Tag Archives: webpages

Gold and fool’s gold strained from the web

Ordinarily I do links-posts when I have little other content to post, and I save up links against that day so that I’m sure I shall have something interesting to show you all. The way this goes wrong, of course, is the current situation where I have forty-odd posts that I hope will be interesting existing in some state, and also a whole bunch of saved-up links getting increasingly out of date. So, let me clear some decks with some commented things for you to look at and then resume more autocthonous programming.

Digital Treasure

  • Page 185 of the Cartulaire Générale de CíteauxFirst and foremost in this, periodically an update arrives in my INBOX from the Chartae Burgundiae Medii Ævi project of which I’ve made mention here before, the guys who finally indexed the Cluny charters for the greater good of the world. Though they have fewer big goals now their progress is still considerable and ongoing, and more and more stuff is coming online. For me the most exciting thing in the recent batches is the cartularies of Dijon and Pérrecy, now online as facsimiles both of the manuscripts and of the edition, but for many others, I’m guessing that the star attraction will be the General Cartulary of Cîteaux, and indeed its other cartularies too. All of this, as far as I can see, is also included in the searchable database that was the starting point of the whole project. Really, one just wishes Burgundy had been bigger (though of course `one’ is not the first to do that…)
  • Newly-cleaned sword pommel from the Staffordshire HoardMore locally, although it’s almost old news now, conservation efforts on the Staffordshire Hoard are still continuing and new information about it keeps becoming available. One of the good things about that project is how keen they have been to keep the non-academic population in on the loop, and in this day and age of course that involves social media. An example of this, featuring some pictures that were new when I stored the link, and are still shiny, can be found here along with the input of one of this blog’s more important supporting characters, on whose work more soon.

Physical treasure: notable finds

  • Saxon woman cow buried at Anglo-Saxon Oakington cemeteryObviously we can’t have a Staffordshire hoard every year, it’s not like we’re in Gotland or something, but this was pretty good anyway, a burial from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Oakington in which the remains found were an apparently-wealthy woman and a cow, a weird anti-pairing to the warrior-and-horse combo with which we’re more familiar from Sutton Hoo and Lakenheath. Worth a look even if bodies aren’t your thing; as for me, I have to build this lady into a lecture now…
  • Monastery of BenedkitbeuernThen, across the Channel, and in fact really quite a lot further, about as far as possible really. But we start across the Channel, at the monastery of Benediktbeuern, where in the fifteenth century a rather fancy Bible was made, in four volumes. This we know because it is now in Auckland, New Zealand, where recently investigations have revealed at least eight strips from a much older Bible, from the time of Charlemagne (whom the story calls “the French and German emperor” – better than choosing just one I suppose?), that were reused as binding material. The survival of ancient manuscript material as linings and joints for newer ones is not unusual, but the distance of travel involved here rather is; as the Waikato University researcher who found them is quoted as saying, “these little pieces of manuscript have travelled further than any other piece of Carolingian manuscript as far as we know”. Slightly amazing!
  • Portrait denarius of Charlemagne as Emperor (812x814)Nonetheless, in some ways more amazing is another find from the era of Charlemagne, although this, a portrait denarius of Charlemagne from an unidentified mint and dating from the short space of his reign in which he was acknowledged as Emperor by his counterpart in Constantinople (812-814), is a find made a long time ago; it’s amazing because in March it sold for 160,000 euros, making it one of the highest-price medieval coins ever sold.1 (The estimate had been a mere 30,000…) We all know, of course, that very little if anything is worth more than Charlemagne but evidence of this is usually harder to quantify!
  • I got the first of these from Antiquarian’s Attic and the latter two from News for Medievalists, so hats duly tipped to them.

