• Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Sedgeford Torc

    The Snettisham Torc is probably one of the most famous British Celtic artifacts, with good reason. It’s gorgeous, and exceedingly well made. A fair number of torcs have been discovered as parts of hoards in Britain, many of them in the Iceni territory around Norfolk. The so-called Sedgeford Torc was discovered in 1965. Recently archaeologists in Sedgeford, Norfolk, near the site of the original find the torc was part of, found what appears to be the missing terminus link of the torc. You’ll no doubt notice that despite the damage, the quality and style of the Sedgeford torc is strikingly similar to that of the Snettisham torcs, suggesting that they…

  • Literature

    My Heid did Ake

    Teresa wrote “Oh god my head somebody please just shoot me now.” My friend Jasmin also suffers from migraine. I thought of this poem, by William Dunbar, (c. 1460 – c. 1520) one of the so-called Scottish Chaucerians. The text is is in Middle Scots, rather then the more usual Chaucerian Middle English, so there are various dialectical differences, most of them northern forms (even Norse forms), rather than southern or London dialect, and some rare borrowings from Gaelic. On His Heid-ake MY HEID did yak yester nicht, This day to mak that I na micht, So sair the magryme dois me menyie, Perseing my brow as ony ganyie, That…

  • Medieval manuscripts

    Margins and Meta Data

    In his latest Info World column “Filling in the Margins,” Jon Udell writes: Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) alumnus Austin Henderson says that “one of the most brilliant inventions of the paper bureaucracy was the idea of the margin.” There was always space for unofficial data, which traveled with the official data, and everybody knew about the relationship between the two. As Udell makes clear, he’s paraphrasing the forthcoming research of Austin Henderson, and it’s an interesting comment. It’s not, however, quite accurate. Yes, marginal glosses are used in medieval (and earlier—think Egyptian papyri) manuscripts just that way. But the “everybody knew about the relationship,” well, no, they didn’t,…

  • Medieval manuscripts

    Cornish Medieval Drama Bewnans Ke

    Two years ago I posted about a newly discovered medieval Cornish Saint’s Play. Dr. O. J. Padel of Cambridge University has kindly made available a .pdf file of his transcript of National Library of Wales MS. 23,849D here. Dr. Padel points out that initial assumptions that the manuscript contained fragments of two plays, one about Saint Ke, and one on an Arthurian subject, was inaccurate; it is a single play about St. Ke which contains a section referring to Arthur, present now only as a fragment. Scholars have adopted the name Bewnans Ke for the play, much as the only other extant medieval Cornish saint’s play, Bewnans Meriasek, the Life…