Call for Papers: Medieval Midlands Postgraduate Conference 2017

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Medieval Midlands Postgraduate Conference : ‘Identity in the Middle Ages’

Trinity House Chapel, De Montfort University

Thursday 27th and Friday 28th April 2017

Medieval Midlands (supported by the AHRC’s Midlands 3 Cities consortium) are pleased to invite proposals for papers, posters, workshops and round-tables for the second Medieval Midlands Postgraduate Conference, to be held at De Montfort University, 27th-28th April, 2017. The theme of the conference is ‘Identity in the Middle Ages’.

The conference welcomes papers that focus on any geographical location between 400-1500 CE from any relevant academic discipline. Speakers are encouraged to interpret the theme of ‘Identity’ as is relevant to their own postgraduate research.

The conference will celebrate dynamic and innovative research that is currently taking place in the UK Midlands, and submissions are therefore welcomed on this basis.

Papers will be 20 minutes in length. Abstracts of around 300 words are invited from postgraduate researchers. Proposals are also welcomed for other formats of presentation and should also be put into a 300 word abstract. All of these should be sent to Esther Lewis at Esther.Lewis@nottingham.ac.uk by Friday 10th February 2016. Please title your email “Medieval Midlands Conference Submission”.

There will be a limited number of bursaries available to support travel expenses for speakers.

 

 

 

Viking World: Diversity and Change Conference, July 2016.

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The Conference T-shirt + some brooches made by Adam.

It’s been more than two weeks since the ‘Viking World: Diversity and Change’ conference ended and it’s still not all out of my system. That’s how wonderful a job Professor Judith Jesch and Associate Professor Christina Lee did. This was the first ever (almost) week-long conference I ever attended and I must say, it was quite the experience. As soon as I heard about it, back in February or March, I asked Dr. Lee if there was any possibility of helping out in exchange for attending the conference. As a Viking & Anglo-Saxon Studies MA-student, I realised that this was huge opportunity for me, as it would hopefully help me make connections and learn new elements about my field of studies. As it turned out, I got way more than I expected, with new friends made and new areas of research to explore.

 

Our week started off with preparing the venue for the 110+ people that would be flooding in from Sunday onwards. We had to set up tables for different people selling their products. Adam Parsons from Blueaxe Reproductions would be there selling all kinds of Viking and Anglo-Saxon jewellery replicas, drinking horns, wooden swords and shields, and he was available for all kinds of practical questions. Dr. Dayanna Knight, former student of the University of Nottingham and designer of the logo for the conference would be selling original paintings and prints of her work, as well as promoting her new project, a historically accurate Viking themed colouring book. Then there was a table with books sold by our own CSVA, sold by me, and a table with books provided by the VSNR which could be ordered. Blackwell’s also made an appearance with books by a couple of writers who would visit the conference, and the Institute for Place-Name Studies had their own sales-table as well.
The conference officially started on Monday and guest started to trickle in from about half eight onwards. Coffee and tea were ready and at 9 the first papers of the day started. The programme was very varied and wide-ranging. Topics ranged from in-depth discussion of a singular word found in a poem to the purpose of sitting and standing in sagas, and from slaves found in Viking graves to the manufacturing of tar. The speakers were possibly even more diverse than the topics, with visitors from all continents. After each session coffee and tea was ready and questions were asked in abundance. At the end of the day there was a Writer’s Round Table, with James Aitcheson, Justin Hill, Helen Hollick and Victoria Whitworth ready to answer all the questions we had about writing and researching historical (Viking) novels. During dinner the match between Iceland and England was projected on a big screen, and many of the delegates cheered their respective teams on.

 

Tuesday was fairly similar to Monday, with lovely and interesting papers, and a broad spectrum of topics. In the evening, shortly after dinner (an excellent carvery), Sarah Weldon told us all about her Oceans Project and the ‘Great British Viking Quest’. It involved the explanation of new technology and how it could be used to make lessons at school more interesting and interactive.