Finds more controversial

Site of the prehistoric temple at Ranheim, NorwayThere were two stories I wanted to comment on in this kind of category, but I don’t think I’m quite up to doing more with this one, which isn’t medieval in the slightest, than to say, can you imagine how this knowledge would have been used 150 years ago? We have, after all, seen on this blog the kinds of fight that can break out over who was where first… So, more interesting and relevant perhaps is news of the discovery of a pagan temple site at Ranheim in Norway, with a sequence of dates running from a fire pit in the lowest layer whose charcoal radio-carbonned to the fourth or fifth centuries BCE and a last-used date of 895×990 AD, after which the building was apparently carefully dismantled, pulled down and levelled, thus explaining the remarkable preservation. Now, this is an amazing site if that’s all correct, but the story has been presented in a very odd way. Admittedly, I have sourced this information from a site called Free Thought Nation (by way of Archaeology in Europe), so it’s perhaps unsurprising that it is down on Christianity, but it’s the way it’s down, which it supports with alleged quotes from the excavator, that surprises me: they read the site as having been dismantled and levelled to hide it from the forces of Christianization at loose in Norway at the time, probably prior to the faithful emigrating to more tolerant pastures like Iceland. Why, though, should we not suppose that the temple was taken down as part of Christianization? Because it’s not violent enough, or something? More probably, I suppose, because it was not subsequently re-used for a Christian site of worship, implying that no population needing one remained, but it’s still a bit odd, as is the effort the article goes into to establish that this religion, whatever it was, predated Christianity, but does not demonstrate any settlement nearby. So okay, pre-Christian religion, yes! How does that help? and whom?

Links involving me

More humbly and mundanely, there are two things I could point you at that reflect on my various endeavours, though only one of these involves Vikings I’m afraid.

  • The one that doesn’t is that I lately updated my personal academic webpages, so if you want to be up-to-date with my publications list (on which more here too before long), to see which of my various projects I’m admitting to working on currently or simply to get the latest on my hair, they’re here. Now I just have to get all my institutional ones similar…
  • Dunnyneil Island, Strangford Lough, Ireland, from the airAnd secondly, and more excitingly, back in May I got an e-mail from someone at BBC Ireland asking for comment on the excavations at Dunnyneil Island in Strangford Lough. This is only the second time I’ve been asked to be a media mouth, and the first time I didn’t realise how tight the timescale was and so missed out; this time I answered mail with unparalleled alacrity and as much help as I could be. I was, however, fully expecting this to be cut about, abbreviated and misused and I was completely wrong: quite a lot of what I wrote is now part of this story by Laura Burns, and all the quotes from me, modulo typos, are actually what I sent her. I’m rather pleased with it, and I wish all medievalist journalism was as good. You may like to have a look.

And finally…

Also, for those with problems with Oxford (including simply not being here), there’s this, which the Naked Philologist sent me and which I offer without comment…


1. In this dating I follow the view of Simon Coupland, and before him Philip Grierson, that Charlemagne only began to issue these coins once recognised as emperor by the eastern one (see S. Coupland, “Charlemagne’s Coinage: ideology and economy” in Joanna Story (ed.), Charlemagne: Empire and Society (Manchester 2005), pp. 211-229, repr. in Coupland, Carolingian Coinage and the Vikings: studies on power and trade in the 9th century, Variorum Collected Studies 847 (Aldershot 2006), I, but the auction house in question, Künker’s, have used a more cautious/less precise date.

Elsewhere on the Internet…

… there has been rather more of me than there has been here, sorry about that. It’s not so much that this term has been impossibly loaded, it hasn’t really though keeping four new courses ready to roll week-to-week has been a challenge, I will admit. It is much more that I have also been trying to crunch through the next step of the Casserres project—I will write about this soon—and to read quite a lot of stuff I need to have a grip on for teaching, some of which I may also write about, and these have all filled quite a lot of time. I have kept coming to the Internet just before midnight and sleep has usually won out. Nonetheless, on Friday I did actually catch up with all the blogs I follow, more or less; and since then I even socialised with some people somewhere other than a seminar! Incroyable!

But, I have not been completely inattentive to the web, I’ve just been attentive elsewhere. In particular!

  1. I’ve updated my static webpages, so that if you really wanted an up-to-date Jarrett bibliography or to remind yourself of my conference-going history, or even to know what my big projects are supposed to be whenever the small ones temporarily die down, that information is now current. N. B. these pages may plug the book once or twice. Maybe.
  2. Not just one but two of the places I’m teaching for here have now got as far as acknowledging my existence on the web, and I have to thank Pembroke College, where I am only a Retained Lecturer, for actually giving me a full page to play with, yet another thing to keep up to date but very welcome as now Academia.edu is not going be the first hit for me when people Google me at Oxford; after all, there are others claiming an Oxford affiliation there who have nothing of the kind any more, and I don’t want to be mistaken for one of them.
  3. I have also been writing at Cliopatria. Ordinarily I can go months between posts there, because I only post when asked to or when something broader than my focus here crosses my synapses. But recently both of those happened, so you can find me writing:
  4. And, indeed, while I have your attention over there, I’ve also thrown in on a question that fellow contributor Chris Bray raised there, to wit: “in whatever place and period you study, do you find that the political ruling class was generally aligned with common people in a struggle against the economic elite? Where and when has that happened?” I had some weak answers but maybe you have a stronger one? Trot over and cast it into the pool if so, we can always use comments from out of field over there.

