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Category Archives: History

The Modern Medieval: Day 5

A street called Distaflane appears on my City of London map from the year 1270. Today the street sign looks like this: Distaff is an Anglo-Saxon word for a very ancient tool. It was a staff on which wool or … Read More

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The Modern Medieval: Day 4

While walking from London’s Tower to St. Paul’s one evening, I started to pay close attention to the street signs that evoked London’s Anglo-Saxon past, and right away I spotted this: Anyone who walks through Cheapside today is passing through … Read More

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The Modern Medieval: Day 3

Street names in London are endlessly fascinating and many of them date from Medieval times, from St. Mary Axe* to Houndsditch** to The Barbican.*** But of more interest just now is this one: You could be forgiven if that name … Read More

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The Modern Medieval: Day 2

I have met residents of Shrewsbury who pronounce the city’s name like this: shrowsbry. I have met residents of Shrewsbury who pronounce the city’s name like this: shroosbry. I think this is a conspiracy to confuse and frustrate Yanks, and … Read More

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The Modern Medieval: Day 1

Welcome to a week of The Modern Medieval: a series of brief posts about modern day street names in England that evoke the medieval past. (Note: there are LOTS of them, but I’ll focus on just a few because otherwise … Read More

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A Tale of St. Patrick

As you may imagine, given my first name, I have a vested interest in St. Patrick’s Day.  Indeed, one set of great grandparents was Irish – Bridget and Patrick Curtin. They arrived in New York in the 1860’s, most likely … Read More

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Emma, England’s Forgotten Queen

Emma, a gem more splendid through the splendors of her merits… So begins the epigram written late in the 11th century by Godfrey, prior of Winchester, in honor of Emma, Queen of England. Queen Emma died on 6 March, 1052, … Read More

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The Last Kingdom, Episode 8: The Battle of Edington

878 A.D. In the seventh week after Easter King Alfred rode to Ecbryht’s Stone…All those of Somerset came to meet him, and those of Wiltshire and Hampshire…they were glad of his coming. ..He went from that camp…to Edington, and there … Read More

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The Last Kingdom, Episode 4: The Peace is Over

With Episode Four we have reached the half-way point of this season. A new woman has entered Uhtred’s life. Those of us who have read Cornwell’s novels have learned to not get too attached to Uhtred’s women. They come and … Read More

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The Last Kingdom, Episode 3: The New King of Wessex

Despite the fact that the main character of Bernard Cornwell’s books is our hero Uhtred, it is Alfred who is the focal character of this episode. Everything and everyone revolves around him, and actor David Dawson does a spectacular job … Read More

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