Thursday, March 31, 2016

How bloody was medieval life?

History Extra

A 14th-century French illustration of a brawl shows factors that could have contributed to violence: freely available alcohol and the fact that most people carried weapons. (AKG Images)

In the 1300s in northern France, a nasty character named Jacquemon bribed a jailer to let his unwanted son-in-law die a painful death in prison. Jacquemon then, with the help of his son, killed his nephew, Colart Cordele. The impoverished Cordele had followed Jacquemon during the harvest, trying to glean the wheat from behind him, but angered his uncle by coming too close. Jacquemon grabbed his nephew by his hood, hurled him brutally to the ground and “spurred his horse to ride again and again” over the crumpled body.
It’s an episode that might have been lifted from Game of Thrones – no wonder the era has become a byword for brutality. Indeed, during a brutal scene in the film Pulp Fiction, one of the characters menaces that: “I’m gonna get medieval on your ass.” There’s no need to explain what this might involve because the stereotype of the violent, sadistic Middle Ages is well known to all of us.
But how accurate is this stereotype? As the Jacquemon episode shows, there is plenty that is shocking and disturbing in the surviving records for the later Middle Ages. But even more striking is that medieval contemporaries were also horrified by such events. Of course, we only know about this case because it provoked a legal reaction: it wasn’t seen as acceptable or even normal.
Measures of violence
Levels of interpersonal violence were certainly higher in the Middle Ages than today, but it’s very hard to quantify this precisely – even more so if we add war and the horrors of genocide into the equation. In part, this is because the changing nature of legal prosecutions means that we are not comparing like with like. Definitions of criminal violence have also changed; for example, rape and domestic violence were defined very narrowly in the Middle Ages.
The historian Laurence Stone calculated that homicide levels in medieval England were at least 10 times what they are today. Certainly, we cannot doubt that it was a dangerous time in which to live. An exceptional case, even by medieval standards, is provided by 14th‑century Oxford. Levels of violence there were considered unacceptably high by contemporaries: in the 1340s, the homicide rate was around 110 per 100,000. (In the UK in 2011, it was 1 per 100,000.)
Why were levels of interpersonal violence so high in the Middle Ages? Historians have offered various explanations. Steven Pinker has put forward a psychological theory, claiming that humankind learned only recently to tame its most savage impulses, but this doesn’t really account for the complexity of reactions to violence in the medieval period, as we shall see.
Others have pointed to the prevalence of alcohol, and the fact that many people were wandering round armed with daggers and other knives on a daily basis. There were no permanent police forces, as there are now, and in many cases the capture of a perpetrator depended on the co-operation of the community. Moreover, in an era of rudimentary medical care, many died from wounds that might today be successfully treated.
There are more complex explanations too. These were cultures in which honour was paramount and violence was recognised as a means of communicating certain messages. If you hacked off a woman’s nose, for example, most people would recognise this as a signifier of adultery. They were also profoundly unequal cultures, characterised – particularly from the 14th century – by high levels of social unrest. Sociologists and historians have been able to demonstrate a correlation between levels of inequality and levels of violence, which is particularly compelling for late medieval Europe.
Homicides varied from premeditated attacks to tavern brawls that ended in disaster. Often these were over-exuberant episodes gone horribly wrong. In 1304, for example, one Gerlach de Wetslaria, provost of a church in the diocese of Salzburg, applied for a pardon for killing a fellow student many years earlier when a playful sword fight had ended in tragedy.
Carrying out acts of violence seems to have been as much about proving oneself in front of one’s peers, and belonging to a group, as it was about the victim – which probably explains why men in gangs were responsible for much of the mayhem. This sense of fraternity characterises a group of men led by Robert Stafford. Stafford was a chaplain; perhaps because of his clerical status, he wittily named himself ‘Frere Tuk’ after the figure from the Robin Hood legends. His gang’s actions mostly took the form of poaching and offences against property, though there were more brutal undertones – apparently “they threatened the gamekeepers with death or mutilation”.