Meanwhile, I have five posts in some form of draft, quite a lot of seminar papers to talk about, and an imminent access of slightly more time, so with a bit of luck you’ll be seeing more of my Internet presence again shortly.

Name in Lights III

I am running out of content here: I shall soon have to revert to charter stories, which might be no bad thing as I’ve just promised a seminar paper on them… Anyway, one of the things I have not yet posted is an announcement of various things I have done that are visible on this here world-wide web, so here goes.

    Obverse of penny of King Edgar
  • First and foremost, and no small effort by all concerned, The Heroic Age Vol. 13 went online a little while ago, and I have a review in it, of Edgar, King of the English 959-975, edited by Donald Scragg. If, after my last review, you believe that I am incapable of being positive about others’ work, which would be understandable, here is some counter-evidence.
  • Antonio Rodriquez's New Zealand Cross

  • Secondly, here is something that isn’t medieval at all, but which I put a lot of work into and which I’m really quite proud of. Shortly after I arrived at the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2006, we got a big collection of military medals among which was one of the twenty-three New Zealand Crosses ever issued, which had belonged to Antonio Rodriquez of the Taranaki Mounted Volunteers. We put this online and subsequently three separate branches of the recipient’s family got in touch with us about their ancestor’s exploits and history. Incredibly, none of them were aware of the existence of each other, but their various researches meant that we were able to get a very great deal more material on the man and his subsequent life. Using this, I put together a small virtual exhibition which is full of photos, illustrations and detail that really make the story a human-interest one, right down to the current generation. I would be really pleased if you’d have a look: it’s here.

Then, in less scholarly and more self-publicising manner, it is probably worth mentioning that I have recently been persuaded onto Academia.edu. I’m not really there very much but will try and keep my pages there up to date and answer any messages. This made me wonder if it was really worth maintaining separate web-pages, especially given that I haven’t really touched my static ones since 2009. I decided, however, that it was and is, and that since the institutional page that has had my most up-to-date academic record on for some time is about to leave my control, I really ought to get my own pages in order.

Pencil sketch of Jonathan Jarrett by 'Bobby'

I was going to use this for my new picture till I shaved

So far I’ve only updated the front page and publications list, in the former cases including putting a new photo on to replace the old one that made me look, in the words of a dear dear friend, “like a teenage vampire who needs a shave”. I dunno, I thought that was a good look (and it’s still serving as my Academia.edu profile photo) but it may not have been sending quite the right message, so it’s gone and a light refresh of the text is done too. The thing still looks as if it was written in 1998 (which is roughly when I learnt HTML, coincidence? I think not) but it will serve. I still want to update the “what I’m interested in page” and rebuild the mostly-dead resources page out of the random clutter I’ve amassed in the sidebar here, but it’s a start made. So now it is announced.


This involved being incredibly careful not to overstep any boundaries when talking about the Maori Land Wars, which is not easy for an Englishman to do mostly from secondary sources. If it seems to you I failed I would welcome a warning as soon as possible; I won’t have very long to change it now…

Medieval Latin and the Internet, twelve years on

There’s a peculiar kind of bitter-sweet comedy in reading old print articles about the Internet, isn’t there? A volume I was looking at for other purposes has a state-of-the-situation piece in it from a conference in 1997. This sits well with me as I was just about getting the hang of the Internet by then, having graduated from Mosaic on a Mac SE30 to Netscape on a Quadra (Netscape Navigator 3 Gold, no less, whose Word-a-like HTML editor is still one of the most straightforward ever created) and having first encountered mentions of The ORB and so on. But of course, and the article itself anticipates this, the web changes a lot very fast, and those were the slow days compared to now when really, it was still quite strange to have an Internet connection unless you were a big business or, paradoxically, a student. Some things don’t change: it’s amusing, for example, to see soc.history.medieval being cited even then as an example of how much low-quality information there is on the ‘net to sift through (and I see from a quick look at the Google Groups page that D. Spencer Hines is still, a decade on, doing his level best to make it so). However, pretty much every other resource it mentions is gone, or at the very least, not where they left it. In some cases this is because it’s actually been worked on, updated and moved, like Carrie, the full-text library of the University of Kansas. The whole University has changed its domain since the article was written, which twits both the print link here and even that given from the ORB (or at least from the cached version of the ORB since poor old ORB, already becoming outdated and underloved when I first met it, is down at the time of writing). But it is still out there, though the name changes have made it difficult to happen on it without cunning websearchery. Another case is Virginia Tech’s Bibliography on evaluating web information, which is actually really useful and deserves wider publicity, but still isn’t at the URL or under the name this article gives any more and has to be Googled. Labyrinth, at least, is still where it was and serving more or less the same content. I mean, it’s not where it was, actually, but Georgetown University’s IT department have at least been kind enough to ensure that the old URL redirects to the new one, which as you can see from the above very rarely happens. (Honourable mention here to the University of Leeds’s International Medieval Institute, now the Institute for Medieval Studies.) Even when it does, as with the Online Medieval And Classical Library at Berkeley, it can still be screwed up.

