IMS Open Lecture Series : Runes and Verse: The Medialities of Early Scandinavian Poetry

Tuesday 21st February, 2017 – 17.30

Judith Jesch is Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham. She is the author most recently of The Viking Diaspora (2015) and is currently working mainly on runic inscriptions and Old Norse poetry. She is also PI on the AHRC-funded ‘Bringing the Vikings Back to the East Midlands’ project, starting on 1 February 2017.

In this lecture, Professor Jesch will discuss a number of versified runic inscriptions, from ca. 400 to 1400 AD, to explore what they reveal about the forms and functions of early Scandinavian poetry outside the manuscript tradition.

Nathan Bodington Council Chamber, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds.

Thornton Le Street Heritage Lottery Fund Project.

Thornton Le Street History Group are launching their Heritage Lottery funded archaeology and history project with an Open Day to be held in the village hall on Saturday 18th February between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm. Anyone interested in participating is invited to come along, see what is involved and register their interest.

Thornton le Street is a typical Vale of York village with extensive evidence of early occupation. The project will study the history of the village and its surrounding area which contains a substantial Scheduled Monument site, a water mill, a river ford, an early church, and landed estates. Two Roman roads are said to converge at this point and it is hoped to resolve whether the village is Roman or medieval in origin.

Jim Brightman of Solstice Heritage, who recently led a community archaeology project at Kiplin Hall in the nearby Vale of Mowbray, will supervise the project which will be of 18 months duration. Training and practical experience will be provided in archaeological field work and historical documentary research. The latest digital recording will be used which will be incorporated into a bespoke website which will be developed by the participants.

If you cannot attend on the day, a project synopsis is available on the village website  or you can contact John Sheehan on 01609 771878 or at

February 2017 Medieval Section Lecture

I regret to inform readers that we have just received the news that Professor Sarah Rees Jones, who had stepped in to give the Medieval Section lecture tomorrow afternoon at Swarthmore in place of Dr Peter Addyman has had to pull out due to ill health.  In the circumstances we cannot find another replacement in the time avalable, so we regret that the lecture will have to be cancelled.  Please pass this news on to anyone you know who you think may not receive it via this means, or through the Medieval section mailing list and blog.

February 2017 lecture

Saturday 11th February, 2017 2 p.m. at Swarthmore

Professor Sarah Rees Jones, of the Dept of Medieval Studies at the University of York and one of the co-authors of the York Historic Towns Atlas will give this Saturday’s talk to the Medieval Section instead of Peter Addyman who is unavoidably detained in the USA.

Sarah is a distinguished medieval historian whose recently-published book on medieval York has been very well received.

January 2017 Lecture

St William window procession

Our speaker at the first Medieval Section lecture of the new calendar year on 14th January will be Dr Elisa Foster, and she will be talking about ‘Investigating the Head Reliquary of St William of York: Processions, Piety and Place.’ Dr Foster has kindly sent an abstract of her presentation:

From its foundation in 1408, the Corpus Christi Guild in York was responsible for organising a city-wide procession of the Eucharist. Although the shrine used during this procession was destroyed in 1546, inventory records and account rolls reveal that guild members donated luxury items and devotional objects to attach to its surface. Such offerings were quite unusual for Eucharistic shrines, but were more commonly found on the shrines of saints, like those that could have been seen in York Minster. Although the majority of these shrines were located at fixed sites in the cathedral, the head reliquary shrine of St William was borne in procession around the city on the feast of the saint’s translation, and inventory records indicate that it was also adorned with luxury objects. These shrines are not often examined together, but both objects were deeply connected to the civic identity of late medieval York. This paper will argue that that the processional shrines of the Head of St William and Corpus Christi encouraged emulation and rivalry, both spiritually and civically. A comparative analysis of these shrines and their processions thus aims to reveal new insights into the complex nature of medieval civic identity in the City of York.

Elisa Foster a Henry Moore Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Fellow based at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. She received her PhD from Brown University in the United States, where she wrote her thesis on sculptures of the black Madonna in European art from c. 1200-1700. Her research on this topic has been recently published in Studies in Iconography, Peregrinations: A Journal of Medieval Art and Architecture and the edited volume, Envisioning Others: Race, Color and the Visual in Iberia and Latin America. In addition to her research on Black Madonnas, Elisa is co-editor a collection of essays titled Devotional Interaction in Medieval England and Its Afterlives, forthcoming in 2017. Her research in Yorkshire expands her interest in destroyed objects and iconoclasm, focusing specifically on the shrine of Corpus Christi in York, from which her talk on Saturday 14th January is derived.

As usual the lecture will be held at Swarthmore, 2-3pm. We look forward to seeing you there and have a Happy New Year.

IMS Open Lecture Series The Present Mirrored in the Past: Why Interpreting Medieval Monasticism Matters

Tuesday 6 December 2016 – 17.30

Emilia Jamroziak (Professor of Medieval Religious History, School of History, and Director, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds) Inaugural Lecture: The Present Mirrored in the Past: Why Interpreting Medieval Monasticism Matters

Nathan Bodington Council Chamber, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds.

Audrey Thorstad: Interaction, Daily Life, and Socialising Spaces in Early Tudor Castles (10th December 2016)


Cowdray Castle
Cowdrey Castle (c.) Dr Audrey Thorstad

The next lecture in the programme will be by Dr Audrey Thorstad talking about Interaction, daily life, and socialising spaces in early Tudor castles on 10th December. This will be held in the Swarthmore Institute.

Dr Thorstad kindly sent the following abstract and the photograph of Cowdray Castle:-

‘Castles have long been understood as elite military structures. However, recent approaches to castle studies have demonstrated that historical documents and archaeological remains depict a much more complex narrative for those living, working, and visiting a castle site during the Middle Ages and early modern periods. This paper will explore how people – from the lord and his family to members of the household and guests – moved around and used space in English castles of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. My approach takes into account sources that have not previously been used together in order to explore the layout and chamber arrangements in an age when castles were supposedly in decline. By dismantling the idea of the decline paradigm often used to describe castles after the fourteenth century, this paper will argue that castles were in fact still heavily used by the nobility well into the sixteenth century.’

Reminder about YAHS Trip to Richmond 13th October

Details for the Richmond visit on Thursday 13 October: in the morning at 11.00 meet at the The Georgian Theatre Royal, Victoria Road, Richmond, DL10 4DW. Tel 01748-823710. Cost to participants £6.00 – this can be paid on the day. Tea/coffee will be provided on our arrival.

Park in the Market Square and walk northwards up King Street (at the side of The King’s Head Hotel); turn left onto Victoria Road and the theatre is on your left. Disc parking is available for 2 hours in the Market Square, following which we suggest moving cars to the former Richmond Station which is adjacent to the swimming pool, just across the river, off the A6136 Catterick Garrison road, postcode DL10 4LD. Parking here is currently 50p for 2 hours or £1 for 4 hours. Lunch will be in this beautiful building, now restored – numbers are needed in advance for reserved tables.

“The Station is a stunning riverside Victorian railway building; brought back to life as an art gallery and exhibition space, community venue for groups, meetings and classes, and home to a variety of independent businesses.

If you wish to join the Richmond visit please let Jane Ellis know as soon as possible, preferably by e-mail  or telephone 07787-311913.

The organiser needs to know a.s.a.p. the numbers who will be going.