Revealing the Secrets of the Burnt Magna Carta

A 1297 copy of the Magna Carta on display in the Members’ Hall of Parliament House, Canberra, Australia / Wikimedia Commons One of the four surviving 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts was burnt in the Ashburnham House fire of 1731. Then a failed restoration attempt in the 1830s rendered much of its text illegible. In the charter’s 800th anniversary[…]

The Origins of Magna Carta

Professor David Carpenter and Professor Nicholas Vincent discuss the reign of King John, the grievances of the barons and the circumstances in which Magna Carta was created in 1215. Exploring the medieval context in which the historic agreement at Runnymede was created, examining King John’s Plantagenet heritage, his loss of French territory and his relationship[…]

The Impact of the Napoleonic Wars in Britain

The start of the 19th century was a time of hostility between France and England, marked by a series of wars. Throughout this period, England feared a French invasion led by Napoleon. Ruth Mather explores the impact of this fear on literature and on everyday life. By Dr. Ruth Mather Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Exeter[…]

The Impact of the French Revolution in Britain

1789 Engraving, James Gillray / Public Domain Considering how Britain’s intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution. By Dr. Ruth Mather Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Exeter Intellectual debate A New Patriotic Song, from a collection of material relating to the fear of a French invasion: This ballad sheet from 1803 typically demonstrates publications[…]

Making Home in Britain: Asian Immigration and Assimilation in the 19th Century

British Library, Public Domain How early Asian settlers earned a living and made a home in Britain.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Susheila Nasta, Dr. Florian Stadtler, and Dr. Rozina Visram Nasta: Professor of English, The Open University Stadtler: Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures, University of Exeter Visram: Independent Scholar in Asian Studies Making a permanent home in Britain was not[…]

Forgotten Voyages of the Mid-20th Century Caribbean ‘Windrush Generation’

HMS Empire Windrush / Royal Navy official photographer, Wikimedia Commons Looking at some of the forgotten voyages that brought men, women and children from all over the Caribbean to Britain. By Naomi Oppenheim / 07.05.2018 AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Student British Library University College London ‘The S.S. Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury on 22 June 1948 with 492 Jamaican men[…]

A Right Royal Gift Book: ‘The Wedding at Windsor’, 1863

Engraved illustration from Harper’s Weekly newspaper of the wedding of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark / Harper’s Weekly newspaper dated 11 April 1863, Wikimedia Commons Both the marriage of Edward VII and Alexandra – and the Princess’s landing at Gravesend and royal entry into London – were commemorated in a lavish volume[…]

Bagpipe Bandits: How the English Blew Scotland’s National Instrument First

This could come to blows. zoetnet, Creative Commons There’s something every Scot should know about those caterwauling pipes. By Dr. Vivien Williams / 02.25.2016 Research Assistant in Musicology University of Glasgow The Great Highland bagpipe is as central to Scottish identity as tartan and Robert Burns. Walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and you’ll hear that familiar wail,[…]

Rediscovering a ‘Lost’ Roman Frontier from the Air

Rewriting history from the air. William S Hanson Scrutinizing archives of aerial photography, we have been able to identify as Roman two more walls that will transform our understanding of the frontier of the Roman Empire in Eastern Europe.    By Dr. William S. Hanson and Dr. Ioana Oltean / 09.16.2013 Hanson: Professor of Roman Archaeology,[…]

While Elgin Marbles Debate Still Rages, a Market for Looted Antiquities Remains

Detail, Phidias(?), Parthenon Frieze, c. 438-32 B.C.E., pentelic marble (420 linear feet of the 525 that complete the frieze are in the British Museum) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA) The international art market that deals in ancient cultural objects casts a destructive shadow. By Dr. Simon Mackenzie / 02.14.2014 Professor of Criminology, Law and Society University[…]

Britannia, Druids and the Surprisingly Modern Origin of Myths

Sky Atlantic We think of the Druids as being embedded in British culture from the mists of ancient times. But what we think we know about Druids is of surprisingly modern provenance. By Dr. Matthew Kelly / 01.16.2018 Professor of Modern History Northumbria University, Newcastle The new TV series Britannia, which has won plaudits as heralding a new generation of British folk-horror, is clearly not intended to be strictly historical. Instead[…]

