The Golden Haggadah is now online

JANUARY 22, 2017 BY

The Golden Haggadah, created in Catalonia around the year 1320, is among several hundred items that have recently been digitised by the British Library as part of the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project.

The project has involved the photographing, description and, where necessary, meticulous conservation of 1,300 items ranging from illuminated service books to Torah scrolls, from scientific and astronomical treatises to great works of theology and philosophy. They bear witness to the full flowering of culture, thought and artistry in the Eastern and Western Jewish communities across more than a thousand years.

“The British Library’s collection of Hebrew manuscripts is one of the finest and most important anywhere in the world,” said Ilana Tahan, the Library’s Lead Curator of Hebrew and Christian Orient Collections. “It spans all major areas of Hebrew literature, with Bible, liturgy, kabbalah, Talmud, Halakhah (Jewish law), ethics, poetry, philosophy and philology particularly well represented. Its geographical spread is vast and takes in Europe, North Africa, the Middle and Near East, and various countries in Asia, including Iran, Iraq, Yemen and China. This project makes 1,300 codices and scrolls freely available to scholars and researchers around the world as never before, with items fully searchable by date, place of origin, scribe and keyword.”

The resource has been promoted via the Library’s social media platforms using the hashtag #HebrewProject, and through blog posts and tweets on topics ranging from the largest and smallest items (a 52 metre long leather Pentateuch scroll and a scroll of the Book of Esther just 50mm wide) to the processes of conserving both the scrolls themselves and, in the case of some Torah scrolls, the often elaborate embroidered covers that have protected them for centuries.

“Social media is a powerful tool for raising awareness of these remarkable treasures far beyond the research audience,” said Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert, digital curator for the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project. “By sharing spectacular images from the manuscripts, as well as going behind the scenes on the work of digitisation, we want to encourage people to find out more and explore online manuscripts that they would previously only have been able to access on microfilm or by visiting our Reading Rooms at St Pancras.”

A second phase to the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project was announced last year, in partnership with the National Library of Israel. The second phase of digitisation – currently underway – will see at least a further 860 manuscripts photographed and made available online.

Click here to see the Golden Haggadah manuscript

You can learn more about the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project on Twitter @BL_HebrewMSS 

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Identification, Geochemical Characterisation and Significance of Bitumen among the Grave Goods of the 7th Century Mound 1 Ship-Burial at Sutton Hoo (Suffolk, UK)

JANUARY 22, 2017 BY

Identification, Geochemical Characterisation and Significance of Bitumen among the Grave Goods of the 7th Century Mound 1 Ship-Burial at Sutton Hoo (Suffolk, UK)

By Pauline Burger, Rebecca J. Stacey, Stephen A. Bowden, Marei Hacke and John Parnell

PLoS ONE, Vol.11:12 (2016)

Abstract: The 7th century ship-burial at Sutton Hoo is famous for the spectacular treasure discovered when it was first excavated in 1939. The finds include gold and garnet jewellery, silverware, coins and ceremonial armour of broad geographical provenance which make a vital contribution to understanding the political landscape of early medieval Northern Europe. Fragments of black organic material found scattered within the burial were originally identified as ‘Stockholm Tar’ and linked to waterproofing and maintenance of the ship.

Here we present new scientific analyses undertaken to re-evaluate the nature and origin of these materials, leading to the identification of a previously unrecognised prestige material among the treasure: bitumen from the Middle East. Whether the bitumen was gifted as diplomatic gesture or acquired through trading links, its presence in the burial attests to the far-reaching network within which the elite of the region operated at this time.


Click here to read this article from PLoS ONE

If the bitumen was worked into objects, either alone or in composite with other materials, then their significance within the burial would certainly have been strongly linked to their form or purpose. But the novelty of the material itself may have added to the exotic appeal. Archaeological finds of bitumen from this and earlier periods in Britain are extremely rare, despite the abundance of natural sources of bitumen within Great Britain. This find provides the first material evidence indicating that the extensively exploited Middle Eastern bitumen sources were traded northward beyond the Mediterranean to reach northern Europe and the British Isles.

A Family of Mercers in Medieval London

JANUARY 22, 2017 BY
A Family of Mercers in Medieval London
By Shirley Garton Straney
Foundations, Vol.1 No.5 (2005)

Abstract: A fourteenth century family coordinating elements of English life, the academy, the church, the crown, land, commerce and family connections to become significant participants in London life.

Introduction: A study of medieval London describes Hugh Garton asa Yorkshireman andone of the “three leading Wardrobe mercers” in that city, and also Sheriff in 1313 and Alderman of Coleman Street ward from 1319 until his death in 1327. Although the study refers to him as an immigrant to London, he was not the first of the name there.