Wednesday was a short day for most of the volunteers and part of the delegates. The day started off with new papers, but around lunch a big group of delegates left the conference for a trip to Lincoln. Even though it was a very rainy day, the trip was highly successful, ending with a dinner at Lincoln Cathedral.
Thursday included papers on evidence of the Vikings traveling even further than formerly assumed and made us realise that we need to broaden our horizons. The day ended with a splendid BBQ in Lancaster Hall, and the many different conversations being held proved that everyone was enjoying themselves immensely. And of course the match between Portugal and Poland had to be watched.
Friday deserves some special attention, because it ended with a bang. After a long day of yet another stream of very interesting papers, it was time for the conference dinner. The Senate Chamber was decked out with round tables, the table cloths covered in sparkly stars, and flags representing all the countries of the delegates, as well as mini flags on the tables, decorated the room. Dinner was absolutely fantastic, the catering did such a wonderful job (not only that evening, the whole week was amazing). Laughter filled the room as people were obviously enjoying themselves, and some tears were shed when the appropriate people were called to the front for a thank-you. After the lovely food we were directed upstairs, to the Great Hall, where a Ceilidh band was ready to provide us with live music all evening. All the guest were led into dance and instructed on how to properly swing or promenade.

 

Saturday, the last day of the conference, was attended by fewer people than the rest of the week, because many delegates had already had to leave. This did not, however, make the day less interesting or informative. The last delegates to read their papers did so with as much energy as the first ones on Monday, and the day ended with many people being thanked for their hard work, their interesting research, and their ability to make the last day as successful as the first.

 

As for me, I had one of the best weeks I have had since moving to Nottingham. I quite possibly learned more in this week than I could have ever learned on my own in a year and I would like to thank everyone helping out to make this week so perfect. And of course my special thanks go out to Judith and Christina, who did a wonderful, amazing job of organising the conference, with the help of Rebecca Peck and Tracy-Ann Stead. Lastly, I want to thank my fellow volunteers, Grace Fairbairn, Lexie O’Neill, Jake McGrath, Cal Holderness and Briony Newbold, who stood by me through all this. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the massive success of this amazing conference.

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Knut and Emma, made by our author

13820393_1089217084500494_1477698840_nDieuwke la Roi is a Masters student studying MA Vikings and Anglo-Saxon Studies at the University of Nottingham.

Images: Image of confrenece presentation,©by Sarah Weldon  all others  Dieuwke la Roi ©

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Midlands Viking Symposium 2016

This year’s symposium was held at the University of Nottingham on Saturday 23rd April 2016. Its theme was “Interpreting the Viking Age”, and as such it offered a varied and tantalising programme, so it was with eager anticipation that I arrived at the venue.

The introduction was given by Judith Jesch, and then we moved straight into the first paper of the day: Ryder Patzuk-Russell, from the University of Birmingham. Ryder presented the Icelandic Breta sögur documents, which describe the mythic origins of the peoples of Western Europe through translations and interpretations of texts including Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. He discussed the changes apparent in the translation, which shift its focus more closely onto the Scandinavian lands, as well as indicating the sympathies of the translator through subtle changes in

Oseberg

The Oseberg Ship

language and tone from Geoffrey’s original. Next up was Stephen Harding from the University of Nottingham who outlined the terrible deterioration which has occurred to the wooden objects found with the Oseberg Viking ship burial, through the interaction of their iron fixtures, moisture in the air, and the alum used to preserve them when they were first excavated in 1904. Stephen is involved in a project to try and find a remedy for this damage and ensure the survival of the artefacts for future generation – and the substance which makes up crab shells may hold the key! The final paper of the morning session was given by Jane Evans of the British Geological Survey. She outlined the programme of isotope analysis which she has undertaken on the teeth of a group of late 10th-early 11th century skeletons found in an execution burial pit near Weymouth. By leading us through the various analyses, and mapping which geographical areas they excluded as origins for the people in the grave, Jane built up a convincing case to suggest that most of the beheaded men grew up in the coastal areas of Poland.

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Adam and Emma from Bernicia Crafts display their hand-made replica artefacts

 

Lunch was next on the schedule, with the opportunity to chat to other delegates and digest both the tasty catering and the fascinating papers we’d heard in the morning. There was also the chance to meet the knowledgeable and talented living history enthusiasts from Bernicia Crafts, and to browse the book stall and the stall selling t-shirts produced by the Viking Minds company. I succumbed to temptation and bought a t-shirt; this was pretty much a foregone conclusion since some of the shirts showed one of my favourite coins – a raven penny of Anlaf Guthfrithson of the Viking Kingdom of York. As an Early Medieval numismatist there was no way I could resist!

