Researchers bring Old Norse language back to JORVIK Viking Centre

Old Norse has been brought back to life by researchers at the University of York through the voices of new animatronic Viking characters at the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre.

 

 

The characters, which are voiced by Masters and PhD students at the University’s Centre for Medieval Studies and Department of English and Related Literature, form part of the revamped JORVIK Viking Centre, which opens its doors for the first time in 16 months following substantial damage to the attraction as a result of the 2015 floods.

The animatronic characters within JORVIK help tell the stories of what life was like in the year AD960 and are based on over 30 years of archaeological research by York Archaeological Trust, who discovered the remains of the Viking city during the Coppergate excavations of 1976-81.

Expert in the language, literature and history of the Viking Age, Dr Matthew Townend, translated the Jorvik script into Old Norse and Anglo Saxon, working alongside a team of students who were able to speak Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon for the voices of the animatronic characters.

Dr Townend said: “Old Norse is the ancestor of all the modern Scandinavian languages, and also exerted a profound influence on the English language, especially in the north of England.

“The University of York is one of a small number of institutions in the UK where Old Norse language and literature are studied intensively, and it’s been really exciting for the students and myself to be able to contribute our expertise to the re-fit of the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre. We hope very much that our linguistic soundscape will help to take visitors back in time to a fascinating and important period.”

PhD student in the Department of English and Related Literature, Nik Gunn, provided language training for staff at the Centre, allowing them access to the basic principles of the Old Norse language to engage visitors with the way in which the Vikings communicated and the meaning of common phrases.

Rich heritage

Nik Gunn said: “Recreating material culture is something that archaeologists and heritage professionals have been doing well for decades, so bringing ‘everyday’ Old Norse, and Old English, back to life was a really interesting challenge.

“Linguistic diversity is such a crucial element of the story of Viking Age England, and hearing the languages that would have been spoken in 10th century York will help to raise awareness of this rich heritage.”

Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions for JORVIK Viking Centre, said: “University research helps organisations, like York Archaeological Trust, to deliver engaging and authentic interpretations of history to the public.

“JORVIK is well known for its sights and smells, however with this new incarnation we are able to additionally expand on the soundscape and in particular the languages spoken.

“In AD960, Jorvik was an ethnically-diverse city with a population of 15,000; so as well as old Norse, visitors will hear animatronics speak Old English, Ancient Arabic, Old Irish and Middle Welsh.”

York Medieval Lecture: Literary Networks of the Vicars Choral and the Clerical Proletariat in Late Medieval York, Professor Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (7 March 2017)

York Medieval Lecture, Tuesday 7 March 2017

Professor Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (Notre Dame): ‘Literary Networks of the Vicars Choral and the Clerical Proletariat in Late Medieval York’

 

When Margery Kempe visited York Minster in 1417 she was befriended by two choral vicarii, John Kendale “and another preste whech song be the bischopys grave.” The grave was Richard Scrope’s, executed under Henry IV, and his semi-suppressed cult still no doubt a matter of some delicacy. Kendale and his unnamed fellow here were likely not only counseling Kempe, but telling her about the Minster’s history and saint’s cults – part of the job of cathedral vicarii. Kendale was also an owner of Piers Plowman, and if we link such information about the literary interests of the vicarii with some of the contemporary Latin writings produced at York Minster, we get a rare view of literary circles of the clerks lower down the ladder in the Minster’s local pride in its history (both legendary and more recent), its saints, and its zeal to protect its power and privileges. Other survivals relate directly to the Scrope execution, such as poems of traumatic mourning in heavily liturgical Latin (his death was personally witnessed by many of his cathedral familia in 1405, as its chronicles show), and fragmentary in-house chronicles – some of it even versified, as if for memorization. Despite the censorship efforts of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, a range of literature sprang up from within the the Minster, giving us a rare chance to look at the multilingual literary production within a normally invisible group. Comparisons will be made to surviving poetry from manuscripts connected to Norwich Cathedral Priory or London’s St. Paul’s, containing poems about the woes of chorister life or clerical isolation.

Professor Kerby-Fulton is the Notre Dame Professor of English. She works in Middle English literature and medieval Latin intellectual history, including religious and political censorship, apocalypticism, visionary writing and women’s mysticism. She has also worked on medieval manuscript studies in England and Anglo-Ireland, history of the book and medieval literary theory, especially in relation to marginalia, text-image relations, and reading practices before print.

