Captivated by the Cross

I’ve been captivated by this image since I found it earlier this week. It was taken by David W Coigach and posted at deviantART. Taken at Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway  (Southwest Scotland), this imagery seems so right for Heavenfield  with the ravens circling overhead. Ok, so I’ll admit heavenfield didn’t have a stone cross, which seems really odd, but I guess a miracle working wooden cross was enough!

Heavenfield Round-up 8: A Long Delayed Edition

Where did the summer go? I can’t believe that I haven’t done one of these since July! Well, its time to clear out my reader and share some of the late summer/early autumn links that got my attention. Enjoy

Curt Emanuel, the Medieval History Geek, is continuing his reading on Late Antique Christianity. He is currently up to the work and influence of Anthanasius.

Magistra et Mater has a interesting post on the personality of swords, and on medieval social networks.

Tim Clarkson of Senchus has announced his newest book of Columba, announced the latest issue of the Heroic Age , and wrote about searching for Bede’s Wulfaresdun.

Here at Heavenfield, I’ve reviewed Tim’s book on The Makers of Scotland, and looked at Bede’s account of Bishop Wilfrid’s coming to Sussex.

Guy Halsall, aka Grumpy Professor, of Historian on the Edge has posted a conference paper he gave on the decline and fall of the ancient triumph and an(other) manifesto on the purpose of history inflicted on unsuspecting students.

Sally Wilde is thinking about Autumn in England and the death of King Edwin ,the British bards Taliesin and Aneirin , and a while back about storing 7th century agricultural surplus while working on her novel.

Karen Jolly of Revealing Words wrote about a liturgical database she has been working on in conjunction with her last academic book.

Jonathan Jarrett of A Corner of Tenth Century Europe wrote about exploring/imaging the medieval landscape of Catalonia, and on a seminar paper from Janet Nelson on the early medieval female author Dhuoda of Barcelona who wrote a book of advice for her son.

Andy Gaunt of Archaeology and History of Sherwood Forest writes about the tradition of Goose Fairs in the forest.

Katy Meyers of Bones Don’t Lie has posts on deviant burials in medieval Ireland, on the treatment of broken legs in Iron Age and Roman Britain  and on assumption of gender based on grave goods.

The Makers of Scotland

Tim Clarkson, The Makers of Scotland: Picts, Romans, Gaels and Vikings. Edinburgh: John Donald, 2012. 224 pg.

In his third book, Tim Clarkson takes on the first thousand years of recorded Scottish history. It’s a huge task, but Tim was more than up to the challenge. I really enjoyed it. I tend to focus so much on my narrow time period that it’s really good to properly put it all in context. For example, I was struck while reading this the parallels between the Anglo-Saxon adventus and the Scandinavian contact and migration to Britain. Both begin as raiders seeking only loot from soft targets (villas vs monasteries), then both are either offered payments or mercenary positions to protect Britain from their fellows, and lastly by military and other permanent migration to the isles.  All food for thought and I do wonder by these parallels aren’t talked about more. By usually constraining most of my reading to the pre-Viking period I can often miss such important contextual associations.

Do the math, to cover a thousand years in 225 pages, you can only expect so much depth. I think Tim covers as much chronological detail as possible in a book this length. He managed to untangle the Scottish and Pictish families and succession clearly and briefly. I wish I could talk him into writing a Men of the North style book on Dál Riata! By choosing not to delve into academic controversies, Tim swept aside discredited theories, replacing them with well received  new paradigms, and sometimes making a choice where the there isn’t consensus. Countless updates and choices brings out the clear and consistent voice of the historian I have gotten to know so well over so many years. Tim doesn’t write much about historical theory but his historical paradigms are deftly woven through The Makers of Scotland, just as with his other books. In some ways his voice has more clarity here because of the expanse of time covered – and that is a good thing!  I highly recommend The Makers of Scotland as an ideal, comfortable read whether you want a contextual refresher  or are coming to Scottish history for the first time.

Tim Clarkson is a generous and accessible author. He can be found at his blog Senchus (highly recommended) and on twitter at @EarlyScotland.