Gegaderung

Gegaderung => General Discussion => Topic started by: Karen Carlson on June 15, 2010, 03:29:22 AM

Title: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Karen Carlson on June 15, 2010, 03:29:22 AM
I'm currently reading Wayland's Work by that Pollington fellow, and The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell -- the second in his series of adventure novels set in the time of King Alfred.

Karen
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: steve pollington on June 15, 2010, 07:59:43 AM
I'm reading 'Initiation Bewtween Two World: Structure and Symbolism in Pre-Christian Scandinavian Religion' by J.P.Schjodt. It's not a light read but is very detailed in its examination of initiation sequences in some Norse myths and stories.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Godwulf on June 15, 2010, 06:06:36 PM
I'm reading "The English Warrior From Earliest Times Till 1066" by Stephen Pollington.  It's really rather good with lots of comprehensive detail.

I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the warrior class and its function.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Longlocks on June 16, 2010, 11:29:45 AM
I'm re-reading Margaret Gelling & Ann Cole's "The Landscape of Place-names".
Also reading Steve's new book on art, a little bit at a time. Lifting it down from the bookcase every day is providing good aerobic exercise. Perhaps the book should be renamed "Wayland's Work-out?"
 ;D
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on June 22, 2010, 01:14:24 AM
---I've just started 'The Monsters and the Critics and other Essays' by JRR Tolkien which looks as though it's going to be interesting.   The first Essay is on Beowulf and Tolkien doesn't sound too happy about the critics ideas on the poem!  Apart from that, I'm readikng our latest Withowinde, little by little to make it last, and a couple of old fashioned mysteries, one a Marorie Allingham Campion story and the other a recent writer in the same vein named James Anderson.   I like the mental work out to find out exactly Who Dun It.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Deorca on June 23, 2010, 09:06:01 PM
Thomas Egenes Introduction to Sanskrit, and my trusty, dog-eared, Cambridge OE reader. Just a bit of light reading...
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on July 05, 2010, 11:18:16 AM
Well dig this.  I’m reading England’s Last War Against France by Colin Smith ( ISBN 978-0-7538-2705-5, Phoenix) about our military operations against the Vichy regime.  Which of course has very little to do with the Anglo-Saxons save as a gallicism for what is now called the Anglosphere.  Until just now, that is, when here on folio 146 Smith writes, “the Luftwaffe’s night bombers had visited the English Midlands and flattened twelve of the armaments factories in the old Saxon town of Coventry.”

Anybody venture as guess as to what the blue blazes Smith thinks he’s talking about?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: ubique on July 05, 2010, 04:40:41 PM
Just about to start Tacticus Germania the penguin classics edition ive been looking forward to reading this for some time.Just finished fire stike 7/9 (not AS as you might have guessed)  and bloodline by Katy Moran its set in the time of King Penda and an ok read but I would have probably enjoyed it more in my early teens.

Liam
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: evilerik on July 05, 2010, 06:05:36 PM
Currently reading "1000 years of annoying the French" by Stephen Clarke for a bit of light amusement.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Wulfric on August 13, 2010, 08:45:26 AM
I'm currently reading "Northanhymbre Saga - The History of the Anglo Saxon KIngs Of Northumbria" by John Marsden, although since I started it I've also read Bernard Cornwall's "The Burning Land" and Kathleen Herbert's "Peace-Weavers & Shield-Maidens Women in Early English Society". Unfortunately such entertaining reading is out of necessity giving way to the likes of "Effective Teaching in Schools" and "Essential Teaching Skills". If anyone finds a cure for this "real world" please do let me know.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on August 17, 2010, 05:40:40 PM
David and I went to West Stow for the 'event' at the end of July (posted elsewhere) and I picked up another of Steve Pollington's works  --  Anglo-Saxon FAQs.   It is really very good, especially if, like DAvid, you are just learning about the era and the people.  I can recommend it as a stocking-filler to give to any relation who still thinks the A-S live in mud huts (as my hairdresser said today!).
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: leofwin on August 17, 2010, 06:53:36 PM
Just finished 'Lordship and Military Obligation in AS England'. Had to look up words like 'allodial', struggled with some of the Latin, but a serious good read nevertheless. It strikes me that if you ask a dozen historians to define 'sake' and 'soke', or 'hide', or 'ceorl', you'll get at least fifteen different replies.

also David cowells' 'How we would have spoken if we'd won in 1066. V original and entertaining!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 22, 2010, 07:21:01 PM
Well I’m reading David Rollason’s Northumbria, 500-11000, Creation and Destruction of a Kingdom ( ISBN 0-521-81335-2, CUP 2003), Chris Wickham’s The Inheritance of Rome, A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 ( ISBN 978-0-140-29014-1, Penguin 2009) and for fiction I expect to read Ross Laidlaw’s Theoderic ( ISBN 978-1-84697-111-2, Polygon 2008) though I should be grateful for opinions on it.  I read his Attila or tried to, and wasn’t very impressed. 

Also I’m re-reading Mr Pollington’s The English Warrior ( ISBN 1-898281-42-4, Anglo-Saxon Books 1996) and The Warrior’s Way ( ISBN 0-7137-2120-0, Blandford Press 1989) as I’m growing alarmed at the number of basic and simple things I seem to have forgotten, diving in at the deep end to research that kiddies’ book I’m writing. 

Like, the Old English sodding-well-did have trousers…



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on October 04, 2010, 04:23:47 PM
----slightly off-topic but about those trousers...that was one thing which really surprised me when I went to West Stow this July and was told by that lovely weaver (can't remember his name, sorry) that the A-S wore trousers like the ones he was wearing.   Another thing was those floor-boards...

Is there any book about house-building in A-S times?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on October 05, 2010, 02:23:52 PM
----slightly off-topic but about those trousers...that was one thing which really surprised me when I went to West Stow this July and was told by that lovely weaver (can't remember his name, sorry) that the A-S wore trousers like the ones he was wearing.   Another thing was those floor-boards...

Is there any book about house-building in A-S times?

I think you would have been much more surprised if he had worn no trousers. The Germanic folk were more noted for trousers than the Greeks & Romans. Im not sure what your query is regarding the floor boards. My opinion is that the AS would have made a better job, but we must not complain about the work of volunteers.
An AS manuel on housebuilding would save a lot of time. No need then for all those experimental buildings.
Peter
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on October 07, 2010, 09:12:11 PM
Floorboards  --  sorry, didn't make myself clear, did I?   I meant that I was flabbergasted that A-S houses had floorboards since I thought that until the late middle ages they just had straw floor coverings.   I asked, I think Roy, about the floor boards and of course was told that since they could make excellent ships why couldn't they transfer the idea of planks of wood to floors.   Hadn't thought of that.

And I loved that A-S house at West Stow, complete with floor boards, beams and plaster.   If it could be moved to Surrey it could fetch at least £500,000.

Anyway, back to the topic:  does anyone know of a book on how houses were built in those days?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Godwulf on November 20, 2010, 01:11:30 PM
The Well and the Tree : World and Time in Early Germanic Culture by Paul C. Bauschatz.  This is an extremely interesting book which has given me a lot of food for thought on early Germanic culture and their view of Wyrd and more.

Unfortunately the book is hard to find (possibly out of print) and can be expensive to purchase if found.  :'(
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on November 27, 2010, 08:21:12 PM
-----I've just started a book I bought at a jumbles sale, years ago  --  the Makers of the Realm by Arthur Bryant.  Don't know what the rest of it's like, but the first two chapters, The Islanders and The First Invaders, are pretty good, worth reading.

BTW, yes, Bowerthane, about woven trousers:  you may have forgotten this, but I didn't even know until I went to West Stow last July.   Found it quite amazing  --  just like the floor boards in the houses there.   Honestly, life in England really went down hill once those pesky Normans arrived!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on December 31, 2010, 03:48:14 PM
Poirot, the famous Agatha Christie detective, apparently had Anglo-Saxon beginnings.   Or at least, according to Simon Bret, the later detective fiction writer.

As I knew I'd be up and down over Christmas, cooking, washing up and whathaveyou, I decided to just read something simple, a collection of short stories edited by Tim Heald, under the heading of 'A Classic English Crime'.  One of the last of these was 'A Little Learning' by Simon Bret where he talks about apparently finding an MS on The Literary Antecedents of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, the first of which is traced back to one of the Digressions in Beowulf.

'The killing in Hrothgar's meadhall described in the ensuing passage', says the MS, 'was lcearly theorigin of the many Country House murders which were to feature in Hercule Poirot's investigations...'

'Felled n the floor
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on January 01, 2011, 05:29:00 PM
Now the seasonal hubbub is settling down, so am I with Norman Vesey’s The Medieval Warrior ( ISBN 978 1 84884 204 5, Pen and Sword Books 1971).  See my thread ‘Alone With Their Greaves?’ for why it’s getting good, already.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on January 02, 2011, 04:07:33 PM
---sorry, everyone, my computer did a wobbly and I thought the whole of my post hadn't gone through but now I see that part of it did.   To continue with the important part about Poirot and his English beginnings:

"Felled on the floor     limp lay the earl,
Blood from the blade     blackening his back,
While all the warriors,     muddled with mead-drinkiong,
Snored in their slumbers,     lost like the daylight
That darkness has doused.     One of their number,
A murdering bondman  --     hated by Hrothgar
(Bringer of boons,     mighter meat-giver)
And by He who made heaven     (granter of goodwill,
Holy hgelper)  --     unfairly faked sleep.
Wakeful eyes worked,     lurking behind lids,
Knowing that another,     whose sword he had stolen,
A goodman not guilty,      a worthy warrior,
Would be caught for the killing --     unless
One much wiser,     a righteous unraveler,
A reader of runes,     a conner of clues
Might see through the slaying,     righting its wrong,
And finger the fiendish one.


Very clerverly done, I thought, by Simon Bret!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on February 22, 2011, 08:10:40 PM
Reading Rushdie's Satanic Verses at the moment. I've been curious about it since the hoo ha in the 90's. I've always wondered how much money in royalties he made on book sales to religious nuts who'd bought it for the purpose of burning it while shouting.

I'm only 60 odd pages in and it's very very good.

Anyway, in terms of the Old English, I'm well into Aelfric at the moment. I'm slowly reading through his Lives of Saints which is on Google books. I'm up to Saint Julian. I'm also reading his homilies - http://users.ox.ac.uk/~stuart/kings/ (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~stuart/kings/)

I've been learning Old English since '95 and it's been tough going, especially seeing as all the books seem to repeat the same passages. I've read and reread Ohthere countless times, so it's nice to read something brand spanking new (for me anyway), and there's so much of it. I'll be flipping fluent by the time I finish (which is one of the reasons behind doing it).

These works are all in poetic prose, so I imagine there are no clumsy word for word translations from Latin. I'm only up to St. Julian but there's been something of a pattern so far. A person discovers Christianity and is all happy, then a cruel king outlaws Christianity and the saint does a few miracles gets tortured but miraculously doesn't get hurt too much, then gets killed and continues to work miracles. However, despite this, they are entertaining reads in their own right and I'd recommend them.

The biblical paraphrases are very good too.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on February 23, 2011, 04:11:05 PM
----as I've noted elsewhere, I've started Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England and I now realise that one has to be careful about translations since in the first chapter it talks about 'five nations' and I've been told that it should be 'languages of five nations'.   But I shall keep going as it is much more interesting that I thoujght it would be  --  I've put off for years reading it because I thought it would be hard going.

I've also borrowed a coffee-book about The Anglo-Saxons edited by James Campbell but I wouldn't recommend it.   The pictures are pretty but he obviously doesn't like the A-S very much...
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Roge on February 23, 2011, 08:09:11 PM
I'm reading Richard Rudgley's 'Pagan Resurrection' which it says is 'The Biography of a God'. It has a lot of short paragraphs and chapters which I think makes the book easier to digest as at times it is slightly hard going.

It covers from Victorian science fiction, to proto hippies of early twentieth centuary Germany and the ideas of the psychologist Carl Jung. All on the subject of  Woden/Odin which ever name you prefer to use.

Definitely a Marmite book,

Cheerz.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bleydh on March 16, 2011, 10:05:15 PM
Esperanto version of Lord of the Rings
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Brian Murrell on March 19, 2011, 05:36:43 PM

I am reading The Lost King of England, by Gabriel Ronay, this follows the trail of Edward the Aetheling and his brother following their exile from England, to Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Hungary and back to England.
You can read a taster below

http://www.historytoday.com/gabriel-ronay/edward-aetheling-anglo-saxon-englands-last-hope

Brian
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on March 19, 2011, 08:49:25 PM

I am reading The Lost King of England, by Gabriel Ronay, this follows the trail of Edward the Aetheling and his brother following their exile from England, to Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Hungary and back to England.
You can read a taster below

http://www.historytoday.com/gabriel-ronay/edward-aetheling-anglo-saxon-englands-last-hope

Brian


thats quite a large teaser, Brian
hardly worth reading the book now
peter
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Garrett on March 19, 2011, 09:02:54 PM
Just started Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World's Holy Dead, by Peter Manseau. He analyses the concept and history of venerating holy relics. Although very well researched, it's written in an anecdotal style, which makes it easy to read.

Leads me to wonder if there are any relics of Anglo-Saxon saints in English churches. (I know relics aren't really a C of E thing, but still...)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: John Nicholas Cross on March 20, 2011, 07:44:35 PM
Relics of Anglo-Saxon saints in churches today?  I should think there are several, what can our more learned members come up with, I'd love to know?   Thanks.     John.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on April 22, 2011, 02:10:08 PM
I'd like your opinion.

The Beowulf I have is the Penguin Classics version but I've been hearing a lot about a fairly new version by Seamus Heaney.    Is it very different from the Classic and is it worth buying?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on April 22, 2011, 02:36:33 PM
I'd like your opinion.

The Beowulf I have is the Penguin Classics version but I've been hearing a lot about a fairly new version by Seamus Heaney.    Is it very different from the Classic and is it worth buying?

It appeals to those who like his poetry in general.
It is good to have a number of translations, but Heaney' version is not to my liking
peter
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on April 23, 2011, 02:39:50 AM
I think it's very worth buying. It's easily the best translation I've read (and I've read a few). But I do like Heaney's poetry, and as Peter said, that's key.

Pros - He's a Nobel Prize winning poet. I believe that Beowulf is a notoriously difficult to translate. Most other translations come off slow, repetitive, convoluted or archaic, but you don't get that in the original language. I feel Heaney has made a poem that is as readable as the original. It's got the gravitas, but it's also got the flow, which is quite an achievement. He also has a verse style that echoes the original accentual alliterative metre. It's good to listen to.

However, Heaney has a very distinctive voice, and this is definitely Heaney's Beowulf, like Beowulf doing a Seamus Heaney impression. In my opinion, verse translations are the only way to go, and you have to pick a verse form as close to the original as possible. If Barbara Reynolds can translate Orlando Furioso in the original verse form, and Dorothy Sayers can do the same with Chanson de Roland, I don't see why people can't do it with Beowulf. Yeah, OE verse is a swine to write in but George Johnston does some good stuff in this metre, and JRR Tolkien did the whole Sigurd Saga in this metre. Heaney's does not write in OE accentual alliterative metre. Also, he's not an Old English scholar. He painstakingly went through the original line by line with a dictionary and a grammar. It's an academic point, but one worth making.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Graegwulf on April 24, 2011, 11:20:22 AM
As Steve Pollington pointed out, Heaney's Beowulf isn't a translation, as he has no specialist OE knowledge.  It's a rendering or re-telling.

I quite liked it, and to be honest any modern English version that sticks very close to the OE original is going to sound rather forced and stilted.  If you want to be a purist, the only option is to learn Old English.

Paul
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on April 27, 2011, 12:31:40 PM
I’ve just given Michael Wood’s Domesday, A Search for the Roots of England ( ISBN 0-563-55128-3, originally 1986 BBC Books) a chance.  It’s been sitting in Peterborough Central Library for many a long winter, but I took it for a coffee-table kind of book; full of pretty illo’s and the Dick-and-Jane version of things I learnt years ago.

Well it’s not quite.  Wood makes some shrewd and original observations about King Alfred’s resettlement policies and why they couldn’t always be popular, and for why the Tribal Hidage ought to be a much more important public document than anyone seems to give it credit for.  He certainly gives a clear and effective version of the case that Domeday Book did not jump, fully-fledged out of a hole in the ground but had a long hinterland in “the most efficient system of government in western Europe” as achieved by the Old English.  That the Normans were quite incapable of maintaining.     

As a Fenlander born in the Soke of Peterborough I was also unexpectedly chuffed to read his case for my ain folk, and East Anglian sokemen generally, making for proof that defining Englishness by a tradition and temperament for individual freedom is not pure myth-making or wishful thinking.  In this connection I cannot forebear to mention that Lady Thatcher’s grandmother, Phoebe Crust, was born and bred in the Fens; in case you were wondering where all that pertinacity and stuff-the-Joneses individualism ( called “stubborn” by spineless townies), and all-round sense, guts and backbone came from.  I mean, how the hell would the Foreign Office know the Falkland Islands were “militarily indefensible” and MoD know they were “irrecoverable by military means”?  How hard were they trying?  We’ve been holding out on our little islands since Hereward the Wake.  Going 8,000 miles to kick arse is the sort of thing we’d do just to piss off the Abominable No Men, as I call people lacking the can-do cojones.
 
Freedom, individualism and pertinacity, then, because wetlands are unattractive areas that put off the weaker-willed or just plain health-loving ( “the ague”, possibly a variety of malaria, was a common Fenland ailment well into Victorian times) but where manorial and government control is weakest and therefore attractive to the freedom-loving and the nimby.  So in a typical bloody Fenlander you may be seeing an honest-to-goodness throwback to the England that William the Bastard never conquered.

After all, it must have been the Fenfolk of the Athelney Marshes who rallied round King Alfred.  Right?
   
___________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified as a Great Old One has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on April 27, 2011, 02:23:29 PM
---thanks to Peter Horn and Graegwulf for their comments on Seamus Heaney's version of Beowulf  --  I think I'll try the library for a copy first before deciding whether to buy or not.

And may I thank Bowerthane for his rousing comments on A Search for the Roots of England!   That's another I'll hunt for, particularly as I have a great fondness for The Falklands  --  my grandfather was on a ship, The Good Hope, which was sunk with all hands at the Battle of Coronel (the first sea battle of the First World War) which was then revenged a couple of months later at the Battle of the Falklands.   Maggie would have been proud...
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on April 27, 2011, 06:54:33 PM
---thanks to Peter Horn and Graegwulf for their comments on Seamus Heaney's version of Beowulf .

Harumph!
 ;)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Blackdragon on April 27, 2011, 10:16:16 PM
I have just finished 'Conquest' by Stewart Binns, a chunky fictional book based around some exploits of Hereward the Wake. (hurrah!)
Since a lot of stuff about him is open to question anyway, I think using him as a basis for semi - fiction is fine by me. On the factual side it has some useful genealogies and maps in the back. Its about 500 pages, published by Penguin at £6.99 and worth a read for a bit of light relief from serious academic factual stuff.
Pete Jennings
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on April 29, 2011, 02:15:25 PM
---thanks to Peter Horn and Graegwulf for their comments on Seamus Heaney's version of Beowulf .

Harumph!
 ;)

never mind, I thought you made some good points
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on April 29, 2011, 02:23:40 PM
I cant stop reading W G Sebald, who is in a class above all others.
not much AS content though, except his discussion of Thomas Brown's 'Urn burial,'
these are the earliest records of AS pots, but taken for a while to be of Roman origin
and Thomas's work is described by Sebald as 'part-archaeological and part-metaphysical treatise.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Karen Carlson on May 07, 2011, 03:37:27 PM
I'm thoroughly enjoying Beowulf, the novel by Stephan Grundy (aka Kveldulf Gundarsson).  It you take the poem as history, this novel is historical fiction -- filling in a wealth of detail about how it might have happened.  If you are familiar with Beowulf (the poem), the Havamal, the rune poems, etc., you'll hear a lot of echoes.  If you aren't familiar with the old literature, it's still a fun read.

Karen
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on May 21, 2011, 06:49:17 PM
Rereading The Song of Roland, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers. It's full of archaism and inversion, but I like it because it tries to replicate the verse metre of the original, and it's got a nice brisk pace to it. Good fun. I might reread Orlando Furioso after this.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on May 28, 2011, 06:03:04 PM
---I've just started reading 'A Thousand Years of Annoying the French' by Stephen Clarke (Black Swan 2010) and although only the first chapter is concerned with our period, it's great fun.   I do recommend it  --  although it's a long read, 650 pages.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on May 28, 2011, 06:51:11 PM
---I've just started reading 'A Thousand Years of Annoying the French'

Nice! There's a copy of this in the Toronto library system. It'd be interesting to read this after Roland. I need to brush up on my Napoleonic wars. All I know about that I got from Sharpe. It is interesting that the antagonism can be traced back to the Pre-conquest period.

Anyway, reminds me of the Al Murray Pub Landlord bit about tax (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tPTeYuBT_s). Skip to 2.50.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on June 01, 2011, 09:14:12 PM
Well I’m working my way through Britain after Rome: The Fall and Rise 400 to 1070 by Robin Fleming ( ISBN 978-0-140-14823-7, Penguin 2011) and it’s getting good.

