The invention of the Bayeux Tapestry: an International Colloquium at the Bayeux Museum

BAYEUX (FRANCE) –(via @Minima Medievalia) The 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (1066) marks an excellent occasion to reconsider the so-called “Tapisserie de Bayeux” not only for its historical value, which is already well known by scholars, but by highliting its artistic importance, far from being fully explored. An international Colloquium (“L’invention de la Tapisserie de Bayeux : NAISSANCE, COMPOSITION ET STYLE D’UN CHEF-D’OEUVRE MEDIEVAL”) will be held in Bayeaux from 22 to 25 September at the Bayeux Museum. Papers and talks will be presented by 23 scholars and researchers  working in different countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada and United States) who will share knowledge and experiences from different disciplines and fields of study (textiles, history of Arts, archaeology, latin language, etc.).

Access is free. Lectures are in French only. Complete programme (also in French language) is available at this link.

DU 22 AU 25 SEPTEMBRE 2016
Direction : Cécile Binet, Pierre Bouet, Shirley Ann Brown, Sylvette Lemagnen, François Neveux, Gale Owen-Crocker

For more info, please visit the official Museum Website

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MADRID / BNE announces exhibit on the Beatus “Commentary on the Apocalypse” corpus this autumn

b_facundus_43v1MADRID [©EP- Minima Medievalia/Perceval Archeostoria] – The BNE, Biblioteca Nacional de España, has announced a special exhibition dedicated to Beatus of Liébana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the great exposition that reunited for the first time a great number of codices of the so-called “Beatus”. The exposition,  Beato. El misterio de los siete sellos (Beatus. The mystery of the Seven Seals), will be hosted by the BNE this autumn beginning on September 23rd and proposes to unlock all secrets of the most well known Commentary on John’s Book of Revelation.
Written in the eighth century by the Spanish monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana, the book is world famous for its splendid and icastic illuminated miniatures, which can be seen in  26 surviving copies decorated between the Xth and the XIth century. The illuminated versions represent the best known works of Mozarabic art, and had great  influence on the medieval art of the rest of Europe.

VISIONS OF A JUDGEMENT – As reported on the World Digital Library, around the year 776, a monk by the name of Beato or Beatus, possibly the abbot of the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, wrote a work entitled Comentarios al Apocalipsis (Commentary on the apocalypse), which had an extraordinary success in the following five centuries. Thanks to his great erudition, Beato combined in this text, as a summa, many commentaries on the topic of the apocalypse by such authors as Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Isidore of Seville, and the 4th-century scholar Ticonius. The genre of apocalyptic literature appeared in the Jewish tradition in the second century BC and had never ceased to be practiced. Obsessed like his contemporaries with the imminent coming of the end of the world, which, according to the calculations of the six ages was to take place in the year 800 (838 in the Spanish era), Beato wrote this work for the edification of his monks. He emphasized that, after the final terrifying catastrophes announced by Saint John the Evangelist, good would triumph over evil.
The original codex, which most likely was illuminated, has not been preserved. Even though the dreaded date passed without the world coming to an end, copies of Beato’s work continued to be made in the monasteries of the peninsular north (only one extant manuscript was written abroad). Then came the terrifying year 1000 and other feared dates, so the text, linked to a fixed cycle of illustrations, continued to appeal to readers. Thirty-five manuscript copies dating from the ninth century to the 13th century have survived. By semantic extension, these manuscripts are called beato, and 26 of them are illuminated. Two are preserved at the BNE, the National Library of Spain.
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Beatus by Facundus, f°233v (Wikipedia)

EXPO & WEBSITE – The BNE exposition will mainly feature the most iconic manuscript of the corpus, the Codex Vitr/14/2, commissioned in 1047 by King Fernando I of León and Castille and Queen Sancha, and possibly done byFacundo in San Isidoro de León. Its 98 miniatures, endowed with amazing expressiveness, are distributed mostly on colorful horizontal stripes in a unique and unmistakable style that blends the Romanesque with various Mozarab and North African influences. Prominent among them are the Four Horsemen, the vision of celestial Jerusalem, the seven-headed snake, and the destruction of Babylon. The manuscript, owned by the Marquis of Mondéjar in the late 17th century, was confiscated with the rest of his library by Philip V during the War of the Spanish Succession.

