Stefan's Florilegium files for December 2014

THLord Stefan li Rous provides updates to Stefan's Florilegium for December 2014.

"Magical mud" of Novgorod reveals treasures

“Send me a shirt, towel, trousers, reins, and, for my sister, send fabric. If I am alive, I will pay for it,” wrote a 14th century father, Onus, to his son, Danilo, in the block letters of Old Novgorod language on a birch bark scroll. The note, among a dozen others, was discovered recently in the "magicial mud" of Veliky Novgorod, Russia.

Staffordshire Hoard teaches lesson in Anglo-Saxon metallurgy

Gold was believed to have magical powers in Anglo-Saxon society, which may have led to discovery of special processes to make the metal appear "more golden than gold." These findings are part of a new study of the Staffordshire Hoard which "showed goldsmiths knew how to remove alloyed metals such as copper and silver from the surface of objects."

Richard III burial timetable and appeal for funds

As the reburial of King Richard III approaches, the city of Leicester, England and Leicester Cathedral prepare for the festivities by calling on the locals to help with fundraising. The diocese has raised only UK£1.9m of the £2.5m cost of the celebration.

"One of the most important Viking hoards ever found in Scotland" unearthed near Dumfriesshire

September 2014 was a great month for British metal detector enthusiast Derek McLennan. The retired businessman discovered "one of the most important Viking hoards ever found in Scotland" in a field in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. (photos)

Remains of "witch girl" found in Italy

In early medieval Italy, "burying the dead facedown was a way to prevent the impure soul threatening the living,” says anthropologist Elena Dellù. This might explain the remains of a teenage girl discovered recently at the complex of San Calocero in Albenga, Italy. (photo)

Medieval friary stonework among finds at Yorkshire dig

A team of archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group, along with members of the community, were intrigued by discoveries resulting from two weeks of excavations near York, England's Guildhall. The workers found artifacts dating from Roman times through World War II, including evidence of a medieval friary.

Lavenham seeks World Heritage status

According to Wikipedia, Lavenham, England "is a village and civil parish in Suffolk, England noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk." Now the town's business forum and parish council plan to apply to UNESCO for a World Heritage grant to "help balance tourism, the local economy and traffic." (photos)

Where is Harold?

The Bayeux Tapestry famously depicts King Harold II's death by arrow to the eye during the Battle of Hastings, but new evidence may show that the king survived the battle.

Community gets involved in Sudbury's "big dig"

Dr Carenza Lewis is well known to audeinces of Channel 4’s Time Team and the BBC’s The Great British Story, but now she has a different role: leading members of the community of Sudbury on an archaeological survey. Lewis heads up the "big dig" organized by the Sudbury Society, the Sudbury History Society, and the Sudbury Museum Trust.

Catholics and Protestants unite over Richard III funeral

Richard III died before the Reformation, but Leicester Cathedral, where the king will be buried, is staunchly Anglican, facts which should have produced strife. The funeral of a king, however, has brought the two faiths together to offer Richard III a burial "with the dignity befitting his rank."

Peter Joyner placed on vigil in Northshield

Master Yehudah nagid ben Yitzhak, Minister of Protocol, reports that at Their Feast of St. Maurus. Their Majesties Vladimir and Petranella of the Kingdom of Northshield placed Peter Joyner (fka Petro Petrovitch) on vigil to contemplate elevation to the Order of the Chivalry.

Mongol warship found near Japanese island

Twice in seven years, 1274 and 1281, the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan tried to invade Japan. On one of those missions a ship sank in a typhoon off the island of Takashima. Now arhaeologists hope to learn the secrets of the Mongol warship from the recently-discovered wreck.

Dracula imprisoned in Turkish castle

Iconic baddie Vlad the Impaler seems to have slept more places than George Washington. The latest claim comes from Turkey which says that the young prince was held captive in a fortress there. Rachel Nuwer for Smithsonian Magazine online has the story. (photo)

14th century caravansary open to the public in Jerusalem

Near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem lies a complex of ancient buildings including Ahar Kotlenu a refurbished 14th century caravansary, an inn for caravans, now open to the public. The site includes a 3,500 square feet (325 square meters) grand hall with cross-vaulted stone roof held aloft by six reinforced pillars.

