Tag Archives: MARCUS

MARCUS Events: Spring 2018

The Medieval and Ancient Research Centre at the University of Sheffield (MARCUS) brings together a concentration of research and teaching expertise that is unique within the UK. Ranging from archaic Greece to Renaissance Europe, MARCUS represents an array of disciplines, from history to biblical studies, from philosophy to languages, and from archaeology to music. What holds us together is the belief that the social structures, cultural expressions and individual experiences of this period are at the foundation of the world we live in today. MARCUS co-ordinates a regular seminar series and organises other events, both for specialists and for the interested public. You can follow MARCUS on Twitter: @MedAndAncient

To find details of MARCUS events running in the Spring semester of 2018 please click here


CONQUEST 950: A Celebration of the Anniversary of the Norman Conquest

Friday 20 May, 2016

Conquest 950 is a day of informal talks by academics researching the Norman Conquest and its impact on the north of England. Everyone is welcome. Please attend whenever and whichever talks you please. Further information to come about rooms and times.

The talks include:

6th Day Of 1066:  A Date with the Devil – Blame King Harold for the Norman Conquest. Ian McGill (Grapevine Magazine)

Sheffield journalist Ian Macgill will explain that King Harold’s reign was bound to end in tragedy. A glance at the date of his coronation tell us that. It has Satan’s three sixes writ large: 6th day… of 1066. During this talk you will learn that the power-hunger of Harold and members of his family brought about the Norman invasion of 1066. There are many parallels with America’s glittering and fiendish Kennedy clan of the 20th Century, though they seem like pussycats compared to their English counterparts. Some say John F. Kennedy stole the presidency of the United States. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. But Harold Godwinson definitely stole the throne of England. He staged a coup in January of 1066, and changed the history of the world. END

Vampires and the Norman Conquest: a Derbyshire perspective. Charles West (Sheffield)

Around 20 years after the Norman Conquest, the village of Drakelow in south Derbyshire apparently experienced supernatural attacks that led to its abandonment. This short talk discusses this strange episode, and asks: was it connected to the Conquest?

Playing Detective: Discovering Scribes in Eleventh-Century England. Christine Wallis (Sheffield)

One of the challenges and attractions of working with manuscripts is that the texts they contain are unique to each manuscript.  Every time a text was (re)copied, the scribe had the potential to alter the text, and on occasion provided a radical reworking of his exemplar.  A close study of the choices scribes made when copying allows us to uncover some of the processes involved in manuscript compilation, and to investigate the training and working practices of scribes writing English in the eleventh century.

Sheffield Castle – still at the heart of the city. John Moreland (Sheffield)

In this presentation I will provide a brief introduction to the history of Sheffield Castle, will illustrate various (piecemeal) archaeological campaigns on the site from the 1920s – 1990s, and will describe the current efforts both to secure funds for a major excavation and to situate the Castle at the heart of city centre regeneration.

Tasting the past: Unearthing the Chemistry of Medieval Beer. Lee Eales (Sheffield)

Understanding the drivers of changes in consumer preferences is complex; this is especially the case when those changes occurred nearly 1000 years ago. The Medieval period, (1066- 1530’s) was a time of unprecedented fluctuations in population, technological advancement and social organisation.  Beer and beer production was a major contributing factor to population growth as beer is largely free of human pathogens. At the start of the middle ages, beers were flavoured with a mixture of herbs called gruit. By the end of the Middle Ages gruit had been replaced by hops, however, when this change occurred is a matter of considerable debate amongst historians. With the modern analytical techniques at our disposal, it is now possible to tease out the answers to some of these questions by understanding the chemistry of beers in a historical context. Here, we present a novel method for the targeted analytical fingerprinting of chemical compounds for both hopped and un-hopped medieval beer found on, and in the fabric of medieval ceramics.  Ceramics from the Middle Ages are not internally glazed thus the contents of the ceramics are in direct contact with the surface of the clays from which the ceramics are made. Clay minerals are usually negatively charged and thus have the capacity to act as ionic exchange surfaces, immobilizing positively charged ions. The flavour-giving alpha and beta acids and flavonoids found in beers are aromatic, containing cyclic carbon structures such as benzene and toluene rings. As a result of delocalisation of electrons in aromatic compounds, they are predisposed to interact with charged surfaces and thus should be immobilised indefinitely by unglazed ceramics as well as being protected from the active site of any enzymes capable of degrading them. As a result, these compounds are sorbed to the ceramic surface and subsequently can be analysed by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorbtion/Ionisation Mass Spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSi).

