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…

BL blogpost: Wynflæd and the price of fashion

There is a new post on the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog today, by my colleague Alison Hudson, to which I have contributed.  It’s on a text which I have written about here before, the will of Wynflæd, the earliest surviving will by an English woman. Wynflæd and the price of fashion

Not Angles but angels

According to the Venerable Bede, the evangelisation of the southern English was proposed by a Pope with a pun.  In his Ecclesiastical History of the English People,  the story goes that Pope Gregory I was walking through the market of Rome when he saw some slave boys with striking looks and hair.  What people, he…

Radices and radishes: Latin roots in Old English

How many languages are there in the world? Seventy-two. Why are there no more and no fewer? Because of the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japhet.  Shem had twenty-seven sons, Ham had thirty sons, Japhet had fifteen sons.  These added together are seventy-two. This text comes from a dialogue between Pope Damasus and…

Loveliest of women, work of God

At the start of June, I took place in a dramatised version of the Old English poem known as Genesis B, staged as part of the conference Down There: Uncovering the Infernal in the Early Middle Ages at University College London. Now that the play is over, I thought it might be time for a…

God bless my epiglottis: why I love the Lorica of Laidcenn

In this blog, I have written a lot about Anglo-Saxon prayer, medicine and poetry. Of course, these aren’t exclusive categories: medicine sometimes involved prayer, and prayers could be in the form of poetry. And sometimes, the same text can be all three. The Lorica of Laidcenn is a good example of this. A lorica is…

BL blogpost: Naming a royal baby

Together with my colleague Alison Hudson, I have written a blogpost for the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog on early medieval royal names.  Enjoy! Naming a royal baby

Egyptian Days and Ayurvedic Man: medical cultural connections

One of the advantages of working in central London is the sheer number of interesting exhibitions and other events going on all around me.  The other day I wandered into the Wellcome Collection to see if they had anything interesting to see, and was rewarded with a free exhibition called Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian…