Divination for a day of birth

This is my 100th blogpost on For the Wynn! In celebration of this, I am going to share a full version of a fascinating little text which I mentioned briefly in this blogpost for the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts blog: a divinatory text by which you can discover a person’s fortune based on the position…

BL blogpost: A medieval guide to predicting your future

Which day of the month is bad for starting a new project? How do you find possessions which have been stolen from you? What will your fortune be? Medieval people knew the answers to these questions! Find out in my new blogpost for the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts blog.

Rivers of tears, softening stone

“Jesus wept.”  Famously the shortest verse in the Authorised English version of the Bible (John 11:35), when Jesus weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus, this is actually slightly longer in Latin, usually a more succinct language than English: Et lacrimatus est Iesus. A major focus of my work is on the circumstances surrounding…

‘Lord, my teeth hurt…’ Prayers to and for St Peter

It’s the 29th of June, and today is the feast day of St Peter (and also of St Paul).  Peter is my favourite Bible person, because he’s a bit of an idiot quite a lot of the time, but he really wants to be good. Take, for example, the narrative of the Transfiguration of Christ. …

A treasure-chest of pearls

Þas þing synt earfoðe on Englisc to secganne, se we wyllað þurh Cristes fultum hig onwreon, swa wel swa we betst magon, and þas meregrota þam beforan lecgan þe þisra gyman wyllað.  Þæs anes dæges wanung, hu he byð geworden binnan nigontyne wintrum we wyllað gecyðan. These things are difficult to say in English, but…

BL blogpost: How many alphabets?

As part of my work on the Polonsky Foundation England and France digitisation programme at the British Library last year, I wrote a blogpost on the different writing systems used in early medieval Latin manuscripts.  This has just been published on the Library’s Digitised Manuscripts blog, in conjunction with the new exhibition Writing: Making Your…

In a circle of trees

A tree God set in paradise, and its fruit forbade to Adam and Eve. And him bi twegin beamas stodon þa wæron utan ofætes gehlædene, gewered mid wæstme, swa hie waldend god, heah heofoncyning handum gesette, þæt þær yldo bearn moste on ceosan godes and yfeles, gumena æghwilc, welan and wawan. Næs se wæstm gelic!…

Devotion and Digitisation: Medieval Prayer Manuscripts and their Online Images

On the 8th of March, I gave a keynote paper at a two-day workshop at Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, titled ‘Devotion and Digitisation: Medieval Prayer Manuscripts and their Online Images’.  I’ve written elsewhere that, whenever I publish a formal academic work, I back it up with a ‘non-identical twin’, an accompanying blogpost which handles the same subject…

From the Eagle’s talons to the Internet: the Book of Cerne goes online

As the British Library’s Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition draws to a close, I am thinking about how much I will miss the manuscripts which were loaned by other institutions, which I had heard about or even studied but never seen before.  One of these was the Book of Cerne, an early medieval collection of prayers, gospel…

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…