At first my heart sank to see a timespan as diverse as AD 400-1070 blithely summed up as ‘after Rome’.  To give colour to the ignorant prejudice that nothing much worth mentioning went on in Blighty between the Romans pulling out and the Normans barging in, and associating the latter with a “Rise”.  Ay-bloody-hum.  But it doesn’t half have a photograph of part of the Staffordshire Hoard on the front cover, and bugger all else new about the Old English period has popped up in Peterborough Central Library in many a long winter unless it was me using the long loan. 

Needless to say you can’t call a book treating the Sub-Roman and Anglo-Saxon Periods together exactly packed with detail.  But its details are up-to-date and collated from graveyard excavations more recent than I’m used to reading about.  Which brings me to one positive aspect of handling the Roman-Britons and Anglo-Saxons together, because this makes plain that the poor Old English are not somehow unique in, or uniquely blighted by, the unattractive and grimmer sides of Dark Age and medieval life.  Unless it’s just me, I find that that the poor Old English are always picked on for examples of the ‘yuk’-factor even when you don’t come across the “farmers in mud huts” mentality of those who dismiss Old English civilisation as if it were no more than a load of smelly grunts living in “mud huts”.  Flemings goes into porotic hyperostosis in skulls and cribra orbitalia on bones ( signs of childhood anaemia, in turn caused by malnutrition, diarrhoeal conditions and viral infections) and enamel hypoplasia on teeth ( commonly caused by malnourishment, low birthweight and parisitic infections) and makes some interesting observations about the kind of society these make for.  But she makes it implicitly clear that everyone had these problems in pre-Conquest Britain: the Celts weren’t singing in the trees farting perfume, or holding hands and dancing round in circles kissing one another in slow-motion with flowers in their hair like the slushy bits from Love Story, whilst beetle-browed Anglo-Saxons where scaring off rats with their raucous BO and bad teeth before staggering off to die of leprosy.

Of the interesting general observations she makes one is the high female mortality rate meant a society short on adult female labour ( so who made all the clothes?).  Another it that, given the long time it took them to grow to adult size ( twenty-seven years sometimes), adult male muscle-power must have been at a premium, too.

I’m still in the middle of it but it is, as you see, shaping up rather well.  A useful, refreshing and up-to-date briefing, I’d call it.



( PS: I enjoyed that A Thousand Years of Annoying the French too!  Biggest laugh since the euro went pear-shaped.)

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: WRT on June 01, 2011, 09:42:31 PM
I found in the Library a book by Stewart Binns called 'Conquest'. It is the story of Hereward of Bourne (The Wake). Who is outlawed in England travels the Europe of MacBeth to William of Normandy and returns for 1066. The story is told in retrospect. Hereward is an old Man recounting his story to two Byzantine Princes as a hermit in Greece. The Princes have been sent by their father to learn the story of Hereward who had served him in the Varangian Guard.
This book has got some good moments. However, his history is not bad but the personal relationships seem a bit stunted.
In fairness have not yet finished this book.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Graegwulf on June 02, 2011, 10:34:00 AM
I wonder if that's the Paul Binns who makes swords and other Mediaeval weaponry?
Not a common name I would have thought.

Paul
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: cenwulf on June 03, 2011, 04:53:51 PM
... a book by Paul Binns called 'Conquest'...
I assume you mean Stewart Binns (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conquest-Stewart-Binns/dp/0718156773) ;)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Brian Murrell on June 12, 2011, 12:11:59 PM
New fiction, The Wordsmith's Tale.  (The reference to J Campbell The Anglo-Saxon, is a Penguin book 1991)

http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/9078498.The_Wordsmith_s_Tale___new_novel_by_Stephen_Edden/

Brian
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on July 03, 2011, 03:09:57 AM
... a book by Paul Binns called 'Conquest'...
I assume you mean Stewart Binns (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conquest-Stewart-Binns/dp/0718156773) ;)
[/quote]

Commendation by Daley Thompson!? I'm reading this book.

At the moment I'm reading Jean M. Auel's 'The Clan of the Cave Bear'. I've had a bit of a interest in homo neanderthalis for a while and have many near misses with this book but finally saw it at the library and got it out. The writing is a bit clunky in places but she knows how to tell a story.

My biggest problem is with the depiction of neanderthals. It's my problem, though. I can't help thinking that neanderthalis was more similar to sapiens than it was different. Recent discoveries say that they had language (http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/03/did-neanderthal.html), music (http://whyfiles.org/114music/4.html) and art (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3256228.stm) and that they interbred with sapiens (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100506-science-neanderthals-humans-mated-interbred-dna-gene/). They didn't die out, they were bred out, much like what's happening to the scottish wild cat.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: ubique on August 14, 2011, 06:31:34 PM
Currently reading The Elder Gods by Steve Pollington and will be doing a review for the Wiðowinde.Must say it an exellent book so far ;D
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Wulfric on August 16, 2011, 10:47:43 AM
Hello all,

This isn't exactly a what I'm reading but a related suggestion for the site.

The idea... A book list. Not just a book list though but an expanding book list divided into topic categories that members can add reviews to.

I don't believe it would render this thread redundant as I would see book list reviews as having to be fairly concise. Therefore if people really want to enthuse about or slate a book in great detail or have an ongoing discussion about a book this would still be the place.

The advantage a book list would have would be that no matter how old the review was it would be there for all to see, no matter how long it is since any member has read the book, the book and it's details would still be there for anyone online to find listed in it's category.

Categories could be, for example:
Language, religion, warfare, building, agriculture, etc...

For a less impressive book list then the one I would hope the Gesithas could put together see; http://www.vikingsonline.org.uk/resources/readinglist/rlindex.htm (http://www.vikingsonline.org.uk/resources/readinglist/rlindex.htm) I was imagining something more like the Anglo Saxon books' topic list but not only limited to that publisher.

The only problem is that someone who knows how to design websites would need to set it up. Once in place members could add their books and reviews and once a book was up it could have more reviews added.

Hope people find this of interest!

Wulfric.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Karen Carlson on August 16, 2011, 10:50:14 PM
Currently reading The Elder Gods by Steve Pollington and will be doing a review for the Wiðowinde.Must say it an exellent book so far ;D
Yes, isn't it?  I was thinking of doing a review, but you may beat me to it. :)  Mine would not be ready for the next edition.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: ubique on August 17, 2011, 09:50:40 AM
Yes, isn't it?  I was thinking of doing a review, but you may beat me to it. :)  Mine would not be ready for the next edition.
[/quote]

Hopefully mine will be ready on time or it will have to wait till the winter addition but im on track so far ;D
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Linden on August 18, 2011, 05:15:16 PM
I found a fictional "Hereward" by James Wilde in Asda yesterday.  Have only just started it - seems a bit gory for my taste but I'll persist for a while at least as I've run out of any decent SciFi for bed-time reading.

  Has anyone read it? - it was published in June this year. 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on August 23, 2011, 09:44:13 PM
----I've just started dipping into a book I've had for years  --  The Languages of the World by Kenneth Katzner.   It divides languages up into families and then gives more details of the individual languages.   There is quite a section on English  --  old, middle and modern  --  and quotes from Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales as well as explaining how the language developed.   Useful for those who know little about languages.   I'm thinking of Christmas presents!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Linden on August 24, 2011, 06:56:30 PM
I have just purchased a book on the Exeter Book riddles called "Say What I Am Called" by Dieter Bitterli.  Published by the University of Toronto Press in 2009 it examines the possible relationships between the contemporary Old English and Latin riddling techniques. It discusses 2 dozen of the Exeter riddles.  I will try to write a bit on it when I have finished it.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on October 14, 2011, 12:29:49 AM
I've managed to get my hands on a copy of EETS Aelfric's Lives the of the Saints. 541 Pages (divided by two; it has a facing translation) of Old English prose. I think that's more Old English than I've read up to now. It's so much better than the Google books' version that I attempted to read a year or so ago. If I don't understand a word, I just have to glance the the right rather than scroll up, scroll back down again.

I think my Old English is finally getting good. But then it does seem to be a lot easier to read than a lot of poetry or even prose. It's easier than Wulfstan. I'd recommend it for that. I'm averaging about 5 unknown words per page. It's nice to read something that doesn't attempt to reproduce the Latin original's word order and idiom.

Has anyone else read this?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on November 04, 2011, 03:16:13 PM
Just finished reading The Making of a Legionnaire by Bill Parris ( Cassell 2004, ISBN-13 978-0-3043-6697-2).  Subtitled ‘My life in the French Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment’ and one of the best autobiographical accounts of military training and experience I’ve found yet.  This chap is not just a grunt.  Originally he wrote it for his sons because, having hacked it in at the deep end in Rwanda and helped fight off rebels-cum-insurgents backed by Colonel Gadaffi in Chad, he seems to be dying of some unrelated illness.

Where on earth the Old English come in is because I was looking for some sort of bum-steer as to the fighting man’s point of view to things for the kiddies’ book I’m writing.  Several of my child characters grow up to be hearthtroopers, and one makes good as the de facto commander of Lady Etheldræda’s hearthtroop during the Reconquest of the Danelaw in the early tenth century.  All too many military autobiographers skimp through their training so as to get stuck into the career-and-combat side, which is why Parris’s book is a ‘find’ for me.

In particular, hands up all those who long knew that Old English warriors sang their lays, and no doubt made a few vaunts, passing round the glee-wood in the mead-hall… but always had a bit of trouble joining the dots as to quite how fighting men, tough hombres with hairs up their nostrils and all that, could genuinely enjoy any kind of sing-song?  Like me?  No offence to any grizzled veterans out there who know eighteen ways to rip my arm off, but it’s never been the kind of thing I’d think of as quite your cup of tea.

Well for some idea as to quite how that might work, I am indebted to Bill Parris for an account of how much store the French Foreign Legion sets on its special songs, and even poems and prayers, that Legionnaires are expected to memorise along with Le Code d’Honneur.  Even for his word that he enjoyed learning them, and not just because it made a break from the march-or-die training they were put through!  Their singing lessons lasted “for hours” and their instructors, mostly one and the same instructors as were harrying them through weapons drills, route marches etc., were every bit as exacting as for the tough stuff.  Not that all were in French “some were rendered in German and others in English” and Bill Parris says he never became a fluent French speaker.  Nor was he the only one who enjoyed it, and remember there’s lectures that give them a break from the hectic physical training.  Indeed “it was the company song you burst a lung for and sung with added gusto and enthusiasm”.  But generally, “we were somehow inspired and when an entire section’s voices are on song there is no sound like it.” Musically literate folk will correct me if I’m wrong, but from the “very deep, low register, but good and loud” in which they were taught to sing, I’m guessing that these songs were pre-adapted to the natural intonation habits of a burly squaddie, rather than expect to make choirboys out of them.  Legionnaires are also taught to sing whilst marching, making me realise that a hearthtroop might do the same riding to and from battle, or just about a bit.  “The sight of forty Legionnaires singing in tune and marching with slow purpose… seeming to bristle with contained strength truly is a force, awesome to behold.”

Because of course this is all wrapped up with the history and traditions of the FFL generally, in which they are also steeped.  Knowing a bit about the Regimental System of the UK armed forces ( I was even in the Air Cadets for three years, boy and boy) I’ve already made sure to portray the different lords’ hearthtroops as differing in customs and battle-lore, along with different trophies ( warlooms if you will) hung up on the wooden pillars of each longhall, each hearthtroop wont to believe that they are a cut above all the others.  Yet I now see that the repertoire of lays known amongst Lord This and Lord That’s hearthtroop had better have their differences, too.  During her husband’s rule, when his ‘court’ such as it is has to be billeted on other lords when on circuit, I’ve already portrayed Lady Ethelflæda making an effort to see that there aren’t any spats between her husband’s hearthtroopers and ones sworn to the lord on whom they’re billeted: “with a strange hearthtroop and even stranger courtiers billeted on the neighbourhood, there was always a risk that somebody would forget that Mercians were on the same side.”

Another idea I might pinch was Parris’s experience at the FFL’s retirement home at Puyloubier.  Told it was a holiday, he and his comrades found themselves trucked over and told to listen, talk to and help look after les ancients, elderly and wounded veterans who, usually for lack of relatives to look after them, end their days there.  “Speak to the men who have fought,” their officer ordered, “veterans who have survived horror in the battlefield and built the Legion’s fearsome reputation, for these men are also our family now, they are still Legionnaires and your comrades.”  This made me realise that elderly and crippled veterans would also be a feature of your typical mead-hall, and I’ve already caught myself making out that falconry was a popular job with wounded hearthtroopers because a lord’s falconer needn’t lose touch with his old shield-mates, who could look out for him. 

And I wouldn’t want to be the only one.  Parris also made me realise that the UK armed forces appear to have no such practice.  When we have the Chelsea Pensioners for instance, to whom our squaddies-in-training could be bussed over to meet and treat.  I know some ġesīþas are ex-servicemen so how about you raising that suggestion at the next regimental reunion?  Or given the current cesspit state to British society, this is an idea our bloody schools and fuck-witted parents might like to adapt.   



______________________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified as a member of the 1st Earth Battalion ( Territorials) has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on November 04, 2011, 05:55:13 PM
I always thoroughly enjoy your posts, Bowerthane.
This is why I'd like a 'like' button Facebook style.

The first thing I thought of when I read the first bit about singing was all those first world war films where the troops are singing 'inky pinky parlez vous' while marching, and films of US soldiers who sing that irritating call and response "I don't know what I've been told" song. As you say, singing isn't really associated with manliness, but I also thought of rugby teams who seem to have more songs stored in their brains than your average karaoke team have in their computer, and football supporters who seem to invent all kinds of songs democratically.

In terms of tough fearless warriors making up new songs, I'm reminded of the origins of rap and hip hop where young men would hang around and test their eloquence. The connections with boasting, violence and treasure are not hard to find either.

Also, when you spoke about 'les ancients' and the fact that the legion considered itself a family, I was reminded of the Wanderer and the Seafarer. It is hard for me to understand the horror of being lordless when I compare it to my life - being bossless. I'd miss the money, but certainly not my boss or many of my colleagues. The warrior band has to be understood as a family. Also, in pre-conquest times, when books cost the equivalent of a house today, you wouldn't have had any military manuals. That's where your old soldiers came in - valuable repositories of knowledge, even more so than those in the foreign legion.

I really want to read your book. It looks like you're creating an extremely detailed and credible world. In lieu of a time machine, fictions the best way to look around pre-conquest England.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on November 06, 2011, 09:51:42 PM
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
“I also thought of rugby teams who seem to have more songs stored in their brains than your average karaoke team have in their computer, and football supporters who seem to invent all kinds of songs”
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Whoops, you’re quite right Horsa.  What I should have put was “that kind of sing-song.”  What made me sit up about the traditional songs, and even poems and prayers, in the FFL was that they were closer to the studied kind of rendition of an Old English lay, alliterating from the first half-line to the second etc.  That is, something that calls for somewhat more judgement, taste and reflection than a rugby song, football chant or even one of those question-and-answer refrains that the American military seem to go to town on.

You also made me realise I knew a few mucky marching songs in the Air Cadets, and I still am one of those who knew all the verses to The Engineer’s Song.  In all its extravagant pornographic inanity.  Endeavouring to defend my wayward youth to the women in my life ( can’t stop humming it now, can I?) I’m developing a hunch that the bawdy stuff and simple chants are only so good as ‘bonding agents’, if you take my meaning.  They’re surely better for keeping your mind off how freezing cold/ soaked/ pissed off/ knackered/ homesick/ scared shitless/ wounded/ in deep shit ( perm any) you are.  With an option on feeling a complete and utter tit/ wondering what on earth you are doing here. 
 
That and gallows humour in the face of Queen’s Enemies.  If memory serves, just as 3 Para were swinging into action at Goose Green and the storm of shot and shell was breaking, somebody’s radio operator quite deliberately gave everybody the giggles by broadcasting, “Aw, for f*ck’s sake beam me up Scotty.” 

Now I’m thinking about it, for military purposes all these seem to work mainly as coping strategies: they don’t take up many ‘attention bytes’, leaving your eyes and ears open for the task in hand, or to prevent what the enemy are trying to do to you, whilst keeping your mind off the gory details.  Learning regimental history, attending the requisite parades and observing regimental customs etc. is the ‘bonding agent’.  If there is any similarity between Old English lays and the FFL’s repertoire, it would seem to be that both span the two: they work as both a coping strategy and a bonding agent.  And they’re fit for women’s ears.

The other thing is, on this forum or the old one, somebody opened a thread asking about swearing of the modern effing-and-blinding kind in Old English times.  And nobody could come up with any evidence for it.  Swearing in medieval times, of the sort high-minded folk frown upon, seems to mean unholy outbursts such as William Rufus’ habit of exclaiming “by the Holy Face of Lucca!” so as to needle the clergy.  This, and recalling what went on in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale, makes me wary of the assumption that the crude and coarse forms masculinity may take nowadays had exact medieval equivalents or, for all I know, any equivalents.  More or less crude or coarse than much else about them can seem to us, anyway?  Mind you, I’m writing for the under-fourteens so there’s only so far I could go down that wain-road, anyway. “Christ on the Rood!” seems to work as a medieval-style ejaculation meant to shock that is, for under-fourteens, neither too obscure nor too boring.   

I’m sure you’re right about The Wanderer, The Seafarer and the warrior band working as a surrogate family, too.  You made me realise that Old English guilds may not be as innovative as a substitute for a kindred as I thought.  IIRC, the reason geld and guild/ gild both go back to gield, ‘payment’ as well as ‘tax’, was because of the cash deposit you handed over to a trade guild upon joining.  Point being you’d forfeit it if you were remiss on any guild duty, such as going after lawbreakers or anyone else molesting you fellow guildsmen, the same as if they were your own kindred.  The which was usually too far away to help, ergo you joined or set up a guild along just these lines.

But of course would hearthtroopers sworn to the same lord need a ‘bond’ of that sort, when they already had the bond that comes of fighting like brothers?  And they’d surely avenge any wrong done to their own.  In this light, the whole idea of a trade guild may have been strongly informed by what hearthtroops had long been doing, and the lines “He knows who has experienced it how bitter/ Is sorrow as a comrade to the man who lacks dear friends” in The Wanderer fit.     
     

______________________________________________________________________________
[ T]ough fearless warriors making up new songs, I'm reminded of the origins of  rap and hip hop
______________________________________________________________________________


Now, are you telling me rap and hip hop did get started amongst military men?  I’d be eager to hear more, if so.

 

_____________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified as the nice one has been asserted.

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on November 07, 2011, 03:28:31 PM

______________________________________________________________________________
[ T]ough fearless warriors making up new songs, I'm reminded of the origins of  rap and hip hop
______________________________________________________________________________


Now, are you telling me rap and hip hop did get started amongst military men?  I’d be eager to hear more, if so.


No, I was looking for analogues. What struck me most with your post is when you said that it's difficult to imagine "tough hombres with hairs up their nostrils ... who know eighteen ways to rip my arm off," enjoying a sing-song or even composing one. And indeed it certainly was difficult for me, but then I started thinking up all those situations where tough hombres do sing and do make up songs. I started thinking about ideas of maleness, and there does seem to be this idea in modern Anglo-american culture of the strong silent type, actions mean more than words, and that facility with words marks you out as a weedy professor or an effete Keats-ish poet.

That's why I mentioned hip hop. Now rap and hip hop is written down before hand before the rapper steps into the recording studio, but the origins of hip hop were that young tough black men hanging around on the streets, to pass the time, would make up extempore poetry. The function of this was to show off one's wit and the ability to choose words that rhyme. The connection was not with the military but with manliness.

The norse came up with Drottkvaett and hrynhenda - incredibly restrictive forms that also had incredibly convoluted language. Many of the norse writings suggest that the authors made up the poems on the spot. However, Egil Skallagrimsson, is said to have sat up all night trying to compose höfuðlausn, but I get the sense in Norse society, eloquence is an essential aspect of manliness along with being tough. The mention of extempore composition reinforces the idea of the passing around of the gleewood and versifying on one's own deeds of boldness.

This kind of reminds me that one of the barriers to understanding the culture/s of the middle ages is our almost invisible unquestioned assumptions and biases like the one about manliness not having a place for music and poetry. When I studied old English, if I remember correctly, the lecturer told us that the culture of the old English was a pride based culture, whereas we live in a shame based culture. We're supposed to be modest, self-deprecating and apologetic. The lecturer suggested that this would be alien and confusing to the pre-conquest English, who never ever could or would say sorry, but would be more than happy to tell you how great they are in minute detail.

In terms of the songs serving as repositories of knowledge I’ve got nothing apart fromhthe feeling that it makes perfect sense. It’s a pre-literature or proto-literate society so they’re not going to have manuals. Set something to music with a mnemonic device - alliteration and/or rhyme - and you can memorise boat loads of it quickly and seemingly indefinitely cf your “engineers’ song” (extravagant pornographic inanity is a wonderful combination of words)

As regards profanity, Swedish provides an interesting example. The language is ludicrously close to English in many respects. But here are their worst swears with literal translations (correct me if I’m wrong deorca or you lurking Swedes):

Fan - devil
Helvete - hell
Djävlar - devils
Dra åt helvete - go to hell
för helvete - for hell
ett fanskap - a devilishness. (translates english a ‘f***ing thing’ I suppose)

Sweden is a very very secular country, but these words still have the ability to shock. It took me a long time to realize how powerful they were. Interestingly, in Canada where Iive now, ‘hell’ is considered a swear word. However, in a post puritanical Britain, the sexual swears still have their power.

