Shortage of time meant my blogging slowed down last month but I’m looking to get back on track this week. I’ll start with a quick round-up from some other blogs. This is just a small selection of what’s going on at the moment, so I recommend Michelle’s latest round-up at Heavenfield for a wider snapshot. Some of the sites mentioned by Michelle appear in this post.
Over at the Badonicus blog Mak Wilson is publishing a series of posts on the identity of King Arthur and examining the core question of whether we’re dealing with a historical figure or a mythical one, or a combination of the two. This is a comprehensive study of sources and theories so anyone with an Arthurian interest will find it worth a look. Mak offers a balanced treatment of the topic and gives equal space to all sides in the long-running debate about the Historical Arthur. The series is currently up to Part Five.
Perceptions of ‘barbarian’ Celts and Picts is the title of a post by Iain Forbes at his Last of the Druids blog. Iain looks at how the peoples of early medieval Britain are traditionally (and simplistically) presented to schoolchildren as a homogeneous ‘island nation’ who endured wave after wave of invasion by Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Iain draws on his own memories of how this period of history was taught in Scottish schools. His recollection of learning about a homogeneous mass of ‘Ancient Britons’ struck a particular chord with me as I made a similar point in a talk I gave at the Wigtown Book Festival in 2010, which turned into a book-launch for The Men of the North.
If you visit Iain’s blog, take a look at the stunning cover-image for his forthcoming book on the Pictish symbol stones. It shows a full-sized replica (carved by master-stonemason Barry Grove) of the Hilton of Cadboll stone from Easter Ross.
The next blogpost here at Senchus will be a report on my recent visit to Dacre in Cumbria, site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery mentioned by Bede. Dacre is one of the places suggested as a venue for the famous royal meeting at Eomotum in 927, an event attended by the English king Athelstan and his fellow-monarchs from Strathclyde and Alba. An excellent summary of the meeting and its geographical context can be found in Diane McIlmoyle’s latest post at her Cumbrian blog. Diane has the advantage of being based near Eomotum (the River Eamont) and speaks from first-hand experience when she discusses the sites suggested as possible venues.
Staying with a Cumbrian theme, Professor Karen Jolly of the University of Hawai’i has a new post at Revealing Words, her blog about tenth-century Northumbria. The post is an update on her search for sites in Cumbria possibly visited by the Northumbrian priest Aldred, a member of the community of St Cuthbert. As well as producing a definitive scholarly edition of Aldred’s glosses on a book of prayers, Karen is writing a novel about him and has posted an extract on her blog.
A novel about early medieval Scotland is due to be launched next month. Chronicles of Iona: Exile looks at the relationship between St Columba and his royal patron Aedan mac Gabrain. Its author, Paula de Fougerolles, is a graduate of the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic at Cambridge where she undertook her PhD. Exile will be available in e-book format and also in hardcopy and will be followed by Peregrinatio, the second title in the Iona series. An extract from Perigrinatio can be viewed at Paula’s blog.
Another early medievalist turning her hand to historical fiction is V.M. Whitworth who, as Victoria Thompson, wrote the acclaimed Dying and Death in Later Anglo-Saxon England (2004). Her recently published novel The Bone Thief is described on her blog as ‘a historical thriller set in 900 AD, in the immediate aftermath of the death of King Alfred the Great’. It was launched at York during this year’s Jorvik Viking Festival.
At the start of this year I made a resolution to visit Scotland more frequently than I managed in 2011. I need to replenish my stock of photos for this blog and do some exploring around Strathclyde for Heart of the Kingdom and my other research projects on the Britons. I was in Govan last month and will be there again in April but I hope to get to other places, not only to re-visit historical sites but also to attend events. This will happen if various schedules fall into place. An event much further afield but on my ‘get-to’ list for a rather long time is the International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo in the United States. I always remember the buzz on Ansaxnet (where I used to lurk in the 1990s) whenever the date of ‘Kzoo’ drew near. I really should have made the effort to attend back then, when I probably had more time than I seem to have nowadays. A recent blogpost by Curt Emanuel is a reminder of what I’ve been missing. Although not a professional medievalist Curt is a regular attendee at Kalamazoo and draws on his own happy experience of past congresses to encourage other ‘interested amateurs’ to register for this year’s event. One day, perhaps, I’ll actually make it….
Finally, an opportunity for honest bloggers everywhere to grind their teeth and growl or howl. Theft of our creativity for anonymous re-posting and other unspeakable purposes is one of the prices we pay for an unregulated Internet. It’s a sad but inevitable fact of online life. In his latest blogpost Jonathan Jarrett reports on an instance of his own stuff turning up somewhere else without permission or due credit. Alas, it won’t be the last we hear of this sort of treachery.
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