The afternoon session kicked off with two papers looking at place names. Rebecca Gregory from the University of Nottingham was first, highlighting Scandinavian elements in the minor place-names of Nottinghamshire (those being the names of fields, streams and small settlements, rather than large towns). She suggested that some of these may be indicative of Scandinavian settlement patterns in the area. Rebecca was followed by Lesley Abrams of the University of Oxford who presented a very revealing paper looking at the differing scholarly attitudes towards the potential of place name studies in different parts of the Scandinavian diaspora. She particularly focused on the contrasting situation in England and Normandy, and traced the history of place name research in those two regions in order to make suggestions for the reasons behind this difference of regard for the discipline. Following on from this, Richard Jones of the University of Leicester presented a research project which included elements of place name study in Normandy: Richard has been involved in sampling the DNA of residents of the Cotentin peninsula to search for markers of ancestry which may relate to migration into the area in the Early Medieval period, be it Norse, Danish, Irish, or Germanic. He has compared the results of this analysis to other elements, including place names, to draw some tentative conclusions about the movement of peoples into the area in the Viking period.

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Rebecca Gregory discusses ‘Ings, Wongs, Becks and Holmes’ in the minor place-names of Nottinghamshire

These three papers were followed by a teabreak, and then the final session of the day started with Wendy Scott of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Wendy showed an intriguing, and gorgeous, selection of artefacts which have been found in the Midlands by members of the public and reported through the PAS. These are objects which have stylistic or cultural association with the Vikings, and as such included items of Scandinavian manufacture, pieces with Scandinavian styling but probable English manufacture, and items such as arabic coins and chopped up pieces of metalwork which offer evidence of raiding and pillaging. The resulting collation of these finds hints at the widespread influence of the Vikings in this area. Our final talk took us up to York; Gareth Dean of the University of Nottingham presented an archaeological and topographic study of Early Medieval activity in the area of the old Roman fortress. He took an interesting approach, considering the variety of functions, and the flexibility of meanings, of spaces within an urban setting, in particular in relation to the role of the church within those spaces. Gareth’s paper suggested that the fortress area was actually delineated within the city for far longer than has been traditionally assumed, and that this may have been related to its function as a sacred space and a site of ‘cultural memory’ of the power of Northumbria.

This was my first experience of the Midlands Viking Symposium, and I was hugely impressed! The topic isn’t directly related to my doctoral research, so I had the luxury of attending purely for my personal interest. The main thing which struck me was the great variety of disciplines represented by the speakers. I had previously had a vague notion that this would be a historians’ conference but the papers included literature, place names, science, archaeology, conservation and even marine biology too! Similarly the audience was diverse and varied, and it was an excellent chance to catch up with old friends as well as meet new and interesting people. It was a fun and stimulating day, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event in Birmingham!


AnjaAnja Rohde is a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Nottingham, funded by the Midlands3Cities consortium. Her doctoral research is entitled “The Coinages of William I (1066-1087) and William II (1087-1100) and their Implications for our Understanding and Public Representation of the Norman Conquest”.

Images:  ‘Oseberg vikingship’ © Eivind Lindseth, all other photographs © Judith Jesch

Horezu Monastery Roof

Programme: Medieval Midlands PG Conference 2016

Power and Society in the Medieval World

Medieval Midlands Postgraduate Conference

University of Nottingham, 13/04/2016

Provisional Programme 

9:30 Registration

9:50 Welcome and Opening Remarks 

10:00 Session 1: Power and Practice in Monastic Reform

  • Ian Styler (University of Birmingham) ‘The Power of the Three: How Aethelwold, Aelfric and Aethelthryth influenced the Benedictine Reforms of the late Tenth Century’
  • Georgie Fitzgibbon (University of Birmingham) ‘The Power of Ideas: Bernard of Clairvaux and Cistercian Devotional Practice’ 

11:00 Tea break 

11:30 Session 2: Disease in Medieval Society

  • Hannah Ingram (University of Nottingham) ‘Epidemiologial Empowerment: Women and disease management in late Medieval England’
  • Molly Beaverstock (University of Nottingham) ‘Power and the Leper in the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1174-1185): Why was there no opposition to Baldwin IV as king, depsite his leprosy?’

