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A Window Into the Past

18 Jul A Window Into the Past

Although my History degree entailed the study of both Medieval and Modern History I was always determined to study a pretty varied range of courses. I particularly enjoyed working with Richard Cust researching:Parliaments and Politics in the 17th Century, but I can also remember being very intrigued as I learned about the political machinations of the 18th Century European Nobility and, during the very year that the Mary Rose was raised from the seabed, I undertook a topical course in Marine Archaeology. For some unfathomable reason-I expect it was just tradition- you could only study History at Birmingham University on condition that during your first year you also studied a language. Virtually everyone opted for French or German whereas I was one of the few students who decided to study Anglo Saxon. I absolutely loved it! A new world of literature was now accessible as I learned to translate medieval poetry and prose texts; Sweet’s Primer still sits forlornly in my bookcase long forgotten in this digital age! Perhaps it should come as no real surprise that I am still drawn to the latest research from the Medieval period. Last week the Guardian reported that the British Library had just launched a campaign to buy the oldest intact book in Europe, a palm-sized leather-bound copy of the gospels buried 1,300 years ago in the coffin of Saint Cuthbert. The gospel is still in its original 7th century leather cover. It has been described by Lynne Brindley, the chief executive of the British Library, as: “An almost miraculous survival from the Anglo-Saxon period, a beautifully preserved window into a rich, sophisticated culture that flourished some four centuries before the Norman conquest.” Last week BBC’s History Magazine wrote an interesting article on Whitby Abbey, in particular it focused on the role of the Abbess of Hild and how the council held there in in the 7th century played its part in reconciling aspects of Celtic and Roman Christianity. The Synod of Whitby is viewed as a formative moment in the development of the Anglo Saxon state. (Click here to read more about Whitby Abbey’s Medieval past) I am sure that the girls who have opted to study A Level History from September 2011 will really appreciate the new medieval option that has been introduced into the course.

  • Cath Brown
    Posted at 22:10h, 06 August Reply

    A very interesting era even to a non-historian…though were Celtic & Roman Christianity really reconciled, or did the latter just oust the former? (whose way do we use of calculating Easter these days?)

    What about introducing some extra-curricular Anglo-Saxon as enrichment? Fascinating to learn how the language develops (and what those weird symbols in early English mean)

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