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A Pig in a Coffin, A Pregnant Goat, and a Dog That Died in Childbirth: What Were Bizarre Animal Remains Doing in an Anglo-Saxon Church?

A Pig in a Coffin, A Pregnant Goat, and a Dog That Died in Childbirth: What Were Bizarre Animal Remains Doing in an Anglo-Saxon Church?

A group of archaeologists carrying out a routine excavation at a Greek Orthodox church in Shropshire, England, made an extraordinary discovery on the final day of their dig – bizarre animal burials,...
Women Without Virtue Need Not Apply! The Medieval Nine Worthy Women

Women Without Virtue Need Not Apply! The Medieval Nine Worthy Women

In the 14th century, the nine worthies were a list of nine men who were identified as paragons of chivalrous behavior, which included courage and honor in battle. The nine worthies consisted of a...
The Nine Worthies: Are These the Most Chivalrous Men in History?

The Nine Worthies: Are These the Most Chivalrous Men in History?

It may come as a shock to learn that ancient peoples enjoyed making lists of greats as much as we do. Just as websites make Top 10 lists about topical items today, so too did the Hellenistic Greeks...
Bluetooth: Why Modern Tech is Named After Powerful King of Denmark and Norway

Bluetooth: Why Modern Tech is Named After Powerful King of Denmark and Norway

Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson was a King of Denmark and Norway who lived during the 10th century AD. He was responsible for the unification of Denmark. Following this feat, Harald set his sights beyond...
Sunbeams illuminating a church

A Sacred Light in the Darkness: Surprising Winter Solstice Illuminations at Spanish Missions

On Wednesday, Dec. 21, nations in the Northern Hemisphere marked the winter solstice – the shortest day and longest night of the year. For thousands of years people have marked this event with...
Creatures of the Land, Sea and Heavens: Ancient Beliefs in Animal Counterparts

Creatures of the Land, Sea and Heavens: Ancient Beliefs in Animal Counterparts

Until the Age of Enlightenment, it was widely believed that every land creature had its counterpart in the sea (and perhaps even in the heavens). The classic example of this belief is the horse,...
Harking Back: The Ancient Pagan Festivities in our Christmas Rituals

Harking Back: The Ancient Pagan Festivities in our Christmas Rituals

When we think of the Romans, gift-giving, carol-singing and celebrating the birth of Christ don’t immediately present themselves. Waging wars, general oppression and a never-ending desire to rule the...
‘Festa di Pales, o L'estate’ by Joseph-Benoît Suvée

The Busy Romans Needed a Mid-Winter Break Too … and it Lasted for 24 days

In the Doctor Who Christmas Special from 2010, Michael Gambon’s Scrooge-like character remarks that across different cultures and worlds people come together to mark the midpoint of winter. It is, he...
The Holly and the Ivy: How Pagan Practices Found Their Way into Christmas

The Holly and the Ivy: How Pagan Practices Found Their Way into Christmas

Every year, almost without thinking about it, we incorporate certain plant species into out Christmas celebrations. The most obvious is the Christmas tree, linked historically in England to Prince...
What Star is This? The Pagan Origins of Christmas Symbols

What Star is This? The Pagan Origins of Christmas Symbols

Rooted in the cyclical pagan year, Christmas can be linked back to the celebration of the Winter Solstice around December 21st, a time when the night was at its longest, and the coming of the “light...
Rediscovering the Story of Egeria, a Remarkable 4th Century Female Pilgrim

Rediscovering the Story of Egeria, a Remarkable 4th Century Female Pilgrim

Egeria was a young woman who decided to make the trip of a lifetime and go to the Holy Land. But what inspired her to make that journey and walk half of the world all alone? She was born in beautiful...
English Folklore: The Forgotten Death of Mischief Night

English Folklore: The Forgotten Death of Mischief Night

In the post-war years of the 1950’s through to the late 1980’s (when it began to be usurped by Halloween) Mischief Night was the “big” night before Bonfire Night, whereas Halloween on the 31st was...
Gone and Forgotten: The Sad Fate of the Witches of Prussia

Gone and Forgotten: The Sad Fate of the Witches of Prussia

The region of Prussia in Central Europe is a unique place due to the large number of cultures which have resided and met there. These lands were also a hotbed for witchcraft and a cruel fate for...
Detail of the Wenhaston Doom

The Wenhaston Doom: A Surprising Medieval Relic, Doomsday Message—and a Reminder of Pre-Christian Traditions

A ‘Doom’ is a remarkable survival of a type of church decoration once common in the Middle Ages but largely destroyed during the iconoclastic excesses of the English Protestant Reformation during the...
Deriv; Statue of the Fallen Angel and The Hell, Inferno Canto 34, circa 1301

Devils or Angels? Defining the Dark Entities of Christianity’s Past

Devil or angel? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. The concept of demons is an old one, harking back to the confiscation of pagan nature deities by the Roman Empire, which turned them into something more...
A gold curse tablet dating back to 4th century AD. Institute of Archaeology, Belgrade

Golden Curse Tablets Found in Ancient Serbian Tombs Invoke Gods and Demons

Archaeologists in Serbia have discovered the first known golden curse tablets in ancient Roman tombs in Serbia. The tablets contain inscriptions in long-forgotten languages with strange magical...

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