The article also covers search engines, from a period when I’d just about woken up to the fact that really, anything was better than Yahoo but that this still basically left one with Lycos or Altavista. Thank goodness Google haven’t yet proved to be evil. I didn’t even know about MetaCrawler, despite it being old enough to get mentioned here, but since it returns me as second result for « tenth AND medieval » whereas Google returns me now (I’m childishly glad to see) as top result for « tenth medieval », which was long ago the challenge for this whole exercise, I think I know who wins…

It’s also salutary to see a short and simple explanation of why, in 1997, the WWW was already going to drive out Telnet (inaccessible both because of its authentication and its slightly arcane command set) and Gopher (like the WWW only less capable), because although I still maintain an online diary on what began as a Telnet server (now SSH, for which reason no, you can’t find it) I don’t know of any library catalogue that still uses a Telnet interface even though they were often quicker and more transparent than the OPAC front-ends that now proliferate—hey, hey, no, the School of Advanced Studies in London is still running its one. Once you’re in it warns you “this service is no longer in use”, but since it turns up two pamphlets I gave to the IHR last year I’m not sure what ‘not in use’ means in this context. (The cite the article gives for a list of Telnet catalogues is still linked from the University of Madrid site that they give but itself returns a 404.) And, anyway, Gopher is all gone isn’t it. The WWW doesn’t necessarily do things as well but it does it without the learning curve. You can tell it was 1997 however because the authors don’t appear to realise that there is more than one programme available for browsing the web, in fact they don’t mention programmes at all.

But you know what’s missing? This here bit of the medium. I remember that in 1998 or so, 1997 was still a bit early but by 1998 it was beginning in my part of the world, people were starting to use this thing called Livejournal. And I suppose Blogger was also up and running by then? But I didn’t meet it until later when a casual web-search for I-now-forget-what took me to the Blogenspiel of Another Damned Medievalist and that alerted me to the fact that there were in fact people blogging in my field. No hint here of this informal educational medium that’s so challenged, well, newspapers and so on, for informed commentary and, well, education. I mean, even a couple of years ago `blogger’ was still a term of ridicule, Cafepress are still selling “I’m blogging this” t-shirts from when that was an empty threat because reading blogs was something only misfits did. And now, well, for heavens’ sake, the popularity of this here site has been going down for some months—it’s hard to tell because of the substantial but varying input of the Český Krumlov queries, which persist, and rather drown an apparently declining traffic from other sources—but I still draw ten thousand hits a month, and I am not exactly mainstream media, you know? In 1997, anyway, this appears to have been off the radar, which given that it may be happening right now is perhaps forgiveable. But even this is recognised in a small way by the fact that it is because of this change that one of their links, once located via Google, the old journal Le Médiéviste et l’Ordinateur, ceased publication in 2007, seeing a sea change in Internet use that made it effectively redundant. Their page now directs readers to Digital Medievalist and Ménestrel, among others. I wonder if I’ll be able to do a post like this from a print article in 2019?

Will I in fact be able to do a post like this in 2019 at all? I’ve mentioned all this mainly out of nostalgia but also by way of giving weight and perspective to a rather apocalyptic-sounding comment I recently made at Modern Medieval and an older one I made at In the Medieval Middle that didn’t make it through moderation, to the effect that anyone who thinks putting something online makes it permanent is fooling themselves. Where’s Simon Keynes’s Anglo-Saxon Studies Bibliography? Even when, as with Carrie, it is still there, you can’t necessarily find it because the domain has changed and so has its name so all your search terms are uselessly broad. So keep offline copies and contribute to the Internet Archive, I guess, and remember that we work on sources that survived a thousand years or more because someone wrote them down in ink on skin and someone else, most likely, packed them between wooden boards and then generations of someones else kept them somewhere dry. Your CD-Rs will not last that long, or probably even as long as you do. Also, manuscripts (or books or print journals) don’t need mains power to be read. The low-tech will still be worth thinking about for a while.


