Pirates, Priests, and Pilgrimage: The Story of Finchale Priory

The ruins of the former Benedictine priory of Finchale (‘finkle’), in England’s North-East, are spectacular. Found encircled in a loop of River Wear, not more than five miles than Durham Cathedral, walking to Finchale priory is a popular Saturday afternoon pastime for Durham students and residents alike. Many begin or end their walk at Durham…

Sex and Society: Men and Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe

What did it mean to be a man in medieval Europe? How did a man demonstrate his masculinity? Prostitution, and the women (and men) involved, occupied a paradoxical position in the cities that straddle the border between modern day Germany and Switzerland. To some, prostitution was a necessary component of urban life whilst, to others,…

Let Sleeping Monarchs Lie: Sweden’s Royal Resting Place

In 1629, Gustav II Adolph, otherwise known as the ‘Lion of the North’, instructed his Privy Council to prepare a burial crypt on the south side of the church which dominated the Riddarholmen (‘Knight’s Islet’). However, it was not until the king was mortally wounded when leading the Protestant forces during the Thirty Year’s War…

Beyond the ‘History’: The Other Works of the Venerable Bede

Anyone with even an inkling of English history is likely to have heard of the Venerable Bede (c. 672-735) and probably will come across his most famous work, the Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bede’s history, completed towards the end of his life, was the first history of the English or Anglo-Saxon peoples that…

From Riga with Love: A Voyage to Europe’s Forgotten Frontier

The past bears a heavy legacy in Latvia, one of three Baltic states, including Lithuania and Estonia, that were only granted independence from Russian rule in the closing decade of the 20th century. Little known in much detail to Western Europeans, Latvia, for a large part of the 20th century, languished behind the Iron Curtain…

Hooking and Hustling – Prostitution in Late Medieval Switzerland

When exploring the past, we tend to focus on the tales of kings and queens and the adventures of worthy men. But what about the lives of ordinary people? And how about that activity that will inevitably occur when people come together, sex? Alex (A) interviewed Jamie Page (JP), a research fellow at the Eberhard…

Beyond the Northlands: Interview with Dr Eleanor Barraclough

We often view the Vikings from the perspective of their victims as blood curdling, robbing, raping murderers. The terror from the North which, according to some, was a divinely ordained punishment for the corruption and moral laxity of Christendom. But what if we tried to understand the Vikings from their own point of view? Alex…

In the Land of Giants: Interview with Max Adams

Ever wondered what it is really like to view the world from an Anglo-Saxon perspective? Want to know how Aelfred defeated the Vikings? Just look at the landscape, argues archaeologist Max Adams. Alex (A) interviewed Adams (MA) on his recently published book, Aelfred’s Britain: Life and Death in the Viking Age (Head of Zeus, E….