I would imagine that the Old English swears would be based on Christian theology like your ‘crist on rode’, or how about backforming ‘zounds’ and ‘by our lady’ - ‘cristes wunda’ and ‘be ure hlafdige.’ But I have heard a theory that William Rufus could have been referring to Loki when he swore by the holy face of lucca. So, I’m wondering if, just as religious and sexual terms survive past the shock value of the things they describe, some swearing by the pagan gods could have survived but be doubly taboo in a Christian age. I wonder if there are any Christian writings that warn against swearing by heathen gods.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Wulfric on November 08, 2011, 05:50:19 PM
That's why I mentioned hip hop. Now rap and hip hop is written down before hand before the rapper steps into the recording studio, but the origins of hip hop were that young tough black men hanging around on the streets, to pass the time, would make up extempore poetry. The function of this was to show off one's wit and the ability to choose words that rhyme. The connection was not with the military but with manliness.

The norse came up with Drottkvaett and hrynhenda - incredibly restrictive forms that also had incredibly convoluted language. Many of the norse writings suggest that the authors made up the poems on the spot. However, Egil Skallagrimsson, is said to have sat up all night trying to compose höfuðlausn, but I get the sense in Norse society, eloquence is an essential aspect of manliness along with being tough.

I would just like to expand a little on the possible strength of this link. As I understand it the true testing ground for amateur or street level rappers is in rap battles. Rappers get on stage in front of a crowd and on occasion official judges and take it in turns to rap. However it seems to be standard practice that the words are usually hostile and personally targeted at the opponent, often getting quite heated. The words still have to work as a rap though, otherwise it would just be hurling insults.

I find this quite interesting considering the Norse tradition of Flyting a ritualised, turn based insult match, as I understand it.

While rappers will spend time thinking up lines and couplings to use, these will only get them so far. The real test of the the rap battle seems to be the ability to turn the opponent's words back on them and then add an insult that they won't be able to make a riposte to.

I'm not suggesting the Anglo-Saxons rapped but as a cultural comparison the image of tough guys using lyrical flare to be the bigger guy without having to draw weapons definitely fits.

I won't post any links because of the language and terms used in many but there are plenty of rap battles viewable on Youtube for the uninitiated. (I just remembered we're not the first to make this connection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFihfYDCByY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFihfYDCByY) )

Out, Wulfric.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on November 25, 2011, 06:36:04 PM
Having finished reading Aelfric's Lives of the Saints Volume I, I thought it sensible to read Volume II. It starts with St. Mary of Egypt which, according to the introduction, was not written by Aelfric at all but was placed in the book by some early curator. It's a shocking change from Aelfric's nice plain simple style to loads of dative inflected present participles.

It's also a very strange story. At one point St. Mary and the abbot Zosimus both fall at each others feet in humility and deference of the other and stay like that in a kind of christian mexican stand off.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Blackdragon on February 08, 2012, 03:20:18 PM
Wodens Warriors by Paul Mortimer & Stephen Pollington's The Elder Gods:
The Otherworld of Early England. Both superb from Anglo Saxon books and worth every penny. Well argued, balanced and groundbreaking - recommended.
Pete Jennings
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on February 17, 2012, 06:06:58 PM
Reading Manticore by Robertson Davies, an amazing Canadian writer, I rate him above Atwood and I like Atwood a lot.

Another Amazing writer, though not Canadian, is Ælfric. I've just finished the second volume of his Lives of the Saints. I kind of slowed up towards the end there as I was a little tired of the format - person converts to Christianity does a few miracles, gets found out by an evil king who tries to torture the saint, God intervenes for a little while, the evil king gets frustrated, God then lets the evil king kill the saint. Repeat 22 times. However, I was enthralled for the first 300 or so pages (I think the two volumes come to about 500 pages of Old English prose! Delicious!). I would recommend it. I find that my old English has improved drastically.

I'm now reading the Old English translation of the Latin life of Guthlac. The prologue was a bit gnarly, but the main text seems to be more straightforward. Anyone read this?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: shieldmaiden on March 10, 2012, 09:52:28 AM
I'm half way through reading 'Harold The King', the story of the Battle of Hastings by Helen Hollick.

We went to Battle in October for the 1066 Reenactments, it was such a great day out! Especially when the kids booed William the Conquerer when he came over to the crowd on his horse just after he won! ;D
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on March 13, 2012, 02:28:53 PM
How are you finding the book?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: shieldmaiden on March 16, 2012, 11:59:10 AM
Really interesting :) its bringing to life the events leading up to 1066, just a pity we lost, Harold would have made a great King.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: leofwin on March 16, 2012, 03:48:17 PM
I suspect Harold was probably no less a thug than William.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Horsa on March 16, 2012, 04:52:28 PM
Oh they're all thugs. Look at how Godwin and his cynn bullied Edward. I've always thought of early mediaeval nobility in a sense as thugs or mafiosi. They take protection money of peasants, and they protect them from other nobles.

However, was it pure naked greed of Harold to rush south when he heard of land being laid waste. Was he thinking "oh no! There goes my profits!"

I think a democratically elected king, by default, rates lower on the thug-o-meter than the guy who comes along and lays waste to the land and builds castles to intimidate and control the populace.

I started reading Harold the King a few years back, but I didn't like it very much, but I think that's because I had just finished Rathbone's excellent (though weird at times) The Last English King. I really enjoyed that book and I think it was hard to switch from one version of Harold and Sweyn to another.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: mauned on August 09, 2012, 07:33:22 PM
Frank Stenton's "Anglo Saxon England". Enjoying it as well. Plus Beowulf on audiobook, for the car!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mark Case on December 22, 2012, 10:45:58 PM
I'm also reading Stenton's book. It's an excellent read - packed full of detail. In fact, there are so many details that I've had to reread several sections just to remember who overthrew/ killed/ fled from whom.


Out of curiosity, I had a look at its Amazon reviews, which were surprisingly negative. It seems there might be a bit too much scholarship and not enough illustrations for the modern reader of early English history!


I've also read Harold the Last Anglo Saxon King by Ian Walker recently. This biography aims to do justice to Harold's reputation, and I think it succeeds. It's not often that I get off a train reading a book and find myself still glued to it when I reach my front door, but I did with this one.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on January 12, 2013, 05:14:29 PM
1.  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41rNdnB18WL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Phrases-Traveler-Anglo-Saxon-ebook/dp/B005FAKLA4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358010652&sr=1-1)  Old English Phrases for the Traveler to Anglo-Saxon England (http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Phrases-Traveler-Anglo-Saxon-ebook/dp/B005FAKLA4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358010652&sr=1-1) by Mary Savelli (30 Jul 2011)    (http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/02/x-locale/common/customer-reviews/ratings/stars-4-0._V192198291_.gif) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Phrases-Traveler-Anglo-Saxon-ebook/product-reviews/B005FAKLA4/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_img?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1) (1 customer review (http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Phrases-Traveler-Anglo-Saxon-ebook/product-reviews/B005FAKLA4/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1))
 
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Kindle Edition Available for download now£3.16 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Phrases-Traveler-Anglo-Saxon-ebook/dp/B005FAKLA4/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358010652&sr=1-1)
 
I've just bought this from Amazon and it's great fun!   Just what we need when we go travelling in Old England.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mark Case on May 16, 2013, 11:45:11 AM
I'm reading "An Alternative History of Britain: The Anglo-Saxon Age" by Timothy Venning at the moment. I will be reviewing it in the next  Withowinde provided I get it read and written in time.


It's pretty interesting, and deals with a LOT more than 1066. In fact, it deals with events throughout the entire Anglo-Saxon period.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on May 17, 2013, 11:04:07 AM
I'm reading "An Alternative History of Britain: The Anglo-Saxon Age" by Timothy Venning at the moment. I will be reviewing it in the next  Withowinde provided I get it read and written in time.


It's pretty interesting, and deals with a LOT more than 1066. In fact, it deals with events throughout the entire Anglo-Saxon period.


Mark,  I understand from our Bocere that the forthcoming WW is a bumper edition packed with articles etc, so you may have to put your review in the following edition of WW. 
Peter
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mark Case on May 17, 2013, 11:17:56 AM
Peter, that's absolutely fine. It gives me more time to read it! (And re-read it.)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on May 19, 2013, 08:23:36 PM
---having had a Kindle book reader for Christmas, I have been uploading (downloading??) some books concerning our period.   The latest is
 
The Men Who Ruled Before 1066  --  England's Anglo-Saxon Kings 
 by Garry McGibbon
 which cost me all of £1.02p!
 
I haven't started it yet, so can't give a review yet.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mark Case on May 19, 2013, 08:41:13 PM
I look forward to reading a review in time though, Jayson!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on May 28, 2013, 09:20:15 AM
I'm reading "Yeavering, People, Power and Place" edited by Paul Frodsham and Colm O'Brien - only just started it and I'm going to have to concentrate (!) but it looks interesting so far. Just finished "Chester AD400-1066" by David Mason, which I really enjoyed, especially the bits on the A-S period (not surprisingly!), even more especially the part about the Battle of Chester 616 where he suggests that Æthelfrith's was a pyrrhic victory. I've also been dipping into Guy Points "Yorkshire, A Gazetteer of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Sites" - 3 of which we visited this Bank Holiday! - Including Lilla Cross (see my avatar).
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Blackdragon on June 04, 2013, 09:59:11 PM
Reading Anglo Saxon Art by Leslie Webster (British Museum 2012, 256 pages)
I seem to remember this was a high priced hardback when first published last year, but I recently got a new paperback version on for much less. Loads of colour illustrations to dribble at and excellent explanations. I am reading it in sections, and that is possibly advisable, as there is a lot of well referenced and complex information there. Recommended.
Pete Jennings
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on July 13, 2013, 01:17:28 PM
'The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholar's and the Holocaust' a history of the Ahenherbe, the archeological wing of the SS. For those of us with an interest in historical and mythological origins of Northern Europe, a rather salutary lesson in the misuse of scholarship and the dangerous paths of wishful thinking.


Also 'Edward the Elder' ed. by Higham and Hill; Alex Woolf's Irish perspective on West Saxon dynastic practice is particularly interesting.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Roge on September 02, 2013, 09:00:42 PM
Reading Issue 166 of Bindweed due to having been out of the Country for a while.  With the prospect of Issue 167 coming through the post very shortly, saves having to go book shopping.

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Andrew in Brixistane on September 30, 2013, 05:31:38 PM
Can anyone recommend a good general book on AS culture and history. Some kind of tour round the AS world.


Thanks, Andrew
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Linden on October 01, 2013, 09:42:30 AM
Can anyone recommend a good general book on AS culture and history. Some kind of tour round the AS world.


Thanks, Andrew
Hello Andrew
Have you checked out the books in the recommended reading list on our main website?
http://www.tha-engliscan-gesithas.org.uk/recommended-reading-list (http://www.tha-engliscan-gesithas.org.uk/recommended-reading-list)
The first two might be worth a look.  Otherwise can you be a bit more specific as to what you are looking for? 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on October 01, 2013, 09:51:20 PM
Hi Andrew,
You could try "The Anglo-Saxon World" by Nicholas J Higham and Martin J Ryan, which is hot off the press this year. It's quite a weighty tome but I got it from Amazon for just under £20. I've only just begun to read it but I know it's going to be good as Nick Higham from Manchester University is one of THE authorities on A-S England in my opinion.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Andrew in Brixistane on October 29, 2013, 08:31:12 PM
Thank you Eanflaed and Linden, I will try the Higham and Ryan.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Carl on March 25, 2014, 06:12:47 PM
'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth that was previewed in a 2013 issue of the Bindweed. Written in the authors own 'Shadow English' comes this tale of lost gods and lost land post-1066 from an anti-authoritarian fictional figure. Check your local book stores!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHdwvszyzus
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on March 25, 2014, 10:10:18 PM
Victoria Whitworth has a second novel out, the follow-up to 'The Bone Thief', titled 'The Traitors Pit', another adventure for the cleric Wulfgar, a great fun read!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on March 31, 2014, 10:21:44 AM
"The King in the North", subtitled "The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria" by Max Adams. I've been looking for a book like this for years. Max Adams is bringing together the threads of 6th and 7th century history and making a coherent narrative - it's much bigger in scope than the title suggests. I'm on page 140 and just got through the "reigns" of Æthelfrith and Edwin! If, like me, you are interested in the Golden Age of Northumbria, this book is a must-see.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on April 07, 2014, 02:48:35 PM
---I've just bought Paul Kingsnorth's new book called The Wake, the one we have been discussing (somehwere!) in Old Modern English.   At present, it's only on Kindle but is cheap at £3.99.   If you haven't got a Kindle, you'll have to wait a while as it's not in print yet.
I bought it only a couple of minutes ago, so you'll also have to wait to hear what I think of it.   Actually, as it is in this combined language, you may have to wait quite a while for me to decipher it!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Carl on April 25, 2014, 06:38:05 PM
---I've just bought Paul Kingsnorth's new book called The Wake, the one we have been discussing (somehwere!) in Old Modern English.   At present, it's only on Kindle but is cheap at £3.99.   If you haven't got a Kindle, you'll have to wait a while as it's not in print yet.
I bought it only a couple of minutes ago, so you'll also have to wait to hear what I think of it.   Actually, as it is in this combined language, you may have to wait quite a while for me to decipher it!

What did you think of it Jayson? I personally enjoyed it, although the ending was not the one I desired! I found it open to interpretation on what unfolds which made a nice change from the linear approach of Cornwell. 'The Wake' is one historical novel which may be even more worthwhile the second time around.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on April 27, 2014, 01:34:39 AM
---I'm still in the middle of the book at the moment, Carl, so please don't spoil the ending for me!   As to what I think of it, I believe it's one of the best books I've ever read.   I feel I am there, in the holt, in 1066, and I can hear the Socman speaking, hear his accent (btw. what's a 'Socman' as I couldn't find it in Sweet's).  The characters are real, the hams are real, I can see them and Angland feels very real indeed.   The Socman isn't a very pleasant character but all the more real for that and I'm not expecting a very happy ending!
I would urge the Gesithas to try this book but I will add that in order to make sense of it you really do need a basic knowledge of OE plus a couple of dictionaries.   I don't think it would make much sense to anyone without these which is a shame.   I suppose you could say that it's in 'cod' English, partly OE, partly Modern English plus some words which are half and half.
But I'm enjoying it so much that I'm rationing myself to a few pages a day!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on May 26, 2014, 03:53:44 PM
Kirsten A. Seaver The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America ca 1000 to 1500. Interesting but Seaver offers no firm conclusions on what led to the abandonment of the Norse colony.

The Norwegian tithe collector Ivar Bardarson reported finding the Western Settlement abandoned around 1350 but with livestock roaming freely. Seaver hypothesises that the Norse settlers had headed for the hills when they saw his ships coming; the archaeology suggests that the settlement lingered on until the end of the century. Still the timing of Bardarson's visit make me suspect plague. The Black Death did not reach Iceland until 1402, but if the English or others had already been exploiting the resources of the Nordseta hunting grounds the Western Settlement could have been infected directly.

As for the Eastern Settlement, Seaver argues that it is no coincidence that abandonment occurs around the time of the beginning of European exploration in North America. The discovery of a direct route to the North American fishing banks in the 1480s would certainly have increased the Norse settlers isolation, but Seaver goes further and suggests the hardy Greenlanders were recruited to man shore factories. I can see that Bristolian or Azorean merchants might underestimate the practical difficulties of overwintering in Labrador, but one might have thought that the Greendlanders with their long experience of logging in 'Markland' might have been less sanguine about the prospects of such a venture.

Anyway a thorough overview of a fascinating subject. The blurb says that Seaver was inspired by her researches to write a novel on the Norse settlement of Vinland. I am tempted, but I have already read Margaret Elphinstone's The Sea Road and Tom Holt's Meadowland, both excellent if very different.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on June 03, 2014, 08:37:40 PM
I should say that the abandonment of Greenland was due to the return of a mini iceage which swept south over northern Europe in the 14th century or so.   If the inhabitants couldn't grow crops and if the fish went south to warmer waters, there would have been nothing left for them to eat.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on June 17, 2014, 02:27:11 AM
Reply to Carl about The Wake:  I've finally finished the book on my Kindle and I've just ordered the hardbook because it was so brilliant, a classic I shall want to hand down to my family.   Yes, the ending was tragic but it could hardly be otherwise and of course, it finally explained a lot it hadn't explained.  It's definitely one I shall be reading again and again, and I now realise that there was a Glossery at the end of the book (only discovered it when I'd finished!) so it would be easier for readers with no knowledge of AS to follow as well.  I'm hoping to get a short book review on The Wake into the autumn Withowinde.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on June 25, 2014, 03:59:00 PM
I’ve just finished Visigothic Spain, 409-711 by Roger Collins ( Blackwell 2004, ISBN 978-1-4051-4966-2).  Which I can recommend, but only if you’re beginning to extend your awareness of the wider world the Old English knew.  Because it was a bit of a disappointment for me, having ordered it on the long loan in hope of some ruddy great tome with which I could get down and dirty with the details.  For instance, that the Visigoths had three schools, at their capital Toledo, at Zaragoza and possibly Madrid, where the daughters as well as sons of the elite were educated; and that King Sisebut wrote a poem explaining why eclipses were natural phenomena.
   Also, in the opening chapter, Collins irritatingly backtracks into a round-up of the fate of  the Visigoths before they came to Iberia, which I knew well enough and had ordered a book with the title Visigothic Spain, 409-711 trusting that it would stick to Visigothic Spain between the years AD 409, and AD 711.  For some reason.  Then he goes into all the old conundrums about when is a Visigoth not an Ostrogoth/ the Teruingi or Greuthungi without explaining why you need to mess with all that in a book focusing on, as I say, Visigothic Spain, 409-711.  FFS. 

So as it was, the main eye-opener for me was that Paulus Orosius ( c. 385-420), the historian and theologian who wrote the geography-cum-history book that Alfred the Great had translated ( fully titled Seven Books of Histories against the Pagans) and added the Baltic bits from Wulfstan and Ohthere’s voyages, was a “Spanish priest” who wrote it in Iberia before AD 417.  Though now I come to check against other sources I’ve found, they say he was “born in Gallaecia ( possibly Braga in northern Portugal)”.   I’ll get back to this in connection with Isidore of Seville, who I did know lived and wrote in what is now Spain, because we know the Old English read his Etymologiae or Etymologies and Collins writes of hidden currents whereby links from Iberia to the British Isles in the Dark Ages seem to be better than generally believed.

Another eye-opener was “a number of small pieces of slate on which are carved various figures, letters and designs” that, even today, Spanish people might just plough up especially in the “Avila, Segovia and Salamanca” provinces.  These “are documents that served a wide variety of purposes.  Over 100 of them are known, and this number might be expected to increase with new discoveries” although they are easily broken and many exist only as shards.  The earliest can be dated ( or date themselves) from the reign of King Reccared ( AD 586-601) and the last from King Egica’s reign ( AD 687-701) near the end of the Visigothic kingdom in AD 711. “The inscriptions are of various kinds.  Some have been shown to be legal documents” comparable to those on parchment recorded in later centuries “essentially of ownership, but also including judgments given in disputes over property...  Other slates contain numbers, the significance of which is not always obvious, but it may be suspected” that they are “flock numbers, cereal yields, and so forth.  There are also some lists of names with numbers beside them, which may record renders owed to landowners by dependent cultivators.  How these types of document were used is not entirely clear.”  Part of a private letter has been found on one shard, and several others appear to be “school exercises” of repetitive sentences.  “Yet other texts have been interpreted as having magical significance, and containing curses.  Earlier Roman equivalents to these have been found in Bath and elsewhere in the empire, and their existence should not be seen as a sign of mental or other decline.”  So the Visigoths may have used them for anything.

Otherwise I learned a bit, but not a lot, more about Bishop Isidore of Seville.  For instance that St Augustine’s Pastoral Care was dedicated to Isidore’s elder brother, Leander, who met him in Constantinople in the 580s and who Isidore succeeded as bishop of Seville; and that the brothers of Seville figure as pretty typical members of “a significant group of bishops in the south, on both sides of the Visigothic/ Byzantine frontier, who were exchanging treatises and letters”.
   Of Etymologies, “as with many of his works” Collins writes that it “quickly became known outside Spain, and there is evidence for its being read in Francia, northern Italy, Ireland, and in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms before the end of the seventh century. The precise routes remain controversial, but the rapid dissemination of so many of Isidore’s writings, even in some cases within his own lifetime, is evidence of closer ties between the church in Spain and several other regions of western Europe than is usually allowed for.”  But whatever they were, one imagines that the sources for King Alfred’s copy of Orosius arrived via them, and that one had better not under-rate the likelihood of influence from Iberia reaching the Old English ( and vice versa?) in similar ways.  One scholarly opinion I’d laid hands on concerning Orosius drew attention to how “Curiously enough, some of the passages definitely ascribed by Alfred to Orosius are not to be traced in the original.  It is possible that, in such cases, Alfred availed himself of materials as yet unknown to us.” 
   So other books by Isidore that may have come our way include his History of the  Goths ( written between AD 620 and AD 625 including holidays, not to be confused with Jordanes’ book for which modern scholarship often uses the same title, although Jordanes called his On the Origins and Deeds of the Goths), his Differentiis or On Differences, a brave but clumsy first attempt at etymology, and Synonyma, a compilation of comparable passages from St Augustine. 

