Rereading, retelling, rediscovering Beowulf

A strange creature attacks a warrior hall, killing the men night after night, until a hero comes and slays him.  The creature’s mother takes her revenge and is likewise vanquished in battle.  But the hero meets his own end when, later in life, he kills a dragon who terrorises his own people. I won’t pretend…

BL blogpost: Cats, get off the page!

Together with my colleague Eleanor Jackson, I have written another blogpost for the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts blog for your post-Christmas enjoyment.  What can we tell about manuscripts which have feline pawprints all over them?  Pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and enjoy.  And get that cat off your keyboard. Cats, get off the…

Making connections in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: British Library exhibition review

As I posted a couple of months ago, the British Library’s exhibition Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War is now open, and will be until February.  The Library has the world’s largest collection of manuscripts from pre-Conquest England, but these are paired with high-prestige manuscripts loaned by other institutions, and with other objects such as jewellery,…

New job! (again)

As discussed in a recent post, the websites of the Polonsky Foundation England and France 700-1200 digitisation project have now been launched: 800 manuscripts from the British Library and Bibliothèque nationale de France can be found fully digitised on this site, while another, interpretative website hosts several fascinating articles and videos about them. As this…

Down the Common

For several years, a friend of mine recommended me a particular historical novel. She offered to lend it to me; I never quite took her up on that. I saw it at the used bookstall at the Leeds International Medieval Congress; I was tempted, but resisted. Finally, I found a copy in the British Library’s…

Medieval England and France, 700-1200

The project that my team have been working on for the past few years is now complete!  The British Library’s website Medieval England and France, 700-1200 is now live, along with its companion site at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, France-Angleterre: manuscrits médiévaux entre 700 et 1200, both supported by the Polonsky Foundation. The British…

Medieval Illumination: Manuscript Art in England and France

An important milestone has been reached in the Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200.  The book which accompanies the project has now been published, in paperback, in English and in French. Medieval Illumination: Manuscript Art in England and France, edited by Kathleen Doyle…

Now open: Anglo-Saxon Exhibition at the British Library

Hwæt!  The British Library’s new exhibition, Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War, has now opened.  I have had the great privilege of working alongside the curators, being one of the first to see the completed exhibition, and of celebrating the official opening. A number of the manuscripts which I have written about in my blogposts are…

Living on loaned time

Autumn has come to London: a mostly hot summer suddenly turned in the final week of September. I like early autumn, the time just before and just after the emniht (or ‘equal-night’, as an Anglo-Saxon would have called the equinox), when there is still some warmth and plenty of sunlight, but a slight nip in…

A Description of Clairvaux

What did medieval people think about the natural world?  And, considering the fact that most of the written sources we have for the early Middle Ages were written by people in the religious life, what did priests, monks and nuns think of it? Unsurprisingly, more or less everything in medieval Christian literature tends to relate…