• Archaeology

    Lost and found: Viking Age human bones and textiles from Bjerringhøj, Denmark

    Researchers stumbled upon a box of human bones that had been missing for 100 years. They may come from Viking-age royalty. Ulla Mannering and Charlotte Rimstad are used to studying textiles, not bones. Since 2018, they’ve helped reconstruct Viking-age clothing at the National Museum of Denmark by analyzing fabric from ancient burial sites. But recently, they stumbled across a box of human remains. These weren’t your average bones, they quickly realized. “We looked at each other and said, ‘OK, we think we have the Bjerringhøj bones actually here,’” Mannering told Insider, referring to bones from the Bjerringhøj burial mound in northern Denmark. The gravesite likely dates back to around 970…

  • Archaeology

    Possible Bronze Age Tomb Discovered in Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula

    A possible bronze age wedge tomb has been discovered on private land in Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula. The previously unknown and untouched tomb was lined with stone. Partial excavation reveals human bones, and a worked round stone. Initial inspection suggests that there are two chambers, and that much of the tomb remains underground. See RTE’s Ancient “untouched” tomb discovered on Dingle Peninsula for pictures.

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  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

    April from Walters W.425

    This April calendar image from the Walters W.425 prayer book fragment is another calendar page featuring a naturalistic border, like the March calendar page from Walters W.425. The calendar proper includes the feast of Saint Euphemia on April 7. Taurus, the astrological symbol for April, is a recognizable bull, set off by a medallion. Above and below the astrological medallion naturalistic pink and white flowers add a decorative spring-time touch. I don’t know what the flowers are; I suspect, given the detail, that a Flemish gardener of the 15th century would be able to identify them as popular spring time blossoms. There are, I think, three types of flowers in…

  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

    March from Walters Museum W.425

    Walters Museum W.425 is a fragmentary prayer book. Fortunately, all the calendar images are extant. In the astrological medallion in the border on the left, Aries, the sign of the ram, is featured. The astrological symbol is, again, particularly worn, and I wonder if that’s because someone holding the prayer book open  had a thumb resting there. This March image is the first to feature a “naturalistic” border in the calendar images. On the right is a strawberry, and just below the strawberry, a strawberry blossom. The strawberry, because of the three-lobed leaves was associated with the Trinity, and the white blossoms with purity. The labors of March typically show…

  • Archaeology

    Stonehenge: Monmouth May Have Got it Right

    An ancient myth about Stonehenge, first recorded 900 years ago, tells of the wizard Merlin leading men to Ireland to capture a magical stone circle called the Giants’ Dance and rebuilding it in England as a memorial to the dead. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account had been dismissed, partly because he was wrong on other historical facts, although the bluestones of the monument came from a region of Wales that was considered Irish territory in his day. Now a vast stone circle created by our Neolithic ancestors has been discovered in Wales with features suggesting that the 12th-century legend may not be complete fantasy. Its diameter of 110 metres is identical…

  • Medieval manuscripts

    February from Walters MS. W.425

    This image from the Walters Art museum fragmentary prayer book MS. 425 f. 2r shows the February calendar with a short list of the saint’s days in February, and in the border on the right, a roundel that the Walter’s description says is Pisces, which is exactly what one would expect, but the image is very worn, suggesting that the ms. was actually used. The February calendar image in Walters MS. W.425 shows a typical labor for February; an outdoor scene of two men cutting wood, a common labor for the month in colder climates. One of the men on the right is using a wedge in a log that…

  • Medieval manuscripts,  Uncategorized

    January from Walters MS. W.425

    This leaf from the Walters Museum prayer book fragment, Walters MS. W.425 f. 1r shows the calendar page for January, with a partial list of saints days in the month. In the border on the right of the page is a small roundel featuring an image of Aquarius, the water-bearer, in the form of a small naked figure (male?) carrying a jug of water in each hand.is The calendar image shows a fairly conventional labor for the month of January. The scene is indoors. A well dressed man is seated at a table, with his back to a fire. The man wears a fur-trimmed robe; the scene looks domestic, suggesting…

  • Calendar

    New Years 2021

    A yere yernes ful yerne, and yeldez neuer lyke, the forme to the fynisment foldez ful selden. —Sir Gawaine and the Grene Knighte Let us hope that this year is an improvement in every single way over 2020. I hope that you and yours are warm and safe and healthy. I hope the same for the U.S. and people everywhere.  

  • Literature,  Music

    I Syng of A Mayden

    “I Syng of a Mayden,” sometimes titled “As Dewe in Aprille” is a Middle English Marian lyric (or perhaps more accurately, a carol) about the virgin Mary, with reference to the Annunciation story in Luke 1:26-38. The Middle English is 15th century, with enough oddities that I hesitate to speculate about the dialect. “I Syng of A Mayden” is preserved in a single British Library manuscript MS Sloane 2593 f.10v, a collection of 71 carols and songs or lyrics on paper, with the exception of a strip of parchment used to mend a folio. The MS. has been damaged; a number of folios are missing from the beginning. The first poem…

  • Archaeology,  Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Exhibition National Museum of Scotland The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure

    From the exhibit announcement: Bringing together the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland, the internationally significant Galloway Hoard is transforming our understanding of Scotland’s connections with the wider world during this period. The Hoard was buried around AD 900 and contains over 100 diverse objects, from silver, gold and jewelled treasures to rarely surviving textiles, including wool, linen and Scotland’s earliest examples of silk. Discovered by a metal detectorist in Dumfries and Galloway in 2014, the Hoard was allocated to National Museums Scotland in 2017, when a selection of items went on display as part of a fundraising campaign to save it…

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