In Chapter 2 Collins mentions how “it was generally believed that the Visigothic royal treasure included items originally taken from the Temple in Jerusalem by the emperor Titus in 70 AD, which fell into the hands of Alaric when his men looted Rome in 410.”  Without breathing a word as to how this belief played out in Visigothic politics or religious belief, or even offering an opinion as to the likelihood of it.  For myself, I fear the Romans would have soon melted down the Menorah etc., possibly to strike those ‘Judea defeated’ coins; but there’s an extent to which the truth doesn’t matter.  There’s also an extent to which King Alfred consciously modelled himself on King Solomon for his educational programme, so one can imagine why rumours about the Temple treasures washing up in the Visigothic kingdom, and the question of their fate after its fall in AD 711, might pique the interest of a king known, according to Asser, to arrange “the investigation of matters unknown”.     

Then at one point Collins mentions “cave churches” in connection with the Visigoths without letting on what that might mean.  So hopefully the other book about the Visigoths I’ve ordered on the long loan will be a bit less Dick and Janey.  Only the Visigothic kingdom serves notice to the fact that AD 476 is only the conventional date for the end of Classical Antiquity and the beginning of the Dark Ages.  The facts on the ground include Vandal princes having baths, mosaics and pleasure gardens made for their palaces in North Africa after that date, where classical poetry was still being written in praise of them; and that an all-singing, all-dancing late classical civilisation, with palaces, basilicas and even the founding of new cities ( for instance Reccopolis in AD 578, founded by King Leovigild who named it after his son, Reccared) was kept alive and kicking by the Visigoths in Iberia until the irruption of the Moors in AD 711.  Collins does mention that according to Bishop Braulio of Zaragoza ( early seventh century) the Visigothic count Laurentius owned a library in Toledo, including Apringius of Beja’s ( c.550) Commentary on the Apocalypse, as an instance of how “the lay elite was literate enough to value the possession of such books.”   
   Don’t the Visigoths deserve some credit for that, I ask, even if the Romans hadn’t treated them like the cowboy’s ærs?  And am I the only one to wonder how the Old English remembered them?


______________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified in a sombrero, and carrying a straw donkey, has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on July 01, 2014, 07:45:59 PM
---could you start me off with the Visigoths, etc., as I only know the names so far, I regret to say!   What books would you suggest?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Linden on July 01, 2014, 08:31:22 PM
Why not start with this?  It's over 100 years old but FREE! 
'Theodoric the Goth: King of the Ostrogoths, Regent of the Visigoths & Viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire, in the 4th Century A. D. '
by Thomas Hodgkin
 
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20063

I have not read it but there is not that much on the Visigoths unless you go for perhaps too specialised? modern scholarship such as 'The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (Studies in Historical Archaeoethnology)' Peter Heather (Editor)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: hidethegn on July 24, 2014, 05:12:26 PM
May I commend “THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, The Uncomfortable Truth” by John Grehan & Martin Mace (Pen & Sword, 2012)?  It is a wholly convincing (though heavily emphasised) argument for the actual battle site to be a mile away from Battle Abbey.  Oops, yet another clanger for the Norman ‘experts’.  It also opens up and answers other questions in the tactical field, giving everyone a lot more credit for both courage and intelligence.
Another excellent study, comprehensive and authoritative, is Ken Dark’s “Britain and the End of the Roman Empire” (Arcadia, 2000) if anyone hasn’t read it?  Ever since “Britannia” appeared I have personally  been convinced of gradual, regional, integrations, the Apocalyptic (Victorian +) version never rang true.  He doesn’t actually talk about the early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms but he does explain in sensible and scholarly measures how the  Britanniae became Angliae.  My own research suggests that the Anglo-Saxons absorbed a good deal of Roman-British learning, becoming superb administrators and mathematicians long before 1066 (see my book), as numerate as they were literate, as well as being pre-eminent artists, which begs the question, “how did we become so superior”, whilst simultaneously answering, “why did everyone want to conquer us”?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on July 24, 2014, 09:08:30 PM

Hidethegn

It is all very well saying see my book but what is your name and what is the title of your book.

I'm astonished to hear that the Anglo-Saxons were superb at mathematics.  Please tell us about this mathematics.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on August 21, 2014, 07:38:00 PM
Many thanks for your suggestions about books on the Goths and Visigoths, both.
I have just borrowed a fascinating book called 'It All Happened Before - The Home Guard Through the Ages' by John Radnor (pub. 1945). This would be especially useful to those of you who are interested in the weapons and clothes/uniforms of war down the ages because as it says at the top of the first Chapter, it is to do with 'Invasion From FYRD to HOME GUARD, 871 - 1940.  It is surprising to see how little or how slowly the weapons and clothes changed over the centuries, with the 'tin helmets' being virtually the same in 1494 and 1944, and the long bow doing the virtually the same thing as the Maxim. 
The first of many illustrations is of A Man of the Fyrd with a Saxon Thegn.
 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Steve on September 15, 2014, 03:22:03 PM
Reading Old Norse by Jesse L Byock
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 19, 2014, 02:51:14 PM
Just had to take The Lombards by Neil Christie ( ISBN 0-631-18238-1, Blackwell 1995) back to the library.  Like that book on the Visigoths, it’s probably just the ticket if you are beginning to extend your knowledge of the Old English’s contemporary Germanic peoples, not least because the first chapter Longobard Origins goes into their homeland as the immediate southern neighbours of the Angles in the Elbe valley, and their stopovers in Bohemia and Pannonia during the Migration Period.  Then, when they do make it to northern Italy, there’s also an eerie sense of déjà vu in reading about a Germanic people settling and taking over a former Roman province: like rediscovering the Old English all over again.  Yet one downside is how little archaeology and interest there is about the Lombard period in modern Italy.  There’s been no use of aerial photography to detect crop marks, for instance, and whilst the book is adequately illustrated the ‘finds’ are on the whole a little underwhelming.
   The main eye-opener for me was that, after the conquest of Lombardy by Carolingian Gaul in AD 774, the Lombard duchy of Benevento in southern Italy remained unconquered, and became something of a magnet for Lombardian resistance to the Franks.  I never knew Lombardic lands or settlement went south of Rome!  Eventually Benevento lost its Lombardic cultural distinctiveness too, but not until many generations after ‘Lombardy’ in northern Italy became little more than a name.  Otherwise there was nothing about Queen Rosimunda ( d. c. 573) who arranged to have her husband, King Albion bumped off and, according to Paul the Deacon, came to a bad end; nor about Queen Theodelinda who may have reigned as regent for her son Adaloald ( 616-26) nor even Duchess Scauniperga of Benevento, who ruled in her own right there after the death of her husband, Gisulf II.  A Girl Power angle I was keen to learn more about for my kiddies’ book since it’s useful for tripping up ignorant and stereotyped preconceptions about the Dark Ages and germanic peoples generally, plus ( bearing in mind you can’t turn round for Boy Stuff in a warrior-heroic age) may interest girl readers for whom I make a special effort lest they feel bored or overlooked.   
   So now I’m wondering whether I should bother ordering anything more detailed on the long loan.
   

   Incidentally, words such as ‘saloon’/ ‘salon’/ French salle etc. appear to originate in a Lombardic equivalent to Old English saal, ‘hall’.  A point worth remembering when some Classicist, francophile or other cultural Quisling gets started about how refined etc. Greek- and Latin-based words are, especially in contrast to rude and uncultured teutonicisms.  Another germanic loan-word into Latin was ‘harp’, so don’t forget to ask him which end of the word ‘harpsichord’ is more lah-dih-dah than the other and, if you really want to piddle on his parade, innocently go into how the Latin noun ars, ‘skill’ was mistranscribed into English as art so that the Classically educated don’t have to explain why they have fathered ars departments, ars galleries and never mind schools and theatres for the performing ars, all over the English-speaking world.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Linden on September 20, 2014, 06:31:08 PM
New Approaches to Editing Old English Verse (1998) Larratt Keefer & O'Brien O'Keeffe


Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on September 21, 2014, 08:10:07 PM
The Anglo-Saxon State by James Campbell...Hambledon and London.    Ancient Weapons in Britain by Logan Thompson...Pen & Sword (Military).
A fact-filled duo.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: hidethegn on September 28, 2014, 05:28:53 PM
Sorry David,I forgot to add the book! '"Fools or Charlatans" The Reading of Domesday Book' (2014), which is in paperback or (half the price) ebook format. Scholars have been able to translate D.B. for a long time but no-one can actually read it, my book tells you how. Once you can read what the statistics mean you can appreciate the maths involved, but my contention is that the Normans had no track record (unlike the Saxons) and so it wasn't their achievement, which explains why it was never duplicated outside England. The hard evidence takes a book to explain.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on October 15, 2014, 04:34:15 PM
May I commend “THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, The Uncomfortable Truth” by John Grehan & Martin Mace (Pen & Sword, 2012)?  It is a wholly convincing (though heavily emphasised) argument for the actual battle site to be a mile away from Battle Abbey.  Oops, yet another clanger for the Norman ‘experts’.  It also opens up and answers other questions in the tactical field, giving everyone a lot more credit for both courage and intelligence.


Was that the theory they investigated on Time Team? I recall that they found no archaeological evidence to support this, but that they did conclude that the traditional site of the battlefield should be reoriented through 90 degrees.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on October 15, 2014, 04:59:38 PM
I should say that the abandonment of Greenland was due to the return of a mini iceage which swept south over northern Europe in the 14th century or so.   If the inhabitants couldn't grow crops and if the fish went south to warmer waters, there would have been nothing left for them to eat.
That's the thing, the Little Ice Age seems to have been a localised phenomenon rather than a uniform global dip in temperature: there is not much evidence for Greenland or Iceland becoming colder. And a colder climate would not necessarily result in a net reduction in resources: halibut like colder waters and seals are easier to hunt on pack ice. There is some evidence of climate stresses, mainly increased precipitation, and for environmental degradation from overgrazing, but nothing that would deliver the killer blow.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on October 15, 2014, 06:17:23 PM
 Ceawlin, if you have a look at an Ordnance Survey or contour map of the Sussex Pevensey Levels, you can see that the direct route from Pevensey to Battle would have been blocked by these vast marshlands. A good description of which,( by writer Tim Chivers) you can find at www.theislandreview.com/in-search-of-the-lost-islands-of-sussex/.
 I retired to a Park Home estate on the edge of The Levels (White Dyke, Hailsham) a few years ago and have walked much of the area, in Roman times our home would have stood on the beach! The 'Hooes' or 'Eyes' of Pevensey are small islands on which small farms or stables stand. We have been informed by 'Levels' locals that legend has it that the Roman shore-fort cavalry kept their animals on Horse-Eye to keep their valuable mounts out of the grasping reach of the local Britains!
 If William had indeed landed at the shingle ridge of Norman's Bay then he would probably have been forced to go east to what is now the Bexhill area. It is for this reason that Green Street and Crowhurst have laid claim to being the site of the battle; but I personally think that the higher and safer ridge, nearer to Hastings and running via the Star Green and the Battle Railway Station area is a better bet. This area is to the south-east of the Abbey's defensive wall (a defence from later French attacks) on the main A2100, so perhaps Time Team got it right for once?
  If you haven't already trudged it yet the '1066 Trail' is really worth a look, but if you do attempt it, then try to visit the Levels as well where you'll find a few local wildlife rarities ranging from Baby-Doll Southdown sheep to extremely large Raft Spiders!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on October 17, 2014, 01:15:00 PM
____________________________________________________
[ N]ot much evidence for Greenland or Iceland becoming colder.
____________________________________________________
____________________________________
[ N]othing that would deliver the killer blow.
____________________________________


I definitely read somewhere that the Little Ice Age brought further south the limit to which icebergs drifted, putting them bang in the sea lanes to Greenland and back.  A sickle blade has been found in Greenland from about this time, sharpened away into a nail-pairing because of the shortage of iron this caused.  Plus, walrus ivory was one of Greenland’s few ( or only, IIRC) regular exports and, by way of a double whammy,  Europe was once again sourcing elephant ivory, so a) there were no vested interests outside Greenland to maintain sea connections and b) Greenland could no longer import timber, leaving Greenlanders with insufficient to build and maintain sea-going ships.

No doubt folk with better memories or the right books to hand will correct me, but I’m under the impression that Little Ice Age was the killer blow to the Greenland colonies.

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on October 18, 2014, 10:58:21 PM
Ceawlin, if you have a look at an Ordnance Survey or contour map of the Sussex Pevensey Levels, you can see that the direct route from Pevensey to Battle would have been blocked by these vast marshlands. A good description of which,( by writer Tim Chivers) you can find at www.theislandreview.com/in-search-of-the-lost-islands-of-sussex/ (http://www.theislandreview.com/in-search-of-the-lost-islands-of-sussex/).
 I retired to a Park Home estate on the edge of The Levels (White Dyke, Hailsham) a few years ago and have walked much of the area, in Roman times our home would have stood on the beach! The 'Hooes' or 'Eyes' of Pevensey are small islands on which small farms or stables stand. We have been informed by 'Levels' locals that legend has it that the Roman shore-fort cavalry kept their animals on Horse-Eye to keep their valuable mounts out of the grasping reach of the local Britains!
 If William had indeed landed at the shingle ridge of Norman's Bay then he would probably have been forced to go east towhat is now the Bexhill area. It is for this reason that Green Street and Crowhurst have laid claim to being the site of the battle; but I personally think that the higher and safer ridge, nearer to Hastings and running via the Star Green and the Battle Railway Station area is a better bet. This area is to the south-east of the Abbey's defensive wall (a defence from later French attacks) on the main A2100, so perhaps Time Team got it right for once?
  If you haven't already trudged it yet the '1066 Trail' is really worth a look, but if you do attempt it, then try to visit the Levels as well where you'll find a few local wildlife rarities ranging from Baby-Doll Southdown sheep to extremely large Raft Spiders!


The 1066 trail sounds worth doing.


If you are interested the Time Team doc can be viewed here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team-specials/4od#3759339

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on October 18, 2014, 11:37:54 PM
 1066 Trail is a long trek but does cover a lot of the disputed 'battlegrounds' and possible attack routes (Sorry Ceawlin I should have said Starrs Green and Green Street area in the lost post). If any Companion does plan to visit East Sussex then the Rottingdean and Lewes Barbican/Bull House Museums hold a good collection of A/S archaeological finds including some fine A/S swords.
   Back to books; I see mention of the late 'mini' Ice Ages, I've gone back in time and am just reading 'After The Ice (Global Human History 20,000-5000 B.C.)' by Steven Mithen, which gives the reader a fascinating insight into events following the Earth's last major Ice Age.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on October 19, 2014, 12:34:16 AM

I definitely read somewhere that the Little Ice Age brought further south the limit to which icebergs drifted, putting them bang in the sea lanes to Greenland and back.  A sickle blade has been found in Greenland from about this time, sharpened away into a nail-pairing because of the shortage of iron this caused.  Plus, walrus ivory was one of Greenland’s few ( or only, IIRC) regular exports and, by way of a double whammy,  Europe was once again sourcing elephant ivory, so a) there were no vested interests outside Greenland to maintain sea connections and b) Greenland could no longer import timber, leaving Greenlanders with insufficient to build and maintain sea-going ships.

No doubt folk with better memories or the right books to hand will correct me, but I’m under the impression that Little Ice Age was the killer blow to the Greenland colonies.
There is certainly not much evidence for continued trade with the Scandinavian world, though royal monopolies meant that such trade would have been illicit and therefore possibly under-recorded; however, there is some evidence for trade with Britain, such as the discovery a Clan Campbell badge, though the opening up of a direct route across the Atlantic to the Grand Banks fisheries might have cut off this lifeline. But the Greenland colony should have been self-sufficient in the basics, even if short of imported trade goods. Timber imports should not have been a problem, as this had earlier been sourced from 'Markland' (and Markland timber had formerly been exported to Iceland).


At any rate Kirstin Siever seems to have done a scholarly enough job of sifting the latest evidence, and puts forward a convincing argument that neither climactic stresses or Inuit incursions would have been sufficient to account for the complete collapse of the colony - well, convincing to me, bearing in mind that I have not read much around the subject! Her alternative suggestion is that depopulation was due to the economic opportunities opened up by Bristolian-Azorean enterprises in North America, but although the coincidence of timing for the abandonment of the Eastern Colony is suggestive, I do not think she has made the case.



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Deoran on October 19, 2014, 11:34:23 AM
Jared Diamond's "Collapse" has a good section discussing the Norse Greenland colonies and their demise, placed within a broader exploration of the response of human societies to (anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic) environmental change. It's well worth a read.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on October 19, 2014, 09:04:43 PM
Collapse has been unread on my bookshelf for a while, I must get round to it. Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel was a very thought provoking read.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on November 11, 2014, 04:01:40 PM
Just picked clean Germany in the Early Middle Ages 800-1056 by Timothy Reuter ( 1991 Longman, ISBN 0-582-08156-4).  Again, it wasn’t as detailed as I’d hoped but it was a good set of signposts for what you need to know and for how little is still known, even to scholarship.  Seemingly nobody’s sure quite how the break-up of the Carolingian empire laid the foundations, in the form of East Franconia under Louis the Child, of modern Germany, but Reuter puts you straight on the broadbrush level.  Maybe it’s just me, but I did get a jolt of surprise as to how little I did know ( or must have forgotten) about the wider world the Anglo-Saxons lived in.  I was vaguely aware that St Boniface founded Mainz, but I had no idea how important it became historically: the only other Christian see besides the Vatican to be officially called a Holy See.  I wonder if an interest in pre-Conquest England makes us vulnerable to delusions of knowledgeability about the world beyond the British Isles at that time?  So, like that book about the Lombards I read, the upside is all the fun of discovering Anglo-Saxon England from scratch all over again. 

On the downside I was dismayed that Reuter writes to little about St Boniface's legacy or the Old English mission to Germany, generally.  Only five entries about the former in the index (!), and naff all about the latter.  Since he’s writing for an English-speaking readership, and Germans regard St Boniface as a national figure, I really think he should have done better than that.  The Wikipedia entry certainly does.

But on the whole it’s a good place to start if you want the journalists’ who, what, why when and where from someone who doesn’t assume you already know what you are trying to learn.



The moral right of the author to identify “woggle board” as a nonce word, and get away with it, has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on November 21, 2014, 08:41:52 PM
I've recently downloaded on to my Kindle a book Called 'Old English Phrases for the Traveler to Anglo Saxon England'  by Mary Savelli.   Interestng collection of items from Useful Expressions to Places, Food and the Feast Hall and even Arms and Armor.   They come from several books, including Wordcraft by our very own Stephen Pollington.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on November 24, 2014, 03:33:00 PM
Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England, Nicholas Howe ( Yale 1989, ISBN 0-300-04512-3) 

Chapter titles:

1: The Persistence of the Migration Myth.  Bishop Wulfstan’s Sermo Lupi of 1014 serves notice to how long Old English memories could be about their origins.  Their coming was God’s scourge upon the sinful degenerates who last held the Island, ran the Christian version; and the Heathen Danes could be the same to them, warns Bishop Wulfstan. 
2: The Making of the Migration Myth.  Gildas is chiefly responsible for how the above got started, a version of history that seems to have influenced The Ruin.
3: Exodus and the Ancestral History of the Anglo-Saxons.  Both the Ancient Hebrews and the Old English came to their promised lands by a memorable sea-crossing.  Folc wæs on lande.  This gave the Old English an intuitive grasp of the fact that the book of Exodus is the story of a people, not an individual, important though Moses was.  Therefore they had a better, because truly historical understanding of the Old Testament than many patristic writers.  Whether this is cause or result of Old English narrative sense and their scholarly achievements in history writing, Howe doesn’t say.  Either way the implications are fascinating.
4: Conversion and Return: from Island to Continent.  What legitimises the Anglo-Saxon domination of mainland Britain in the eyes of Christian Old English is the idea, owing much to Gildas, that the Romano-British and their Christianity were decadent and that they, the Christian Old English, were God’s means of punishing them and setting better standards, such as going back to convert the Continental Germans.
   The British view is not otherwise sought.     
5: Beowulf and the Ancestral Homeland.  “No other extant work from Anglo-Saxon England makes the meaning of the fifth-century migration as vividly powerful as Beowulf because no other work demands that its audience make a return migration to the continent.” 