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Session 3: Art and Material Culture

  • Anja Rohde (University of Nottingham) ‘The Norman Conquest and the Moneyers of the English Coinage’
  • Susana Sendra Ramos (University of Nottingham, visiting from Universidad San Pablo CEU, Madrid) ‘The Value of the Icon in Castile in the Second Half of the Thirteenth Century: The case of the miniatures of the Cantigas de Santa Maria’

14:30 Tea break

15:00 Session 4: The Interplay between Religious and Temporal Power

  • Mark Robinson (Nottingham Trent University) ‘The Council of Avignon 1209: Pacification, Reform and the Albigensian Crusade’
  • Thomas Sayers (University of Nottingham) ‘The Patriarchy of Antioch and Byzantine: Crusader relations c.1170’

16:00 Keynote Address: Dr Conor Kostick ‘Medieval Postgraduate Research: directions and challenges’

17:00 Closing remarks

 

Register here. Registration closes on Wednesday 30th March.

Attendance at the conference is free, and includes lunch and refreshments, thanks to the generous support of the AHRC’s Midlands-3-Cities doctoral consortium.


Feature image: ‘Hurezi Monastery

Letter Book Wulfstan 2

Medieval Midlands Student Blogs for British Library

Rebecca Lawton, award-holder of the British Library AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership on the theme of ‘Understanding the Anglo-Saxons: the English and Continental Manuscript Evidence’, has written her first blog post for the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog. Read it here!

In her post, Becky, who is supervised by Professor Jo Story (University of Leicester) and Dr Claire Breay (British Library), comments on ‘The Letter Book of Archbishop Wulfstan’.

Well done Becky!


Featured image:  Extract of a letter from Alcuin to King Æthelred of Northumbria, from the Letter Book of Archbishop Wulfstan, England, c. 1002-1023, Cotton MS Vespasian A XIV , f. 114r © British Library

 

Birmingham University Chancellors Court

An Exciting Time for Medievalists in the Midlands

It has been a great few years for Medieval Studies in the Midlands. First we had the discovery of the remains of Richard III by the University of Leicester, then the celebrated Birmingham Qu’ran manuscript at the University of Birmingham, as well as an Anglo-Saxon cure for MSRA at the University at Nottingham.

Aside from these headline grabbing events, one of the great things about being a postgraduate in the Midlands in the last few years is the increasing collaboration among universities in the region and the possibilities that have arisen from this.

As a Byzantinist, it’s fairly understandable that I’ve spent a good amount of my time over the past two years travelling to Birmingham, which is hallowed ground for Byzantine Studies – and indeed the study of the Eastern Mediterranean more generally. Although I’ve spent a good amount of my time consulting obscure texts at the university library, the main reason for spending so much time at Birmingham has been to attend the seminar series for the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies. I’ve been attending these since the first year of my PhD and have found it an excellent way to broaden my understanding of my subject area and to meet other people working in my field.

Centre for Byzantine...

Schedule for the CBOMG Studies Seminar Series

I knew from attending last year that the seminar series was popular, which isn’t surprising given that it’s been going for forty years! But this year’s seminars have been better attended than ever before. I’ve learned to get myself to the Whitting Room as early as I can, since of the five seminars I attended last term, there was a lack of chairs in at least four (and if my memory isn’t faulty, the fifth as well). This seems to be largely a consequence of the strength of the departmental community at Birmingham, as well as the quality of speakers the Centre attracts. The topics have ranged from the seventh century to the thirteenth, from textiles, numismatics, histories, literature and just about everything in between. Needless to say, a lot of this falls well outside my own area of expertise, but I find that it’s important to make an effort to expose myself to new ideas. As a historian who works overwhelmingly with textual sources, I certainly find it thought provoking to see an archaeologist or an art historian approach things from an entirely different perspective, or even tell me what I’m doing wrong from time to time!

