Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.


Tuesday, 21 September 2021

St Matthew in medieval Florentine art


Gregory DiPippo has an interesting account on the New Liturgicsl Movement website today for the Feast of St Matthew of two works of art commissioned by the guild of moneychangers of Florence to celebrate the saint, who was, of course, their patron. 

The first is a triptych by Orcagna from 1367 and tells the story of St Matthew both in the Hodpels and in the Golden Legend, which recounts his evangelisation in Ethiopia. The second is the bronze statute which the Guild commissioned in 1419 from Ghiberti. 

The illustrated article can be seen at The St Matthew Triptych by Orcagna


September Ember Days


This week is one of those with the quarterly Ember Days. The FSSP Minute Missive this week is an excellent study of the history, symbolism, theology and practice of these ancient harvest times assigned to thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth. They survive in the 1962 Missal, but were dropped from that of 1970. Happily they have been restored - or carried over perhaps - in the  Ordinariate books, having survived in the BCP, if not in the ASB and its successors.

The article by Fr William Rock FSSP can be seen at September Embertide and the Christianizing of Eden

Happy Embertide to my readers 


Monday, 20 September 2021

Mass graves of Crusaders found in Lebanon


The Live Science website has an interesting report on the discovery of two mass graves of Crusaders at a castle near Sidon in Lebanon. The suggestion is that the men were killed in connection with a Mamluk attack in 1253 or one by the Mongols in 1260. If that is the case it is unlikely that the bodies were buried by St Louis as he was in the region previous to those events. 

Nonetheless the information as to the injuries to the bodies makes for a graphic sense of the fighting and their violent end. 

The report, which is more than usually beset by advertising, some of which does not move out of the readers way, can be seen at Mass grave of slaughtered Crusaders discovered in Lebanon


Sunday, 19 September 2021

An Iron Age shrine on the Yorkshire Wolds


I wrote recently that I rarely comment on prehistory as it is a subject about which I know very little and, being prehistory, it is much more the preserve of the archaeologist than the historian. 

However I was presented by the Internet with an article from the Yorkshire Post about an excavation of what appears to have been a shrine from the Iron Age on the Yorkshire Wolds. Not only is this an insight into what was happening in the era before the Romans conquered southern Britain but it is from my home county, if not from my home area.

The site appears to show a sequence of occupation and changes of use over perhaps several centuries and suggests that it was the base for a chieftain. Even in the Roman period it may have still been recognisable as a place of some significance.



Friday, 17 September 2021

Has King John’s Treasure been located?


My search engine flagged up a report from Spalding Today about a metal detectorist who believes he has located King John’s hoard of treasure which was lost with his baggage train in the mud and shifting sands of a tributary of the Wash on the borders of Lincolnshire and Norfolk on October 12th 1216. 

The article can be read at King John's hoard has been found says treasure hunter and there is a previous one from the same journal with a bit more about the story at Has King John's treasure been found at last?

The Daily Mail also reports the apparent identification at Metal detectorist believes he has uncovered King John's lost treasureOddly for them they do not say whether it would affect house prices in the area of Sutton Bridge.

There are online articles about the story of the loss of the baggage train and treasure at ‘Bad’ King John’s Lost Treasure! and from the Eastern Daily Press at WEIRD NORFOLK: Searching for the crown jewels dropped by King John in King’s Lynn

An article about the story from a blogger at 
King John, his treasure and the Wash. has some good illustrations, a useful map of the coastline in 1216 and the author has included an impressive inventory of the royal treasures that may have been lost in the catastrophe - but then again might not.

If the site is correctly identified and if items can be excavated - assuming that centuries of tides have not dispersed them so that they are irretrievably lost - then this would indeed be a remarkable discovery, or perhaps one should say recovery after 805 years.

We must see what happens, and one can hope that maybe the remains of the treasure really can be found.


Kissing the Pax


Few things have been, ironically, more contentious with the man or woman in the pew in the Novus Ordo and its derivatives than the Sign of Peace. 

I recall in my heyday at Pusey House the then Sacristan produced a small but strategically situated poster outside the chapel based on a traffic sign with a pair of clasped hands enclosed in a red circle and cancelled with a diagonal red line .,,. this was a Peace Free Zone.

The medieval custom followed until relatively recently was that of the server offering the osculatorium for the lips of those present at the Peace. Shawn Tribe on the Liturgical Arts Journal has an article about these items, with a splendid series of pictures of examples. Unfortunately beyond their date he adds nothing about their origin or present location. Those who follow this blog or know me will not, I think, be surprised that far and away my favourite is the first one, from 1434.

The article can be viewed at The Pax (Osculatorium or Tabula Pacis)


Another commentary on Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross


I forgot when I wrote my recent post for the Feast of the Holy Cross on The Legend of the True Cross to include a link to another good article about the cycle from the New Liturgical Movement earlier this year which has some fine photographs of the paintings. It can be seen at The Story of the True Cross, by Piero della Francesca


Thursday, 16 September 2021

More on Roman villas


Having posted earlier today about the villa discovered at Bedale in Yorkshire the algorithm on my system proceeded to serve up two more interesting websites for me to look at and share.

The first is from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and is an account of the excavation of a villa at Abermagwr in Ceredigion ( Cardiganshire ) which is the most westerly in the Principality. It was not a particularly grand house, and was used from the early third to the early fourth century when it was destroyed by fire. Parltly built from reused stone from an abandoned military station it boasted a slate roof that shows clear continuity with techniques that were or are still used. The pentagonal slates would have formed a decorative pattern on the roof. The interior did include fragments which indicated a sophisticated taste in glassware from the continent. The illustrated article can be read at The Roman villa that made history: Abermagwr Villa, Ceredigion

The second is a more technical article from the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal which seeks to synthesise and interpret the evidence for the transformation of villas in Britain and Western Europe in the last decades of the Empire and the ways in which they adapted to changing circumstances. Although somewhat technical it is a useful guide and gives a valuable bibliography as well as various plans of excavations. It can be seen at Assessing Late Antique villa transformation at individual sites: towards a spatial approach