To book tickets for this event, please use the University of York Eventbite website

 

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York Medieval Lecture: ‘Medieval Psalters as Witnesses to Liturgical Song: the Iberian Case’ – Dr Emma Hornby (25 April 2017)

York Medieval Lecture, 25 April 2017

Dr Emma Hornby (University of Bristol): ‘Medieval Psalters as Witnesses to Liturgical s
Song: the Iberian Case’

Christians in medieval Iberia had their own liturgical practices, independent of the Roman liturgy, until the late 11th century. Although about 40 surviving manuscripts and fragments bear witness to the Old Hispanic liturgy, it has remained a niche interest for scholars, in part because of its ‘peripheral’ status. A further, major, challenge is notational: thousands of Old Hispanic chants have been preserved, but in a notation that does not show pitch or intervals. We cannot transcribe or perform this material nowadays; it remains silent.

This lecture presents some of my recent research, in collaboration with Kati Ihnat (Nijmegen University), on this material. We have been exploring the use of psalmody in medieval Iberia. North of the Pyrenees, Benedictine monks sang the entire psalter every week; secular cathedral communities sang the psalter every three weeks. Scholars have argued fiercely about whether the Iberian evidence points towards a three week cycle, or even no psalm cycle at all. In attempting to understand and judge these arguments, we made a close analysis of two Iberian psalters, one from the 11th century and the other from the 12th. (BNE 10001, and LBL add. 30851; images of both manuscripts are now freely available online). As we delved into the contents more and more deeply, we found ourselves completely over-turning previous scholarly ideas about the shape and priorities of the liturgical day on the Iberian peninsula in the early middle ages. We have also been able to interrogate the unpitched neumes in which the psalm antiphons are preserved, resulting in the first attempted understanding since medieval times of the musical logic of the repertoire. Here, I introduce these beautiful and striking manuscripts, their cultural context, and their significance for medievalists, for musicologists, and for those who enjoy a good detective story.

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Breaking with Byzantium: Franciscan Artistic Patronage and Piety in Central Italy at the dawn of the Trecento (Monday 27 February 2017)

Breaking with Byzantium: Franciscan Artistic Patronage and Piety in Central Italy at the dawn of the Trecento

Speaker: Dr Donal Cooper (Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge)

Monday 27 February 2017, 4.30pm, Berrick Saul Building, Bowland Auditorium (BS/005)

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The Franciscan Order can be seen as the primary patronage framework within which different concepts of religious imagery played out in Italy in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. As Hans Belting and more recently Anne Derbes and Amy Neff have shown, the story is complex with the Order’s sensitivity to Byzantine art interacting with its innovative and increasingly empathetic devotional practices, developments most closely associated with the Meditations on the Life of Christ. As Emile Mâle famously commented: “few books have had a greater influence on art…” At the same time the ample historiography on Franciscan art is littered with unsuccessful attempts to relate the paintings and buildings commissioned by the friars with the bitter conflicts over the observation of poverty that gripped the Order in the years to either side of 1300 – when groups of idealistic Franciscans known today as the ‘Spirituals’ resisted the Order’s increasing institutionalization and its patronage of art and architecture. Recent discoveries by manuscript scholars and new finds in the archives – presented here for the first time – on the date and authorship of the Meditations on the Life of Christ invite a reassessment of this core devotional text, its relationship to internal debate within the Order, and its impact on Franciscan artistic patronage. Reviewed in this light, the fresco cycles painted by Giotto and Pietro Lorenzetti at Assisi can be understood as complex responses to the Order’s troubles, which absorbed the same devotional culture that underpinned the Meditations at the same time as they asserted an approved image of Franciscan poverty.

Donal Cooper is Senior Lecturer in Italian Art at the University of Cambridge and has published widely on the art and architecture of late medieval and Renaissance Italy, particularly the artistic patronage of the Franciscan Order. Publications include his co-authored monograph with Dr Janet Robson on the Upper Church of the Basilica of San Francesco at Assisi, The Making of Assisi (Yale University Press, 2013) which won the Art Book Prize in 2014.