A 14th-century illustration for a section of the French poem 'Romance of the Rose' depicts a violent “crime of jealousy”. (AKG Images)

Female victims
It is much rarer to find women perpetrating violent crime; more often they were the victims. It is very difficult to assess levels of rape, because the offence was subject to changing definitions, most of which would appear far too narrow to our modern eyes. Women had to be able to physically demonstrate their lack of consent, and risked their reputations and punishment themselves in doing so. The odds were loaded against them.
Cases that were eventually reported tended to be particularly brutal. In 1438, one Thomas Elam attacked Margaret Perman. He broke into her house, attempted to rape her and “feloniously bit Margaret with his teeth so that he ripped off the nose of the said Margaret with that bite, and broke three of her ribs there”. The case came to court because she died from her wounds. Elam was condemned to be hanged.
Definitions of domestic violence were also radically different in the later Middle Ages. Most acts of aggression that we would deem to be criminal were then thought of simply as acceptable discipline. If a wife disobeyed her husband, it was thought right and proper that she should be punished. Domestic violence does, though, sometimes appear in the records of ecclesiastical courts when a wife sued for divorce, or in criminal records when the violence resulted in permanent maiming, miscarriage, or death.
How to distinguish between levels of ‘acceptable’ domestic discipline and unacceptable domestic violence was an ongoing problem. One famous solution often cited was the ‘rule of thumb’, whereby – it’s claimed – it was acceptable to beat your wife, as long as the stick you used was thinner than your thumb. However, in reality, discussions were more sophisticated and less conclusive than this.
In 1326 in Paris, one Colin le Barbier hit his wife with a billiard stick so hard that she died. He was tried in a criminal court and found guilty of murder. However, he appealed and claimed that his wife deserved her suffering because she had nagged him so relentlessly in public. He said that he had not meant to kill her: “He meant only to scare her, so that she would be quiet; however, the stick accidentally entered into her thigh a little above the knee.” The reason she had died, he added, was “because she failed to tend [the wound] properly” rather than because he had mistreated her. His subsequent acquittal tells us a lot about attitudes in this period.
Homicide, rape and domestic violence could be found across the social spectrum. However, some kinds of violence were more common in certain milieux. Violent theft was most often perpetrated by people on the economic margins of society, who stole out of desperation. It peaked during periods of particular deprivation, such as the horrific famine of the 1310s in which as much as 25 per cent of the population died.
England in the 14th and 15th centuries was also notorious for the prevalence of frightening gangs, often comprising gentry or even noblemen. These marauded around the countryside, plundering and leaving a trail of blood in their wake. In 1332, for example, the Folville gang was accused of kidnapping a royal official; they had already killed a baron of the exchequer. These were young men who quite literally thought themselves to be beyond the law, often involved in feuds and vendettas, and for whom honour was a key concept.

A French miniature from c1470 depicts knights in combat at  a tournament. Knightly chivalry underpinned some of the era’s bloodiest episodes. (AKG Images)
A question of honour
Honour-driven violence was also prevalent at the top of the social tree. During periods of weak kingship, violence by noblemen could reach terrifying levels. In early 15th-century France, with a king (Charles VI, ‘the Mad’) intermittently suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and believing himself to be made of glass, powerful warring nobles were able to seize control. The result was spiralling violence that culminated in the 1407 assassination of the Duke of Orléans and, ultimately, the English entry into France.
Things were not much rosier for the English. In the second half of the 15th century, the weakness of the reigning monarch, Henry VI, and the accumulation of huge retinues by hostile aristocrats were, at least in large part, responsible for the Wars of the Roses. The lines between interpersonal violence, civil war and full-blown war were indistinct.
At the other end of the social spectrum, in the later Middle Ages the growing structural inequalities created by rapid commercialisation and urbanisation, as well as competing forms of government, generated a series of riots and revolts. Plotted on a map, these are concentrated along the main trading belt of Europe, from London to Paris and the Netherlands through the markets of Champagne to the commercial heartlands of northern Italy. The most famous examples – the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 in England, the Ciompi revolt of 1378 in Florence, and the Paris rebellion and Jacquerie revolt in northern France in 1358 – all involved complex alliances of rebels from various social groups demanding greater representation, railing against corruption, and protesting their economic marginalisation.
Revolts along social lines sometimes overlapped with violence driven by religion. Famously, medieval Europe was marked by waves of popular religious persecution, with anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head with depressing frequency.
Yet perhaps the most violent dimension of medieval life was that of the law, which carried out its own gruesome rituals. Punishment was intended to be spectacular. Most serious crimes were punishable by hanging, but plenty more imaginative ways of disposing of criminals were employed.
In many areas of Europe, those found guilty of forging money were boiled alive. This obsession with providing a spectacle of violence – to emphasise the guilt of the accused, and to deter and awe observers – led to some almost farcical episodes. An old man questioned in the 1290s remembered how, when he was young, he saw a man hanged for murder. The body was cut down from the gibbet by a competing jurisdiction and rehanged – only for the original jurisdiction to construct a straw effigy that they hanged.

