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.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Ghost stories from fourteenth century Yorkshire

Yesterday was a Halloween and to mark the occasion Medieval Histories sent round an article about a collection of twelve ghost stories written down by a Cistercian monk of Byland Abbey in Yorkshire about 1400. There is an introduction to them and a link to the text in translation of the stories from the publication in 1922 of the manuscript by the great scholar and connoisseur of ghost stories M.R.James and a related translation from 1924 at Byland Abbey Ghosts — Medieval Histories

Quite apart from their entertainment value and the fact that they give an insight into medieval life, the stories have the additional feature that they are frequently linked to specific places close to Byland - Ampleforth, Gilling, Ayton in Cleveland and Newburgh Priory - and that is both interesting as locating such stories and as an insight into the community that surrounded the abbey.

Stock Photo: Byland Abbey, North Yorkshire. Reconstruction drawing by Alan Sorrell showing the abbey as it might have appeared in the year 1539.

A reconstruction of Byland Abbey by Alan Sorrell

Image: English Heritage/ Age Fotostock

There is more about the physical setting of Byland in its medieval heyday in this article from 2008 about the monastic achievement in land drainage and fishponds around the abbey at New Research Suggests Byland Abbey In Yorkshire Was Grandest In The North

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