This event is organized in association with the Medieval Art and Medievalisms Research School and the Project Exploring Fourteenth-Century Art Across the Eastern and Western Christian World.

Everyone is welcome.

A Workshop on the Sainte Chapelle, featuring talks by Professor Cecelia Gaposchkin and Dr Emily Guerry (28 February 2017)

A Workshop on the Sainte Chapelle (Paris) – K/133, 5.15 – 7pm, 28 February 2017

The Sainte-Chapelle is a royal chapel within the medieval Palais de la Cité in Paris. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France (1214-1270) to house his collection of Passion relics, including the Crown of Thorns. The Sainte-Chapelle is one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité and is famed for its Gothic architecture and stained glass.

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This workshop will feature two papers examining the liturgy and the stained glass of the Sainte-Chapelle in its thirteenth-century context:

  • M. Cecilia Gaposchkin (Dartmouth College): ‘Salvation and Judgment in the Liturgy of the Sainte-Chapelle’
  • Emily Guerry (University of Kent): ‘A New Son of Man: Sheep, Goats, and the King of Kings in French Gothic Iconography’

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Our speakers are two of the most exciting scholars working on the Sainte Chapelle, liturgy, religious devotion and stained glass:

Cecilia Gaposchkin (Dartmouth College) has published on the crusades and on the Capetian monarchy, and is currently working on liturgy and ceremony in thirteenth-century Paris. Her most recent book is on how liturgy and church ritual underwrote holy war and crusading: Invisible Weapons: Liturgy and the Making of Crusade Ideology (Cornell UP, 2017). She is also the author of The Making of Saint Louis (IX) of France: Kingship, Sanctity and Crusade in the Later Middle Ages (Cornell UP, 2008), Blessed Louis, The Most Glorious of Kings: Texts relating to the Cult of Saint Louis of France (Notre Dame: 2012; translations done with Phyllis Katz), and, with Sean Field and Larry Field, The Sanctity of Louis IX: Early Lives of Saint Louis by Geoffrey of Beaulieu and William of Chartres (Cornell UP: 2014).

Emily Guerry (University of Kent) works on the relationship between religious devotion and artistic representation in the Middle Ages and is particularly interested in how the veneration of relics influenced Christian iconography. She is the author of Crowning Paris: King Louis IX, Archbishop Cornut, and the Translation of the Crown of Thorns (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 2016) and will publish The wall paintings of the Sainte-Chapelle: Passion, Devotion, and the Gothic Imagination (Harvey Miller, 2018).

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Huth Psalter (York/Lincoln, c1270s), London BL MA Add. 38116, folio 13v

4th Annual Late Medieval France and Burgundy Workshop (3 December 2016)

The 4th Annual Late Medieval France and Burgundy Workshop (3 December 2016) brings together scholars from different disciplines working on late medieval French and Burgundian culture and history.

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Registration (10.00-10.30am)

Session 1 (10.30-12.00pm)
Kristin Bourassa (University of Southern Denmark), ‘Pierre Salmon’s Dialogues and Political Literature in Late-Medieval France’
Craig Taylor (University of York) & Jane Taylor (University of Durham), ‘Le livre des fais du bon messire Jehan le Maingre, dit Bouciquaut
Rebecca Dixon (University of Liverpool), ‘The Sound of Silence: Visual Noise in Burgundian Manuscript Illustration’

Session 2 (1.30-3pm)
Katherine Wilson (University of Chester), ‘Inventories as urban and courtly ‘theatre’
Helen Swift (Oxford University), ‘Who am I when I am dead? Rethinking identity and narrative voice in late- medieval French literature’
Hannah Skoda (Oxford University), ‘Nostalgia in fourteenth-century France’

Session 3 (3.30-4.45pm)
Justine Firnhaber-Baker (University of St Andrews), ‘Telling Stories: Sources and Methods for Writing about Rebellion’
Godfried Croenen (University of Liverpool), ‘Narrativisation, entrelacement and the re-writing of Froissart’s Book I’

Roundtable (5.00-6.00pm)

Registration costs £15. For further information, please contact craig.taylor@york.ac.uk

Please download our workshop poster and programme of events

 

Call for Papers: Powerful Emotions / Emotions & Power c. 400-1850 (28-30 June 2017)