St Eligius pinches the devil’s nose in a 1337 French illustration from a story of the First Crusade. Religious fervour sparked widespread violence. (Bridgeman Images)
Reactions to violence
We’re left, then, with a picture of an extraordinarily violent society. Though it’s very difficult to arrive at precise numbers, it’s clear that this is not a society one would wish to visit for any length of time.
There is, though, a flip side to all of this. The evidence suggests that, though violence was common, people were not simply inured to it. On the contrary – they really cared about it. This is not to say that violence was simply deemed to be wrong: rather, it was a problem about which people worried and talked.
The ethos of chivalry represents one way in which attempts were made to channel violence. Chivalric custom suggested that one should fight only with certain kinds of weapons; that one should seek only worthy opponents; and that one should exercise mercy and generosity. The reality was that chivalry underpinned some of the most brutal and bloodiest episodes in our history (notably the Hundred Years’ War), but the point remains that this was a set of customs arising out of concern and a sense that violence can be a problem.
The most important clue that people worried about violence is the fact that they wrote about it. Medieval literature is full of descriptions of torture, but close readings of these texts show that torturers were demonised. Such a strategy would work only if people felt torture to be profoundly problematic – and they certainly did think it a problem. In 14th-century France, criminal courts usually subjected the evidence gained from torture to extra scrutiny because it was deemed unreliable.
Chronicle sources, the official histories written in the Middle Ages, tend to provide wildly exaggerated tallies of levels of violence, particularly in revolts. Again, though, the desired literary and political effect only worked because people found such violence disturbing. The majority of our evidence is in the form of legal documents. Burgeoning legal systems in this period only bothered to produce such documentation because high levels of violence were deemed unacceptable.
In literary depictions of violence, such as the entertaining stories of Renard the Fox, popular throughout Europe, violence and cruelty were omnipresent precisely because they were shocking. The horrific story of the fox raping the wife of his friend, the wolf, then urinating on her children, often provoked troubled laughter from its medieval audience.
In the poetry of the time we can also find comments about the disturbing nature of violence. In Dante’s 14th-century vision of Inferno, hell is characterised by endless cycles of violence. And in the French poet François Villon’s Le Ballade des Pendus, the decaying bodies swinging on the gibbet speak directly:
Human brothers who come after us,
Don’t harden your hearts against us...

The rain has washed away our filth,
The sun has dried and blackened us.
Magpie and crows have scratched out our eyes
And torn our beards and eyebrows.
We are never still, but sway to and fro in the wind.
Birds peck at us more than needles on a thimble...

Brothers, there’s nothing funny about this.
May God absolve us all.