The BNE has also announced the creation of a website entirely dedicated to the  corpus of manuscripts. The series of the Beatus codexes have been included in the Unesco Memory of the World Register in 2015.

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#MADRID / BNE announces exhibit on the Beatus “Commentary on the Apocalypse” corpus this autumn
#medieval #manuscripts @bne @BNE_museo @BNE_directora  

b_facundus_43v1 Beatus by Facundus, f°43v (Wikipedia),

MADRID [©EP- Minima Medievalia/Perceval Archeostoria] – The BNE, Biblioteca Nacional de España, has announced a special exhibition dedicated to Beatus of Liébana’s Commentary on the Apocalypseto commemorate the 30th anniversary of the great exposition that reunited for the first time a great number of codices of the so-called “Beatus”. The exposition,  Beato. El misterio de los siete sellos (Beatus. The mystery of the Seven Seals), will be hosted by the BNE this autumn beginning on September 23rd and proposes to unlock all secrets of the most well known Commentary on John’s Book of Revelation.
Written in the eighth century by the Spanish monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana, the book is world famous…

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Bronze Age barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered at Rothley, Leicestershire

@UoLNewsCentre

LEICESTER (UK) – Archaeologists from the University of Leicester have recently excavated a Bronze Age barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery under former allotments at Rothley in Leicestershire.

The project has offered a rare opportunity to investigate how different generations have re-used ancient sacred places, with Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon people possibly making connections with Bronze Age barrow builders in order to create their own sense of place in the landscape.

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Site during excavation (Credit: University of Leicester)

A team of archaeologists, led by Dr Gavin Speed from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) has spent the winter investigating the site and uncovering exciting new evidence for Rothley’s ancient past dating back some 6,000 years. The project was funded by Persimmons Homes in advance of a new housing development off Loughborough Road, Rothley.

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Neolithic stone  axe (Credit: University of Leicester)

The earliest activity dates to the Neolithic period (4000-2000 BC) – a stone axe found redeposited in the backfill of the barrow ditch and a near-complete Middle Neolithic ‘Peterborough Ware’ pottery vessel located in a pit close by. Important Neolithc settlement sites (excavated by ULAS in 2005 and 2010) are known nearby and these new glimpses of activity will add further to our understanding of the bigger picture of occupation in the region.

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Neolithic  “Peterborough Ware’ pottery (Credit: University of Leicester)

One of the main focuses of the excavation was a Bronze Age barrow measuring over 30 metres in diameter. The earth mound had not survived subsequent generations of ploughing but the surrounding near-circular ditch was still present with cremation burials close to the ditch edge. The monument broadly dates to 2000-700 BC and more precise dating will be possible following future detailed finds analysis and scientific dating.

The barrow is positioned close to the confluence of the Rivers Soar and Wreake, on high ground with a prominent outlook over the intersection of the Soar valley and the Rothley brook. To the east, a little over a mile away, around the village of Cossington, are other barrows forming part of a small barrow cemetery excavated by ULAS between 1999 and 2001.

Results of the project show that the Rothley barrow has been used repeatedly, creating a long history of activity in the vicinity which shows that it must have acted as an important landmark in the local area.

Dr Gavin Speed, Senior Supervisor at ULAS said: “By the Iron Age the barrow had partly eroded and its ditches had silted up but much of the mound was likely still upstanding, making it a visible landmark in the local landscape even if its original purpose and meaning had changed.”

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During this period (700 BC – AD 43), a large rectangular enclosure ditch was dug partly along the alignment of the barrow ditch, avoiding the central area of the mound. Iron Age farmers appear to have utilised the area as enclosed fields with an entrance on the eastern side of the enclosure on top of the mound and a busy area of pits dug ‘behind’ the mound to the west. The Iron Age inhabitants may not have had any knowledge of the barrow’s original use and meaning but their respect of the surviving earthwork may show that they understood that the area held some significance.

