12th century chess pieces show demand for leisure products

Archaeologists working on a dig in St John's Street in Northampton, England have found two medieval chess pieces dating to the middle to late 12th century. The pieces, made of antler, show evidence of the demand for "leisure products." (photos)

Did Muslim sailors discover the New World?

The recent interest in Cuba has renewed a discussion of the Muslim faith in America, including a claim that Muslim sailors discovered the continent in the 12th century.

Pennsic documentary producer to make video of USA Knights at IMCF world championships

Zorikh Lequidre, known in the SCA as Lord Ervald the Optimistic, is set to make a video documentary of USA Knights, America's original full-combat armored combat team, at the International Medieval Combat Federation world championships this Spring in Malbork Poland. The new video is to be titled “American Knights.”

Future in question for the Hagia Sophia

Over the centuries, Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia has been a Byzantine church, a mosque, a Catholic church and a museum, but changing politics may take a toll on the glorious 6th century edifice. Stuart Williams of Art Daily has the story. (photo)

Drachenwald Crowns Permit Same Sex Pair Entry in Their Crown List

On Saturday March 22, 2015, in a surprisingly quick reversal, Their Majesties Macarius and Izabella of Drachenwald changed a decision barring their subjects Hi Lady Hilkka Susinen & Lady Leonet de Covenham from entering their Crown Lists.

Dressing like an Anglo Saxon

Toby Martin, of the University of Oxford, has published a series of abstrats on papers and presentations on his university blog pertaining to Anglo Saxon dress and jewelry. PDFs are available on request.

Turin Shroud: Prop for medieval Easter ritual?

Historian Charles Freeman believes the Shroud of Turin was created in the 14th century for Easter rituals. Freeman presents his theory in the article The Origins of the Shroud of Turin in the November 2014 issue of History Today. Charlotte Higgins of the Guardian discusses the theory.

Historical women's letters auctioned in Paris

The auction of around 1500 letters of famous women, including Catherine of Aragon's plea to Pope Clement VII to block her divorce from Henry VIII, took place in November 2014 in Paris. The auction, whose book was entitled Women: Letters and Signed Manuscripts, brought a total of EU 794,173. (photo)

Doodling the Middle Ages

Modern people doodle when bored. So too, apparently did medieval scribes, according to Dr Erik Kwakkel, a book historian at Leiden University, Holland, who posts "medieval eye candy" that he comes across during the course of his research on his blog. (photos)

Gulf Wars: The "Mayberry" war

"You come to Gulf Wars, and there may be 4,000 people on site, but it's still Mayberry. Everybody knows everybody and everybody is friendly. It's a group of people from all walks of life, all areas, that come together to live the dream. We're reliving a period of chivalry, of honor, of courtesy to all," says Rebecca Baker (Rebecca MacGillivray) about Gulf Wars.

Stefan's Florilegium updates for March 2015

THLord Stefan li Rous has published updates to Stefan's Florilegium for March 2015.

The lions of London

The lion is the symbol of the King of England, and for the first time since the early 13th century, the city will be without the king of the beasts. The lack of lions will occur due to a new exhibit being built at the London Zoo, causing its three residents to be relocated until 2016. The BBC Magazine Monitor has a feature about the history of the London lions.

"Siberia's Excalibur" may have belonged to Ivan the Terrible

In 1975, archaeologists discovered a well-preserved, 12th century sword beneath a tree in Siberia. Experts believe that the sword, found near the site of the death in battle of 14th century Russian hero Ivan Koltso, may have once belonged to the armory of Koltso's benefactor Ivan the Terrible. (photos)

Climate changed "big man" society in Viking Iceland

The change of climate to colder temperatures in 11th century Iceland may have put an end to traditional Viking feasting of beef and beer, say authors Davide Zori and Jesse Byock in a new book Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaelogical Project. (photo of glass beads)

On the writing of sonnets

In an article on the Athenaeum Hectoris blog, Master Hector of the Black Height, of the Kingdom of Ealdormere, discusses the basics of sonnets and sonnet writing, including rhythm, phrasing and form, in the article Missive to a Young Poet: Sonnets.