It’s an arresting image – a very visual representation of the prevalence of violence in the Middle Ages, but one that also shows it was, even then, profoundly upsetting.
Outbreaks of carnage
Medieval violence was sparked by everything from social unrest and military aggression to family feuds and rowdy students...
Ciompi revolt, 1378
This revolt in Florence stands out because it was momentarily successful, leading to a radical regime change. The revolt unfolded in three stages: reform, followed by violent revolution, then by a vicious backlash. Florence was a highly developed town with a proto-industrial wool industry, but many disenfranchised workers. The revolt was driven by the desire for greater representation, fiscal discontent and ever-shifting alliances of political factions.
Chevauchées of the Black Prince, 1355–56
The Black Prince was the eldest son of Edward III. During the Hundred Years’ War, he achieved military success at Poitiers. He also led a series of chevauchées in France, armed raids involving pillaging, raping and devastation on a horrifying scale. The aim was to destroy enemy resources and morale, and to provoke battle. Tellingly, the Black Prince is still known as a great chivalric hero.
Peasants’ Revolt, 1381
In the aftermath of the Black Death, taxes were levied to fund the Hundred Years’ War – and in 1381 the peasants rose up to protest the latest poll tax. Violence ranged from burning legal documents to liberating prisoners and lynching figures of authority, notably the lord chancellor. The rebels, led by Wat Tyler, were inspired by the sermons of John Ball, who preached a message of freedom from servitude. The peasants presented their demands to Richard II but Tyler was killed and they were defeated.

Wat Tyler and John Ball, leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt, are shown meeting in a 15th-century miniature. (Getty)
St Scholastica’s Day riots, 1355
On 10 February 1355 two students took umbrage at being served watered-down wine in the Swindlestock Tavern in Oxford, throwing the wine in the tavern-keeper’s face and brutally beating him. The violence swiftly spread: some 200 more students joined the original pair, burning and robbing houses. Retribution was not slow to follow, as people from the surrounding countryside joined the townsfolk in attacking the students with bows and arrows. Two days of rioting left 63 students dead.

A servant pours wine in a 15th-century Italian illustration. Alcohol fuelled riots in Oxford. (Bridgeman)
Murder of Nicholas Radford, 1455
Nicholas Radford was a justice of the peace under Henry VI, during the period of factionalism that later escalated into the Wars of the Roses. His godson’s brother, Thomas Courtenay, came to his gates one night and brutally murdered him; Henry Courtenay, the victim’s godson, later subjected the corpse to a grotesque coroner’s inquest. This was the culmination of a private vendetta, but also a deliberate affront to royal justice.
Dr Hannah Skoda is a specialist in medieval history based at the University of Oxford.    

History Trivia - Bernard of Clairvaux urges Second Crusade

March 31

1146 Bernard of Clairvaux preached his famous sermon in a field at Vézelay, urging the necessity of a Second Crusade

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New 3D View of Richard III's Humble Grave Revealed

Live Science

Scientists have created an interactive digital model of King Richard III's grave and skeleton. Enthusiasts can explore the model with the 3D-sharing platform Sketchfab.
Scientists have created an interactive digital model of King Richard III's grave and skeleton. Enthusiasts can explore the model with the 3D-sharing platform Sketchfab.
Credit: University of Leicester

A new digital model of the original grave of English King Richard III offers a three-dimensional glimpse into this humble resting place.
Richard III's lost skeleton was discovered under a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. He'd been buried in a too-short, hastily dug grave after his death in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. One year ago, the king got a long-delayed royal funeral when his remains were re-interred in Leicester Cathedral.
In honor of this one-year anniversary, the University of Leicester has released a digital 3D model of Richard III's original grave. The model highlights features of Richard's grave and skeleton, including the king's missing feet, which were lost sometime between 1485 and the modern day, when someone dug a trench that severed them. [Gallery: The Search for Richard III's Remains (Photos)]

History Trivia - Berwick-upon-Tweed sacked

March 30

1296  Edward I sacked Berwick-upon-Tweed, during armed conflict between Scotland and England

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Secret Notes Found Hidden in a Bible Reveal Unexpected Details on the Reformation of Henry VIII

