Swaledale Corpse Way: a winding medieval path used by mourners to carry their dead to the nearest church~

There was a time in England when commoners couldn’t afford to hire a horse or a cart to transport their dead, and so they were forced to carry the corpses themselves to the nearest church. This unpleasant situation led to the creation of paths like the Swaledale Corpse Way, now known simply as the Corpse Way or corpse road, a 16-mile medieval track linking the hamlet of Keld with Grinton, farther down the valley, a small village and civil parish in the Yorkshire Dales, in the Richmondshire district of North…

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Hook Lighthouse: one of the oldest operating lighthouse in the world

We are on Hook Head at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, in Ireland. Hook Lighthouse is an astonishing still-intact medieval lighthouse. Built 800 years ago, it continues to serve its original function and now boasts the award of the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world, after the Tower of Hercules in Spain. The lighthouse marks to entrance to Waterford harbour where the Barrow, Nore and Suir rivers meet. It operates with Tuskar Rock and Mine Head lights to provide coverage on the Ireland’s South East…

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Old City Wall of Berlin: the last remnants of a massive medieval wall that once encompassed the city

November 2019 marked 30 years since the Berlin Wall, which divided East and West Berlin for more than 25 years, fell. But Berlin is a city which has been surrounded by walls since its very beginning. Maybe not everyone knows that, centuries before Berlin’s most notorious wall epitomized the Iron Curtain, another wall defined the german capital’s cityscape. It is the Berlin Stadtmauer, or City Wall, that was erected sometime during the 13th century as a defensive barrier to fortify the city. Spanning about 2.5 kilometers, the wall encompassed Berlin’s…

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The Aqueduct of Segovia, a glorious Roman heritage in Spain

If we speak about architecture, the Romans are among the greatest builders of the world’s history. Some of the surviving Roman buildings and monuments are magnificient still today, many centuries after they were built. And one of such creations is the famed Roman Aqueduct of Segovia. The historic city of Segovia is located in north-western central Spain, in the autonomous region of Castile and Leon. This important city is rich in history and sights, as it is located on an important trading route between Merida and Zaragossa. In ancient history,…

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Francesco Petrarca’s house: a modest museum in the final home of Italian poet

“In the Euganean Hills, I had a small house built, decorous and noble; here, I live out the last years of my life peacefully, recalling and embracing with constant memory my absent and deceased friends.” (Petrarch, Senili, XIII, 8, Letter to Matteo Longo, January 6 1371). Francesco Petrarca, one of the first humanists, was a founding figure in the Italian Renaissance, but also the poet who helped solidify modern Italian. He spent his final years tending vegetables in this incredibly old house, which predates even his own residence there. Years…

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The mysterious case of dance mania that broke out in Medieval Europe

St. John’s Dance, known historically as St. Vitus Dance, was a social phenomenon involving a type of dance mania that gripped mainland Europe between the 14 th and 17 th centuries. On this day, June 24 1374, just several decades after the Black Death swept across Europe, one of the most well-known major outbreaks of dance mania in Medieval Europe broke out in the German city of Aachen, even if it spread to Liege, Utrecht, Tongres and other towns up and down the Rhine. What was the problem? Afflicted individuals…

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St. Senara’s Curch and the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor~

A variety of fish-tailed gods were worshipped by the first civilisations of the Middle East, and the earliest known of these was Oannes, Lord of the Waters, who appeared about 7000 years ago. However, it is unclear what the connection is between these ancient gods and the mermaids that were reported by European sailors from around the 15th century onwards. But sightings were at one time pretty common in Cornwall. British folklore proposes that the mermaid represents an early depiction of the goddess Aphrodite, who was seen as a warning…

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Bored? Take a virtual murder tour of medieval London!

On the Wednesday September 14, 1337 the Coroner and Sheriffs were informed that Juliana Prickfield, a washerwoman, had been found dead at the Hospital of St Katherine. The jurors found that at midnight on the preceding Tuesday, Thomas Long of Sandwich, a skinner, had broken into Juliana’s house near the Hospital of St Katherine and attacked her with an ‘Irish knife’, inflicting wounds under the left breast and on her throat, from which she died immediately. The assailant stole a strongbox containing money and jewels and then fled, but the…

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The Snow Child: a black humor medieval folktale

In medieval France a few different type of story was told as an alternative to the fairy tales or the popular fables, know as “Fabliaux”, in French, with a simple and linear plot. Focusing mostly on tales of commoners, they often treated adulterous wives and husbands, and their purpose was to make the listeners laugh. Often anonymous, they were written by “jongleurs” (minstrels, medieval European entertainers in northeast France) between c. 1150 and 1400, and they are generally characterized by sexual and scatological obscenity, and by a set of contrary…

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The Lost Town of Newtown Jerpoint, Ireland. Santa Claus is buried here?

We are just outside the Irish town of Thomastown, in Kilkenny. According to a local legend, the remains of Father Christmas lie within the medieval grounds of what’s left of the abandoned medieval village of Newtown Jerpoint. The ruins of Saint Nicholas’ Church, which dates to sometime between the 12th and 13th centuries, still stand. Local legend has it that Saint Nicholas, the inspiration behind Santa Claus, is buried within a cracked, carved tomb in its grounds. The man buried there It’s more probably a local priest from Jerpoint Abbey,…

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