In Praise of Unpromising Sources: Science and Society 743-809

Some medieval source material just doesn’t look promising. Researchers and their audience want a story. Preferably a big story. If not, everyone quickly wonders why they bothered. This is not a new thing: historical writing in the nineteenth century tended to be BIG history about chronicles, laws, states, nations. It is what people were and… Continue reading In Praise of Unpromising Sources: Science and Society 743-809

Frankish? Irish? Other? The Problem with Labels

How and why do you label an idea as belonging to a particular culture? I have been looking at a ninth-century collection of materials on history, calendars and the Easter reckoning which highlights the difficulties in answering this question. The collection (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, H 150 inf) is known as the ‘Bobbio Computus’ [1] because… Continue reading Frankish? Irish? Other? The Problem with Labels

Easter and Co-ordinating Time in the Early Middle Ages

How do you co-ordinate communities effectively without modern technology? It is a well-repeated factlet that time only became properly uniform with canal and train timetables during the Industrial Revolution. Technology allowed it to be the same 10:45am in London as in Glasgow. Uniformity of time in Antiquity and the Middle Ages was still pretty important.… Continue reading Easter and Co-ordinating Time in the Early Middle Ages

Early Medieval Science in Galway: The Report

I’ve posted a couple of times about the 2014 International Conference on the Science of Computus. It took place this last weekend and was every bit as strong and stimulating as I’d hoped. (I also tweeted highlights as it unfolded). Computus is not mainstream, I think it’s fair to say. It is not ‘Kings! Power!… Continue reading Early Medieval Science in Galway: The Report