The Centre for Medieval Studies, the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies have joined forces to establish a relationship with the Australian Research Council funded project on the History of Emotions (http://www.historyofemotions.org.au).
As part of this collaboration, the University of York and the Australian Research Council will be holding a joint conference on Powerful Emotions / Emotions & Power c. 400-1850 in York from 28-30 June 2017. The call for papers is now available at http://www.yorkemotion.com
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CMS Summer Party

On Monday 20 June 2016, we held our annual CMS Summer Party on the lawn at the King’s Manor. Blessed by a unprecedented splash of sunshine, we gathered for strawberries, prossecco and ice creams provided by Paul and his truck!

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During the party, we were delighted to announce that Stephanie Montieth is this year’s winner of the £150 Garmonsway Prize for the best academic performance in the first half of the MA in Medieval Studies, as well as the Viking Poetry Essay prize.

We also had the sad task of saying goodbye to Andy and Dawson, two great friends of the CMS who are leaving as the university makes radical changes to the portering arrangements at the King’s Manor. We are very sorry to see them go.

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And many thanks to Heidi Stoner for taking the photographs at the event!

A Visit to the Palace of Westminster

Jennifer Caddick is a student on the MA in Medieval Studies and is currently writing a dissertation on Sermons and the Painted Chamber during the Opening of English Parliaments, 1399-1484. At the end of April, she was shown round the Palace of Westminster by Martyn Atkins, Senior Clerk at the House of Commons. Here she reflects on that visit.

For the past couple of years, I’ve enjoyed studying a few different aspects of late-medieval English parliaments. Despite this interest, I’d only ever accessed them through the parliament rolls and had never managed to visit the Palace of Westminster as it stands today. Until the end of April, that is. Martyn Atkins was kind enough to take time out of his day to show me around, and I was able to see and learn a great deal about the history of the Palace of Westminster, and hear some interesting stories about parliamentary proceedings today! While I was able to see a large amount of the Palace of Westminster (including the Lords and Commons chambers, and the committee rooms), the visit was incredibly useful in providing me with a better perspective on the site for my MA dissertation on opening sermons and the Painted Chamber between 1399 and 1484.

 

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Westminster Hall has been central to (what is now) the parliamentary estate since the 11th century. In 1399 during the first parliament of Henry IV’s reign, members gathered for the opening of parliament in “the Great Hall of Westminster” (PROME online). With quite a nice sense of continuity, Westminster Hall is still used for political purposes, and the opening ceremonies for conferences of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and the North Atlantic Assembly have been held there.

From Westminster Hall, we next walked to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, which is beautiful and definitely worth checking out! Admittedly, it was restored in the second-half of the 19th century, when there were attempts to recreate its medieval decorations in a neo-gothic style. Adjacent to the Chapel as well is a broom cupboard with a plaque inside dedicated to the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who hid in there overnight during the 1911 census.

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While Westminster Hall provided a brilliant sense of the architecture of the medieval palace, St Stephen’s Hall was useful in terms of getting a better idea of the dimensions of the Painted Chamber. The current St Stephen’s Hall was built upon the foundations of St Stephen’s Chapel, which was lost in the 1834 fire, but which during the medieval period was parallel to the Painted Chamber. Seeing St Stephen’s Hall, however, has made more real for me a problem I was encountering when considering the audience of the opening sermons. The rolls of parliament seem to suggest that everyone involved in parliamentary proceedings would gather before the King. Yet this doesn’t seem to be entirely plausible when considering the dimensions of the building.

When the Painted Chamber panels were uncovered in the early 19th century, copies were made by Stothard and Crocker, whose works were then used by Tristram to reproduce the images. These reproductions were tucked away together away from what I believe is the normal visitors’ groups (we’d definitely gotten away from the school groups at that point at least), and I may not have had the chance to see them otherwise. Although they are reproductions, it was again rather wonderful to be able to see the scale on which these images may have been produced, and the details that may have been implemented.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures at that point, but I was able to snap another picture on the terrace.

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And then, one final picture – Martyn and I with Westminster Hall in the background (it had just started raining…).

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Thank you again to Martyn for his time and for the opportunity to visit the Palace of Westminster, and thanks also to Craig Taylor for contacting Martyn and making this visit possible.