Ancient Origins

Hidden annotations in England’s first printed Bible, published in 1535, show there was a short transition period between the Catholic era in England and the Reformation that violently transformed English religious history.
A few years after the Reformation began, the reformers brutally repressed the last vestiges of Catholic Church practices and adherents.
The historic Bible was later owned by a pickpocket who was hanged at Tybourn in 1552, an inscription on the back page shows. The Bible’s preface was written by Henry VIII and later recorded a transaction between the pickpocket and another man.
The historian Eyal Poleg, who did the research, told
“The book is a unique witness to the course of Henry’s Reformation. Printed in 1535 by the King’s printer and with Henry’s preface, within a few short years the situation had shifted dramatically. The Latin Bible was altered to accommodate reformist English, and the book became a testimony to the greyscale between English and Latin in that murky period between 1539 and 1549. Just three years later things were more certain. Monastic libraries were dissolved, and Latin liturgy was irrelevant. Our Bible found its way to lay hands, completing a remarkably swift descent in prominence from Royal text to recorder of thievery.”
Hidden annotations were found mixed with biblical text in the 1535 Latin Bible.
Hidden annotations were found mixed with biblical text in the 1535 Latin Bible. (Lambeth Palace Library)
“Until recently, it was widely assumed that the Reformation caused a complete break, a Rubicon moment when people stopped being Catholics and accepted Protestantism, rejected saints, and replaced Latin with English,” Dr. Poleg, of Queen Mary University, told the university’s news service about his research.“This Bible is a unique witness to a time when the conservative Latin and the reformist English were used together, showing that the Reformation was a slow, complex, and gradual process.”
“Edward VI and the Pope: An Allegory of the Reformation.” By an unknown artist. (c. 1547 to 1570s) National Portrait Gallery, London.
“Edward VI and the Pope: An Allegory of the Reformation.” By an unknown artist. (c. 1547 to 1570s) National Portrait Gallery, London. (Public Domain)
That said, the religious movement did involve quite a bit of upheaval.
“The terrorists who sparked Bonfire Night were fighting a regime which imposed the protestant religion with hangings, burnings and bloodshed,” says an article in The Telegraph on Guy Fawkes Day.
 “[T]he truth is that the Reformation was not a gentle evolution achieved by a few Parliamentary acts and redrafted ecclesiastical canons. It was a violent rupture with our country's recent history, achieved at the point of a sword,” The Telegraph says. “Here in England we had our own fanatics — men like Thomas Cromwell, who plundered the Church and universities to line his pockets and those of his henchmen, and who used the power of the State to ruthlessly murder those who got in his way, irrespective of gender or age.”
Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. (c. 1532 and 1533) By Hans Holbein the Younger.
Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. (c. 1532 and 1533) By Hans Holbein the Younger. (Public Domain)
Dr. Poleg and Graham Davis, a specialist in 3D X-ray imaging in the university’s school of dentistry, used advanced imaging to examine the Bible, which is England’s oldest Bible. Henry VIII’s printer published the Bible.
At first the Lambeth copy seemed completely clear of any hidden texts. But upon closer inspection Dr. Poleg saw that heavy paper was pasted over some of the book’s blank parts. His job was to reveal the annotations without damaging the Bible, he said.
A pasted page with the Library stamp.
A pasted page with the Library stamp. (Lambeth Palace Library)
Drs. Poleg and Davis took two images in long exposure, one using a light sheet beneath the pages and one without. The first showed the annotations mixed with the printed text, the second just the print.
Dr Davis wrote unique software to remove the second image from the first, which left a clear picture of the annotations, according to the university’s press release.
The annotations were written in later, between 1539 and 1549 and are from the Great Bible of Thomas Cromwell. The Great Bible is considered the epitome of the English Reformation. Later someone covered over the annotations, around 1600.
Isolation of hidden annotations.
Isolation of hidden annotations. (Lambeth Palace Library)
Dr. Poleg traced the Bible’s later owners, after the time Latin Bibles fell out of use in England. On the Bible’s back page, he uncovered a handwritten transaction between William Cheffyn of Calais and James Elys Cutpurse (a pickpocket) of London.
The inscriptions say that Cutpurse would pay 20 shillings to Cheffyn or he would have to go to Marshalsea, a prison in Southwark. Dr. Poleg did research and determined that Cutpurse was hanged in Tybourn, another notorious prison.
“Beyond Mr Cutpurse’s illustrious occupation, the fact that we know when he died is significant. It allows us to date and trace the journey of the book with remarkable accuracy – the transaction obviously couldn’t have taken place after his death,” said Dr. Poleg.
Featured Image: Images merging text from both sides of the paper in a 1535 Latin Bible. (Lambeth Palace Library) Portrait of Henry VIII (1537-1547) by the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger. (Public Domain)
By Mark Miller