Vikings didn’t Find Faroes First – They Were 500 Years Late

Mikladalur, Faroe Islands / Photo by Davide Gorla, Wikimedia Commons The Faroe Islands could have been inhabited 500 years earlier than was previously thought.      By (left-to-right) Josephine Lethbridge, Dr. Andrew Jennings, and Dr. Mike Church / 08.20.2013 Lethbridge: Interdisciplinary Editor, The Conversation Jennings: Post-doctoral Research Associate in the UHI Centre for Nordic Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands Church: Senior[…]

6,000-Year-Old Monument Offers Tantalizing Glimpse of Britain’s Neolithic Civilization

Cat’s Brain long barrow is near the more famous Stonehenge (pictured) but predates it by hundreds of years. Shutterstock An archaeological dig at Cat’s Brain has unearthed a remarkable insight into life in Britain before Stonehenge. By Dr. James Leary / 11.20.2017 Director of Archaeology Field School University of Reading This summer, the University of Reading Archaeology Field School excavated[…]

How King Arthur Became One of the Most Pervasive Legends of All Time

Vuk Kostic/www.shutterstock.com Historic heroes like King Arthur have helped audiences through the ages to cope with troubling times. By Dr. Raluca Radulescu / 02.02.2017 Professor of Medieval Literature and English Literature Bangor University King Arthur is one of, if not the, most legendary icons of medieval Britain. His popularity has lasted centuries, mostly thanks to the numerous incarnations of his story that pop[…]

Iconology of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey: Body, Reputation, and Power in Tudor England

Portrait of Thomas Wolsey, artist unknown, late 16th century — National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons Characterised as manipulative, power-hungry, and even an alter rex, Henry VIII’s right-hand man Cardinal Thomas Wolsey has been typically depicted with a body mass to rival his political weight. Katherine Harvey asks if he was really the glutton of popular legend,[…]

Archaeology is Revealing New Truths about the Origins of British Christianity

Centre for the Study for Christianity and Culture, University of York., Author provided New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for the earliest settlement of the site by 200 years – and reopens debate on Glastonbury’s origin myths. By Dr. Roberta Gilchrist / 03.23.2018 Professor of Archaeology University of Reading New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for[…]

You Had to Speak French to Get Ahead in Medieval Britain

Medieval teaching scene. gallica.bnf.fr / BnF Back in the Middle Ages, as well as speaking English and Latin, many people living inBritain also spoke French. By Dr. Huw Grange / 03.16.2018 Junior Research Fellow in French Jesus College University of Oxford The study of modern languages in British secondary schools is in steep decline. The number of students taking French and German GCSE[…]

Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson: English Renaissance Theatre

The Globe Theatre, Panorama Innenraum, London / Photo by Maschinenjunge, Wikimedia Commons    By Dr. Kevin Seiffert and Dr. Rosemary Sutton Seiffert: Professor, Department of Educational Administration, Foundations, & Psychology, University of Manitoba Sutton: Vice President for Student Learning and Success, Cascadia College, Bothell English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, or (commonly) as Elizabethan theatre, refers[…]

The Mystery of Britain’s Bronze Age Mummies

Tom Booth, Author provided Turns out the Egyptians weren’t the only ones who mummified their dead. By Dr. Tom Booth / 11.24.2015 Wellcome Post-Doctoral Research Associate Natural History Museum Whenever mummies are mentioned, our imaginations stray to the dusty tombs and gilded relics of ancient Egyptian burial sites. With their eerily lifelike repose, the preserved bodies of ancient Pharaohs like Hatshepsut and[…]

Anglophilia in the Early Modern World

Image from Rebloggy By Dr. Michael Maurer / 12.03.2010 Professor of Philosophy Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena Abstract In the 18th century, Great Britain became a European – indeed world – power. Following the “Glorious Revolution”, the kingdom seemed to represent an interesting alternative to absolutist rule and the primary Protestant power in Europe. It began to exert a[…]