Much later, in the early Anglo-Saxon period (AD 410-700), the barrow became the focus for a small inhumation cemetery. This area of Leicestershire, the Soar valley and its tributaries, has a high density of Anglo-Saxon settlements and cemeteries and an Anglo-Saxon building has been found in an adjacent field in 2010 by ULAS (now under the aptly named Saxon Drive).

Re-use of round barrows during the Anglo-Saxon period is a fairly common occurrence in England. However, there are very few known instances in Leicestershire and the recent discovery at Rothley, with at least twelve burials, is only the second and largest confirmed example to be excavated. Within the barrow mound were six burials, a seventh burial was dug into the backfilled ditch, whilst a further five burials were found in the immediate surrounding area. Unfortunately, the acidic soils have destroyed virtually all evidence of the skeletons, apart from some teeth and tiny bone fragments, but accompanying some of the bodies were metal objects – spears, knives, a ‘spike’, an annular brooch and the boss and studs from a shield. A complete pottery vessel was also found in one grave. These had all been placed with the bodies at burial as grave goods.

The act of Anglo-Saxon people burying their dead close to Bronze Age barrows is seen in numerous examples throughout England. This could simply be due to convenience; however, recent studies have shown that it may be evidence of emergent elites displaying their power by connecting to ancestors of the past through monument re-use. They and their followers would understand the meaning, thus securing control of the landscape.

Via University of Leicester.

1,000-Year-Old Manuscript of Beowulf Digitized and Now Online

1,000-Year-Old Manuscript of Beowulf has been digitized by theBritish Library and is now online. It is the oldest surviving manuscript of the longest epic poem in Old English.

Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest. More than 3,000 lines long, Beowulf relates the exploits of its eponymous hero, and his successive battles with a monster named Grendel, with Grendel’s revengeful mother, and with a dragon which was guarding a hoard of treasure.

The story of Beowulf

Beowulf is a classic tale of the triumph of good over evil, and divides neatly into three acts. The poem opens in Denmark, where Grendel is terrorising the kingdom. The Geatish prince Beowulf hears of his neighbours’ plight, and sails to their aid with a band of warriors. Beowulf encounters Grendel in unarmed combat, and deals the monster its death-blow by ripping off its arm.

There is much rejoicing among the Danes; but Grendel’s loathsome mother takes her revenge, and makes a brutal attack upon the king’s hall. Beowulf seeks out the hag in her underwater lair, and slays her after an almighty struggle. Once more there is much rejoicing, and Beowulf is rewarded with many gifts. The poem culminates 50 years later, in Beowulf’s old age. Now king of the Geats, his own realm is faced with a rampaging dragon, which had been guarding a treasure-hoard. Beowulf enters the dragon’s mound and kills his foe, but not before he himself has been fatally wounded.

Beowulf closes with the king’s funeral, and a lament for the dead hero.

When was Beowulf composed?

Nobody knows for certain when the poem was first composed. Beowulf is set in the pagan world of sixth-century Scandinavia, but it also contains echoes of Christian tradition. The poem must have been passed down orally over many generations, and modified by each successive bard, until the existing copy was made at an unknown location in Anglo-Saxon England.

How old is the manuscript?

Beowulf survives in a single medieval manuscript, housed at the British Library in London. The manuscript bears no date, and so its age has to be calculated by analysing the scribes’ handwriting. Some scholars have suggested that the manuscript was made at the end of the 10th century, others in the early decades of the 11th, perhaps as late as the reign of King Cnut, who ruled England from 1016 until 1035.

The most likely time for Beowulf to have been copied is the early 11th century, which makes the manuscript approximately 1,000 years old.

The contents of the manuscript

Apart from Beowulf, the manuscript contains several other medieval texts. These comprise a homily on St Christopher; the ‘Marvels of the East’, illustrated with wondrous beasts and deformed monsters; the ‘Letter of Alexander to Aristotle’; and an imperfect copy of another Old English poem, ‘Judith’.