That, I think, gives ġesìþas a fair idea of the scope of this absorbing book. At long last I’d laid hands on a scholarly work written to examine how well, if at all, we can puzzle out what we don’t know about the ‘Faring Forth’ from Schleswig, Holstein and the Frisian Shore ( I’ve developed the habit of using Professor Tolkien’s expression for the Anglo-Saxon Migration) to the former Roman province of Britannia, in the light of what we do know from the poem Exodus, Beowulf and other surviving written sources.  For instance: Howe draws attention to the nautical kennings in Exodus and how it emphasises the crossing of the Red Sea, to the detriment of the Israelites wandering the Sinai Desert for forty years, makes bad sense in terms of Christian orthodoxy unless the poet took for granted an audience whose cultural memory of their own exodus across the North Sea had already come to be compared to that of the Biblical Israelites.  This comparison might seem forced to modern English folk but natural to Old English Christians.  If, say, Gregory the Great’s sending of St Augustine was compared to Moses descending from Mount Sinai, the Romano-Britons had already been compared to the Canaanites and, presumably, Hengest and Horsa compared to Joshua.
   “[T]he ways in which the Anglo-Saxons remembered their ancestral migration seemed to offer a vision for interpreting their culture” as Howe puts it. “That the Anglo-Saxons put their migration myth to diverse purposes in a wide variety of works is perhaps the fullest measure of its significance.” 
   So whilst we need never expect to know just what the lays, folk tales, traditions etc. about the Faring Forth boiled down to even after the Conversion, never mind before it, we can bet out bottom dollar that they had ’em.



I
I
__________I__________
I
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I
I
H
H
WWWWHWWWW
WWW H WWW
__________________  WW       WW   _________________
Of Norþsǽ tó Affalon wé ǽr cómon.  Hér willath wé eardian, and
úre folgaþ-cynn, oþ woruldas ende.




The moral right of the author to be identified from Hengistbury Head has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Deoran on February 08, 2015, 03:03:14 PM
I recently read "Anarchy" by Stewart Binns. It's part of a series, of which Conquest is an earlier entry, which has been mentioned here.
The book itself is set during the first civil war (Stephen v Maud), and follows the adventures of a descendent of Hereward the Wake, named Harold.

It's a readable yarn of derring-do, set in perhaps the most interesting part of the Anglo-Norman period, but the reason I mention it
here is that it's supposedly based on the famous letters of Gilbert Foliot. These documents apparently include the deathbed confessions of Harold, which include him having had an affair with Maud whilst in her service as a bodyguard, and suggestions he fathered Henry II. Because Maud's line has Wessex blood in it on the maternal side, this would mean the Plantagents were as much Anglo-Saxon as Norman!

This all sounds a bit like conspiracy theory pseudo-history to me, but I've not had much luck tracking down an English copy of Gilbert's letters, so I was wondering if any body knows whether this story is actually contained there? And if so, is it given any credence?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on February 26, 2015, 03:35:25 PM
I feel a kind of duty to stick up for Elizabeth Norton’s England’s Queens ( ISBN 978-1-4456-4233-8, Amberley Books 2011) that I’m reading right now, because it is subtitled From Boudica to Elizabeth of York but guess what?  Sit down or stand well clear of fragile objects because... it really is!

Oh, yes.  There’s a whole chapter called The Anglo-Saxon Queens that lasts for fifty-two pages, including queens consort as minor as Wulfrida and St Edgiva.  Amazing, if you too have had it up to here with supposedly scholarly works of the ‘Queens of England’ type that mention only Emma of Normandy after Boudica, when they don’t just ignore the first third of English history, wholesale.  Or ones of the ‘warrior queens’ type that bang on about Boudica but seem not to have heard of Ethelflæda, the Lady of the Mercians.  Grrr.


Also I’m enjoying Simon LeVay’s The Donation of Constantine ( ISBN 9781470132156, Lambourn Books 2013).  LeVay is clearly knowledgeable about this dimly understood milieu and brings it to life very plausibly, even the Lombards.  Of special interest to Anglo-Saxonists is the key role he portrays our girl, Leoba of Wimborne, one of Boniface’s stringers who hacked it in Darkest Deutschland before washing up in Rome, playing in the actual forging of the Donation.

In particular, he mentions the Transtiber or Janiculum Hill area outside the gates of Classical Rome where the English Quarter grew up.  If his research is to be trusted this had the Aqueduct of Trajan marching through it, one of the few to remain more-or-less whole if no longer functional by then.  That and the remains of Rome’s flour mills, replaced by then by four ship-mills, or floating flour mills, moored along the Tiber.  One can only wonder what the young Alfred made of it all.

Also of interest to Anglo-Saxonists may be the section of Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst’s Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial ( ISBN 978-0-552-15762-9, Corgi Books/ Bantam Press 2008) that gives you the scientific lowdown on the genuine or otherwise medical value of herbal medicine, including herbs mentioned in the Nine Herbs Charm, Bald’s Leechbook and elsewhere.  Feverfew seems to be moderately effective against migraines, St John’s wort may be poisonous to livestock but effective against mild to moderate depression but not severe depression, and so on.  Otherwise shoot the next ‘alternative’ quack you run into because on the whole it ( but maybe especially homeopathy) is worse bullshit than anyone with their head screwed on would expect.  Often dangerous bullshit to boot: don’t let anyone tell you ( or your loved ones) that there’s any ‘alternative’ treatment for cancer.  What.  So.  Ever.  Royalist that I am I do wish the heir to the throne would Just Belt Up about this drivel.  Even when it’s merely useless, it may get between a sufferer and proper medical treatment, and people have died by leaving this until too late.  Most disturbing to me was the discovery that some universities, but notoriously the University of Westminster, give degree courses on this shite.

FCOL.  And you though Postmodernism, Media Studies and anything with ‘socio-’ in it were toxic colons in need of irrigating.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you...

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on March 28, 2015, 10:09:15 AM
Anglo-Saxon Art by Leslie Webster. Very accessible and sumptuously illustrated.



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on March 30, 2015, 05:07:42 PM
I see Bald's Leechbook contains another useful remedy
giving oinion & garlic remedy for eye condition
but apparently cures MRSA
BBc News
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on March 31, 2015, 09:26:41 PM
Anglo-Saxon Art by Leslie Webster. Very accessible and sumptuously illustrated.

I'm reading that one too and I agree it is very good. It even inspired me to visit Breedon on the Hill Church to see the A-S sculptures, which were amazing.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on May 09, 2015, 02:44:01 PM
It’s no use I’ve got to rattle on and bore everybody about Connie Willis. 

Narrowly you escaped one of my off-topic specials when I finished her novel Blackout a couple of months ago, now.  Saved only by the fact that it’s only the first half of a two-part novel and I’ve yet to lay hands on the other half, All Clear.

Yet the standard of Willis’ writing, of her research and above all her evocation of the human interest aspect so knocked me out, I still say my fellow ġesīþas will enjoy them for all that both are time-travel novels set in Britain between Dunkirk and the Blitz.  Like all keen Bowerthane-watchers the world over, you will well remember me speaking up for Alan Furst’s high-class espionage novels on the old board, and maybe I mentioned Jack Finney’s Time and Again, too?  Only there are things I’ve learned or been told about the War, by members of my family old enough to remember it ( all now dead), that I feel I’ve fully understood only when reading Alan Furst’s novels.  Yet I may have hit upon a quick way to get over what makes them so evocative.  Quicker at any rate than rattling on about his less-is-more style by which he lures your imagination in and makes you feel you, too, are there. 

Furst sets his novels between the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and the Battle of Stalingrad and, when first I discovered the former, my only initial reservation was that some of his characters seemed to skip into bed together with more alacrity than I was ready to believe.  Speaking of family members old enough to remember the War, this is my grandmother’s age-group we’re talking about.  At the very least a bit more verbal footsie, I thought, would be called for before your typical 1930s-40s people wriggled out of their rig and got rogering.

Yet it was all my fault.  For a reason well summed up by Rowan Atkinson and his chums when they staged a spoof government advice broadcast during the Cold War, advising youngsters to: “Drop ’em, before they drop ’em!”  Viz, don’t take too long to lose your virginity, kids, because you never know when Armageddon could cut off all our prospects.  For we whose early lives were lived during the Cold War, knowing no special reason to hope it would end much less end more or less for the better in 1989, this may be the nearest we can get to the fact that our grandparents spent most of the Second World War knowing no special reason why that should be all right in the end, either.  So Furst goes no further forward than the Battle of Stalingrad.  Only after that was it realistic for our grandparents to hope for an Allied victory.  Before Stalingrad it often looked as if Little Adolf and his goose-stepping goons really were set to win; even hard not to believe, even despite yourself, that fascism knew things about the future that you didn’t.  So if the last thing you’re free to do before the Nazi wave rolls over you is rip off your counterpane and blitz some bedbugs ( as that Steven Stills lyric has it, And if you can’t be with the one you love/ Love the one you’re with) well, then... you’d better do that.

Maybe Furst’s The Polish Officer evokes this mood best, or the title of The World at Night epitomizes it, but never again had I expected to come across creative writing about the Second World War of that quality.  That or any novel about time travel that, like Jack Finney’s Time and Again, handles the subject so perspicaciously and elegantly as, again, to leave you feeling they’ve really done it.  Feeling, like Finney’s male lead, that you have walked the Ladies’ Mile in Victorian New York, when it was a tree-lined city more like Paris and, being smaller, the Dakota apartments really were “out in the Dakotas”.  Much as Professor Tolkien’s style leaves you feeling as if you’ve been to Middle Earth, Furst and Finney were the only two writers I’m aware of to have attained that quality of verisimilitude.


Until I ran slap bang into Connie Willis’ Blackout and, now, her Doomsday Book.  Not, however, because she is as good stylistically as Furst; hers is plainer, crisper and the pace is faster.  Yet her historical research is as good if not better, and above all she has thought through the implications of time travel on the interpersonal level better than Jack Finney, and has exploited those implications to much the same effect as Furst.  Like poetry, fantasy fiction and science fiction generally, time travel is fatally easy to do badly because ninety-nine out of 100 authors are too keen on indulging themselves instead of thinking what they are doing, if indeed evading real-life challenges isn’t the covert agenda behind the whole, nerdy enterprise.  Ergo bookshelves are groaning under a lot of old rope banged out by overgrown kids for late developers and never-bloody-will developers.

Whereas Connie Willis, ta da, seems to have been reading the same kind of non-fiction books with which I once mugged up about the intelligence world ( for one of my unpublished pearls of wisdom you needn’t worry about, I only predicted September 11th in 1996 so I wouldn’t want you thinking it was important, or anything).  For like any good intelligence agency, Willis understands the risk of agents, plants, moles etc. getting emotionally involved with, even developing a sense of moral commitment to, the people with whom they have to live, work, take their turn cooking etc.  Because this is the human interest angle that gives her researchers from Oxford University in 2060, whether sent back to the Blitz or to Medieval times, that edge of verisimilitude with which you, too catch yourself feeling as you’ve gone back, with them.

Like Eileen her female lead in Blackout, you know the parents of the unruly East End ‘vaccie’ she has to keep chasing live in an area that will be hit by the Luftwaffe.  So like her you catch yourself worrying more about the lad than whether she can make it back to her dropsite to return to April, 2060.  Then even that point starts to elude you when measles spread to all the ‘vaccie’ children billeted on the manor house in Warwickshire, where Eileen has been insinuated as a maid, and quarantining the area is the only way, in 1940, of containing the outbreak.  So she’s no longer supposed to leave the manor’s grounds, anyway – but the manor is already short-handed, what with other maids left to join the WAAFs etc., and Eileen knows she’s had the inoculation jab ( that she has to bite her tongue about), so what right has she to just take off when her fellow domestics are already struggling, and there’s children who may not make it through the night? 
   Et cetera, et cetera...
   As for the chap sent to rescue her, he’s got sucked into the Dunkirk evacuation.  So when he ends up in the oily water trying to unsnarl a propeller, the fear of the sea-mine or air attack that could kill them all gets between you and the fear that, if he’s killed, the female lead is marooned in 1940.
    It is these, the raw human tensions, that pull you into the story and, before you know it, Connie Willis has re-invented the spirit of 1940 in a way that makes you understand, and believe, things about Britain Alone that you only thought you did, before.

If we have any ġesīþas who are of the generation of 1940, I should be deeply fascinated to hear your reactions to Blackout, All Clear or any of Alan Furst’s novels.


Now my other confession is that Doomsday Book is not set in pre-Conquest England.  Title notwithstanding, half of it is set in Oxfordshire in 1348 during the onset of the Black Death.  Yet my excuse is that many of the practicalities and social relationships of life in 1348 are like enough to those of Old England to remain interesting to Anglo-Saxonists and, again, Willis handles the interpersonal level in insightful and engaging ways that will refresh your thinking.  In particular, her talent for thinking through what time travel would really involve comes into its own in Doomsday Book.  Bearing in mind that the cognitive dissonance, culture clashes, and how well her time travellers can be trained and equipped, are more challenging for Medieval times than for February, 1940.  This is how she pulls no punches about the yuk-factor sides to medieval life ( “the smells of the fourteenth century could be completely incapacitating”, her female lead, Kivrin is warned, “we’re simply not used to excrement and bad meat and decomposition”) yet she fends off the venality of using cynicism about them as a pose with which to look wise on the cheap.  There’s more to medieval times than the sum of their faults ( eye-watering levels of social iniquity, casual violence and industrial-grade sexism, say).  Willis makes you realise that our fairy tales have their roots in the Middle Ages, that children, then as now, always play as if all is well with the world ( when little Agnes bursts “into the room, blonde plaits and cap strings flying, nearly colliding with the old woman with the chamber pot” and needs looking after forever more), to say nothing of the breathtakingly understated torchlit Mass scene as Yule Day comes: to make us see that, wherever there’s life, there’s grace. 
  Also Willis is as wise as Furst to how the silliest things can send the best-laid plans astray.  Like wasting valuable time failing to find out where TF in Oxfordshire you are or, in Blackout, failing to get a bus, lift etc. out of the wrong seaside town.  Golly yes, just because you know there is a War on, or – coo! – you are Time Travelling, -ling, -ing, -ing... there’s still nothing stopping life’s banalities from biting your ǽrs.
   All this conspires to set off her characters to their best advantage, getting between you and your knowledge of the gravity of the situation until the arrival of Lord Guillaume, Agnes’ father and his retinue, who she thinks are the Three Kings, after the torchlit Mass scene: her moody elder sister Rosamund the teenage bride, their shrewish grandmother-in-law Lady Imeyne, Gawyn the steward and his hopeless love for their mother, Lady Eliwys, Maisry the lazy and dull housemaid with the Saxon accent, and the unforgettable little Agnes ( “I would ring my bell!”) because who can take their eye off her?
   Yet greatest of all is Willis’ unsung hero, Father Roche.  Living proof that illiteracy doesn’t stop a true Christian from walking it like they talk it.

If only she would set a story in our period!

                                                                                                                                             
Blackout by Connie Willis, ISBN 978 0 575 09928 9, Gollanz/ Orion 2010.
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, ISBN 978 0 575 13109 5, Gollanz/ Orion 1992.
Time and Again by Jack Finney, ISBN 10-0684801051, Scribner 1995.

Websites and blog:

www.commiewillis.net (http://www.commiewillis.net/)
www.sftu.org/cw (http://www.sftu.org/cw)
azsf.net/cwblog

www.alanfurst.net (http://www.alanfurst.net/)



________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to identify the definition of a dilemma, finding his long-lost Latin dictionary in the middle of Kate Bush’s Breathing, has been asserted. 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on May 25, 2015, 11:03:04 AM
I have recently finished reading Justin Pollard's "Alfred the Great" and was wondering what anyone thought about the theory of Alfred being deposed during the attack at Chippenham on Twelfth Night 878?

Basically the suggestion is that Alfred had been doing a less than stellar job of being king so far  and perhaps his witan were ready to make their own peace with Guthrum rather than support a sickly, losing (Reading, Basing, Meretun and Wilton) king. It seems the Archbishop of Canterbury was certainly unhappy with him andd the taxes required to pay off the Vikings.

The Viking attack at Chippenham on Twelfth Night 878 is not recorded in detail, but resulted in Alfred hiding out in the marshes of Athelney. There was no counter attack, no raising of the fyrd. And once Alfred was restored, it seems there were significant changes in the witan membership...

I had always been a bit confused about how the attack got through so easily, on the basis I assume the English weren't idiots and posted guards even for the feast. But I haven't found this idea referenced anywhere else in my (admittedly limited) reading.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Phyllis


Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on May 25, 2015, 10:16:12 PM
Just finished reading "Shieldwall" by Justin Hill, it was just brilliant. It's the first part of a series he's writing on the events of 1066, but this book is about that other Viking invasion of 1016 and Edmund Ironside's heroic attempts to save England from the Danes, with the help of Earl Godwin, who is the main character.  Think I'll do a review of it for Wiðowinde.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on May 27, 2015, 10:41:37 PM
I have recently finished reading Justin Pollard's "Alfred the Great" and was wondering what anyone thought about the theory of Alfred being deposed during the attack at Chippenham on Twelfth Night 878?

Basically the suggestion is that Alfred had been doing a less than stellar job of being king so far  and perhaps his witan were ready to make their own peace with Guthrum rather than support a sickly, losing (Reading, Basing, Meretun and Wilton) king. It seems the Archbishop of Canterbury was certainly unhappy with him andd the taxes required to pay off the Vikings.

The Viking attack at Chippenham on Twelfth Night 878 is not recorded in detail, but resulted in Alfred hiding out in the marshes of Athelney. There was no counter attack, no raising of the fyrd. And once Alfred was restored, it seems there were significant changes in the witan membership...

I had always been a bit confused about how the attack got through so easily, on the basis I assume the English weren't idiots and posted guards even for the feast. But I haven't found this idea referenced anywhere else in my (admittedly limited) reading.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Phyllis


Not read the book you referred to, but it is perfectly reasonable to assume that after Chippenham the rump of the Witan would have collaborated with the Danes and that a puppet king would have been appointed, as happened with Ceolwulf in Mercia and Egbert in Northumbria. Æthelred's father-in-law Wulfhere was tried for treason on Alfred's restoration, so it is possible that he struck a deal with the Danes to have one of his grandsons put on the throne. Æthelred was survived by his eldest son Oswald who does not go on to appear in Alfred's will. It strikes me as more than a coincidence that around this time the Danish controlled East Anglian mint issued coins in the name of an otherwise unknown King Oswald.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on May 28, 2015, 03:43:25 PM
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. I am a fan of his Sharpe novels which are a grittily thrilling read and as far as I am able to tell impressively researched. However, I am having a few doubts about this Alfredian saga; not least Cornwell's seeming belief that in ninth century England kingdoms and ealdormanries descended by primogeniture, which as far as I am aware only became a hard and fast rule in this country under the Angevins.

Oh well, his tale of an English child adopted by the Danish conquerors is an entertaining enough yarn. I see that a big budget BBC adaptation is forthcoming. Hopefully there will be no zips or corduroy on show, as there was with Philippa Gregory's The White Queen.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on May 28, 2015, 05:45:09 PM
Oh no, they are not adapting Cornwell's Alfred novels for TV are they? They will drown his legacy in fabrication and lies!! The Vikings will be the heroes >:(
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on May 28, 2015, 06:33:25 PM
Oh no, they are not adapting Cornwell's Alfred novels for TV are they? They will drown his legacy in fabrication and lies!! The Vikings will be the heroes >:(


Fraid so: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4179452/?ref_=nv_sr_1 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4179452/?ref_=nv_sr_1)

With David Dawson as Alfred! Not someone I would want next to me in a shieldwall - he makes Hemmings look like Schwarzenegger.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: John Nicholas Cross on May 28, 2015, 08:31:01 PM
I'm very disappointed to learn of the BBC's new project.   I don't rate Bernard Cornwall's novels very highly.   If I say more, I'd be banned from this site!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on May 28, 2015, 11:18:22 PM
I have recently finished reading Justin Pollard's "Alfred the Great"


I had not heard of Pollard so I checked out his Wikipedia entry. He has certainly had a chequered career! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Pollard
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on May 31, 2015, 02:28:53 PM

I had not heard of Pollard so I checked out his Wikipedia entry. He has certainly had a chequered career! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Pollard

How unlike me not to google someone first!

Still, at least I have now learned some more about the Twelfth Night attack from that and also comments here :)

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on June 01, 2015, 09:23:10 PM



I had not heard of Pollard so I checked out his Wikipedia entry. He has certainly had a chequered career! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Pollard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Pollard)

How unlike me not to google someone first!

Still, at least I have now learned some more about the Twelfth Night attack from that and also comments here :)


Being historical consultant on some ropey films and TV programmes does not necessarily disqualify him as an historian (you can advise but they don't have to listen); is his Alfred tome worth a read?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on June 02, 2015, 08:53:34 PM
Well I found him very readable and enjoyed it very much. It was what you might call a popular style but for this Bear of Littel Brain it worked very well. He did at least try to explain his reasoning and sources.

I was asking about it because I am not a historian and wanted to cross reference his arguments, if that mmakes sense



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 05, 2015, 11:38:45 AM
Hello everybody.  I’ve begun to read Tim Severin’s Saxon: The Book of Dreams ( 2012 Macmillan ISBN 978-1-4472-1214-0) and trying to enjoy it.  But I’m not getting very far and it’s bothering me.  Clearly Severin can write and his research is above par, especially for a novel set in AD 780 and takes you from Mercia to Carolingian Gaul and thence to Moorish Spain.  For all that it feels a bit light on the authenticity, with maybe too little description.

Has anyone else had this problem with Severin or is it just me?


Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Huscarl89 on September 07, 2015, 05:26:09 PM
Hi all,

Very pleased to have joined this new forum/community.

