Ever since WordPress very kindly featured my post Like, pray, share: Anglo-Saxon prayer memes on their ‘Discover’ page, I have gained a lot of new followers. This post is for those of you who would like a quick introduction to the kinds of things that I write about.
My main subject of study is private prayer in tenth- and eleventh-century England, with a side interest in medicine. I started this blog on the 13th of October 2015 – eight months ago today – to bring to light some interesting things that I have come across in the course of my studies, and things that I haven’t been able to squeeze into my more formal academic work. Such as …
Even though Syria is regularly in the news nowadays, it can still feel very far away for those of us who do not live nearby. Was anyone thinking about Syria in Anglo-Saxon England? Drawing on work abandoned in the early stages of writing my thesis, in this post I discuss snippets of religious knowledge, saints’ legends, and prayers attributed to Syrian saints. This is one of my favourite posts so far.
In December 2015 I felt moved to write a post about vomit. Having long been fascinated by the medical remedies that prescribe a spiwdrenc (literally, spewdrink!) in order to purge both poisons and the devil from the body, I found that there was more to be said about early medieval puke than you might have thought. The answer usually lies in the herb betony.
In mid-April, the British Library announced that they had digitised one of my favourite manuscripts, an early eleventh-century English prayerbook. It’s not pretty, there’s a lot of errors in the Latin, and much of it is now burned beyond legibility, but in this post I explain why the Galba Prayerbook is one of the most fascinating little books that I have come across in my work.
Despite what modern-day advocates of detox diets might tell you, the best way of detoxing your body is by having a healthy liver. Fortunately, the function of the liver was understood by the compilers of the tenth-century Old English medical manuscript known as Bald’s Leechbook. But the medical literature recommends other ways of cleansing the body, too: special diets, vomiting, and bloodletting, for example. But, of course, the devil was the worst toxin of all.
Some of the private prayerbooks and liturgical compendia that I study are known to have been written for or by this dean or that bishop. But manuscripts didn’t only have one owner over the course of their lives. In this post, I discuss how female users of manuscripts feminised and personalised prayers that had originally been written down using masculine grammatical forms – and added some more prayers of their own.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog.