How many colours were there in a medieval rainbow?

This is the sign of my covenant, that I make between me and you and all living creatures for all generations, that is that I will set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be a sign of my covenant between me and the earth: when I cover the heavens with the clouds, then…

Scorpio, that is suffering: a natural history of a medieval Zodiac symbol

It’s incredibly frustrating when you know you have read something somewhere and can’t remember where.  Such as the time I read an article or book which made an excellent point about Anglo-Saxon zodiac illustrations. Most medieval psalters and other liturgical books begin with a calendar, the primary purpose of which is to list the feasts…

A medieval astronomy lesson

If you drilled a hole through the centre of the earth, and dropped a stone down it, what would happen?  How big are the Sun, Moon and stars?  And, hardest to answer of all, are there any people on the other side of the globe?  I’ve been reading up on medieval science.  In particular, I’ve…

Also found in Tiberius A. iii

Some medieval manuscripts have an obvious purpose.  It’s a psalter, a gospel-book, a collection of charters, a book of poetry.  Others … don’t.  London, British Library Cotton MS Tiberius A. iii is, first and foremost, a copy of the two most important Rules (guides on how to live and worship in the monastery) for use…

An Old English Alphabet (part 2)

In my previous post, I took a journey through the Old English language, exploring a single word beginning with the letters from A to L, using each one to explain a particular characteristic of the language.  Here, I will carry on from M until the end of the alphabet … M is for Micel Micel…

Solidify us unto Thy charity: the medicinal and liturgical uses of cheese

On this blog, I write about some of the most important aspects of Christian spirituality in early medieval England.  The feast of Easter.  The healing of the sick.  Confession.  Expressing one’s deepest yearnings to God in prayer. And now: cheese. I’ve written before about Ælfric of Eynsham, abbot and homilist, and also the author of…

Comparing æppla and oranges: Anglo-Saxon fruit

It’s summer, the season of strawberries and cream.  But what about strawberries and pepper?  We eat fruit for pleasure, or for the sake of eating a healthy diet; in the Middle Ages, certain fruits were also believed to be useful for keeping the body in health, or for use in medicine.  And, in a time…

How to protect yourself from harm in Anglo-Saxon England

What was medieval Christianity anyway?  Sometimes, we know more about the views of people in positions of power, or of reformers who sought to tighten up religious practices, than about those of the average person.  But how to what extent do their works reflect what happened in reality?  In my research, I have come across…

The power of plants (and an Anglo-Saxon cold remedy)

This blogpost is part of a series on Anglo-Saxon medicine, which was introduced here. The other day, I came across one of the Old English language’s many words related to battle and heroism and realised that it had been a long time since I had encountered it. On reflection, however, it occurred to me that…