A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Issue 8, June 2005, Issue Editor:  Elizabeth Ragan

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

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Cessford, "Pictish Art"

Dobson, "Time, Travel"

Sayers, "Ship-building"

Szabo, "Monstrous Whales"


Electronic Medievalia

Continental Business


Traders, Saints, and Pirates:  The Sea in Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Issue 8 (June 2005)   |   Issue Editor: Elizabeth Ragan

Letter from the Editor


Twelfth-Century Norman and Irish Literary Evidence for Ship-Building and Sea-Faring Techniques of Norse Origin

William Sayers, Cornell University

Abstract:  Sailing scenes in twelfth-century Irish and Norman literature deploy a nautical vocabulary derived from Old Norse, supporting iconographical and archaeological evidence of the extensive transfer of Scandinavian nautical technology.  This lexicon advances our understanding of the square sail and standing and running rigging, otherwise sparsely represented in the archaeological record.

"Bad to the Bone"?  The Unnatural History of Monstrous Medieval Whales

Vicki Ellen Szabo, Department of History, Western Carolina University

Abstract:  This paper provides a holistic portrait of whale use and perception in the medieval North Atlantic.  The image of the monstrous whale pervades nearly all medieval textual traditions, but do perceptions of whales as monstrous impact their material value, pervading their flesh and bones even after death?

Time, Space and Political Communities: Transportation and Travel Routes in Early Medieval England

Lemont Dobson, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Abstract:  History informs us that the political relationships members of the Northumbrian elite sought to cultivate during the sixth- to the seventh-centuries tended to be situated around the Eastern coastline of England rather than among their seemingly contiguous inland neighbors.  It has been suggested that this would seem to indicate a preference for maritime travel.  However, questions of navigability of waterways and ship technology are paramount.  This paper seeks to combine a brief desktop survey of the northeast coast of Britain and its attendant inland waterways with a brief overview of Anglo-Saxon ship technology to compare the estimated travel times by the various routes available, i.e., land and sea, in order to place the politico-religious relationships formed by the Northumbrian elite during the seventh and eighth centuries into a geographical context.

Pictish Art and the Sea

Craig Cessford, University of Cambridge

Abstract:  Although the sea must have been of crucial importance to the Picts, evidence for this is relatively scarce.  Pictish art includes a number of depictions of boats and the form of a common symbol known as the Pictish Beast—although originally probably based upon dragonesque brooches—appears to partially be influenced by the shape of dolphins.  The distribution of Pictish sculpture and place names allows the extent of 'Pictish territorial waters' to be defined and a number of sites that probably acted as naval bases can be identified.


The Forum

James W. Earl's Thinking About Beowulf:  Ten Years Later

Eileen A. Joy, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Electronic Medievalia

O Captain! My Captain!  Using Technology to Guide Readers Through an Electronic Edition

Daniel Paul O'Donnell, University of Lethbridge

Continental Business

Boniface Studies in German and Dutch

Michel Aaij, University of Tennessee


Antonina Harbus and Russell Poole, eds. Verbal Encounters: Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse Studies for Roberta Frank. Reviewed by Craig R. Davis

Debra A. Kemp, The House of Pendragon, Book I: The Firebrand. Reviewed by Gail Orgelfinger.

In Memoriam

Ars moriendi:  Reflections on a generation of medievalists by Richard K. Emmerson [At the Medieval Academy of America]

Norman Cantor [At the New York Times]

Otto Gründler [At the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University]

Richard Sullivan [At Michigan State University News Releases]

Patrick Wormald [At the Guardian Unlimited]

Call for Papers

International Medieval Congress at Leeds has issued their call for papers for the 2006 meeting on the theme "Emotion and Gesture". Please see their website for more details at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/imi/imc/imc2006/imc2006.htm.

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