History Trivia - Battle near Towton Field

March 29

1461 - Battle near Towton Field, death toll about 33,000 in the deadliest battle of the War of the Roses, where Edward of York defeated Queen Margaret to become King Edward IV of England

Monday, March 28, 2016

Goths vs. Greeks: Epic Ancient Battle Revealed in Newfound Text

Live Science

History Trivia - Paris sacked by Viking raiders

March 28

845 Paris was sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rare Viking Crucifix Found with Metal Detector

Discovery News

Dating from the first half of the 900s (10th century), the pendant has shed new light on Christianity in Denmark, according to experts at the Viking Museum at Ladby, where the crucifix is now kept.
Viking ‘Hammer of Thor’ Unearthed

“It’s older than Harald Bluetooth’s runic stone in Jelling,” the museum said in a statement.
The stones in the town of Jelling feature a figure on the cross and commemorate Harald Bluetooth’s conversion of the Danes to Christianity.
Until now, the massive runestones, estimated to date from 965 A.D., were believed to be the earliest depiction of Jesus on a cross in Denmark.

Representing the best-known religious symbol of Christianity, the newly found crucifix would show that Danes embraced Christian faith earlier than previously thought.
The precious object was found by amateur metal detectorist Dennis Fabricius Holm in the fields around a church in the village of Aunslev, on the Danish island Funen.
“It’s pure luck that the little jewelry has survived the last 1,100 years in the earth,” the museum said.
‘For Allah’ Inscription Found on Viking Era Ring
The figure measures 1.6 inches in height and weighs 0.45 ounces. While the back surface is smooth, the front is made of finely articulated goldthreads and tiny fillagree pellets. At the top a small eye for a chain is mounted.
“The cross looks a lot like the gilded silver cross found in 1879 in Birka near Stockholm in Sweden, in a female grave from the Viking Age,” the museum said.
Silver fragments of similar crosses were found in female graves dating to the first half of the 10th century, but the Aunslev cross is the first Danish specimen in full figure.
“It was probably worn by a Viking woman, but it cannot yet be decided, whether the cross was to show that she was a Christian Viking or was just a part of a pagan Viking’s bling-bling,” the museum said.
400-Year-Old Crucifix Found by Canadian Student
According to Swedish archaeologist Martin Rundkvist, who first announced the findings on his blog, the crucifixes are too similar for more than one or two people to have been making them.
“The first crucifix was found at Birka near Stockholm. But the second, third and fourth one have been found near Hedeby in Denmark. That is probably were they were made,” Rundkvist told Discovery News.
“Birka, Hedeby and a group of other towns in northern Europe shared an itinerant population of traders and craftspeople,” he said.
The Aunslev cross will be on exhibit at the Viking Museum in Ladby until the Easter holiday, then it will sent to a lab for preservation.
In the summer it will be part of an exhibition in the museum that will show some recent Viking Age finds made in eastern Funen with metal detectors.
by Rossella Lorenzi 

History Trivia - Robert Devereux becomes Lord Lieutenant General of Ireland

March 27

1599 Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex and a favorite of Elizabeth I, became Lord Lieutenant General of Ireland during the Nine Years War. However, he was unsuccessful in defeating the rebel forces and returned to England in disgrace.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Iron Age Burial Ground in Yorkshire Yields 150 Skeletons and Valuable Grave Goods