Re. reading recommended, I'm interested in reading the book "The English Resistance" by Peter Rex. Has anyone come across this/heard much about it, or about Peter Rex's work more generally?

Thanks!
Huscarl
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on September 08, 2015, 05:42:44 PM
Hi Huscarl89! I read "The English Resistance" several years ago, don't remember much detail but I do remember thinking it was good!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Huscarl89 on September 09, 2015, 08:36:49 AM
Thanks Eanflaed! I've got it on order :)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on November 28, 2015, 02:14:42 PM
Ann Williams, The English and the Norman Conquest, which looks at the aftermath of the conquest from the English perspective. It promises to be fascinating.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on November 28, 2015, 02:26:26 PM
Hello everybody.  I’ve begun to read Tim Severin’s Saxon: The Book of Dreams ( 2012 Macmillan ISBN 978-1-4472-1214-0) and trying to enjoy it.  But I’m not getting very far and it’s bothering me.  Clearly Severin can write and his research is above par, especially for a novel set in AD 780 and takes you from Mercia to Carolingian Gaul and thence to Moorish Spain.  For all that it feels a bit light on the authenticity, with maybe too little description.

Has anyone else had this problem with Severin or is it just me?


I remember being inspired to read Severin's The Brendan Voyage many moons ago after seeing the reconstructed vessel he used on his Atlantic crossing at the London Boat Show. I recall thinking that his account bore an unintentional resemblance to WE Bowman's The Cruise of the Talking Fish. It is difficult to imagine him having blossomed into an accomplished novelist.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on November 28, 2015, 02:38:28 PM
Jared Diamond's "Collapse" has a good section discussing the Norse Greenland colonies and their demise, placed within a broader exploration of the response of human societies to (anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic) environmental change. It's well worth a read.


Finally caught up with that one. I agree he is very persuasive. His account of Easter Island also served as a useful corrective to Jared Cooper's overly politically correct recent revisionist documentary on BBC4.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ædmund on January 09, 2016, 04:33:29 PM

I'm currently reading "The King of the North" by Max Adams. I'm half through this book and I have to say, it is much more than just "The Life and Times of Oswald from Northumbria" which is the subtitle.


Adams starts with the connection between Oswald and the holy island of Iona, explains the years in exile and has a whole chapter about his uncle Edwin before he tells the story how Oswald became King after the battle of Heavenfield.
Sometimes it has the tendency to be a bit too long and even repeat itself but this might not apply to other readers. What I really like is that Adams let the reader always know if the information is speculation or sourced textually and archeologically.


I look forward reading the second half of the book, so far it was really enjoyable.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on January 10, 2016, 10:55:45 AM
We are still at the stage in our relationship where the girlfriend is taking an interest in my hobbies, so I bought her The Anglo-Saxon Age, A Very Short Introduction by John Blair. An impressive amount of information seems to have been crammed into a slim volume, though the tiny typeface doubtless contributed to that.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on January 10, 2016, 11:00:06 AM
Ann Williams, The English and the Norman Conquest, which looks at the aftermath of the conquest from the English perspective.It promises to be fascinating.


A good read, if rather dense in its dissection of the evidence. I have always tended to regard the Norman era as black box, or a chrysalis, into which the Anglo-Saxon era went and from which the High Middle Ages emerged, but Williams does a lot to make sense of the process.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: John Nicholas Cross on January 10, 2016, 11:26:33 AM
I'm reading a book that I'd not heard of before, ' The Likeness of King Elfwald' by W.G. Collingwood and first published in 1917.   It's subtitled, 'A Study of Northumbria and Iona at the Beginning of the Viking Age'.
Sounds interesting!!!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on January 19, 2016, 01:22:16 PM
'The Welsh Kings: Warriors, Warlords and Princes: from earliest origins to 1283' by Kari Maund. Good to know what the neighbours were up to.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on June 07, 2016, 09:34:41 PM

Sea Room by Adam Nicholson, an account of the geology, wildlife, history and archaeology of the Shiant islands off the coast of Lewis. Nothing Anglo-Saxon related of course, but it touches on the contemporaneous world of the Gaels. Vividly written it is a book to be savoured.
 
More of a page turner is The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay, best known for his butchering of The Silmarillion. This is a fantasy set in a world which owes its material culture and social mores to the North-western Europe of the 9th century. Kay cheerfully cherry-picks from myth and history in this tale of noble Anglecynn and plucky Cyngael heroically resisting the depredations of the pagan Erlings. It is rather like viewing a familiar landscape through a distorting glass.
 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on October 27, 2016, 12:40:38 PM
Brian Bates' 'The Real Middle Earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages'. So far the ambition seems to exceed the scholarship, but I'm hoping that when he moves from the general to the specific it might settle down a bit. Has anyone read it and is it worth persevering with?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on October 27, 2016, 05:45:55 PM
Brian Bates' 'The Real Middle Earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages'. So far the ambition seems to exceed the scholarship, but I'm hoping that when he moves from the general to the specific it might settle down a bit. Has anyone read it and is it worth persevering with?

I did try it and found it continued to be a bit disappointing. I guess it depends how strongly it is disappointing you. Assume it doesn't really pick up :)
 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter horn on October 27, 2016, 07:01:39 PM
Brian Bates' 'The Real Middle Earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages'. So far the ambition seems to exceed the scholarship, but I'm hoping that when he moves from the general to the specific it might settle down a bit. Has anyone read it and is it worth persevering with?

I did try it and found it continued to be a bit disappointing. I guess it depends how strongly it is disappointing you. Assume it doesn't really pick up :)




Brian Bates - perhaps better known as the author of "The Way of Wyrd"
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on October 27, 2016, 09:30:03 PM
I'm actually reading "The Way of Wyrd" at the moment! Well, I say at the moment, I've been so distracted by exciting Anglo-Saxon era events (and things in general) that it's taking a long time to get through! Not sure what to make of it yet - its kind of weird/wyrd! :)  What do other folk make of it?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on November 08, 2016, 09:15:52 PM
I'm about half way through "Beowulf and Other Stories" at the moment and it's fantastic. I may be in danger of falling into LitCritMode - not what I wanted to do at all.

The information is packed, intelligent and very accessible. Each chapter introduces a new form of literature, with examples, translations (quite literal, which helps link it to the actual Old English, rather than being so free it's hard to see what word is which) and is never too heavy-going.

I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in getting a basis in the poetry.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Roseberry on November 09, 2016, 12:31:46 AM
I'm about half way through "Beowulf and Other Stories" at the moment and it's fantastic. I may be in danger of falling into LitCritMode - not what I wanted to do at all.

The information is packed, intelligent and very accessible. Each chapter introduces a new form of literature, with examples, translations (quite literal, which helps link it to the actual Old English, rather than being so free it's hard to see what word is which) and is never too heavy-going.

I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in getting a basis in the poetry.


If this is the book edited by North & Allard, you might also enjoy the 'Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures', ed. by North, Allard, & Gillies, Phyllis.

The texts are arranged thematically (Heroic Poems, Poems on the Meaning of Life, Poems of Devotion, The Earliest English Prose [...] Early Chivalry) and the poetry/prose is presented in the original language, together with its translation - on the same page - which is rather handy. 

Unfortunately, although it contains some early Chivalric texts, it stops short of including Middle English literature (so no Chaucer, I'm afraid), but it does a wonderful job of demonstrating the transition from OE to ME. It's the kind of book that you'll just want to keep dipping into, and, because each section includes a brief introduction and reference list, it's really easy to use as a point from which to explore.
 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on November 13, 2016, 02:02:11 PM

If this is the book edited by North & Allard, you might also enjoy the 'Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures', ed. by North, Allard, & Gillies, Phyllis.


Thanks for the tip! I do have some other similar anthologies but OE only, so will chase up this reference. I'm really enjoying the crossover with the sagas etc as I discover more!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on January 31, 2017, 02:40:02 PM
I've just found out Neil Gaiman has written a book called Norse Mythology, seemingly bringing a fresh slant upon its reputation for gloom.

Is it really so fresh and interesting, does anybody know?




Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on February 01, 2017, 12:10:48 PM
Norse Mythology:


I have recently discovered a web site on 'Norse Mythology for Smart People'  --  http://norse-mythology.org/tales  --  which highlights a list of the major tales that comprise the cyclical narrative from the Creation of the Cosmos to its end at Ragnarok.  If you click on each tale it will not only give you this but also highlighted sections within it for more information.


Worth looking at
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on February 02, 2017, 08:16:11 PM
Neil Gaiman's book is not published until 7 Feb (next week!) and I have it pre-ordered because I lurve his books.

Meanwhile I have been reading a fascinating book by Stepehn Yeates and would like any thoughts from gesithas as I feel my own knowledge is sadly lacking.

"Myth and History" takes a new look at the recent DNA evidence and reviews the traditional interpretations of Bede and other writers to try and make sense of the migration vs invasion debate.

The author suggests that if we go back to Julius Caesar and Tacitus, they both refer to 3 groups in Britain pre-Roman Conquest: Britons, Caledonii (later synonymous with Picts) and Belgae. The Belgae group may have included eg the Parisi (East Yorkshire and Paris) and people in Kent, but not the Brigantes, and were a Germanic grouping closely linked with the Franks and Continental groups. They were also related to the Frisians. Potentially they would have spoken a proto-Englisc from which both Englisc and Frisian derived.

The author then suggests, if I have understood correctly, that this wider group, based in the eastern half of Britain (North Sea trade route and post-ice age migration) may account for the prevalence of Germanic DNA in that part of the country without the need for widescale invasion or migration post-Roman period. He also contends that the numbers of Angles and Saxons in eg Gildas were relatively low and were said to have returned home after their rapine and pillage, rather than settle. It is only later authors who escalate the numbers of "invaders."

There's alot more - but I am interested in people's thoughts on this basis. I think I have covered the key points!



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on February 03, 2017, 09:47:20 AM
My husband found Francis Pryor's Britain AD on YouTube yesterday and I watched it with him till I could stand no more. He is basically saying (on the basis of him being a Bronze Age specialist!!!) that the Anglo-Saxons didn't exist and that Bede is a liar. He passes over compelling DNA evidence to the contrary, the inescapable dominance of the English language and archaeological evidence (the Britons were just dressing themselves as AS and speaking AS for no reason other than they fancied the fashion, not being compelled to by the actual presence of AS). This is a political trend at the moment, to deny the AS roots of England. I'm not sure if it's a hangover from World Wars 1 and 2, a reaction against the Victorian love of all things Germanic or just scholars trying to make a name for themselves. This Stephen Yeates (who is he?) sounds like he's jumping on the same bandwagon - though I was interested in the Belgae bit. Don't know if you remember my article in Withowinde in 2014 about the coming of the AS, but I think the reasons why the immigration of Germanic peoples happened are just as potent as the evidence of them being here. Truth is a very elusive creature when it is subject to "interpretations " - or "alternative facts"! - especially when the history is so old. It suits the Normans, the Britons and modern day cultures to undermine the AS achievement.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on February 03, 2017, 04:10:22 PM
Stephen Yeates is a Research Wallah at Wadham College Oxford and is keen to establish, as far as I can tell, the fact that the Anglo Saxons have effectively always been here. He thinks that: Bede's (probably random) date of 449 is not supported by DNA and the evidence for mass invasion is not supported either; the Belgae artefacts tie in with the Continent and eastern England; the language similarly links to Frisian; the Roman provinces are possibly designed to match linguistic groupings (as in the Continent) etc etc

I'm not sure about fashions, but Francis Pryor seems a little unusual to stand up as an AS specialist   ???

It's the Belgae that caught my attention too

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: John Nicholas Cross on February 03, 2017, 08:25:13 PM
I too am concerned about some modern scholars attempting, what to me, is little short of trying to re-write history, for what to me seems, an effort to make a name for themselves and gain publicity.   I actually politely questioned one personally and he 'blew his top' and was extremely rude and offensive  --- speaks for itself, I think.   He was unable to rationally defend his ideas, in a rational and calm fashion and accused me of being "over interested in the subject" and banned me from any of his future lectures or those of 'his' close colleagues.   This is what sensible, rational people are up against.   Man the barricades in support of rational scholarship.   Don't misunderstand me, I'm all in favour of truly well researched suggestions for updating of historical events etc., I'm just not convinced that all of this modern 'scholarship' is accurate.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on February 09, 2017, 02:19:25 PM

______________________________________
I watched it with him till I could stand no more
______________________________________


Oooh, don’t get >:( me started about Pants-on-Fire Pryor.  He’s so ignorant he doesn’t know how ignorant.

There really is something unique about how the Old English get treated like this. It is especially shocking and troubling coming from people with the intelligence and education to know better.  Have you noticed that Peter Ackroyd* does this in his The History of England, too?

How about calling this “Anglo-Saxon Denial”, to put it on the same footing as Holocaust Denial and Evolution Denial?  And maybe Wiþowinde should run a satirical column called The Hengest Diaries written as if by Hengest, about the trouble he has passing himself and his people off as Celts.   

Beginning with the bare fact that it’s written in English, for you are so right about the evidence, Eanflaed!  Why TF should we even talk about this?  My understanding is, a) that Anglo-Saxon urns from the Migration Period, such as at Spong Hill in Norfolk, are identical to contemporary urns found in and around Schleswig-Holstein, b) that both have a Reputation amongst archeologists for being boringly samey and cropping up in their bleedin’ thousands ( don’t archeologists have to re-bury most of them, because there’s far too many to process?) and c) societies are seldom if ever more conservative than about funeral customs.  Even the Conversion to Christianity could not shift some Old English ones.  Again, if my understanding serves the idea that Christians are buried with the head to the east, because there lies Jerusalem, has to be a Christianisation of a pre-Christian custom, since the inhumation burials from the same period were made with the head facing east, specifically the sunrise, all along. 

Proof, if another shedload of proof were needed, that a helluva lotta dudes from some new ethnic group came over the North Sea from the Schleswig-Holstein area from about AD500 onwards. 

There’s only a ‘debate’ in the bastard sense that ignoramuses think there’s a debate.


Have you noticed, also, how these Anglo-Saxon Deniers trade on modern assumptions about fashion changes?  My understanding is that modern ideas about some new fad or ‘the latest thing’ are amongst the least likely reasons for a change in clothing or jewellery styles in our period.  Once I definitely read an account by two lady archaeologists who carried out a typological study of the number, positions etc. of the brooch types, pins, beads etc. found in Anglo-Saxon women’s inhumation graves from the Migration Period, to find consistencies within areas that matched up, well enough, to those described by Bede as Anglian, Saxon and Jutish.  Well enough for the implications to add up to an approximation of a “tribal costume”.  It reminded me of other things I’ve read about how, in pre-industrial societies, the woman is often the “culture bearer” and sometimes in a very real and literal sense, such as the clothes she stands up in.  Seemingly only we Westerners, and anybody else unfamiliar with subsaharan Africa, think of the tribeswomen there as wearing an ‘African’ tribal costume.  For to tribal Africans themselves there is no, one ‘African’ outfit but a Shona, Matabele, Ashanti etc. outfit which tribal Africans easily tell apart by how this or that woman wears her beads, plaits her hair etc.  Furthermore, jerky sepia-tinted footage taken by men in baggy shorts from around the death of Queen Victoria show that the great-grandmothers of our modern-day tribeswomen wore pretty much the same, failing bang-on the same, tribal trousseau.  It’s all bound up with how socially conservative pre-industrial societies tend to be, and the pride-and-honour sentiments invested in the womenfolk wearing the tribal strip.

So anyway, facile modern ideas about This Autumn’s Colours are anything but reliable for why women in south-eastern England took to wearing square-headed
brooches from about AD500 onwards and outwards ( and for why their loved ones buried them wearing them). 

By rights some kind of demographic shift would be amongst the top options. 


________________________________________________ 
a reaction against the Victorian love of all things Germanic
________________________________________________


Was there?  The impression I got was that Classicist influence in Victorian times was the first time the big-time boot was put in on the Old English.  This was the heyday of the “sweetness and light” attitude to the Greeks and the Romans, leaving many Victorians so in love with their wordy layabouts in togas, pointy-headed pederasts and gladitorial ghouls, they couldn’t bear to admit that all the Romans cleared out of here in AD410.  So their Greek-geeks and Latin-lovers would stand on their heads to make out that Roman town life was still staggering on in Carlisle as late as AD700, er, somehow or other.       

( Grrr!)


__________________
"The Way of Wyrd"
__________________


Oo-er, I feel like warning all concerned about >:( Master Bates too.  I asked about his so-called The Real Middle Earthon the old board when I read it, to have my misgivings borne out. Weirdwas the word I used to sum it up, too.  To which one ġesíþa replied that she’d been one of Bates’ students and he was weird then.

Bates has little scholarly insight into the Old English texts he sometimes uses, largely as pretexts for preconceptions of his own imagining.  If memory serves, points of resemblance between his writings and what little is known of Old English Heathen beliefs and customs are more or less accidental.     

It’s rather the point that anybody who knows what they’re talking about would be far more guarded.


* Who if memory serves also subscribes to a weird attempt, by certain kinds of Roman Catholic, to claim that the Reformation didn’t really happen/ wasn’t really popular/ or something and England remained Catholic at heart/ still really wants to be/ certainly should be, et cetera, et cetera, yawn yawn yawn.  So somehow or other a Tudor despot like Henry VIII called his one-and-only Parliament to endorse the only big, unpopular decision he ever made, Tyndale’s Bibles went viral in England because everybody just wanted to tear ’em up, and we all wept, not with joy upon the accession of Elizabeth I, but with bitterness because we could no longer bake our potatoes in the pyres of any more archbishops, you know it makes sense.  Speaking of people who are so ignorant they don’t know how ignorant, but did you know Thomas More took on William Tyndale in a pamphlet war and got his nose rubbed in the sh*t he had for brains?  Think of Auberon Waugh squaring up to Bertrand Russell in the pages of Encounter or Philosophy Now... 

The good news is that no proper historian of the period takes these sad little twerps seriously and I’m not aware of anybody who listens to them, give or take the extent to which they practise upon the ignorant.   




Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on February 09, 2017, 06:32:56 PM
  Oh dear, I fear that the Gesithas are falling into the 'Holier Than Thou' trap themselves! I think I will make this my last Gegaderung visit.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on February 10, 2017, 11:30:11 AM
Please stay Peter! We need your wisdom and experience! We are harmless really, just enjoying a rant between friends:-).

You challenged me at Hastings to back up what I say - I do have reasons for my input though maybe I should give them more often. For instance, Francis Pryor follows Dominic Powesland in using isotope analysis to say the AS didn't exist because most of their skeletons show they were brought up locally.  I don't think that is valid as second generation migrants born over here will show up as natives. The fact that some of the female remains he admits show up as Angles I think is hugely significant. If you're only popping over here for a raid, you don't bring your womenfolk. And it all flies in the face of the liguistic and cultural evidence. Come on Peter, tell me I'm being too naive!! :-)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on February 23, 2017, 06:13:32 PM
Meanwhile, I'm still intrigued about the Belgae (if I may refer back to my earlier post :) ).

Both Caesar and Tacitus refer to the inhabitants of Britain in a way which might be read to imply multiple cultural groupings and the Belgae are (I believe) a Germanic group. The Roman Provinces could likewise be interpreted to follow broad tribal identities as on the Continent ie Britanniae Superior and Inferior. This would still match up the archaeology along broadly Bedan lines, I think, but potentially extend the migration over a longer time frame - a Soft Influx rather than a Hard one, so to speak!

My understanding is that the DNA can't really distinguish too finely for pre- and post-Roman dating?

However, I never studied this stuff formally so am trying to interpret from popular history (and as we have just discussed) these sources may not be as rigorous as we might wish. Equally I can be a Bear of Very Little Brain sometimes and may be following Wild Notions unaware of my peril.

Phyllis
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on February 23, 2017, 07:55:05 PM



I really thought that the Belgae were Celts.


What makes you think that they were Germanic?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on February 23, 2017, 11:30:40 PM
David - I thought the Belgae were Celts too, but Stephen Yeates  (whose book Phyllis is talking about) thinks they are Germanic apparently.

Phyllis  - DNA studies do show a distinct difference between pre-Roman (Celts) and post-Roman AS. English DNA is much more similar (some authorities say identical) to Frisian than to Celtic. I know we've had lots of discussions about English DNA on this forum but I think this at least is undeniable (says she waiting for the outcry!!).
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on March 02, 2017, 09:43:43 PM
Catching up on my Bernard Cornwall ahead of the second series of The last Kingdom. Very much enjoying The Lords of the North, much more so then the first two volumes, partly I suspect because it covers less familiar territory but also because I have my expectations as regards historical accuracy set at a more realistic level.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ceawlin on March 14, 2017, 10:34:34 AM
Onto Sword Song now; not much of a historical foundation for this one I think.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: cynewulf on March 14, 2017, 10:16:51 PM
Since you ask : just finishing Lewis Glinert's 'The Story of Hebrew'. Once done, it will be Kapka Kassabova's 'Border', focusing on the recent issues on the borders of Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. Before these I knocked off the excellent Saxon Warrior Kings in next to no time. Then it will be back to wading through The Silk Road, purportedly a world history. In between, dipping regularly into various books on aspects of AS history. Am I eclectic ?  :-\


Part 3 of Dan Snow's 1066 tonight was again ponderous, irritating and melodramatic, in my humble opinion.    >:(
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on July 29, 2017, 02:09:55 PM

Right! Guess who’s got his hot and sticky mits on a copy of The Warrior Queen by Joanna Arman ( ISBN 978-1-4456-6204-6 Amberley Publishing 2017) subtitled The Life and Legend of Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great?