Gagliana Grossa subject of study by Texas A&M students

In 1583, the merchant ship Gagliana Grossa sank off the coast of Biogradna Moru, in Croatia. Now the shipwreck has become a subject of study by a group of Texas A&M students led by Filipe Castro, in partnership with Irena Radic Rossi from the University of Zadar. (video)

Rennie killed by police after attack on Mexican Consulate

Renaissance fair enthusiast Larry Steven McQuilliams was killed by police recently after firing more than 100 rounds at the Mexican Consulate and other buildings in Austin, Texas. McQuilliams was reportedly upset by US immigration policy. (photo)

Witches at the British Museum

The British Museum has been invaded by witches - at least until January 2015. A new free exhibit, Witches and Wicked Bodies, will look at the history of witches in Great Britain from the 1400s until the Victorian era, and will include artists' renditions, objects of sorcery and magic, as well as artifacts from antiquity depicting famous witches.

Archaeologists complete geological survey near grave of medieval warrior

In 2013, archaeologists in Janakkala, Finland were thrilled by the discovery of the grave of a medieval warrior in what might be an ancient burial ground or even a settlement. The discovery has sparked enough interest to support more excavations, depending on the results of a recent survey.

Marco Polo in America

Most historian state that Christopher Columbus came to America in 1492, but new evidence, in the form of period parchments, may show that Marco Polo landed on the west coast nearly two centuries earlier.

Samurai armor exhibited at the LACMA

The Samurai Collection of Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Samurai armor in the world, will be on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California until February 1, 2015.

Ancient castle found under British primary school

Construction workers on a project to replace two classrooms of English Bicknor Primary School in Ross-on-Wye, England, were surprised to uncover the remains of what is believed to be a keep and bailey castle. (photo)

Unearthing the mysteries of Hammershus

Hammershus, a 12th century castle ruin on Bornholm island in Denmark, is a well-known landmark, but remarkably little is known about the site, and it has never been professionally excavated. That is about to change. (photo)

A Beginners Guide to the SCA online

In an article on the blog HubPages, writer Jeff Johnston introduces the Society for Creative Anachronism with A Beginners Guide to the SCA. The piece features shorter articles on the history of the SCA, newcomer sites, garb, heraldry and awards.

"Chivalry is far from dead" in Bungendore, NSW

"With sun beating down on their heavy armour, combatants tested their mettle in a range of skills at arms including jousting, archery and armoured foot combat at the Fields of Gold tournament, hosted by The Barony of  Politarchopolis," writes reporter Georgina Connery of The Chronicle about the recent SCA event in Bungendore, New South Wales. (photos)

Large gold medallion centerpiece of new exhibit at the Israel Museum

An "exceptional" gold medallion, found in 2013 at the base of the Temple Mount, will be showcased as part of a new exhibit at the Israel museum. Dating to the 7th century, the large golden medallion, embossed with Jewish motifs, is believed to have decorated a Torah scroll. (photo)

Not the Santa Maria

Expectations were high recently when archaeologists believed they had found the wreck of the Santa Maria, Columbus' flagship off the coast of Haiti, but it was not to be. New evidence shows that the remains of the ship are from a later period.

Rebuilding the Temple of Mithras

In 1954, there was much debate over what to do with the recently discovered remains of a Temple of Mithras. Unable to reach a conclusion, the ruins were packed up and have led a nomadic existance ever since. Now the ruins are being returned to their original site, underneath a London office block.

Seaton Hoard - in Pictures

Numismatists in England found themselves squirming with delight over the discovery in Devon of approximately 22,000 copper-alloy coins, "the largest of its kind ever found in Britain." Now Culture24 allows visitors to take a closer look at some of the coins with a slide show. (photos)

“Lord, help Veronica”

Since 2000, Nikolai Ovcharov has headed excavations at Perperikon in southern Bulgaria, revealing some amazing finds. The latest includes a 12th to 13th century container inscribed with the words in Greek, “Lord, help Veronica.” (photo)