Ancient Origins

A “hugely important” find of the burial ground of an Iron Age community in England has turned up many artifacts, including jewelry and brooches, spears, swords, hundreds of amber and glass beads, and pottery.
Archaeologists working for a developer of a planned subdivision in Pocklington, East Yorkshire, came across the burial ground last year and halted work so the site could be excavated. They have discovered 150 skeletons of people buried in 75 square barrows or tombs. The archaeologists estimate the bodies were buried almost 2,000 years ago by people of the Arras Iron Age culture.
The archaeologists have discovered 150 skeletons of people buried in 75 square barrows or tombs.
The archaeologists have discovered 150 skeletons of people buried in 75 square barrows or tombs. (David Wilson Homes)
An article in The Yorkshire Post says one body had a broken sword by his side, four spears along his spine and another near his groin. He was a young warrior, about 17 to 23 years old at death, and was ritually speared to release his spirit, according to the Post.
Another of the skeletons, also a man, was lying on a shield.  That skeleton was found last year, and Ancient Origins had a report on it.
Map Archaeological Practice Ltd staff member Sophie Coy holds a spear head that was found at the site
Map Archaeological Practice Ltd staff member Sophie Coy holds a spear head that was found at the site. (Yorkshire Post)
The Guardian says experts are hailing the site as one of the largest and most significant finds from the Iron Age in recent years.  Experts say the site is of international significance.
The Iron Age in Britain lasted from about 800 BC to the Roman conquest of 43 AD. Researchers think the site was occupied during the Iron Age.
A Bronze brooch with coral decoration found at the site.
A Bronze brooch with coral decoration found at the site. (MAP/PA Wire)
“We are hoping that these findings shed light on the ritual of iron age burial – and, as we can assume from the shield and sword burials, these were significant members of society, so our understanding of culture and key figures of the time could be really enhanced,” site director Paula Ware told The Guardian.
Mrs. Ware told The Yorkshire Post: “We wouldn’t have known about this site if it had not been for this development. Developers get a bad press, however as archeologists we are thankful because that is how we are employed.”
The site of the dig.
The site of the dig. (MAP Archeology)
Archaeologists will spend several years excavating and studying the site, its burials and analyzing the bodies to determine whether the people were indigenous, what they ate, and what trauma or stress they faced in life. DNA analysis will show whether the people were related.
The site says burials of this type, in square barrows, are unique in Britain. The Arras Culture burials differ from others of the time in Britain outside Yorkshire and resemble those of the La Tene Culture on the Continent.
Other Arras Culture burials in Yorkshire have been in square barrows, and some of the men were buried with their chariots. Unlike on the European continent, however, the chariots were disassembled. As in Pocklington, these burials range from about 500 BC to the Roman conquest.
Example of an Iron Age ‘chariot’ burial by the British Museum at Wetwang.
Example of an Iron Age ‘chariot’ burial by the British Museum at Wetwang. (The Landscape Research Centre)
In May 2015, Ancient Origins reported on the Arras Culture burials in Pocklington, including the man buried on the shield. The Arras Culture is named after a cemetery called Arras on a farm in East Yorkshire that was excavated from 1815 to 1817 by a group of gentry and later by another man.
 More than 100 barrows were identified at Arras, four of which contained chariots. It has been suggested that the purpose of the chariots was to convey the deceased – presumably someone of high rank – to the afterlife. Other graves consisted of a skeleton along with grave goods such as metalwork, ceramics, and animal remains.
One of the most impressive finds to date was a warrior burial (a male inhumation accompanied by warrior’s weapons) containing “probably the finest Iron Age sword in Europe,” according to The British Museum. The 2,300-year-old iron sword, known as the Kirkburn sword, has an elaborate hilt, assembled from 37 separate pieces of iron, bronze, and horn, and decorated with red glass. Analysis of the skeletal remains revealed that three spears had been plunged into the warrior’s chest.
The Iron Age sword discovered at the site in Pocklington.
The Iron Age sword discovered at the site in Pocklington. (Pocklington Post)
Featured Image: Bronze bracelet with coral decoration discovered at the site in Yorkshire. Source: MAP Archeology
By Mark Miller

History Trivia -Pope Stephen (II) III elected

March 26

752 Pope Stephen (II) III elected; he was the first sovereign of the Papal States, crowned Pepin as King of the Franks, corresponded with the Emperor Constantine on the subject of the restoration of the sacred images, restored many of the ancient churches of the city, and built hospitals specifically for the poor near St. Peter's church where he is buried.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Jesus’ Last Supper Menu Revealed in Archaeology Study

Live Science