Already I’m on chapter ten and on the whole it’s been a good, clear round-up of just what we do know, with some informed speculation about what we’re less sure about and nothing I felt any serious misgivings about.  Joanna Arman “is currently studying her PhD at the University of Winchester, researching women and feudalism in the Lade Middle Ages. She has a passion for the Anglo-Saxon Period and Æthelflæd of Mercia... was the subject of her Masters dissertation.”  She makes good use of fictional portrayals of Lady Ethelflæd, partly of course because of how little we know for certain about her life, career and even times, but also to point out when and how unlikely this or that fictional portrayal is.  We know no special reason why Lord Æthelred should have been “a callous, unwanted and even abusive husband” by the standards of the time or indeed any time.  She points out that Lady Ethelflæd’s achievements are better recorded than those of Bouddica, and I was immensely gratified that she drew attention to the strangely overlooked fact that, reckoned as a general, Lady Ethelflæd actually succeeded in military terms!

Yet she also seems to be beholden to an idea that I thought was out of date, namely that the shorter average life expectancy meant fifty was a ripe old age.  I’m under the impression this is an optical illusion caused by the high infant mortality rate, which certainly pulls the average life expectancy down to late middle age, but it doesn’t mean that you were most likely to pop your clogs about that time.  It means that you were less likely to survive childhood before the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions began to bunk up standards of living, nutrition, public and personal health care etc. from Victorian times onwards; but granted you did, you could hope to live into your sixties.

But I want to get back into it, don't I?




 :P :P :P

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Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Jayson on July 29, 2017, 05:56:23 PM
---going back to Eanflaed's posting in February where she mentions the Belgae and the fact that apparently the A-S DNA was similar to that of the Frisians, I have also read that the Old English (AS) language is very similar to the Friesian language.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on July 29, 2017, 07:13:05 PM
Yes I think that's true - in fact I understand that it's the closest language to ours.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on July 29, 2017, 08:11:46 PM
It appears that Old Frisian was the language closest to Old English although there is very little Old Frisian surviving from that period. We really start to get Old Frisian from about 1200 AD. Then it was probably closer to Old English than the language spoken in England at that time.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: cynewulf on August 09, 2017, 09:53:40 AM
There is an old rhyme "Bread, butter and green cheese is good English and good Friese". Note that gans and funf in German become gos and fif in Old Frisian and goose and five in English.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on January 02, 2018, 03:27:13 PM

Well, guess who landed a copy of The Dark Ages by W. P. Ker for Yule?  That’s the book from which Professor Tolkien quoted most for his seminal lecture, Beowulf, the Monsters and the Critics in 1936.  He lauds Kerr by name, albeit with a qualification his lecture develops, on folio 8 of my edition and quotes him at length on folio 9. 

Already I’ve noticed that Ker gives another example of the unaware doublethink that Professor Tolkien drew attention, the “paradox which one feels has always strained the belief, even of those who accepted it,” meaning broadly that Beowulf’s theme is unworthy of its style.  In folio 163 of my edition, thirty-five lines before the beginning of that long quote that Professor Tolkien uses, Ker also says, “There is too much education in Beowulf”. 

Yes, there was “something irritatingly odd about all this.”!



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mearcstapa on April 18, 2018, 11:58:14 AM
Having waded through this interesting discussion namely, 'what's everyone reading'? I might venture to recommend Viking Britain an exploration by Thomas Williams which I read back in December and enjoyed muchly. It is a good sturdy read about the impact those seafaring Northmen had on England and how they ended up both changing the Anglo Saxons and how the Anglo Saxons changed them: in the end the Vikings were a catalyst in hammering together English England. Mr Williams brings in the whirling axe edge of the Viking mind and their mythology as well. Thankfully he doesn't just trudge through the main events of the Viking Age but brings up a lot of gobbets about our more modern preconceptions about the Vikings and the real sweat of what they were in their own age.
I see some folks have read The Wake by Mr Kingsnorth. I read this and initially quite enjoyed how he was attempting to write the story in Old English. Sadly the main character turns out to be an utter bastard and by the end I felt it would have been better for Mr Kingsnorth to written something else, preferably where utter bastard male characters are suitably torn to pieces by the women he treats like dirt.
Ah and the fun to be had pondering the genetic origins of the Iron Age tribes that composed the structure of Roman Britain, and the fun of that old sticky bun of what really went on when those Britons met the Germanic incomers. Peaceful integration? Slaughter? New recipes for cooking? Slightly different tunics?
I think though on an earnest note, we need to go beyond these umbrella names of 'Briton' 'Angle' 'Saxon' that imply a kind of back projected unity and sense of national identity which likely didn't exist then. Tribal kin-groups were the norm I believe really until recent times, when parishes often had old feuds and suspicions about the next village along.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on April 18, 2018, 10:42:52 PM
Thanks for the heads-up about the Wake, Mearcsteper, you’ve saved me from wasting my time!
I agree about the kin groups; Britons and Angles were just as likely to be allies against other Britons or Angles as they were to fight each other. And your worst enemy was very often the bloke living on the next hill!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on April 20, 2018, 08:54:33 PM
I'll share that I'm working through a rather academic work on Norse Poetry and Poetics by Margaret Clunies Ross - it was pointed out to me by Eanflæd and so had to be purchased immediately, on pain of great pain.

At first I thought my brain would dribble out through my ears. But I am settling into the style and taking it slowly and it's really good! I am even beginning to pick up little bits of Old Norse and finally managed a line or two of Havamal in the ON which was fabulous. Just as reading OE poetry stumblingly in the original is better than even the best translation, so too with ON where you catch rhymes and sounds and alliteration and rhythm. I don't know how to pronounce it of course, but I can get the gist.

There are some really good explanations of kennings, as well as influences from wider European literature. And I'm only half way through. Next up - how Christianity affected the skaldic tradition :)

After that I'm going for a light novel - I almost don't care which - just to give the grey cells a break. Possibly Alexander McCall Smith, Botswana being as far from OE as I can manage.



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on January 22, 2019, 08:22:27 PM
So my next question is: has anyone read The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David Anthony?

It's recommended on Kevin Stroud's excellent podcast on the History of English (language) and I am seriously tempted.

I know it's a bit previous, but I am trying to get to grips with Proto-Indo-European and the development of Old English, thanks to David's gems over the last couple of years, and it's fascinating. Well, it's either that or start learning Old Norse.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on January 23, 2019, 05:01:36 PM
I have been reading The Horse The Wheel and Language for years. The first 20% of the book is excellent. It talks about the family of Indo-European languages and why we think there was an original Proto-Indo-European language.  It even goes into linguistic evidence to where those people lived. The remaining 80% is all about the archaeology differentiating the Indo European and their non Indo European neighbours in different times and places.

If you want to go deeper into the language there are a couple of books I could recommend. These are The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins and From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic by Don Ringe.

The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots is about vocabulary thought to be derived from a Proto-Indo-European language. It starts with a discussion of Indo-European languages and how to reconstruct the proto-language. This is followed by a dictionary of suggested Proto- Indo-European words which give the words and the words they developed to in daughter languages and then into modern languages. This is followed by a list of modern words, giving the Proto-Indo-European word it came from. So you can look up a word in the last section to find the Proto-Indo-European root. Then look up the root to find how it and its cognates developed into the modern words.

Ringe’s book gives his suggested grammar of Proto-Indo-European, declining and conjugating the words. He then suggests how these words changed to form the suggested Proto-Germanic words and then gives his suggested declining and conjugating of these words. This is very heavy going. This is volume 1 of Ringe’s A Linguistic History of English. He has since volume 2 called The development of Old English which takes us from Proto-Germanic to late Old English.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: hidethegn on April 28, 2019, 05:27:35 PM
I have been watching the 2017 DVD “William the Conqueror” by “Precision Pictures” (French, English subtitles).
If you cannot think of anything more interesting than continuous “re-enactment” knock-about this is the film for you. Sadly it has absolutely nothing to say about the 1066 invasion, other than the very last shot of a Norwegian messenger arriving at St Valery to say that the combined operation is ready to make its pincer attack! In fact the only real battle has been Val-es-Dunes where Norman cavalry were (apparently) decidedly sparse, otherwise the film  is concerned with William’s small party running from his enemies and being befriended by renegade, pagan, Vikings who live in fantasy caves and woods and welcome him to bonding in their hippy world because his father taught him Old Norse. Apparently they are the last survivors of the true Norman race, though one of the Christians also wears a Thor’s hammer-amulet.
Much emphasis is laid on the Napoleonic virtues of honour and glory and on the superman qualities of Normans and Vikings and we have the usual property mistakes: Indian bows, Coalbrookdale cauldron, stone castles and strike-a-light flambeaux. Oh yes, William has a (later) map to guide him across La Manche, so it is a miracle he arrived.
The English DVD sleeve says it all. “The nobel son of the Duke of Normandy” (obviously dynamite at a young age) whose “heroic quest” is to “invade Medieval England” (shades of “men of the Middle Ages…”) his “home land” which is under the yoke of “rebel traitors”! So now we know, England was not for the English. No doubt the re-enactor extras enjoyed the film rather more than I did but isn’t it worrying that such propaganda is out there?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on May 01, 2019, 10:33:00 PM
Those things are sooo annoying (to put it mildly) and unfortunately that rubbish is taken as fact by people who watch it. It’s not only fantasy stuff either. I was watching a programme on English villages the other day where the presenter quite seriously told us that the Normans invented villages! The subject of the programme was Warkworth in Northumberland; the name itself is Anglo-Saxon for Heaven’s sake! Whoever researches these films and programmes has clearly no idea of history, it’s scandalous.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on August 27, 2019, 02:48:22 PM
I notice that Francis, Pants-on-fire Pryor has a book out, titled The Fens.  My very own Heimat.


Is it any good, can anyone say?



















Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mearcstapa on August 27, 2019, 05:19:22 PM
I've read 'The Fens' so I might be able to say something. I liked the book for illuminating on part of England I scarcely know and the rich history of the fens. I've read Mr Pryors previous books about Prehistory and he goes over the Bronze Age landscapes he's dug up again in this book, which is alright and fascinating but 'The Fens' could also be subtitled 'Mr Pryor Chunters On Again about, yes, that's right the Fens and his Bronze Age sheep fields'. He then chunters on about the Fen towns and their architecture. He's very obsessed, to say the least. It's also a book fundamentally written by a comfortably off man settled into his own conservative views about history and people, repeating to himself his own conservative views about history and people in the lense of his own local patch of England. You might come away reading this book that the Fens is a kind of semi-paradisical English shire where through Prehistory into the Middle Ages nothing much changed except sheep breeds and some more drainage. I find it somewhat hypnotic the way Mr Pryor can write with such easy and genial authority, yes Mr Pryor you might find yourself nodding, this island through the swathes of time from Prehistory to the Medieval was always a peaceful, largely untroubled, land of farmers just getting on with it while sometimes 'fashions' for new things came over the sea making little difference. I recomend this book but I think better to wait for the paperback that can be quietly shelved away.
I also found it odd the way he mentioned the first major drainage schemes in the 1600's of the Fens without saying much of how this was resented by the people living there and urshered in an end to the Fen way of life (and made big landowners there even richer). The Fens that Mr Pryor comfortably wallows in is entirely artificial and I think permits a mindset that doesn't like change, much like his view of history.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on August 28, 2019, 04:15:53 PM
  I see mention of wrong bows in films, I can only agree, but a good book on the subject is 'Longbow. A Social and Military History' by Robert Hardy (yes he of 'All Creatures Great and Small' fame and a great and greatly lamented longbow enthusiast). The assortment of types of bow in his book quite impressed me. I recently bought a low poundage Viking 'Hedeby' style bow only to be told by my Archery GB approved club that I couldn't use it as it didn't conform to GB target shooting regulations, even 'clout shooting' is a no no! Oh well you learn by your mistakes, back to a 'Target 1066' gallery shoot I guess.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on August 31, 2019, 02:13:38 PM
Thanks Mearcstepa.

Looks as if I'll be giving this The Fens a miss.



( Now what can have reminded me of that Viz character, Aldridge Prior the Hopeless Liar...?)
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on September 07, 2019, 11:47:07 AM
Anglo-Saxonists as irked and disappointed as I was to find how little is known about Dark Age/ Early Medieval Germany, even about St Boniface's mission there, may be interested to know that the Pagan culture of the Prussians, Estonians and other Baltic folk of an Ural-Altaic persuasion, makes for a good proxy.


I've just finished reading The Teutonic Knights by William Urban ( ISBN 1-85367-535-0, Greenhill Books 2003) and there's a whole chapter titled 'The War Against Paganism in Prussia' which has proven surprisingly useful in this way for my kiddies' book.


Just 'read round' the men in iron-cross surcoats sworn to poverty, chastity and obedience striding about building castles, fighting a spooky battle on the frozen Lake Peipus and making surprisingly modern real-estate developers of themselves.


Fans of Sacha Baron Cohen may be glad to know that one of the earlier, peaceful attempts to convert the Prussians, Balts, Lithuanians etc. was led by a missionary whose name really was Bruno of Querfurt ( c. 1009). 



Honestly.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mearcstapa on September 12, 2019, 01:29:10 PM
This may not concern a book but I read an article in Current Archaeology this week which was called (don't faint) Time to axe the Anglo-Saxons?
so this article was about Susan Oosthuizen new book 'Emergence of the English' and her conclusion that we should now understand that period 400-600 AD as really a continuation of Roman Britain where the Romano British adjust to the changes in their circumstances with the Roman Empire, become excited about new fashions coming from over the North Sea, then they peacefully agree to all turn into 'Anglo-Saxons' speaking a Germanic tongue. In this Francis Prioresque dark ages Hengist and Horsa probably come over as shopkeepers eager to sell their wares to the positively inclusive Romano-Britons who are getting rather tired of yesteryears Roman sandals and brooches, now they want some of that Saxon style in their wardrobe. As for Bede talking of Angles, Jutes and Saxons coming over to Britain to settle here, well the DNA finds have scrubbed this messy picture up and made them all into open-eyed, friendly traders looking to rub shoulders with those Romano-Britons. What I find obtuse about this interpretation is how English shows hardly any influence from the language of the Roman-Britons, which it would have borrowed a lot from if they had been going about being assimilated on friendly terms...even if the Anglo Saxons came in the 'elite rulers' scenario then Britain's vernacular language like French probably would have been taken on by its Germanic rulers like the Franks did.....and that 'Wealh' word doesn't seem to suggest any happy shoulder rubbing between Anglo-Saxons and Roman-Britons?
Her book also suggests we abandon the name 'Anglo-Saxon' for this historical period and adopt more bland and less ethnic terms. So I hope nobody fainted whilst reading this!
I find this period of history interesting exactly because of the Anglo Saxons, the mead halls, the wholesale change of Roman Britain where struggles between rival regions shook the island and characters with legendary names rise up leading warbands before vanishing into the mist. That Gildas was not a mad old cleric spinning tales, I'm sure he knew what he was talking about even if it was not ' factual history' in our sense.







































Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on September 12, 2019, 10:05:45 PM
Don’t get me started on Susan Oosthuizen, don’t know what her agenda is, but denying the facts must be part of it!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on September 15, 2019, 02:43:27 PM
I enjoyed her book. It was not entirely convincing but it was still interesting.

I think the point is that nothing is straightforward or black and white. It's probably not either migration or invasion but a complex mixture. But I'm still no clearer as to why we are speaking English as opposed to a Brittonic language!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: peter on October 01, 2019, 07:49:42 PM
   I'm reading Martin Biddle's 'The Search for Winchester's Anglo-Saxon Minsters' ISBN 978-1-78491-857-6. Published by ARCHAEOPRESS ARCHAEOLOGY for the Winchester Excavations Committee.
 Sadly the lead Winchester archaeologist Birthe Kjolbye-Biddle died in 2010 before her Winchester Studies 4.i was published and this book is an abbreviated version of her work showing some of the finds from the 60s > digs which The Committee has published in 2018, although a thin tome for a cost of £15 at a mere 75 pages, it is an extremely interesting brief study of the 'Old Minster' digs and the location of St Swithun's tomb. To locate the Old and New Minsters, which had been lost under the modern city, was a great achievement.
  The exhibition of the Cathedral's history, and the osteoarchaeology studies now in progress, is now on in the upper stories of the Norman Cathedral, worth a visit if you're down that way.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on October 06, 2019, 10:26:25 AM
I just finished "Warrior: a life of war in Anglo-Saxon Britain" by Edoardo Albert and Paul Gething, recently published. It's based around the find of a skeleton at Bamburhg and the conclusion s they have been able to draw form it, then using that as a starting point to review the period and locations associated. The skeleton (spoiler alert!) was shown to be of a man who grew up in what we might identify as Dal Riata in the 7th century. It was not so much about the skeleton per se, and in Edoardo Albert's style it became a bit of a docu-drama in places. Personally I am happy with this so long as he explains his evidence (he does pretty much) and it isn't only ficitionalised (it isn't). There are also pen portraits of various archaeologists involved, which were interesting.

It is not simply a record of a dig finding a skeleton.

They collaborated  on the excellent "Northumbria: the lost kingdom" as well, and of course Edoardo Alber has written a fictional trilogy about Edwin, Oswald and Oswiu (which Ia lso enjoyed, so go Edoardo!)

I have now moved on to a rather more demanding tome - "The Horse, the Wheel and Language" by David Anthony and am learning a very great deal! It is rather more demanding to read but very clear and accessible to an utter novice in linguistics such as myself, just not light.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on October 06, 2019, 09:43:46 PM
I liked the start of "The Horse , the Wheel and Language" as it was about language. However it quickly gets bogged down in the archaeology.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on October 07, 2019, 02:20:42 PM
The moral right of the author to identify Philip Pullman's 'The Secret Commonwealth', in W H Smith right now I've just seen it, has been asserted.

No, I'm not calming down I'm off to do cartwheels.

YIPPEE!  ;D  Ya-harry-hey! Ya-hoy!!! 8)





Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on March 21, 2020, 07:46:16 PM
Hi everybody,

After a furtive foray for food the other day I found a copy of Stephen J. Gould’s Dinosaur in a Haystack ( ISBN 2-224-04472-9, Jonathan Cape 1996) going for a guinea in the charity shop for Peterboroughʼs Wood Green animal shelter.

Itʼs a collection of his essays and articles about evolutionary science and related issues in one of which, titled Late Birth of a Flat Earth, I was pleasantly suprised to find that Gould puts in a very good word for the Venerable Bede, indeed opens the article about him and his tomb in Durham Cathedral.  Amongst other things, Late Birth of a Flat Earth discusses the myth that literate Europeans ever believed in a flat earth, and Gould cites the Venerable Bedeʼs scientific works as proof positive for just how contrafactual the myth is: “and Bede clearly presented his classic conception of the earth as a sphere at the hub of the cosmos – orbis in medio totius mundi positus ( an orb placed at the center of the universe). Lest anyone misconstrue his intent, Bede then explicitly stated that he meant a three-dimensional sphere, not a flat plate. Moreover, he added, our planetary sphere may be considered as perfect because even the highest mountains produce no more than an imperceptible ripple on a globe of such great diameter.”

This last sentence tickled my tendaciousness because of another myth, one that science created for itself in Early Modern times: that of the Great Southern Continent.   Fill me in and correct me who may, as Iʼve found this a puzzlingly hard subject to check up about, but as I presently understand it, the story goes like this: somewhere between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, largely as a result of the first great voyages of discovery by Sir Francis Drake, Vasco da Gama, Magellan etc., the-then men of science or natural philosophers couldn’t help but wonder, since so much of the Earth’s known land mass lay in the northern hemisphere, that in order for the Earth’s rotation to remain stable there must be, surely, a Counterweight Continent of roughly equivalent area in the southern hemisphere.  Indeed, some of those great voyages of discovery were launched to look for it and, if memory serves, it was one of Captain Cook’s expeditions that finally shot that fox: there is no Great Southern Continent.       

As we now know, the greater land mass of the northern hemisphere is nowhere near large enough to affect the Earth’s rotation, because “even the highest mountains produce no more than an imperceptible ripple on a globe of such great diameter.”

So, none of that whole misadventure need ever have happened, if only theyʼd listened to our dear, old Venerable Bede...



* Maybe it’s an embarrasment scientists would fain forget, like the proportion of astronomers and astrophysicists who bought into the life-on-Mars belief sparked off by Percival Lowell in Victorian times, not substantially debunked until spectroscopic analyis was good enough, in Edwardian times, to demonstrate that the Martian atmosphere was too thin, too shallow and too *&%!ing cold to support anything more than lichens and mosses, if we’re lucky.  Only for Edgar Rice Burroughs to re-launch the whole whoopty-do, canals and all, with those bloody awful pulp sci-fi novels of his.  Lest ġesīþas mistake this for some off-topic footnote here, consult Bill Griffiths’ Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic ( ISBN 1-898281-33-5, 1996 Anglo-Saxon Books), as he consulted BL Cotton MS. Tib.A.iii, to learn that Ġif hē ġeseo tweġen mōnan þæt byþ micel ġefea.  Hmm.  The passage concerns divination from dreams and, speaking of a dreamer, means, “If he sees two moons, that is ( a sign of) great joy to come.”