In Memoriam: Master Kali Harlansson of Gotland

It is with great sadness that the Gazette reports that Master Kali Harlansson of Gotland passed away on March 12, 2015 after a long illness.

2015 Known World Children's Fete at Pennsic Seeking Volunteers

The organizers of this year's Children's Fete are seeking volunteers to assist with, and to sponsor, activities.

Henry VIII graces stages in New York and New Jersey

Henry VIII and his wives will be on the minds of New Yorkers as two very different productions have been scheduled: King Henry VIII at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey (Fall 2014) and Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2 by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Spring 2015). The latter is an adaption of the books by Hilary Mantel. Michael Sommers of the New York Times has a review. (photos)

The dark vengeance of Vlad the Impaler

For centuries, people have been fascinated with stories of vampires, and at the top of the story list is the dark tale of Count Dracula, a medieval prince also known as Vlad the Impaler. Elizabeth Palermo of Live Science has a feature story.

Volunteers aid in dig at York's All Saints' Church

The first phase of an archaeological dig at All Saints' Church in York, England has wrapped with the discovery of artifacts from Roman times to the 19th century including "two medieval dice, Roman pottery and a spindle whorl thought to be from the Viking era." Phase two will begin next spring. (photos)

Metal detector hobbyist finds treasure in English fields

Treasure hunter Stephen Auker is a bit of a metal detector rock star. In recent years, he has discovered more than 100 Roman coins in a field near Silsden in northern England, offering them to a museum in Keighley. More recently, Auker found a merchant's signet ring dating to the 1550's. (photo)

St. Francis manuscripts displayed in the US

In November 2014, 19 manuscripts written by St. Francis of Assisi travelled outside Italy for the first time for exhibition at the United Nations and Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York. The manuscripts include several poems written by St. Francis, including the saint's Canticle of the Sun and his Canticle of Canticles.

Damaged crypts to be restored at Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral, a 14th-century Gothic church, was almost totally destroyed by German bombs in World War II. Now three of its medieval crypts are scheduled to be restored and opened to the public.

Grimms now grimmer

There are no Disney endings for the fairy tales in a newly-released translation of Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes, a professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. The original stories, written in the early 19th century, have never been directly translated into English.

Tower timbers found on Firth of Clyde

The west Scotland Firth of Clyde may have housed a 13th century harbor and large timber tower, according to archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine and members of the local community who have been studying the site since the destructive winter storms of early 2014. (photos, map)

Shetland's Up Helly Aa never fails to please

Winter in Scotland's Shetland Islands can be cold and bleak, but you would never know when the annual Up Helly Aa fire festival lights up the night. (photos)

The history of the beard

Clean-shaven, mustachioed or heavy-bearded, the fashion of men's facial hair has come and gone over the centuries. In a feature article for the Telegraph, Lucinda Hawksley looks at the fashion from Roman times to the Middle Ages.

The search for King Harold continues

Cousins Terry Muff and Kevin McKenzie, who claim King Harold, of Hastings fame, as an ancestor, believe that the remains of the Saxon monarch lie beneath an ancient church in Hertforshire. Ellie Zolfagharifard of the Daily Mail has a feature story. (photos)

Staffordshire Hoard gallery as never seen before

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard is undoubtedly some of the greatest news in archaeology in the past decade. The incredible collection of Anglo-Saxon gold is on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Now you can watch a time-lapse video of the construction of the exhibit.

Gladiator combat "less about bloodshed and more about drama"

Ancient history expert Prof. Garrett Fagan of Pennsylvania State University knows a lot about gladiators and shared some of his knowledge at a 2014 conference. Included in the discussion was his research on Roman gladiatorial combat, more spectacle than blood bath, he found.