Celia Fernández Corral & Enrique González Alonso, “Latin Medieval e Internet”, in Maurilio Pérez González (ed.), Actas, II Congreso Hispánico de latín medieval (León, 11-14 de noviembre de 1997) vol. I (León 1998), pp. 449-462.

`Anglo-Saxon Art in the Round’ Virtual Exhibition

Silver early penny, Series Q, East Anglia. Fitzwilliam Museum CM.1903-2007, De Wit Collection

Silver early penny, Series Q, East Anglia. Fitzwilliam Museum CM.1903-2007, De Wit Collection

It was now a considerable time ago that Nicola Griffith posted a notice at Gemæcca expressing her excitement about the exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, where I earn my crust, entitled Anglo-Saxon Art in the Round. That exhibition opened on 23rd May 2008, and its purpose was to celebrate the fact that we’d just been able to get hold of a stunning collection of early Anglo-Saxon pennies (also known as sceattas, though we deprecate this term). It ran till September 2008 and was fairly well-received. I did the enlargements which, because of the tiny size of the coins, were a big feature of it, and I also did the virtual exhibition to go alongside it, using the text from the physical case labels and so forth to try and mimic the physical layout on the web.

A Merovingian gold tremissis struck in the Toul area, Fitzwilliam Museum PG.10720, Grierson Collection

A Merovingian gold tremissis struck in the Toul area, Fitzwilliam Museum PG.10720, Grierson Collection

You will have noticed that I didn’t mention the virtual exhibition here. This was partly because it wasn’t finished when the physical exhibition opened because someone sent me to Madrid at short notice; but it was finished a week after that. All the same, you can see that I was still promising it to Michelle of Heavenfield just after Christmas that year. It still wasn’t live by the time we closed the physical exhibition and packed it off to Norwich Castle Museum. In January 2009 they too dismantled it and sent it to Ipswich Town Hall Galleries, where it is on display till September 2009. For all of this time what I can only describe as circumstances beyond my control have kept our virtual companion to the physical displays offline. We did at least have a podcast by my boss put up, which has now been linked into the virtual exhibition. At last, however, all has been finalised and sent live to the web, and I would be very pleased if you found time to give it a look. It’s quite informative and full of pictures of wild and wonderful early Saxon art in metal. I hope you like it. (Michelle, our Oswald’s Raven or whatever it is is on the third page.) Go on. Cheer this fellow up!

Silver early penny, series Z, c. 715-20, Fitzwilliam Museum CM.1614-2007, De Wit Collection

Silver early penny, series Z, c. 715-20, Fitzwilliam Museum CM.1614-2007, De Wit Collection

N. B. coins not to scale…

Webpage updates

I’m sorry things have been so quiet around here lately. I’ve been adding (and removing) things from the sidebar and so on but everything I’m currently involved with that might lead to blog posts other than what’s on the web is of the long-term, whole-book sort of nature rather than the quick snappy reflection after a single paper. And of course there are no seminars because we’re out of term, and so on. There will be more here soon when I finish some of the reading, and most especially after I have been to and come back from Catalonia in early January. (Catalonia in early January… I must get some Wellington boots!)

In the meantime though, since I’ve mentioned things on the web, it may interest one or two of you to know that I have recently given my webpages a much-needed update. This has included updating information about forthcoming publications, of which there are now even more though sadly none actually yet existent (see moans in the blog passim). This time I’ve reluctantly included the solely-numismatic stuff I’ve done for the Museum as well as my mainline academic output, if only because otherwise I feel it looks to the sceptical enquirer rather as if I’ve been mostly idle this year just gone. Though I shouldn’t feel like that: four different conference papers, three of them written for the occasion, in three countries, a book and two papers entirely revised, etc…. All the same, actual final evidence of my activity is thin, and so the other things I have been up to are now there as well.

Also, you may see if you look closely that that page now has a link to this one, where you can find, if for some unlikely reason you want to, a PDF version of my doctoral thesis. This has taken me so long to do that the original’s pagination is irretrievably irreproducible, alas, but that seemed a rather feeble objection to just getting a PDF convertor and running with it. So next time I say, “you can look it up”, you will actually be able to fairly trivially.

In the meantime I hope you’re all having good and peaceful, or at least useful, holidays and I’ll see you in virtuo soon.