What the Vikings did for entertainment

From Science Nordic:

The Vikings played ball, lifted stones and wrestled. Often the games turned violent and bloody, occasionally resulting in death.

Life in the Viking Age was tough and hard, and physical work filled much of their days, but their lives were not without leisure.

In a new study, Leszek Gardela uses archaeological findings and careful reading of Viking sagas to describe how Vikings killed time when they were in mood for entertainment.

The archaeologist paints a vivid picture of Viking life, but the familiarity of many of the activities suggests that while Vikings had shorter lives and arguably vented their frustrations in more violent ways than what most people do today, leisure time in the Viking Age was not too different from leisure time in 2012.

Read more…

1356 by Bernard Cornwell

1356 - Bernard Cornwell - Battle of Poitiers - Historical Fiction - Hundred Years War - Medieval History - Middle Ages HistoryThomas of Hookton from Cornwell’s Grail Quest Series returns in a stand-alone novel, 1356, about the Battle of Poitiers. The release date is set for January 8, 2013.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Harper (January 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0061969672


“The most prolific and successful historical novelist in the world today” (Wall Street Journal) has delivered another blockbuster with this thrilling tale of peril and conquest at the Battle of Poitiers.

September 1356. All over France, towns are closing their gates. Crops are burning, and through-out the countryside people are on the alert for danger. The English army—led by the heir to the throne, the Black Prince—is set to invade, while the French, along with their Scottish allies, are ready to hunt them down.

But what if there was a weapon that could decide the outcome of the imminent war?

Thomas of Hookton, known as le Batard, has orders to uncover the lost sword of Saint Peter, a blade with mystical powers said to grant certain victory to whoever possesses her. The French seek the weapon, too, and so Thomas’s quest will be thwarted at every turn by battle and betrayal, by promises made and oaths broken. As the outnumbered English army becomes trapped near Poitiers, Thomas, his troop of archers and men-at-arms, his enemies, and the fate of the sword converge in a maelstrom of violence, action, and heroism.

Rich with colorful characters, great adventure, and thrilling conflict, 1356 is a magnificent tale of how the quest for a holy relic with the power to change history may culminate in an epic struggle.

Archaeologists search for site of Battle of Bannockburn

From the Telegraph:

Archaeologists launched a bid to uncover the site one of the most famous battles in Scottish history – in the grounds of a police headquarters.

Archaeologists launched a bid to uncover the site one of the most famous battles in Scottish history — in the grounds of a police headquarters.

Central Scotland Police’s headquarters at Randolphfield, Stirling, is named after Sir Thomas Randolph, one of the commanders of Robert the Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Read more…

The Battle of Stamford Bridge Society

Each year, the Battle of Stamford Bridge Society holds a big two day re-enactment event surrounding the battle that occurred on September 25th, 1066. This years event will be held on September 22nd/23rd. It attracts around 300-400 Saxon and Viking warriors. These folks set up living history tents and then re-enact various aspects of the battle. The tents depict what life was like for these people during the 11th century. Visitors can also listen to skalds telling sagas and watch court being held.

Recommended reading in medieval history

Norman Cantor - The Medieval ReaderThe Medieval Reader
Norman F. Cantor
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Collins Reference (June 15, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0062720554

The Medieval Reader is a collection of primary texts from the medieval period, ranging from the year 300-1500. There is little commentary from the author himself, whose main job with this book was simply to translate the old texts into English. There are approximately 100 manuscripts in this collection, arranged topically by classes: nobility, the church, and the middle class. A few of the literary works include: Beowulf, the Song of Roland, El Cid, and the works of Dante.

Richard III burial site?

From The Telegraph:

The body of King Richard III may finally be found after archaeologists identified what they believe is his resting place – underneath a council car park in Leicester.

Historical records show that Richard III was buried in the church of a Franciscan friary in Leicester shortly after his defeat and death at the hands of Henry Tudor’s army in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

But the destruction of the friary as Britain’s monasteries were dissolved under Henry VIII and subsequent removal of its stone ruins meant that over the ensuing centuries the king’s exact burial site was forgotten.

Read more…