To this end, I’ve often found seminars I know little about to be the most thought-provoking. My knowledge tends to get a little hazy when we get to the twelfth century, Coin Outlinebut I found Michael Angold’s paper on Nicholas Mesarites fascinating, largely because I was grappling with the same issues he spoke about, namely innovation and exceptionality, at exactly that time. Likewise the talks by Michael Jeffreys and Margaret Mullett both referred to works outside my own period, but their observations on genre, audience and form related to several works that I’m working on myself. This made me consider whether or not the categories that I (and others) have used are a little too rigid. Anthony Kaldellis’ paper on the 10th and 11th centuries was probably the one I picked out as having the most immediate importance to my research. In terms of scope, I certainly couldn’t complain: he demolished the conventional picture of landholding in eastern Asia Minor and demonstrated just what a watershed the Seljuk invasion of Asia Minor was, as well as rehabilitating the previously maligned emperor Constantine IX. Finally, Jonathan Shepard’s paper on the extent of trade networks between Byzantium, Britain and beyond proved especially provocative to me given how sceptical most intellectual historians seem to be about external influences nowadays.

Staff House, University of Birmingham

Staff House, University of Birmingham

After the seminar, a short trip across the centre of campus takes us to the Staff House for post-seminar drinks and chat. A consequence of having such a department with such a long-standing tradition is that the postgraduate community here is large, proficient and very welcoming. I’ve found that getting to know staff members and fellow PhD students has been one of the most rewarding products of attending the series. My only real regret so far is that I haven’t been able to keep abreast of their research as much as I’d like, given that I’m only in Birmingham every fortnight or so. All this comes down to the pressures on time that every PhD student is forced to contend with, but I would certainly encourage new PhD students to take any opportunity to attend events outside the confines of their own university or department. In the short term it can prove difficult to reconcile with your other commitments, especially if there is a lot of travelling involved, but I find that, in the long term, the effort is certainly worth it.


Carl DixonCarl Dixon is a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Nottingham, funded by the Midlands3Cities consortium. His research focuses on the Greek sources of the Paulician heresy.

Images: ‘Richard III‘ © Wolf Gang; Birmingham Qu’ran; Ancient Biotics Project © University of Nottingham; ‘Staff House, University of Birmingham‘ © sw77.

 

 

Angel of Fear

CALL FOR PAPERS: EMREM Annual Symposium

Papers are invited for the 2016 EMREM two-day interdisciplinary symposium, to be held at the University of Birmingham on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th May 2016. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Chaos and Catastrophe; Restoration and Renewal’.

Postgraduate speakers from all fields of EMREM (Early Medieval, Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, Early Modern, c400-c1700) are welcome to share their research and build networks at this friendly and well-established symposium.

Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

Civil Wars                                        Restoration

Dynastic Feuds                                Legitimacy

Reformation                                    Counter-Reformation

Providential Disasters                     Conservation and Resilience

Disease and Famine                        Medicine and Containment

Memories of Catastrophe                Visions of Utopia

Death of a Leader                            Coronation

Collapse of Empire                          The New World

Sudden Death                                  Ars Moriendi

Apocalypse                                      Resurrection

Suffering                                         Hope

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Please send proposals of approximately 300 words, OR 1000 words if applying as a panel, to emremforum@googlemail.com by 1st March 2016.

We have normally been able to provide the conference free of charge and with grants available to cover reasonable travel costs for speakers. We are confident that we will be able to do the same this year.

@EMREM_Forum

EMREM logo


Image © Gabriel Calderón

 

Printing Plates

Quadrivium XI: The Academic Book of the Future

‘Identity, Use and Creation of Academic “Books” for Medievalists’, 25-26 February 2016, Centre for Textual Studies, De Montfort University

This is a two-day training event for doctoral students and early-career researchers in medieval studies, partially supported by the AHRC-funded projects The Academic Book of the Future and the Quadrivium Network. Registration is now open at the Quadrivium website.

The event addresses questions surrounding the academic books for medievalists. In the 20th century, an academic book for medievalists was relatively easy to identify. It often embodied at least 20 years of rigorous scholarship. It was often a thick volume, hardcover, and published by a reputable publisher. It was a big, significant and eye-opening book, which would be read, referred and used over and over by all scholars in the field.

The new digital technologies have brought about a modification in the methodologies for researching, producing and delivering the scholarship. The merit of digital environment for scholarly publishing may now seem to be more than self-evident. Now that creating the ‘impact’ of our research on the world beyond academia is a compulsory element for our academic career, one may naturally think that publishing the digital ‘books’ (or resources) and distributing them online is the way to go. Indeed, many current researchers in the field have produced digital academic ‘books’.

