• Emain Macha or Navan Fort

    Emain Macha (said roughly like evan macka) features largely in Irish mythology, though you’ll find it on maps by its English name, Navan Fort. Technically, Navan Fort isn’t a fort. It is instead best described as a ritual complex, about 1.6 miles west of the city of Armagh, in Northern Ireland. The complex sits on a low mound, and is visible quite clearly for some distance. The site was largely abandoned by the first century C.E. The central area is a circular area about 820 feet in diameter, set off by a raised bank and a ditch, with the ditch atypically outside the bank—this suggests that the site was used…

  • The August calendar image from the Da Costa Hours, Morgan Library showing peasants harvesting wheat

    Labors of August

    The typical labor or occupation of the month depicted in books of hours for the labors of August is threshing grain, (most often, wheat, though sometimes the calendar image for the labor of August shows rye or barley in a field). Threshing is the task of beating the stalks of grain to remove the ripe grains from the stalk as well as remove or loosen the husks that protect the individual grains. In some areas, threshing as the August labor may be replaced by reaping, cutting down the stalks of ripe grain, that often takes place in July. The anonymous Middle English lyric regarding the labors of August says “and…

  • Gospels of Lindisfarne or The Book of Lindisfarne

    The Lindisfarne Gospels, better known as The Book of Lindisfarne, or British Library Cotton MS Nero D.IV, is an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels  from the New Testament of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The manuscript was produced in Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island (formerly called Lindisfarne Island), off the coast of Northumberland in about 715 C.E. Given the style of the art, and the history of the time, scholars generally favor the creation of the Gospels of Lindisfarne  over the course of five years between 715 and 720. The Lindisfarne Gospels are almost entirely the work of a single artist, Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne (698–721). This attribution is based…