The Power of Poo: Waste and the Medieval Environment

17th century map of London

This study will compare the ways in which three vastly different European cities and their civic institutions, London England – the Chartered Capital of a Kingdom, Siena Italy – an Oligarchic Republic, and Gdansk Poland – the reluctant territory of a Theocratic state

A Medieval Weather Report

medieval weather - photo by AvidlyAbide / Flickr

What was England’s weather like 746 years ago?

Arthur Pendragon, Eco-Warrior

Arthur Uther Pendragon standing outside of the Stonehenge monument fence - Photo by Chris Brown / Wikipedia

This essay explores the environmental agendas and ambitions that motivate John Timothy Rothwell, ‘a mad biker chieftain wielding an axe,’ who, claiming to be a ‘post-Thatcher’ King Arthur,

Medievalist helps scientists rewrite climate records

Eruption of the Etna volcano, March 2 1669, seen from the east with Catania

In a paper published in the world-leading scientific journal, Nature, Dr Conor Kostick’s research into medieval evidence for climate events has allowed scientists to pinpoint the exact relationship between historical volcanic activity and severe winters.

Explaining Extreme Weather in the Middle Ages

Halleys comet 1456

What was causing extreme weather in the Middle Ages? A medieval historian is starting to examine how chroniclers and writers from this period were turning to the night sky to better understand and perhaps prevent natural disasters.

Avalanches in the Middle Ages

Avalanches in the Middle Ages - photo by Scientif38/ Wikicommons

One of the dangers a medieval traveller might face when crossing through mountainous terrain is the threat of avalanches.

Trees in the Middle Ages

Trees in the Middle Ages

What did medieval people think of trees? Here are a few observations about the role trees played in the spiritual and cultural life of the Middle Ages.

Ore, Fire, Hammer, Sickle: Iron Production in Viking Age and Early Medieval Iceland

iceland - photo by Eric Montfort / Flickr

Iron production may be used as a window through which to view, in part, the economic structure of Icelandic society during the Viking Age (c. AD 870-1000) and Early Medieval (AD 1000-1264) periods.

Lightning Strikes in Medieval Florence

lightning in Italy - photo by Jerry Riedl/ Flickr

Luca Landucci writes about lightning strikes in 15th century Florence.

Environmental Crusading: The Teutonic Knight’s Impact After the Baltic Crusades

Malbork Zamek Krzyzacki. Wikicommons

Environmental archaeologist and Professor of Archeology at Reading, Dr. Aleks Pluskowski, examined Malbork and several other sites across Eastern and Northern Europe in his recent paper, The Ecology of Crusading: The Environmental Impact of Holy War, Colonisation, and Religious Conversion in the Medieval Baltic. Pluskowski is keenly interested in the impact the Teutonic Knights and Christian colonisation had on the region. His ambitious 4 year project on the ecological changes in this area recently came to a close at the end of 2014.

Local and Traditional on the Millennial Scale: Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland

Local and Traditional on the Millennial Scale: Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland

Inhabited by Vikings since approximately 600 AD, the islands hosts an abundant, but terribly fragile resource, puffins, flightless birds that nest on rocky exposed cliffs, in easy range of the islanders other prime food source, pigs.

Tropical fire ants traveled the world on 16th century ships

fire ant  photo Rick Hagerty / Flickr

Thanks to a bit of genetic sleuthing, researchers now know the invasion history of the tropical fire ant, the first ant species known to travel the globe by sea.

The Great Wind of 1362

medieval wind storm

Some of the most vivid accounts we have from the Middle Ages are those that detail calamities and natural disasters. Such was the case when a massive winter storm struck northwestern Europe on January 15, 1362. In England this event would be called ‘The Great Wind’.

Vikings’ homes would have been very polluted, researchers find

Viking House in Hedeby - photo by Kai-Erik

Danish researchers have found that the fires used for cooking and heat in Viking-era houses would have caused significant indoor air pollution.

Winter, snow and cold in the life of the Westviking

winter iceland

The main purpose of this paper is to examine how the Westviking were influenced by winter, snow and cold in their day-to-day life as they were making progress in the West.

Adversus paganos: Disaster, Dragons, and Episcopal Authority in Gregory of Tours


In 589, a great flood of the Tiber river sent a torrent of water rushing through the city of Rome

European Weather Extremes in the Lifetime of Charlemagne (c.742–814 CE)

Construction of the Fossa Carolina as depicted in the Chronicles of the Bishops of Würzburg by Lorenz Fries.

An army of people, digging for a whole season, yet their efforts end in muddy ruin. Was it a project that was doomed from the start?

Connecting Roman and Medieval Climate and Historical Change: Five Challenges for the 21st Century

Connecting Roman and Medieval Climate and Historical Change

Michael McCormick discusses use of latest tools of climate science, human genetics and computer science to better understand the history of Medieval Europe and Rome,

Of sagas and sheep: Toward a historical anthropology of social change and production for market, subsistence and tribute in early Iceland

Medieval hunt - images of sheep

This dissertation deals with the formation of chiefdoms, communities, ecclesiastical institutions and state, and with production for market, subsistence and tribute in early Iceland in the context of climatic change and ecological succession.

The Contours, Frequency and Causation of Subsistence Crises in Carolingian Europe (750-950)

Medieval harvest

The Contours, Frequency and Causation of Subsistence Crises in Carolingian Europe (750-950) Timothy P. Newfield Crisis Alimentarias en la Edad Media: Modelos, Explicaciones y Representaciones (Milenio, Lleida, 2013), pp. 117-172. Abstract The subsistence crises of Carolingian Europe have been widely overlooked in modern histories of the early Middle Ages. Detailed treatment has yet to be […]

Daily Weather Observations in Sixteenth-Century Europe

Winter landscape (1608) Hendrick Avercamp

Thirty-two weather diaries written in astronomical calendars in central Europe in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are presented and discussed.

Public Toilets in the Middle Ages

Public Toilets in the Middle Ages

Where should you go to find a public toilet in the medieval city?

Nature Speaks: Expanding Ecocriticism to the Anglo-Saxon World

Anglo Saxon

Ecocroticism is a new, and still emerging, field of literary criticism. Through an interdisciplinary approach, it aims to draw together environmentally focussed work from a wide range of academic fields.

Living cheek by jowl: the pathoecology of medieval York

A panoramic view of York in the 15th century. A watercolour by E. Ridsdale Tate produced in 1914,

This paper aims to present the environmental context for disease combined with the human osteological record to reconstruct the pathoecology of medieval York.

Greenland Norse Knowledge of the North Atlantic

Thomas Haine

What did the Norse know about climate, and what was the role of driftwood in their lives?

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