coffetable thriller I know. With real history and everything.

While exploring medieval treasures in the Louvre, Mark found a green gem-encrusted serving dish which he thinks could have been used at the Last Supper.

That's not the cup of a carpenter! Quick, warn him not to take a drink from it!

OK, I promise not to make any more Indiana Jones jokes for the rest of the post.

Amazingly the French national treasure dates back to the time of Christ, matching descriptions of the Grail. Mark's discovery is documented in a new book which has already sold thousands of copies - and is due to hit US and French bookstores in the New Year.

Mark's curiosity was aroused when he and wife Jill spotted the Patene de Serpentine tucked away in the medieval section of the Louvre Museum.

As much as I would like to believe that Oxbrow really did find the Grail, I nevertheless have to remain a bit sceptical.

Mark, a historian and folklorist, said: "It's impossible to prove 100-per cent that the Patene de Serpentine is the real Holy Grail. But the Patene is a sacred medieval treasure that perfectly matches every detail of the earliest descriptions of the Grail. It was in the right place at the right time. There is certainly a lot of interest in the theory."

It remains to be seen, then. Again, I'm hopeful that it is, if for no other reason than it's one more nail in the coffin of bad history.
mediaevalist: (WTS)
Something I picked up from The Herald by way of SCA Today:

Apparently, the Picts were not so barbaric after all.
Still seen by many as merely pint-sized, painted warriors, our forbears were often sophisticated people who were instrumental in the foundation of Scotland as a country - and in the creation of the national flag.

They were also talented craftspeople who used stones such as the Hilton of Cadboll to demonstrate their values and creeds.

Yesterday the National Museums of Scotland, where the ancient stone is displayed, launched a new bid to shed light on what has become known as the Dark Ages to try to give these ancient peoples, such as the Picts, the Gaels and Norse their rightful place in Scottish history.

The "Dark Ages" are seen as primitive enough, and Celts have always been the most barbarous of barbarians. Yet another urban legend rightly flushed.
mediaevalist: (WTS)
One of the problems that general fans of the Middle Ages sometimes fall prey to is this: the inability to distinguish between the historical Middle Ages and the 'Current Middle Ages' as defined by the Society for Creative Anachronism. While this generally isn't a problem within most of the SCA, there are a number of people who confuse 'the Middle Ages as we want them to have been' for the Middle Ages that actually were.

Politically-incorrect historical facts for your perusal )

June 2015



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