Beowulf is the penultimate item in this collection, the whole of which was copied by two Anglo-Saxon scribes, working in collaboration.

Who owned the Beowulf-manuscript?

The first-recorded owner of Beowulf is Laurence Nowell (died c.1570), a pioneer of the study of Old English, who inscribed his name (dated 1563) at the top of the manuscript’s first page. Beowulf then entered the famous collection of Sir Robert Cotton (died 1631) – who also owned the Lindisfarne Gospels and the British Library’s two copies of Magna Carta – before passing into the hands of his son Sir Thomas Cotton (died 1662), and grandson Sir John Cotton (died 1702), who bequeathed the manuscript to the nation. The Cotton library formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum in 1753, before being incorporated as part of the British Library in 1973.

Why is the manuscript damaged?

During the 18th century, the Cotton manuscripts were moved for safekeeping to Ashburnham House at Westminster. On the night of 23 October 1731 a fire broke out and many manuscripts were damaged, and a few completely destroyed.

Beowulf escaped the fire relatively intact but it suffered greater loss by handling in the following years, with letters crumbling away from the outer portions of its pages. Placed in paper frames in 1845, the manuscript remains incredibly fragile, and can be handled only with the utmost care.

Modern versions of Beowulf

Despite being composed in the Anglo-Saxon era, Beowulf continues to captivate modern audiences. The poem has provided the catalyst for films, plays, operas, graphic novels and computer games. Among the more notable recent versions are the films The 13th Warrior (1999), adapted from the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (d. 2008); the Icelandic-Canadian co-production Beowulf & Grendel (2005); and Beowulf (2007), starring Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie.

Beowulf has also been translated into numerous languages, including modern English, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Telugu (a Dravidian language spoken in India).

Perhaps the most famous modern translation is that by Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate in Literature, which won the Whitbread Book of Year Award in 1999. A children’s version by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman, was published in 2006.

See a full set of images on our Beowulf Digitised Manuscript or view theElectronic Beowulf, a collaboration between British Library and Kentucky University.

Via The British Library

Sorgente: 1,000-Year-Old Manuscript of Beowulf Digitized and Now Online

 

Viking treasure hoard 1,000 years old discovered in Scotland

The first images have been released of Viking treasure buried in a Scottish field for more than 1,000 years. The objects were found inside a pot unearthed in Galloway and include rare items such as a silver brooch from Ireland and silk from around modern-day Istanbul as well as gold and crystal. The items date from the ninth and 10th centuries, and are part of a wider hoard of about 100 pieces, which experts say is the most important Viking discovery in Scotland for more than a century.

See more on The Independent

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Conference in San Pietro in Valle, Umbria

An interesting event took place on Saturday, Feb. 6th in Ferentillo, Umbria, Italy.  The marvellous Abbey founded in the VI century by Faroaldo I, the Longobardic Duke of Spoleto, hosted a conference on the history and arts of the monument. Occasion was given by a long article by Dr. Elena Percivaldi, medievalist and writer, just published on “Medioevo”, Italy’s leading widespread magazine concerning the Middle Ages.

Many authorities and a wide audience were present. Speakers were Elena Percivaldi, Andreas Steiner (editor in chief of “Medioevo”), the mayor of Ferentillo Paolo Silveri,  Sebastiano Torlini (president of the local Archaeological Group Naharki Valnerina), Giorgio Flamini (Italia Langobardorum) and Enrico Chigioni, publisher of Capsa Ars Scriptoria, an international project (“The casket of time – The Longobards”) aiming to enhance the Longobard cultural heritage by editing facsimile manuscripts.

Early music was performed by Fortebraccio Veregrense, among Italy’s leading reenactors of the Longobardic period.

 

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Further links:

Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle 

Elena Percivaldi

Medioevo

Capsa Ars Scriptoria

Italia Langobardorum

Fortebraccio Veregrense