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700-year-old ring bearing the image of St. Nicholas discovered by a gardener in Israel

A rare impressive, intact bronze ring from the Middle Ages, bearing the image of St. Nicholas, was discovered by chance during recent landscaping work in the garden of a home in the Jezreel Valley community of Moshav Yogev.

How Dice Changed in the Middle Ages

Whether at a casino playing craps or engaging with family in a simple board game at home, rolling the dice introduces a bit of chance or “luck” into every game.

Free Trade and Free Movement of People: diplomacy and material culture in the early and high Middle Ages

There is a wealth of material relating to diplomatic gifts. However, beyond this aspect, and a few references about trade in treaties and links to this in coinage, surprisingly little has been written about material culture and diplomatic  practice.

Restoration work begins on 15th century altar

The Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung has launched a large-scale conservation project that will focus on one of the collection’s most important works over the next few years.

Archaeologists uncover Anglo-Saxon, medieval items in Suffolk

One of Europe’s largest archaeological digs this year has uncovered a rich tapestry of information about Suffolk’s history during Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times.

The Global Side of Medieval at the Getty Centre: Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts

Los Angeles correspondent, Danielle Trynoski takes through the, ‘Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts’ exhibut at the Getty Museum.

Why Medieval Torture Devices are Not Medieval

When many people think about the Middle Ages they see it as a time when people were tortured by a wide collection of diabolical instruments. Whether it is the Pear of Anguish or the Iron Maiden, these torture devices are portrayed as medieval. The reality, however, is that many of these devices never existed in the Middle Ages.

Book Talk: Ivory Vikings, by Nancy Marie Brown

Nancy Marie Brown speaking on her new book Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them, at Cornell University on October 15, 2015

Gargoyles: Mysterious Monsters of the Middle Ages

I love gargoyles. While there are so many beautiful pieces of sculpture that have survived the Middle Ages, like so many people, I’m drawn to those strange and ugly funny faces, not least of all because I can’t figure out what they’re for.

The Vikings and clothing accessories they brought home

New study on the use of imported objects in Viking Age Scandinavia

Curse or Blessing: What’s in the Magic Bowl?

I intend to look at magic bowls in order to see how and for what purpose they were used, and to get a glimpse at the way they worked and what hidden treasures can be found within them.

Telling the Story of the Ivory Vikings

One book leads to the next. It’s a truism among writers, and particularly apt for explaining how my latest book, Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them, published by St Martin’s Press in September, came to be.

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them

Read an excerpt from the latest book by Nancy Marie Brown

What a Medieval Bed Should Look Like

One of the most important pieces of a furniture in the medieval home was the bed – it would not only be the place to sleep and have sex, but also where one would give birth and often where people would have their last moments.

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

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.

Portable Christianity: Relics in the Medieval West (c.700–1200)

Relics thus typify the characteristic dynamic of medieval Christianity—a repeated refreshing and renewing of an ancient tradition that was endlessly culturally creative.

Sewing as Authority in the Middle Ages

Analysing manuscripts, relics, indulgences, and even a bishop’s mitre, the article argues that stitching was a way to enact, or intensify, the ritual purpose of objects, whether that was ceremonial, devotional, or authoritative.

A Christmas Crib as a Meek Heart of the Late Mediaeval Christian

In the summer of 2013 the Rijksmuseum acquired a rare Late Gothic Christmas Crib (c. 1510-20). In the 15th century tangible aids – devotionalia – were promoted to support meditation, to accomplish as it were a link between God and the soul of the believer.

Fossil Sharks’ Teeth: A Medieval Safeguard Against Poisoning

In the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, particularly between the thirteenth and the sixteenth century, the most common way of eliminating one’s enemy was by poisoning his food or drink at a banquet.

Humour in the Game of Kings: The Sideways Glancing Warder of the Lewis Chessmen

Using the example of a particular piece of the Lewis Chessmen this paper examines both the benefits and the limitations that come about with the cultural approach and cautions against a too rigid application.

Anglo-Saxon smiths and myths

Knowledge of the metalworking and jewellery-making abilities of the Anglo-Saxons has been much enhanced in recent years by metallurgical and other technical studies.

Rethinking Hardown Hill: Our Westernmost Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery?

This paper reassesses the early Anglo-Saxon assemblage from Hardown Hill, Dorset. Wingrave excavated the objects in 1916 but apart from his 1931 report, and Evison’s 1968 analysis, there has been little subsequent discussion.

The Tablet, Medieval-Style

Wax tablets have been around since ancient times, and now that I’ve made one, I can see why. They’re easy to make, use, and reuse; they’re light and durable; they’re portable; and they have lots of room for making mistakes.

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