The scholarly community, however, has not come to a consensus as to what a digital academic ‘book’ looks like. How do we identify ‘a digital academic book? How do we create it, and do we want/need to create it? If we make one, then, how do we ensure that all scholars in the field can continue to use it for years to come? And, how does the emergence of the academic book in digital format influence the way we create, use and value the print academic book? The event will consist of hands-on workshops drawn upon existing expertise and experience the Quadrivium team gained by working on AHRC-funded digital projects.


Feature image: ‘Plates’ by Tom Garnett.

 

3mt-poster Feature-2

IMR 3 Minute Thesis competition 2015

The Institute for Medieval Research invites PG medievalists from all institutions and departments to present their research and its significance in no more than three minutes for a chance to win the IMR 3MT® Competition. There will be two prizes: one determined by a panel of three judges and another determined by audience vote.

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Click here to enlarge.

The competition will take place on Wednesday 9 December, 5–7pm, Room A11, Highfield House, University Park.

The rules for the competition are more relaxed than the official 3MT® rules and are designed to be more accessible to students in the early stages of their respective courses. Read them here PDF format. We aim to bring together medievalists from a variety of departments and give them the chance to present their research in a supportive environment.

To enter, please email Carl Dixon (ahxcsd@nottingham.ac.uk) with your name, thesis title, department, and supervisor name(s).

Deadline for entries: Friday 27 November 2015.

Medieval PG seminar Series 2

New Medieval Seminar Series at UoN

Roberta Cimino, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Nottingham, has put together a new postgraduate seminar series for medievalists.

The seminars are aimed at PG students and early career researchers from all disciplines and institutions, but all students and staff are welcome!

The first session will be held on Wednesday 11 November, 12.30-2pm in Room C53, Humanities Building, University Park, University of Nottingham. This session will focus on coins: Anja Rohde will be discussing the design of early medieval English coins (and why Aethelred the Unready has a mohawk!) and Mariele Valci will be talking about a coin hoard from the Forum of Nerva.

Seminar Series Poster

A second session is scheduled for Wednesday 9 December (details TBA) and these seminars will become a regular occurrence in the spring semester.

Please contact Roberta Cimino (Roberta.Cimino@nottingham.ac.uk) for more details.

Beowulf Manuscript

Join TOEBI (Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland)!

Dear Medievalists,

You are cordially invited to become a member of TOEBI (Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland). TOEBI is a key organisation to join for anyone pursuing an academic career in Old English related matters or indeed for anyone with a serious interest in Old English language and literature. Postrgraduates often overlook TOEBI, assuming that only teachers can be members. However this is not the case and postgraduate students are very welcome.

Why should you join?

  • The first and most important reason is to have the opportunity to meet the academics who are making things happen in British and Irish universities.
  • TOEBI awards bursaries to help postgraduate students and early-career researchers to attend conferences.
  • The annual TOEBI conference is itself a stimulating and comfortable environment in which to present a paper. We had some very interesting papers this year on everything from Beowulf to Bede, passing by digital technology.
  • Student membership is only £5 p/a

We very much hope you will join us soon. Here is the link to the web page: http://www.toebi.org.uk

If you have any questions please email me at: eleni.ponirakis@nottingham.ac.uk

Warmest regards,

Eleni Ponirakis

TOEBI Postrgraduate Rep.


Image: ‘The beginning of Beowulf’, Cotton Vitellius A. XV, f.132, The British Library. Full image available to download on British Library Flickr page

Arbor Low

A Medieval Guide to the ‘Old Stones’ of Derbyshire

On 23rd July 2015, fifteen early medievalists from the University of Nottingham set off to tour the “old stones” of Derbyshire. “Old stones” may seem like a strikingly unspecific term, but we needed a title that covered a Neolithic stone-circle, a great number of stone crosses and cross-shafts, and other examples of medieval stone carving. The majority of what we visited consisted of Anglo-Saxon stone work, and it was with such a piece that we began our trip.

