Filed under folk stories

A Witch Saved

This is from Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal from 1773: A few days ago, at the Village of Seend, in Wiltshire, a Report prevailed, that a Woman who was dangerously ill of a putrid Fever, was bewitched, and this Report excited the Curiosity of Numbers of her Neighbours to go and se hr. The Fever attending … Continue reading

Anselm Kiefer ‘Walhalla’

Anselm Kiefer ‘Walhalla’

Kiefer may be my favourite artist and I have no idea why, as I’m not usually into such weirdness. I love this huge exhibition, on at the White Cube till 12 Feb. It’s title refers to Norse mythology’s paradise for those slain in battle but also, this being Keifer and heavily into things Germanic, also … Continue reading

Wassailing Exotically

Wassailing Exotically

Here’s a gem from the V&A museum, a wassail set, but not for country yokels! This is made of lignum vitae, an expensive hardwood from the West Indies, and ivory.   

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

What happened to objects when Henry VIII closed the monasteries? This is an area of history that is often ignored or the subject of guesswork, especially in England where there was so much destruction of religious artefacts at the long drawn-out Reformation. But here’s some thoughts. Every church that conducted masses had to have a … Continue reading

A Bishop’s Pardon

A Bishop’s Pardon

The Treasury at Chichester Cathedral is full of fascinating items, but I love this one: A pardon for an early bishop, though it makes no mention of what he had done. This is from the information provided: Papal pardon to Godfrey, 2nd bishop of Chichester (1088, consecrated in January and died in September) found in … Continue reading

Mock Battle in Spain

Mock Battle in Spain

This is from the i paper, 29 December: Revellers dressed in mock military garb take part in the Enfarinats battle in the south eastern Spanish town of Ibi yesterday. During this 200-year-old festival participants, known as Els Enfarinats (those covered in flour) dress in military clothes and stage a mock coup d’etat using flour, eggs … Continue reading

The Man Who Stood on the Shoulders of Giants

The Man Who Stood on the Shoulders of Giants

Roger Bacon (born 1214) is generally considered to be the father of modern science. He wrote f the values of book and experience. This is from Jean Gimpel’s  The Medieval Machine.  There are two modes of acquiring knowledge – namely by reasoning and experience. Reasoning draws a conclusion and makes us grant the conclusion but does … Continue reading

Shrunken Heads

I have seen a number of these, especially the collection in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, but though vaguely aware they served some ritual function, never really pursued what they were about. No images are included as it is not possible to photogrph such human remains. This is from the i paper, by Frank Cottrell-Boyce: The … Continue reading

Words and Image of a Nobody

Words and Image of a Nobody

There are a lot of images from our history that suggest there was some heavy drug taking happening – disproportioned people, strange animals etc. These are often accepted as elements of folklore but there may have been a more straightforward explanation, as a mans of insulting the rich and powerful without getting arrested. This was … Continue reading

Elizabeth’s Unicorn Horn

Since Elizabeth was famously a virgin, it is no surprise she owned several unicorn horns. I am intrigued that this one has also been used for medicinal purposes. This is from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. Platter’s visit to Nonesuch Palace included a tour of the rooms, including They showed us the circular horn of a … Continue reading