The Bayeux Tapestry: myths and messages. Michael Lewis (British Museum)

The Bayeux Tapestry is probably the most famous medieval artwork, yet much about it remains enigmatic. In this talk Dr Michael Lewis (British Museum) accesses fact from fiction, to explore what we know (for certain) about its production, patron and date of manufacture, as well as examining some key scenes in the Tapestry that have divided expert opinion.

Resistance: England after 1066. James Aitcheson (Historical Novelist)

Historical novelist James Aitcheson discusses the English rebellions that followed the Battle of Hastings, as well as the infamous campaign known as the Harrying of the North, during which Yorkshire was laid waste by the Normans.

What did the Normans ever do for us? Norman-northerner relationships in the post-Conquest period. Aleksandra McClain (York)
This discussion be looking to gauge audience understanding and perception of the Norman Conquest in the north and how it happened, and then illustrate the ways that archaeology can add nuance to our traditional, historically-based understanding of Norman-northerner interactions and relationships after the Conquest. Please bring a phone or laptop with you so that you can participate.

If you have any questions about Conquest 950 or would like to be involved please email Alyx Mattison (a.mattison@sheffield.ac.uk) or James Chetwood (jachetwood1@sheffield.ac.uk). We are still looking for more postgraduate representation in the form of creative posters.

Also see our CONQUEST 950 blog, as Norman the Norman travels through Yorkshire.

Conference: Religious Exemption and the State 400 – 1300

Religious Exemption and the State 400 – 1300, Sheffield 14th to 16th April 2016

About the conference

Throughout history, religious groups across the world have claimed exemption from their rulers’ demands, with a considerable degree of success. Such exemptions were prevalent in the pre-modern world, from Buddhist monks’ accumulation of tax-free lands to Latin clerics’ assertion of ‘benefit of clergy’ and Islamic charitable waqf. Although the particular forms of exemption varied according to religious practices and the nature of the political systems in which they operated, a common set of core similarities is apparent.

A full appreciation of these exemptions’ significance in the pre-modern world however been impeded, on the one hand by their embedding in traditional narratives such as the rise of the modern (Western) state, to which they are often represented as obstacles, and on the other by the conceptual difficulties posed by the categories at the historian’s disposal, such as ‘religion’, ‘secular’, and indeed ‘state’, when applied to the pre-modern period.\

This conference, supported by the AHRC, seeks to engage with these problems ascontribution to developing a comparative global historical understanding of religious exemption from state demands in the pre-modern world. The conference, held at the Department of History in Sheffield from Thursday evening  (14th April 2016) through to Saturday morning (16th April 2016), will address three key questions. Firstly, how common were these exemptions on a global scale, and what kind of commonalities did they share? Secondly, what kind of structural role did these exemptions play: did they weaken the states that conceded them, or did they rather – as some recent research has suggested – strengthen them, whether by providing legitimacy or by supporting the informal networks underpinning the formal exercise of power? Thirdly, how should the demarcation they created best be conceptualised in an age thought not to have been structured by the modern secular/religious distinction?


The draft programme is available here


(click on the link to view a PDF of the abstract)

Dominic Goodall and Andrew Wareham, Gifts of Power

Thomas Kohl, Forging immunities – religious exemption, justice, and territories in eleventh century in the medieval West

Rutger Kramer, The Exemption that Proves the Rule Alcuin, Theodulf and Charlemagne in Conflict (802)

Antonello Palumbo, Religious exemption and the state 400–1300

Mario Poceski, The Sociopolitical Positioning of the Buddhist Sangha vs the Imperial State in Medieval China

Kriston Rennie, Monastic Exemption: The Long Road to Protection

Uriel Simonsohn, Conversion, Manipulation, and Legal Exemption: A Few Case Studies from the Early Islamic Period

Further information
For more details, please contact Charles West  (c.m.west@sheffield.ac.uk)