Senses of the Past: The Old English Vocabulary of History

Page from Beowulf, now at the British Library

How did the Anglo-Saxons think about history?

Bucks County Museum looking to acquire Lenborough Coin Hoard

lenborough hoard - photo courtesy British Museum

Late last year, over 5200 silver coins was found by a metal detectorist in England. Now, the public will get a taste of this hoard, when 21 coins go on a special exhibit at at Bucks County Museum.

Demon Possession in Anglo‐Saxon and Early Modern England: Continuity and Evolution in Social Context

A miniature in the British Library Yates Thomson MS 26, with Saint Cuthbert's hand healing a paralytic

Sometime between around 687 and 700, a distraught father brought his raving son, in a wagon, to the island of Lindisfarne, where the holy relics of Saint Cuthbert were kept.

Broaching the subject: the geometry of Anglo-Saxon composite brooches

milton north field brooch - Photo by Kotomi_ / Flickr

The glittering and gleaming artifacts that can be found in Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites capture the imagination, conjuring up images of a warrior culture that displayed its wealth through wearable objects.

Lughnasa and Lammas: Summer Holidays Lost and Found Again

John Linnell - The Harvest Cradle 1859

For centuries two holidays were celebrated by neighboring peoples on the same day. The people were the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, and their holidays were Lughnasa and Lammas respectively.

An Eye for Odin? Divine Role-Playing in the Age of Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo helmet at the British Museum

This paper presents some new observations concerning the construction of the Sutton Hoo helmet, as a point of entry to a wider discussion of pre-Christian religious and ideological links across Scandinavia.

Landscape and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England and the Viking Campaign of 1006

William Stukeley’s drawing of the Sanctuary and related topography in 1725 ,in  Abury, a Temple of the British Druids   (London, 1725 )

The last twenty-five years have seen huge advances made in the way that battlefields can be recorded and understood through archaeological techniques, but these methods have only recently been accepted as a useful complement to traditional military history.

Investigating ‘peasant conversion’ in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England

A miniature in the British Library Yates Thomson MS 26, Bede's Prose Life of St Cuthbert, depicting Cuthbert's meeting with Boisil at Melrose

It is somewhat surprising that we find very little in the way of propaganda bent on stressing positive changes that Christianity could bring, propaganda of the kind that Bishop Daniel of Winchester scripted for Boniface in the oft-cited letter which he advised the missionary to lure converts by contrasting the economic prosperity of Christian communities with the backwardness of the non-Christian.

The Afterlife of the Dead: Reform in Attitude Towards Medieval Burials, Corpses and Bones

Rothwell Charnel Chapel. Photo courtesy of ITV.

The International Medieval Congress is taking place at the University of Leeds, I’m on hand this week to report on the conference. This blog post reports on my first session.

Eadgifu, Anglo-Saxon Queen

Anglo Saxon Lady (9th Century) - photo by Paul Walker / Flickr

What little historical records we have pertaining to Queen Eadgifu tell us she exercised considerable power.

Cuthbert, Guthlac and the Life of St Antony

st anthony

Christians far from Egypt have drawn inspiration from the Life of St Antony, including England’s two most popular pre-Conquest hermit saints

Chest burial: a middle Anglo-Saxon funerary rite from northern England

anglo saxon skeleton - photo UK Ministry of Defence / Flickr

Chest burials, in which the body is interred in a wooden chest with a hinged lid, are one of the most characteristic funerary practices of the middle Anglo-Saxon period in northern England.

Magic in Anglo-Saxon England

staffordshire horse

Magic was a regular part of daily life in pre-Christian Europe, as it was and still is in many other parts of the world. In this context, the term ‘magic’ is distinct from its modern usage which is better described as optical illusion.

From Alfred to Harold II: The Military Failure of the Late Anglo-Saxon State

Death of Harold Godwinson in the Battle of Hastings

Most historians now acknowledge that Hastings was indeed a close-run affair, won more by luck and perhaps generalship than because of fundamental structural or tactical differences in the forces or disparities in their military technologies.

A Face from Anglo-Saxon England

anglo saxon face - photo courtesy Lincolnshire County Council

The face of a man who lived nearly a thousand years ago in Anglo-Saxon England has been recreated by experts from the University of Dundee.

Fashion Old and New: Weaving and Tailoring in the Early Medieval and Early Modern Period

Anglo Saxon pin beater made of animal bone. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 400-800 AD. Courtesy of Cotswold Archaeology.

Fashion fan? Interested in medieval and early modern textiles? Then this was your session. 2 papers from opposite ends of the spectrum: Early Medieval weaving and Early Modern Tailoring.

From Runes to Ruins: Documentary looks at rediscovering the Anglo-Saxon past

tom rowsell from runes to ruins

In his latest film, From Runes to Ruins, Tom Rowsell examines how people in England are reclaiming their Anglo-Saxon heritage, including its religion.

Putting together the jigsaw pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard

The front of the reconstructed sword pommel © Birmingham Museums Trust

Archaeologists and conservators working to piece together the thousands of items from the Staffordshire Hoard have announced they have been able to make two items: a pommel and helmet-band.

Cynethryth, Queen of the Mercians

Cynethryth Coin

Cynethryth and Offa were the ultimate power couple in eighth century England.

Anglo-Saxon skeleton shows leprosy may have spread to Britain from Scandinavia

Foot Bones of Anglo-Saxon skeleton - photo courtesy University of Southampton

The bones of the man, probably in his 20s, show changes consistent with leprosy, such as narrowing of the toe bones and damage to the joints, suggesting a very early British case.

The Oblate’s Confession, by William Peak

The Oblate's Confession

Read an except from William Peak’s debut novel, which won the Best New Voice award for Fiction at the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards

Cnut: England’s Danish King

cnut landing - from The story of the middle ages; an elementary history for sixth and seventh grades (1912)

There is very little historic information on King Cnut even though he was the most powerful king in northern Europe in the early eleventh century.

Fifteen Anglo-Saxon Cures for Minor Medical Problems

Anglo Saxon Cures Lacnunga - British  Library MS Harley 585

How did people Anglo-Saxon England treat a headache or indigestion? Here are fifteen cures for minor ailments from the Lacucgna, which include what to do if your finger nail falls off, and how Jesus Christ cured Peter’s toothache.

William of Normandy’s Claim to the English throne: Examining the Evidence

William the Conqueror

Whether or not Edward’s promise of the throne to William was genuine, it was later certainly made irrelevant by Edward’s deathbed will.

Moses as a Germanic hero? Biblical Poetry in Anglo-Saxon England

Samantha Zacher

Samantha Zacher talks about Anglo-Saxon Jewish heroes.

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