The Heroic Age

A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

Issue 16 (2015)

Issue 16: 2015

General Articles

Holocene Relative Sea-Level Changes in Western Scotland: The Early Insular Situation of Dun Add (Kintyre) and Dumbarton Rock (Strathclyde)

Richard Lathe, Pieta Research, Edinburgh, UK, and State University of Pushchino, Russia & David Smith, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University, UK

Abstract: Dun Add, an important center of the Dalriadic Scots, was established on a rocky outcrop that now protrudes from the land-locked flats of Crinan Moss, an unlikely situation for a defensive fortification. Given well-established post-glacial changes in sea levels, the outcrop was clearly once an island in Crinan Bay; however, it is not known whether the stronghold was first constructed on an island or later, when falling sea-levels had already abandoned the outcrop above the shoreline. Consideration of the present situation of the site above local mean sea level, the extent of peat deposition overlying buried estuarine terraces, and post-glacial uplift in the vicinity, indicates that when the fortification was first constructed (circa 300 BC) the outcrop was largely surrounded by the sea, and retained promontory or island status as late as AD 460–770. To validate uplift data, relative sea-level changes were compared against historical records for Dumbarton Rock. These records (i) provide independent validation of the model for local post-glacial uplift and (ii) demonstrate that the first fortifications at this second site, in or before the sixth century, were also constructed when the outcrop was an island. Post-glacial uplift could have contributed to recorded siege and seizure of Dun Add in the sixth/seventh centuries.

Published April 23, 2015

Neorxnawang: Aelfric's Flawed Anglo-Saxon Paradise

Sandra M. Hordis, Arcadia University

Abstract: Aelfric's use of the word neorxnawang for the Latin place-name Paradise in his translation of Genesis presents many difficulties in negotiating the relationship of Anglo-Saxon and Christian thought. Aelfric uses the Old English compound clearly to situate the idea of Eden in the Anglo-Saxon cultural, poetic, and religious frameworks but ultimately fails to accomplish a smooth integration because of his inconsistent use of the word, unclear meaning, and muddled functionality.

Published April 23, 2015

Alcuin of York

The Rhetoric of Heresy: Alcuin, Adoptionism, and the Art of Language

Laura M. Carlson, Past & Present Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, London

Abstract: The twilight of Alcuin of York's career, following his appointment as abbot of St. Martin of Tours in 796 and prior to his death in 804, witnessed two major themes in his writing: the composition of treatises on language (i.e., De Dialectica and Diputatio de Rhetorica et de Virtutibus) and works against the pervasive Spanish "heresy" of Adoptionism. Despite Alcuin's reputation for assisting in the renaissance of classical and late antique grammatical and rhetorical work among the Carolingian intellectual elite, few scholars have investigated the extent to which Alcuin applied classical rhetorical or dialectical forms either within his political or theological treatises and letters. Considering the copious amounts of material Alcuin presented against the Adoptionist controversy throughout his career, this material provides an excellent resource with which to see how (or if) Alcuin employed his study of language outside the realm of the educational treatise. The use of rhetorical or dialectical devices to argue against the Adoptionist "heresy," what Alcuin considered to be the most important theological controversy of his lifetime, will augment our understanding of the evolution of Christian discourse and the role of language during this period.

Published April 6, 2016

Sources of Spirituality in the Liber de Virtutibus et Vitiis (Book on Virtues and Vices) and Epistolae (Letters) of Alcuin of York

James F. LePree, Department of History, City College of New York

Abstract: This article will focus on the Liber de Virtutibus et Vitiis and Epistolae of Alcuin of York. It will highlight the spiritual sources which Alcuin utilized for both as well as his exegetical treatment of these sources. Although such an approach is not a novel one, past scholarship has presented Alcuin, in relation to his sources, as a mere verbatim copyist, so that to study Alcuin is merely to study his sources. This perhaps can be explained by the fact that the Liber de Virtutibus et Vitiis is still only available in the mid-nineteenth-century Patrologia Latina edition and exegetical scholarship on his Epistolae is almost non-existent. Nevertheless, as this study shall attempt to show for the first time, Alcuin's original treatment of the Porcarian and Cassianic monastic traditions illustrates the importance of Alcuin's writings as transmitters of such sources as Pseudo-Basil's De admonitio filium spiritualem and John Cassian's Institutes and Conferences and underscores the need for more recent critical editions of Alcuin's Liber de Virtutibus et Vitiis and Epistolae and for further studies which will enable us to assess more precisely the full extent of the influence of monastic ideals on both.

Published May 18, 2016


Translation of Alcuin's De Virtutibus et Vitiis Liber (Book about the Virtues and Vices)

Rachel Stone, Department of History, King's College London

Published July 30, 2015

The Forum

Traces of an Arthurian Source in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia? A Critical Analysis of Geoffrey Ashe's "Historical Abstract"

Howard M. Wiseman, Centre for Quantum Dynamics, Griffith University, Australia and School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland, Australia

Published March 18, 2016


Year in Archaeology

John Soderberg, University of Minnesota

Published April 23, 2015

Continental Business

Michel Aaij, Auburn University Montgomery

Published April 23, 2015


Recent Scholarship

Klaeber, Friedrich J., R.D. Fulk, Robert E. Bjork, and John D. Niles, eds., Klaeber's Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg: Edited, with Introduction, Commentary, Appendices, Glossary, and Bibliography. Reviewed by Carl Edlund Anderson. [Published April 23, 2015]

Bintley, Michael D. J. 2015. Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England. Reviewed by Carole M. Cusack [Published March 18, 2016]

Bryant, N., trans. 2015. The Complete Story of the Grail. Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval and its Continuatons. Reviewed by Marjolein Hogenbirk [Published March 18, 2016]

Pohl, Benjamin. 2015. Dudo of Saint-Quentin's Historia Normannorum: Tradition, Innovation and Memory. Reviewed by Nick Webber [Published April 10, 2016]

Conti, Aidan, et al. 2015. Writing Europe, 500–1450: Texts and Contexts. Reviewed by Jenneka Janzen [Published April 10, 2016]

Snook, Ben. 2015. The Anglo-Saxon Chancery: The History, Language and Production of Anglo-Saxon Charters from Alfred to Edgar. Reviewed by Francesca Tinti [Published April 10, 2016]

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