Archive for the ‘History’ Category

“Remnants of Revenants”

A particularly bad undead was the Icelandic duagr or revenant. These pesky undead might be confined to the barrows but the more powerful could range around. The worst of all attacked animals, humans and whole villages.

Click to read “Remnants of Revenants,” a short research paper on the dreaded draugr of Iceland and Norway.

Irish Burial — Revenants?

Lady Avicia was kind enough to send me a link to an article on a strange unearthed burial practice in 8th century Ireland.  

The article led to more research, which led me to realize I had a big misconception about the Viking timeline in Ireland. I replied to Avicia that 8th century Ireland was home to several Viking kingdoms, which thus explained the presence of the Norse legend of the duargr – the revenant. This may have been one of the techniques of burial where the Norse kept the dead from getting back up again. (Note that cremation wouldn’t take care of the  problem — the ashes from the burning landed on animal food and salt licks, and infected animals with a seriously bad temper and supernatural strength.)

However, it turns out that I was “dead” wrong (get it?) about the timeline — the Vikings’ first recorded raid in Ireland wasn’t until the end of the 8th century and they did not start settling inland until at least 830. I am sure that individual Vikings had sailed to Ireland already, thus the subsequent arrival of well-prepared raiding parties who concentrated on wealthy coastal monasteries  like Iona. But I would hesitate to ascribe a burial practice to theoretical individuals. And we have no way of knowing for sure if the stones applied to revenant legends, although the Norse prescribed certain burial rites to keep the dead from rising again.

To be sure, Ireland has always been a hotbed of supernatural activity. They have medieval legends of the corporeal walking dead as does northern England. (Southern England’s ghost stories are largely monastic and center on demon-inspired haunts.) But did the revenant tales occur independently in separated cultures — or due to the cross-pollination of Viking raids or Irish slaves?

* Here is a link to a short paper I wrote on the duargr:“Remnants of Revenants.”


Caitlin’s 25-or-so Best Blogs for SCA History Geeks

A new-to-me website called published a post called “50 Best Blogs for Medieval History Geeks.” The post wasn’t terribly good — some of the blogs were pretty awful and others had little to do with medievalism. But it gave me the idea to do a similar post for SCA readers.


  1. Archaeology in Europe: This blog links to news stories on European discoveries. Because it links to popular as well as scholarly sites its facts can be hit or miss, but it’s a great way too keep up with modern archeological news.
  2. Medieval Material Culture Blog: I already bookmark this excellent blog that reports on archeological finds and museum exhibits. It doesn’t hurt that the blog is by SCA-er Mesterinde Karen Larsdatter (Atlantia), who also does excellent linkspages on medieval art and and extant items.
  3. Antiquarian’s Attic: Links to museum exhibits and news items of historical interest. The blogger will list OOP links but most of her intriguing finds are from our time period. She also has a huge blogroll that I have not personally checked out, but that is probably worth reviewing.
  4. Anglo-Saxon Archeology Blog: A nice newsy blog on — you guessed it — Anglo-Saxon archeology.

Art and Architecture

  1. Medieval Hungary: Zsombor Jekely blogs on medieval Hungary. I considered deleting this link because I am personally not  interested in medieval Hungary, and heh, this is my blog. But I checked it out and was impressed with the art images and commentary. Note: the blog is in English, thank you Mr. Jekely.
  2. Vitrearum’s Church Art: I already had this beautiful blog on my subscription list. Anglican priest Allan Barton loves the medieval church architecture of Lincolnshire and shares that beauty with his readers. Well worth the look.
  3. Medieval Castle Blog: Now this is a fun blog. I had not run across it before, but it contains excellent pictures and commentary on medieval castles and their features. They even have a special section for haunted medieval castles, which I dearly love.
  4. The Medieval Garden Enclosed: This one I knew about and had on my sub list. The Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art displays and blogs about medieval plants. Excellent for herbalists, gardeners and persona work.

Literature and Language

  1. Unlocked Wordhoard: I straight-out love Dr. Nokes. He is a professor of medieval literature who is funny, smart, and loves talking about medieval history and literature.
  2. Wormtalk and Slugspeak: Yet another must-read blog: Professor Drout’s marvelous blog on Old English, Middle English, fantasy, and everything in between. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
  3. The Norse Mythology Blog: Nicely done blog from a professor of Norse mythology at Loyola University in Chicago. The blog has existed less than a year so does not have a huge number of entries, but it looks promising.


  1. A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe: Dr. Jonathan Jarrett is a fascinating guy who does a great blog on early medieval Europe. He is an Oxford academic who specializes in Catalonian charters (of all things) but also writes about pre-Conquest British history.
  2. Scela: Medievalist Lisa Spangenberg concentrates on the evolution of digital media as a method of teaching medieval history.
  3. Got Medieval: A hilarious blog on medieval Europe. Grad student Carl Pyrdum has a particular thing for studying genitalia in the marginalia of medieval manuscripts, but I guess everyone has a hobby.  Well worth subscribing to.
  4. In the Middle: Thoughtful and entertaining, this blog concentrates both on medieval history and on modern academia. The contributors often blog about digital medievalism, which is the process of bringing digital tools to the study of history.
  5. Senchus: Dr. Tim Clarkson writes on the medieval history of Scotland.
  6. Medieval History Geek: This blog was new to me and I like it. Curt Emanuel is an academic but not in history — that he does for fun.
  7. Heavenfield: A lovely blog that concentrates on, in the blogger’s words, “early medieval northern Britain, church history and spirituality, and the continuing commemoration of the early medieval saints and their spirituality today.”
  8. Norse and Viking Ramblings: A professor of Norse studies blogs about  the practical side of Viking history and reenactment. Another new-to-me blog that I’ve now subscribed to.

Medieval Beasts

I would kill to attend this! “Beasts on Parchment: Picturing Animals in Medieval Manuscripts” at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Here is the description:

Animals played an important role not only in the lives of medieval people, but also in their thought. Animals bore the brunt of medieval agricultural practices and they also carried spiritual associations that reflected religious beliefs. The animals that people encountered in their daily lives were supplemented by fantastic beasts that inhabited the realm of the medieval imagination, and which were thought to occupy unknown territory in this world and in the next. The artworks showcased in this exhibition offer the visitor the chance to explore medieval attitudes about animals, and to enjoy the extraordinary creations that pepper the margins and miniatures of The Walters’ outstanding collection of medieval manuscripts.

New Bannockburn Visitor Center

As far as my persona is concerned, 12th century Scots are a bunch of raiding goons who like to play rough at her manor. However, since the Bard Elder and Guidwife of my SCA household are Scots (and 14th century so I don’t blame them) I thought they’d be interested in this story about a new visitor center for the Battle of Bannockburn. Particularly since said Bard Elder and Guidwife wrote and perform the beautiful song “On the Field of Bannockburn.”