The first found in the Corporation of London’s books is William Garton, Citizen and Mercer of London who on Thursday, 19 March 1292/3 was granted a shop in Sopers Lane in the parish of St. Pancras by Hugh Chelmeford, Citizen of London and his wife Alice. Thus began the family in Sopers Lane in Cordwainer ward in London, centre of the Mercers and Pepperers, and near to the Guildhall, where the Citizens met.


Click here to read this article from Foundations of Medieval 
Genealogy

In this period the Citizens, including William Garton, agreed to send twenty men with horses to accompany Sir Edward, the king’s son, to protect the coast of Kent and stay four weeks. On 25 April 1311 William was one of the receivers of 1,000 marks to be sent to the king in Scotland. They delivered this by messenger to the king, and purchased a horse from William Garton for the use of the messenger. When the mayor and aldermen, and “good men from each ward” elected citizens to attend Parliament at York on 15 August 1314 at the Guildhall, William de Garton was among those chosen. Everyone was assessed one penny to pay for their expenses.

Tynwald – An Early Medieval Assembly Place and its Life History

Archaeodeath

Recently, I finally got to visit Tynwald Hill (Cronk Keeill Eoin), St John’s, on the Isle of Man. Located at the north-westerly end of the central valley running across the island from Peel to Douglas, this is the only open-air assembly site still operable in northern Europe. Each year, it is the focus of the Manx parliament’s ceremonial gatherings on Tynwald Day – 5th July.

dsc00467Historical evidence dates the use of the site back to the early 13th century, but the name – Thingvollr (parliament field)suggests its origins stretch back to perhaps the 10th century if not earlier. Historically, the practices on the site relate to swearing allegiance, declaring new laws and administering justice.

There are 5 dimensions to the site, as discussed in a succinct and superbly executed archaeological review by Tim Darvill (2004):

  1. A 25m-diameter, 3.6m-high four-stepped grassed mound. It has a central post…

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8 Images of a Frosted England

Heritage Calling

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Our Archive collection of over 9 million images is a window into the history of England’s archaeology, historic buildings and social history. You can use the archive to learn about your local area, and research well known historic buildings and sites. We hold some of the earliest photography ever taken.

Keep warm this winter with our pick of 8 archive images of the historic environment covered in a blanket of snow:

1. Rievaulx Abbey, Ryedale, North Yorkshire

28110_021-rievaulx-abbey-list-entry-1012065 © Historic England

At one time one of England’s most powerful Cistercian monasteries, the impressive ruins of Rievaulx Abbey is managed by English Heritage and is Grade I listed.

2. Highgate Cemetery, London

john-gay-highgate-cemetary-mf001673_14MF001673/09 © Historic England

The resting place of many famous residents and the home of some of the finest funerary architecture in the country, Highgate Cemetery is Grade I listed on the Register of Parks and…

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7 Spooky Tales from England’s Haunted Castles

Heritage Calling

Many of England’s historic buildings and monuments set an inspiring backdrop for mysterious tales of paranormal activity, their rich heritage feeding into narratives passed through generations. This Halloween we’re taking a look at how tales enjoyed at this time of year, of witches, ghosts, vampires and ghouls are knitted into English folklore, making their mark on our culture and historical places.

Here are 7 spooky stories linked to some of England’s oldest castles.

The Vampire of Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

bb78_06705 © Historic England BB78/06705

Writing in the 12th century, historian William of Newburgh chronicled how a former master of medieval Alnwick Castle would rise from his underground tomb and prowl the streets of the town at night, causing terror and disease. In panic, the local people dug up his shallow grave, revealing a bloated corpse which, when pierced with a spade, disgorged fresh blood, proving to them that it was…

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Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Listed Building

Heritage Calling

One of the most popular detectives in literature, Sherlock Holmes has seen many outings on the screen, and the BBC1 series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman makes use of many listed buildings in its filming.

Paul Backhouse, Head of Imaging at Historic England, takes us through a few of his favourites:

187 North Gower Street, London. Grade II listed

speedycafesherlock0365 © Maria Giulia Tolotti via Wikimedia commons

Of course no list would be complete without the home of the legendary detective himself, 221b Baker Street. However, 187 North Gower Street is used to film the TV series. Behind the 20th Century Regency style shop front is a Grade II listed building dating from around the 19th Century.

Bristol Baths, Bristol. Grade II listed

Appears in The Great Game. Series 1 Episode 3

dp030605 Interior view of the swimming pool at Bristol South Baths © Historic England

The stunning public…

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