Researchers create genetic map of the British Isles

Image credit: Stephen Leslie et al/Nature

Many people in the UK feel a strong sense of regional identity, and it now appears that there may be a scientific basis to this feeling, according to a landmark new study into the genetic makeup of the British Isles.

Capital and Corporal Punishment may have been rare in Anglo-Saxon England, researcher suggests

Skeletons under excavation at Walkington Wold - photo by Rod Mackey

A long standing belief about early medieval justice was that many offenders would be executed for serious crimes, or face punishments such as amputations for lesser offences. However, an examination of archaeological data suggests that these kinds of punishments were rare in Anglo-Saxon England.

The Anglo Saxons and their gods (still) among us

Painting depicting the English god Thunor (the Norse Thor), after whom Thursday is named, by Mårten Eskil Winge, 1872

In this paper, I want to consider the arrival of Saxon culture in Britain, a culture which appeared before the Romans departed from Britain and continued after the arrival of Christianity which appropriated some Saxon traditions and practices.

How an Early Medieval Historian Worked: Methodology and Sources in Bede’s Narrative of the Gregorian Mission to Kent

Venerable Bede

This dissertation examines the methods and sources employed by Bede in the construction of his account of the Gregorian mission, thereby providing an insight into how an early medieval historian worked.

Danish Ferocity and Abandoned Monasteries: the Twelfth-century View

Lindisfarne ruins - created by  Thomas Girtin (1775–1802)

This article tries to explain why twelfth-century authors found it so important to invent stories of Viking brutality towards monks and nuns and what ideas and material they used to create their stories.

The Old English Translation of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in its Historical and Cultural Context

Bede - from BL Arundel 74   f. 2v

Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (HE), written c. 731, enjoyed a great popularity among the Anglo-Saxons and Carolingians and was one of the most popular texts in medieval Europe.

Huge Anglo-Saxon Coin Hoard goes on display at British Museum

lenborough hoard - photo courtesy British Museum

The Lenborough Hoard, which consists of over 5200 coins from Anglo-Saxon times, is now on display at the British Museum. This discovery highlights the ongoing importance of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which just released its 2012 Treasure Report.

The pre-Conquest charters of Christ Church, Canterbury

godwine charter

This thesis comprises a study of all the records of the archbishop and chapter of Canterbury that purport to belong to the period before the Norman Conquest.

Ceremonial Drinking in the Viking Age

A drinking scene on an image stone from Gotland, Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, Stockholm.

Drinking ceremonies played a very important social role in Viking Age Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England.

Who was the Best King of Anglo-Saxon England?

alfred the great king of wessex

There are many rulers and kings from Anglo-Saxon England. Here are ten of the most well-known – who was the best?

The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

The Lord of the Rings - Aragorn

The literature of war in English claims its origin from the Homeric epics, and the medieval accounts of chivalry and the crusades.

The Early Medieval Cutting Edge of Technology

anglo saxon knife from the British Museum

Comparison of knives from England, Dublin and Europe revealed that the Vikings had little direct impact on England’s knife manufacturing industry, although there was a change in manufacturing methods in the 10th century towards the mass produced sandwich welded knife.

Sweotol Tacen / A Clear Token: The Anglo-Saxon Tacen and the Medieval Donor’s Model

Miniature of St. Peter Enthroned, In 'Aelfwine's Prayerbook'

The Anglo-Saxon patron often commissioned images in which he or she bears a visual rendering of his or her donation.

Domiciling the Evangelists in Anglo-Saxon England: a Fresh Reading of Aldred’s colophon in the Lindisfarne Gospels

Aldred's colophon

What is actually reliable about this highly literary colophon is Aldred’s purpose in writing the gloss: to give the Evangelists a voice to address ‘all the brothers’− particularly the Latinless.

The Anglo-Saxon runic poem: a critical reassessment

Copy of the Anglo-Saxon rune poem in George Hickes' "Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archæologicus" (Oxford, 1705), copied from Cotton MS Otho B.x folios 165a-165b, which was destroyed in the 1731 fire.

I consider the runic poem in its most basic form, as a runic alphabet, and compare its runes and rune-names with the other Anglo-Saxon runic material collected in the Thesaurus.

The Lindisfarne Gospels: A Living Manuscript

Lindisfarne Gospels

This article questions how current and previous owners have marked the Lindisfarne Gospels, created 1,300 years ago. Their edits, which would be frowned upon today, are useful for historians to understand how the Gospels have been valued by previous owners and thus why they are so treasured today.

Alfred the Great, King of Wessex

alfred the great king of wessex

Therefore a man never attains virtue and excellence through his power; rather he attains power and authority through his virtue… Study wisdom, therefore, and when you have learned it, do not neglect it, for I say to you without hesitation that you can attain authority through wisdom

The Prologue to Alfred’s Law Code: Instruction in the Spirit of Mercy

Alfred the Great from a 13th Century manuscript

The Prologue to Alfred’s Law Code: Instruction in the Spirit of Mercy Michael Treschow Florilegium: Volume 13 (1994) Abstract Alfred’s law code tends to receive scant attention in discussions of the char- acter of his reign. It lacks the distinctive stamp of his other writings and acts. It is a conservative code that seeks not […]

Eadburh, Queen of the West Saxons

England 800

Whether she deserved it or not, Eadburh of the West Saxons is infamous for being an evil queen.

Who Would You Fight for in 1066?

Who Would You Fight for in 1066

It’s the year 1066. Edward, the King of England, has just died. Edward named his successor as Harold Godwinson, but Edward’s cousin, Duke William of Normandy, claims the king had promised him the crown. As William plans to invade England, there is another invasion brewing to claim the throne – led by Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway. It’s a time of turmoil, betrayal and bloodshed… who would you fight for?

The Hero’s Journey: Beowulf, Film, and Masculinity

Beowulf (film)

Beowulf is one of many examples of a story that employs the rhetoric of the hero. The plight of the main character Beowulf is the focus of the tale, and the tasks that he must overcome throughout the course of the poem provide insight into the development of the character of the hero.

Soldier saints and holy warriors: Warfare and sanctity in Anglo-Saxon England

Saint Guthlac - Roundel from Guthlac Roll, depicting St Guthlac in contemplation - British Library

This study examines hagiographers’ changing literary tropes as subtle but important reflections of medieval Christianity’s evolution from rejecting the sword to tolerating and even wielding it. H

An aspect of Alcuin: ‘Tuus Albinus’ – peevish egotist? or parrhesiast?


In over 270 letters from about a decade and a half, alcuin of york (†804) informed, advised, consoled and admonished contemporaries, reacted to current events, and maintained a circle of friends and partners in reciprocal prayer that extended from Jerusalem to Ireland and from rome to salzburg. Alcuin left york in the 780s to become a friend and chief advisor to Charlemagne.

The Gold of the Staffordshire Hoard

staffordshire hoard gold

Research carried out on the Staffordshire Hoard has revealed that Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths were sophisticated enough to make gold appear more golden.

The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

The saints and missionaries of the Anglo-Saxon era (1897)

Considering the scarcity of the Anglo-Saxon influence in modern war-literature in general, one may wonder and stop by a work like The Lord of the Rings or Silmarillion, which few would be willing to categorise as serious war-literature.

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