Early Medieval Celtic Art in Britain and Ireland: A Curator’s Perspective

Gundestrup Cauldron. Silver. Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1. © The National Museum of Denmark.

Martin Golberg, Senior Curator at the National Museums of Scotland, travelled to the British Museum to give audiences perspective on the various pieces in the exhibit as well as an introduction to what constitutes “Celtic” art.

Medieval Books: 5 Great New Releases!

Book - 24 Hours at Agincourt

Black Friday is around the corner – here are a few books that have just been released!

Sacrificial Magic and the Twofold Division of the Irish Ritual Year

Samhain Candle - photo by Alison Leigh Lilly / Flickr

The historical development of St. Martin’s Day in Ireland, and its relationship with the more ancient festival of Samhain is examined, revealing circumstances that saw much of the ritual nature of Samhain being adopted within a Christian context in the medieval period.

Who Were The Celts? The British Museum Offers Answers with New Exhibition

Gundestrup Cauldron Silver  Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1 © The National Museum of Denmark. The British Museum. Photo by Medievalists.net

The British Museum just opened its latest exhibit, Celts: Art and Identity this past Thursday, covering 2,500 years of Celtic history. The exhibit explores Celtic identity and how it eveolved from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the present through art, culture, daily life, religion and politics.

5 Cool Celtic Things at the British Museum

(L) Horned helmet. Bronze, glass, Found along the Thames river near Waterloo, London, England (200-100 BC). (R) Greek helmet, bronze. Olympia, South-Western Greece (460 BC), The British Museum.Photo by Medievalists.net.

I attended the opening of the British Museum’s, Celts: Art and Identity exhibit on Sept 24th. It showcases stunning art, jewellery, weaponry, daily and religious objects to tell the story of the Celtic people.

Halls, ‘hall-houses’ and tower-houses in medieval Ireland: disentangling the needlessly entangled

Moylough castle - Photo by 	liam murphy / Geography.org.uk

This short paper addresses what I regard as two critical issues in Irish castellological research: the definition of the ‘hall-house’, and the relationship of buildings so identified with the tower-houses of the later middle ages.

Fallen tree reveals medieval skeleton in Ireland

Photo from Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services / Facebook

Last May a storm in northwest Ireland blew over a 215-year old tree. It also unearth an unusual find – the skeletal remains of a young man who lived nearly a thousand years ago.

Drone Technology Aids in Discoveries at Medieval Irish Sites

Archaeological Discoveries in Ireland

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have been gaining attention in the news for the last few years, but archaeologists like Saint Louis University history professor Thomas Finan, Ph.D., have always appreciated what aerial photography could accomplish.

The Scale of Slave Raiding and the Slave Trade in Northumbria and Ireland, 7th-11th Centuries

15th century map British Isles - Photo: Brooklyn Museum

Slave raiding and the slave trade in early medieval Northumbria and Ireland were transcultural and inter-regional processes, involving the enslavement and transportation of people across permeable borders.

Movie Review: Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde, starring James Franco and Sophia Myles.

As far as medieval movies go, Tristan and Isolde definitely isn’t the worst I’ve seen. I was looking for a movie to watch after work, and I thought, hey, James Franco, Sophia Moyles, Henry Cavill, and Rufus Sewell, all directed by Ridley Scott?! – this can’t be that bad. Well, it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t the worst 2 hours of my life. So what went wrong?

Why did they stop building tower house castles in Ireland?

Mahee Castle - Mahee Castle, Ringneill Road, Mahee Island, County Down, Northern Ireland, Photo by Ardfern / Wikicommons

One of the most visible reminders of Ireland’s medieval history are the tower house castles that are scattered throughout the country. For centuries they were the homes and fortresses for the native Irish elites as well as the English and Scottish settlers. However, by the early seventeenth-century it seems that they were now being abandoned and left the fall into ruin. What happened?

Festival of Archaeology at Dunluce Castle today

Dunluce Castle - photo by Micu Radu

Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland will host a family friendly archaeological event on Saturday 25 July from 10.30am – 4.30pm.

‘Naked and Unarmoured’: A Reassessment of the Role of the Galwegians at the Battle of the Standard

15th century map British Isles - Photo: Brooklyn Museum

Accounts of the Battle of the Standard, fought in 1138 between the army of David I, King of Scots and the northern English forces rallied by Thurstan, Archbishop of York, have unvaryingly placed the blame for the Scottish defeat on David’s Galwegian warriors who, against armoured English ranks, fled in confusion.

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.

KZOO 2015: Session #42 – Magna Carta in Context

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

This coming week I’ll be featuring summaries on some of my favourites sessions and papers from #KZOO2015. I kicked off my first session on Thursday with the Magna Carta.

The Multilingual Origins of Medieval Irish Surnames

Medieval Irish Surnames

Surnames came into widespread use in Ireland at a time where five vernacular languages were in operation – Irish, English, Norse, Welsh and Norman French.

Why Ireland was like a ‘Garden of Eden’ during the Middle Ages

celtic cross ireland  - photo by Andy Hares / Flickr

Tourism officials in Ireland are busy trying to promote the country to the world. If this was the Middle Ages, the would have a much easier time.

The Strategy of Challenges: Two Beheading Games In Medieval Literature

beheading - British Library Royal 10 E IV   f. 208

The Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and its Old Irish ancestor The Feast of Bricriu recount a remarkable stranger’s challenge to the hero, in effect, ‘You can chop off my head if you’ll let me return the blow.’

‘The Halved Heads’: Osteological Evidence for Decapitation in Medieval Ireland

Skull 9(a) from No. 16., Eustace Street, Dublin, a young adult female who also displays evidence of cut marks to the face, indicative of the nose being cut off (Image reproduced courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland)

This paper examines the osteological evidence for decapitation from 30 skeletal assemblages dated to the medieval period (6th to 16th century) from Ireland.

Ireland’s Ancient East campaign to showcase country’s medieval sites

Rock of Cashel - photo by Giorgio Galeotti / Flickr

The Irish government has started a tourism campaign – Ireland’s Ancient East – in hopes that the country’s heritage will attract another 600,000 overseas visitors per year.

Tabula Gratulatoria for Clerics, Kings and Vikings

Clerics Kings and Vikings

Four Courts Press invite you to subscribe to the Tabula Gratulatoria for Clerics, Kings and Vikings, a collection of essays on medieval Ireland in honour of Donnchadh Ó Corráin,

Which Irish Saint Are You?

irish saints

Brendan, Columba, Patrick – find out which Irish Saint you are most like!

BOOKS: Medieval Ireland


In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some great books on medieval Ireland!

15th century ruins discovered near Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle - photo by Micu Radu

Historians have known that a 17th-century town existed near the iconic Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland, but new research has uncovered new evidence of an earlier settlement, dating back to the 15th century.

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