Now disbelievers may scoff, but it’s a hard fact that there’s only one planet you can stand on, known to modern science, where you can see two moons...   

 
____________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified from space has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on March 23, 2020, 09:54:48 AM
Good old Bede! Just goes to show that a theory put forward long ago is not necessarily wrong or out of date! The modern world needs to learn a bit of humility I think!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on March 24, 2020, 02:45:23 PM
Nice to hear from you, Eanflaed.

Hope you and every ġesīþa reading are keeping well and cheerful.

In the present situation, I dare to hope that a revival of interest in the ġegaderung may help us all from going stir crazy, and keep our minds off our troubles, for the foreseeable future.  Already, for the first time in my bachelor life, I'm developing an interest in housecleaning FFS...

Moderator: am I right that the members-only rule has been relaxed?  I don't seem to have to log on in the old way, any longer. 


A big wes hal to everybody reading.









Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on March 25, 2020, 08:55:51 AM
As you are wanting us to join in I was wondering about your language. I was wondering why you used the accent on “ġegaerung” but not on “wes hāl”. It is also interesting that you used the variant “ġesīþa” when we normally use “ġesīþ”.

I still have to log on in the old way.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on March 25, 2020, 04:45:51 PM
Nice to hear from you, David.

Bone idleness and carelessness, I should guess, is why my Old English gets sloppy.  Sometimes I tell myself to just get my finger out and show willing, David!

I've just got back from my first real shopping trip and general recce for a week, and I'm glad I bought that Gould anthology because all the libraries, book and charity shops are definitely shut.  I nearly didn't, um-ing and ah-ing.  I'm gladder still that I took the chance to call on my dear old English teacher, however, as her daughter has moved in with her so she's fine, neither worried nor at risk of being forgotten about.

I still didn't have to log in for this post, so now I don't know whether I'm washing or hanging out.  It may be an idea, however, to waive the usual members-only restriction throughout the current situation, as bored Anglo-Saxonists ( and antiquarians in general) may surely come this way, now, if they ever will.

Look after yourselves ġesīþas, keep well and cheerful.




Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on March 26, 2020, 05:52:18 PM
Hi Bowerthane, I suppose you do log out each time you use the Gegaderung? If you don’t and your default is some huge number of minutes, that’s probably why you can get back so easily...but if that doesn’t apply you are a mystery!!


I thought anyone could peruse the Gegaderung (apart from the members only pages), they just can’t make a comment...whenever I log in there are usually several “guests” logged in. But Phyllis, our new administrator, might correct me on that.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bill on March 27, 2020, 03:18:34 AM
Hi Eanflaed.  I may be guilty as I don't log out and simply come straight back in.   However greetings to all Gesithas from NZ.  Needless to say we have had to cancel UK trip in June and busily trying to arrange for same time next year.   Now in second day of enforced lock down....plenty to do and want to stay well.   Kai Kaha (stay strong) everyone
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on March 27, 2020, 10:14:51 AM
Hi Bill, you are not guilty at all - it’s probably more convenient to stay logged in and there’s nothing wrong with that! I might try it. It’s such a shame you can’t visit this year - we are just as fed up as we were going to visit our daughter in Australia. We are in lock down too, but at least I can catch up with the dozens of books and magazines I’ve yet to read!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: cynewulf on March 28, 2020, 12:11:13 PM
Only one thing to read today - the latest edition of Widowinde. It looks remarkable in its all new colour format. The quality is as good as ever. Hearty congratulations to everyone involved !
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on March 29, 2020, 12:32:48 PM
I for one intend to snuggle down with WW and a cup of tea this afternoon. It looks fantastic, great job, Editor :)

But in terms of our topic, I just finished reading Guy Halsall's "World of Arthur" which was bracing. Has anyone else read it? I know it is quite popular. I didn't pick it up for ages due to the title, but then discovered, to my chagrin, that I had misunderstood what he was writing about (ie 5-6 century Britain and actual evidence from archaeology as well as the later historical documents such as Bede, Nennius and Gildas). Still, better late than never!

I was particularly interested in his (avowedly) uncommon suggestion that the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the earliest period in fact moved up from the south starting from the villa/urban areas. I have paraphrased terribly so one of you may be able to summarise better. I think he was saying something like: it may not have been an east to west movement, but more based around the centres of Romano-British settlement and spreading out. If the Romano-British were employing Germanic mercenaries quite widely (in keeping with Roman tradition of the 3rd-4th centuries) then that might make sense.

Anyway...



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on March 30, 2020, 04:15:08 PM
I too am enjoying WW in its full-colour glory.

Well done everyone, I say.

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on March 31, 2020, 12:19:15 AM
Thanks for your positive comments about Withowinde, people! Very much appreciated! Xxx
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: David on March 31, 2020, 04:43:48 PM
Am I the only one not to receive the magazine. Instead I got a subscription in the post today, so I went to bank some cheques only to find that the bank now closes at 2 pm so I was too late and bought some food instead.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on April 20, 2020, 07:42:43 PM

This is more a case of what I'm listening to than reading, but I couldn't think of a simple enough alternative.


This is to make sure everybody knows that BBC Radio Four is repeating its series "A History of the World in 100 Objects" narrated by the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor.


I loved it the first time, ten years ago now, so I say it is really worth catching ( www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nrtd2 ) if you missed it or, like me, you missed the occasional episode.




Enjoy.









Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on April 21, 2020, 09:36:05 AM
I think they are also available to listen to via a podcast / BBC Sounds if you want to binge :)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/search?q=A%20History%20of%20the%20World%20in%20100%20Objects&suggid=urn%3Abbc%3Aprogrammes%3Ab00nrtd2

The one on the Sutton Hoo Helmet is wonderful, with Seamus Heaney talking about Beowulf as well!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on December 28, 2020, 04:12:13 PM
This is from Book of Fire by Brian Moynahan, subtitled William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Bloody Birth of the English Bible ( 2002 Hachette, ISBN 978-0-7481-2577-7):
 
“The earliest Old English translations to survive were made by Caedmon, a seventh-century monk at Whitby and a former cowherd who had felt a divine urge to learn to read and write. ‘He sang of the world’s creation, the origins of the human race, and all the story of Genesis,’ the scholar and theologian the Venerable Bede wrote of Caedmon; ‘he sang of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and entry into the Promised Land…’ An Anglo-Saxon translation of the gospels made from the Vetus Italica, the pre-Vulgate Latin Bible, was said to be the work of Bede himself. His student Cuthbert described how the great scholar completed his work on St John’s gospel on his deathbed in the monastery at Jarrow in May 735. ‘In the evening, his pupil said, Dear Master, one sentence is still wanting,’ Cuthbert recalled. ‘Write it quickly, exclaimed Bede. When it was finished… he repeated the Gloria Patria, and expired in the effort.’ Passages from Exodus and the first fifty psalms were translated into Anglo-Saxon in the ninth century, perhaps by the pious King Alfred. A section of Genesis was worked on by the grammarian abbot Aelfric in the late tenth century. An anonymous scholar translated the four gospels into West Saxon.”
 
Well, that’s the first I’ve heard of any rendering all four gospels into any kind of Old English.  Has anyone the advantage of me, or has Moynahan got his facts wrong?


_______________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to identify William Tyndale as Alfred the Second has been asserted.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on January 02, 2021, 04:16:53 PM
I'm not quite sure I read it that way? I think it says Cædmon created poems based on various biblical stories from Genesis and Exodus, and that Bede translated the gospels (although only mentions John here and Bede only says he translated parts and "explained" others), and that an anonymous scholar translated all 4 for the Wessex bible.

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: wulfgar2 on January 11, 2021, 05:41:05 PM
There are several copies of the translation of the four Gospels into Old English dating from the XI century onwards. A comprehensive edition of the earliest version of them CCCC 140 can be found in 'The Old English Version of the Gospels' by R.M. Liuzza Vols I and II published by The Early English Text Society. Have a good read.


 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on January 11, 2021, 07:50:04 PM
Thanks Wulfgar and Phyllis.  You are quite right, there's definitely translations of all four by the Late Saxon Period.


Now I'm annoyed that none of this was mentioned in any of my other reading.  I've been whiling away lockdown reading a biography of Tyndale too, amongst other  ??? relevant tracts and tomes, and as a rule it's only Bede's translation of John that gets mentioned.


All four.  And I didn't know...  >:(








Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on January 16, 2021, 11:39:21 AM
Digistised manuscripts here:
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Royal_MS_1_A_XIV

PDF downlaod here:
https://archive.org/stream/dahalgangodspelo00thor#page/n5/mode/2up

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on January 19, 2021, 10:01:52 AM
Thanks Phyllis, that’s ever so interesting ( and convenient!).  And how’s this for ::)  irony?  I’m also reading Hannah Crawforth’s Etymology and the Invention of English in Early Modern Literature ( 2013 CUP, ISBN 978-1-107-04176-9) and guess what she went and said the other night:

“In 1571 Parker’s scholars had published The Gospels of the Fower Euangelistes Translated in the Olde Saxons Tyme out of Latin into the Vulgare Toung of the Saxons, an attempt to show an Old English precedent for vernacular Bible translation. Foxe’s preface to the work denounces those who argue against a vernacular Bible as doing so ‘contrary… to the euidence of Antiquitie’. He cites translations by Bede, Saint Cuthbert and the Saxon King Alfred as precedent for the reformers’ project to make the Gospels readily available in English: ‘if any shall doubt of the auncient vsage therof, whether they had the Scriptures in their language of old time, here he may haue a proofe of so much translated into our old Englishe tounge’.” 

It never rains but it pours...



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on January 23, 2021, 09:48:45 AM
I'm pretty surein the 16th/17th centuries the Catholics argued for the purity and tradition of the Anglo-Saxon Church, and the Protestants for the production of vernacular translation. It's true that Anglo-Saxon studies has soemthing for everyone!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on January 31, 2021, 10:56:19 AM
I'm posting this here because I understand there was a novel...

But what are people's thoughts on The Dig (Netflix)?

I really enjoyed it and got quite a shiver seengn them uncover the ship and find the first objects. It's not a documentary so I was happy enoough with the story telling "wandering" a bit from history, although I did feel Peggy Piggott got a raw deal. The main thing missing for me was the inexplicable failure to  show the artefacts themselves more clearly. I don't mean to make it a showcase for them, but perhaps a closing shot of the display in the British Museum would have helped cement the utter awesomeness of the discovery.

For those not on Netflix, I would recommend it when it is more widely available. And I am pleased to see it generating interest in the press.

Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on February 16, 2021, 11:47:11 AM
I am reading Max Adams' new book "First Kingdom" about the early part of the period - so far I'm still in the the immediate post-Roman period, but it is very interesting. He has more recent information on current thinking around the economic decline in 4th and 5th century Roman Britain and the survival or not of local communities as they adapted to changing circumstances.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Ælfric on March 08, 2021, 12:13:12 AM
I'm reading Hild, by Nicola Griffith, and Ishiiguro's The Buried Giant.  I recently read The Wake, Paul, Kingsnorth.  I take Hild to be what is generally called "young adult", meaning "meant for adolescents", lit.  But the setting in the time of Northumbrian conversion to Christianity is interesting, and, as far as I can tell, it's roughly historically right (at least to the extent Bede wrote history).  I take the other to novels to be parables, not really historical novels.  I mildly recommend them all.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on March 08, 2021, 09:33:36 AM
I'm reading Hild, by Nicola Griffith, and Ishiiguro's The Buried Giant

I read The Buried Giant even before I knew there was a somewhat tenuous connection! I liked it a lot but it's not really for the keen Anglo-Saxonist. It was quite odd in that respect, but I do like Ishiguro  ;D
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: cynewulf on July 03, 2021, 02:40:19 PM
Has anyone bought the Morris boo on the Anglo-Saxons ? I see it's in the top 10 for hardback non-fiction. Any views ?


Cynewulf
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on July 10, 2021, 02:14:37 PM
I have read teh Morris book because I wanted his take on the period. It was a Parson's Egg for me. Of course, it isn't his main period usually, but I was pleased some chapters provided a really good basic overview of current thinking, But then others...oh dear

I'm not sure I'd recommend it even as a starter book to be honest. I'd stick with Nick Higham for that

To be clear, other opinions are available!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on July 10, 2021, 02:22:02 PM
Meanwhile - I am really enjoying RObin Fleming's new book on The Material Fall of Roman Britain, 300-525 CE

THis investiagtes that transtion from what we call Roman to what we call Anglo-Saxon. It talks about the impact of changes in teh materials available for daily life - things like plants, animals, pottery types, metal, stone etc and how the change in availability of these thigns affects daily living. It's not a big book - less than 200 pages - but it's absolutely packed with information and there areover 100 pages of end notes with detaild references to archaeological reports on teh sites and finds discussed. I am absolutely enthralled!

To sum it up, I might say that just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes the full might of the Roman infrastructure to make a pot. If any of the links in that supply chain break, then the pot does not happen, or at least it does not happen in the way it used to. And that affects how people cook, how they carry out funerary practices and how they display wealth or status. This then applie across the full range of materials, prodcuts, skills and practices of living.



Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bill on July 15, 2021, 11:49:29 PM
Hi all.  Have recently completed ' Never greater slaughter' - Brunanburgh and the birth of England by Michael Livingston.   Be interested to read others comments  as to the supposed location of the battle especially in light of Jenny's article in summer issue of Withowinde - cheers and regards
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on July 29, 2021, 12:34:33 PM
Hi Bill, I’ve been considering buying that book - would you recommend it? I must admit I do favour Michael Wood’s theory at the moment (but am open to other suggestions) because the Great North Road had been a conduit for the movement of armies since the Roman period and so many battles have been fought on or near it. It would be the obvious route for Athelstan to get into the North quickly and if York was the target it reinforces the sense of a confrontation in Yorkshire rather than Cheshire. I can’t see why Constantine would channel his army so far west when Athelstan would be approaching from the south...but then I haven’t read “Never greater slaughter”!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on July 29, 2021, 04:08:00 PM
I did write a review for the next WW if our esteemed editor feels it is worthy...

It was excellent and gave me a different view.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bill on July 31, 2021, 03:01:24 AM
Thanks for posts Phyllis and Eanflaed.   Yes I recommend the book Eanflaed.   I must admit it took me a while to get over the fact that it was written by an American, kept trying to put that to the back of my mind as it has been really well researched and Michael Livingston says in the book that he has been the subject of adverse comment owing to that fact.   To me his arguments and reasoning are compelling (yes I know I am writing from the other side of the world but have travelled to the UK enough to have a reasonable idea of the lie of the land).   He completes the book by outlining all the other contending sites and giving the reasons why they fade in comparison to the Wirrell.   If noting else it is a basis for much  further debate.   Regards to you all.
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Mearcstapa on August 27, 2021, 03:20:46 PM
I've nearly finished Max Adam's 'The Last Kingdom' it's quite a long walk through the wavering marshes of the post-roman period and the beginning of the first Anglo Saxon kingdoms but worth reading for Mr Adam's has managed to synthesize together a lot of different information about this shadowy era and put it into an interesting, grounded narrative. You get the sense of the centuries 400-600ish being very dynamic for the communities living in Britain as they adapt to whatever comes next, and there being lots of possible kingdoms that never made it. Adam's talks about some very interesting things around the land and how the first kingdoms were organised around peripatetic kings with their followers who required special farms 'regia villae' within their territory to host them for a few months before moving on to the next. When it comes down to it all all these kingdoms could only exist with a peasant class who spent their days provisioning food, fuel and cloth for their lords. 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: geoff littlejohns on April 13, 2022, 09:33:40 PM
I am reading 'Empires and Barbarians' by Peter Heather.  I have only just discovered this, apparently eminent, historian.  I am impressed by the good sense and judgement of what I am reading.
The book was published as long ago as 2009 and so Peter Heather has been writing for quite some years without me coming across his work before.  Although writing about northern Europe as a whole, his ideas have relevance to the Anglo-Saxon experience.
So I am wondering whether other gesithas have manged to be more up-to-date than I have and have already read & digested Peter Heather's arguments.  I would be interested to find out how influential he has become.
 
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on June 05, 2022, 08:02:24 PM
 I’m in the middle of reading Rodney Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity which I would recommend to absolutely nobody as it is tendentious and misleading when it is not ignorant or deceives by omission.  Reading How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion you’d never guess that the ‘Christian’ ideal of a City of God was a straight steal from the Stoic ideal of a cosmopolis, that the ‘Christian’ concept of the Word was a straight steal from the Stoic concept of the Logos or how right Nietzsche was to describe Christian metaphysics as “Platonism for the masses”.   
 
 
 However, on folio 235 Stark has this to say about the Dark Ages:
 
 
Meanwhile across the channel, the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086 as a forerunner of the modern census, reported that there were at least 5,624 water-powered mills already operating in England, or one for every fifty families, and this is known to be an undercount.24 Among many other things, mills such as these mechanized the manufacture of woolen cloth and soon enabled England to dominate the European market” etc. 

 
As you can see, it is less than clear whether Stark is saying that watermills played some direct role in the manufacture of woollen cloth in post- or pre-Conquest England, as though this could go for the woollen cloaks mentioned in King Offa’s diplomatic correspondence.  I’m not sure whether the popularity of English wool abroad went so far as for “dominate the European market” to be a fair and accurate way to put it ( it found its way into the Arab market in our period, if memory serves) at any time, no more than I am at all sure to what extent watermills made the wool staple more or less of an export success than it was.

 
Are they used for washing the wool, or something?

 
Then there’s: “Selective plant breeding also began in the monasteries resulting in more productive and hardy crops.”  This is in a context that definintely means the Dark Ages.  Ideas, anyone?

 
Not to mention: “Another revolutionary innovation was eyeglasses, which were invented in about 1280 and almost immediately went into mass production thus allowing huge numbers of people to lead productive lives who otherwise could not have done so.”

 
Yes, he said... mass production.  Mass production about something recorded 170 years before the printing press and 480 years before the Industrial Revolution would be a twinkle in James Watt’s eye.  Can’t wait to read about their online access to Magna Carta and how Muscovy repelled the Mongols with all those thermobaric missiles, in the go-ahead thirteenth cenutry.

 
Mass production...

 

 
Can anyone say what Stark’s on about?

 
 
 __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 The moral right of the author to be identify the Women’s Land Army beating Bletchley Park, as well as the U-Boats, has been asserted. ’S true.  The Colossus was delivered to Bletchley Park in the autumn of 1943, just when the Land Girls brought in the 1943 harvest. Yet the Colossus needed a running-in period, so we did not have all-singing, all-dancing computer-guided U-Boat hunting until the November of that year.  So mainland Britain had recovered its ability to feed its own population before the ‘Moog Moment’, which would be about Guy Fawkes’ Night, 1943.  How’s that for Girl Power?
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on June 12, 2022, 02:33:41 PM
Sounds like he hasn’t done his homework and is just guessing - how annoying! I wouldn’t bother reading the rest of it!! But don’t put it in the charity box - the next person to read it might think it’s all true!!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: cynewulf on June 16, 2022, 04:58:22 PM
Right now ? What else but the latest Widowinde (another excellent edition) in the sunshine, on the patio with a large glass of chilled Pinot Grigio, with cricket commentary in the background. Actually, it was yesterday. 8)   
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Eanflaed on June 17, 2022, 09:52:20 AM
Now that’s what I call a Right Answer, Cynewulf! It sounds idyllic!
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Bowerthane on June 28, 2022, 01:41:29 AM
Whoops, yes! Of course I'm reading Withowinde and it's so good I just have to get back to it.  Well done and thanks to all concerned.






( Legs it back...)


Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Phyllis on June 29, 2022, 02:35:12 PM
I just finished Martin Carver's "Formative Britain" which was a long read. I think the main things I have learned are (1) I can;t cope with such heavy books easily and (2) actually all that detail about archaeology leaves me a bit cold. Once I realised I could skim the detail on sites and read the intros and outros, it went much easier. Now I know where to go and look when i do want the detail! It is a magnificent book though and I'm very glad to have it.

I then cantered through Eleanor Parker's "Conquereed: the last children of Anglo-Saxon England" which was slimmer and an excellent read. She covered the Godwin children, Waltheof, Hereward and Exile's son and elder daughter. Fascinating stuff.

I am now taking a brief respite in the final volume of a fantasy trilogy which wil be of limited interest to most of you; my next on-topic read is probably going to be Alaric Hall's "Elves in the Anglo-Saxon World"

Otherwise I am also getting up close and personal with Beowulf, working on translating it with some friends. A joyful exercise and giedscipe!

So many books, so little time...
Title: Re: What's Everyone Reading?
Post by: Norman Yoke on June 30, 2022, 12:45:37 PM
I then cantered through Eleanor Parker's "Conquereed: the last children of Anglo-Saxon England" which was slimmer and an excellent read. She covered the Godwin children, Waltheof, Hereward and Exile's son and elder daughter. Fascinating stuff.


Just started this! Really excited, especially to find out more about Margaret.