Brailsford Warrior, Anglo-Saxon Cross-Shaft © Emma Vosper

Brailsford Warrior © Emma Vosper

The cross-shaft in the churchyard of All Saints at Brailsford features a carving of a seated warrior with a sword across his lap and a shield in his hand – much comment was made on the endearingly benign expression on this warrior’s face. Paul Cavill reminded us of the scene in Beowulf in which the feud between the Frisians and the Danes is reignited by the placing of a sword in Hengest’s lap.

Our next stop was St Bartholomew’s Church in the village of Hognaston. Above the entrance to the church is an early medieval carving of what appears to be a shepherd holding a crook amongst miscellaneous animals – some more easily identifiable than others. We discussed whether it was more likely that the figure actually represented the “metaphorical” shepherd; that is, a bishop with his crozier and congregation.

Crucifixion Scene, Anglo-Saxon Cross-Shaft,  Bradbourne

Crucifixion Scene, Bradbourne © Emma Vosper

There was much to see at All Saints Church, Bradbourne. Perhaps most impressive was a cross-shaft in the grave-yard, which featured on one side the crucifixion and on the other a group of less easily identifiable figures. The crucifixion scene includes very recognisable iconography. There is a figure either side of Christ, one piercing his side with a spear, the other collecting the blood. The sun and the moon on either side of the cross will be familiar to any students of crucifixion paintings in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, in which the celestial bodies can frequently be seen hiding their faces. There was also a mausoleum or crypt in the graveyard, which we were unable to date, but could potentially have been Anglo-Saxon, and the church itself featured a Norman frieze of beasts around one of the doorways.

Norman Door, Bradbourne © Emma Vosper

Norman Door, Bradbourne © Emma Vosper

Arbor Low proved to be quite a different stop. After trekking through a farmyard and over a short stretch of moorland, we came upon the Neolithic stone-circle (header image). All the stones are lying down, with an outer circle surrounding a number of stones in the centre. The views across Derbyshire from the monument were impressive, as were those from the nearby Gib Hill, an earlier burial mound. Though we were all very grateful that Eleni Ponirakis arranged the trip so splendidly, we were perhaps less appreciative of the painfully sour sherbet lemons she insisted we eat while our group photo was taken at Arbor Low…Click here to see the photo!

Lunch was the much awaited next stop on our journey. We had a hearty meal at the Royal Oak, Hurdlow; perhaps it was something in the Derbyshire air, but nearly everyone seemed tempted by the fantastically large pies. We set off towards Wheston, each vehicle a little heavier than before. In Wheston we saw a stone cross, probably fourteenth century, which depicted the crucifixion on one side, and on the other what seemed to be a virgin and child. Gathered around the cross, we ate the waffles that Eleni had also kindly provided.

Early medieval stone cross, Eyam ©  Judith Jesch

Stone cross, Eyam © Judith Jesch

From Wheston we went on to Eyam, the village known for quarantining itself during the plague in the seventeenth century. In the churchyard of St Lawrence’s we discovered the slightly mistitled ‘Celtic cross’, which is an eighth to ninth-century cross, carved with what appears to be Mary and the baby Jesus, among other images. We also spent some time inside the church looking at its wall paintings and learning about Eyam during the plague.

Our last stop was St Mary’s Church in Wirksworth. Though essentially a thirteenth-century structure, remains of Anglo-Saxon stone carvings stud the interior walls. To the side of the entrance is a carving of what seems to be a king and queen, the queen with her body in the shape of a heart, surrounded by separate carvings of animals.

The Wirksworth Stone, Wirksworth ©  Emma Vosper

The Wirksworth Stone © Emma Vosper

Elsewhere, the upper part of a male figure stands beside a snake’s head whose jaws are closing around an apple; it is very tempting to see this as Adam. Similarly impressive is the carving of a miner, in keeping with Wirksworth’s history as a centre for lead mining. Perhaps most striking, however, is the Wirksworth Stone, a fabulously preserved coffin lid found in the churchyard in the nineteenth century, which depicts scenes from the Bible.

Thank you again to our wonderful organisers, Paul Cavill, Judith Jesch and Eleni Ponirakis for an educational and entertaining day out in Derbyshire!


Amy Faulkner is just finishing her master’s degree in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her MA dissertation examines the depiction of scribes in Insular manuscripts, and questions the extent to which this reflects actual scribal transmission.