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Mark Brophy

Mark has a history degree from the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. He grew up surrounded by medieval ruins of the Irish midlands where he developed a passion for history, folklore and mythology. He has a particular interest in ancient history and medieval Ireland. At some point in the future, he hopes to continue his history studies. In his free time, he enjoys reading and writing and where possible he likes to combine these with his passion for history.


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Viking runes have been an object of fascination for centuries, but we can decode their meaning.         Source: La Cassette Bleue / Adobe Stock

The Mystery, Magic and Meaning of Viking Runes

Norse civilization has provided an enormous amount of culture to the world, from its rich history to its vast mythology. One captivating aspect of Norse culture is often overlooked: runes. Most...
St. Patrick’s Bell (left) is a simple design. The shrine (right) later designed to cover it is quite intricate. Source: National Museum of Ireland / CC BY SA 2.0

St. Patrick’s Bell: The Story of an Iconic Irish Artifact

Ireland is home to many iconic historical artifacts and objects, from the Book of Kells to the Tara Brooch. Many of these items are beautifully designed but shrouded in mystery. Others have a long...
The Mary, Queen of Scots casket was purchased by the Scottish government in 2022 and is now on display.

The Beautiful Casket that Killed Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary I of Scotland, or Mary, Queen of Scots is one of the most iconic monarchs in British history. She had an incredible impact on both Scottish and English history, and her life was one of tragedy,...
The hiring of professional mourners seems to have been a worldwide tradition in the ancient world, from Rome to Egypt to China. The Mourners, painting by Evelyn De Morgan, circa 1915. Source: National Trust / Public Domain

The Cost of Grief: Professional Mourners of the Ancient World

Funerals can be difficult to get through. The pain of loss can simply be too much for many. So why would anyone ever need to pay people to cry at their funeral? This didn’t just happen occasionally...
Image of the 8th century Ardagh Chalice, part of a hoard recovered in County Limerick, Ireland.	Source: National Museum of Ireland / CC BY SA 2.0

Why the Ardagh Chalice Is An Irish National Treasure

Ireland has a long history and a beautiful culture that has brought many stunning pieces of artwork to the world. Often these beautiful works come from historical artifacts, such as the Book of Kells...
Fight with Cudgels by Francisco de Goya, circa 1820, resembles a bataireacht brawl   Source: Public Domain

Bataireacht: The Irish Stick Fighting Martial Art Making a Comeback

Many countries have martial arts that are closely associated with their national identity. Kung-fu and China, Tae Kwon Do and Korea, and Muay Thai and Thailand. Few people would ever associate...
Egyptian slaves and others in Egyptian dress. Source: Adobe Stock / Ruslan

The First Recorded Incident of an Escaped Slave

Today, slavery is seen as one of the worst atrocities mankind has ever committed, but once slavery was seen as just another part of everyday life. The Hellenistic world of ancient Greece was no...
The entrance to the Ganesha Gumpha section of the Udayagiri cave complex. Source:  Paramanu Sarkar / CC BY SA 4.0

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves: Intricate Jain Monuments to Faith

There is an incredible archaeological site just outside the city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India that attracts thousands of tourists each year. The Udayagiri caves are part natural, part man-made...
Is thinking of the Vegvisir as a ‘Viking compass’ completely off course? Source: Tartila / Adobe Stock

Vegvisir: Was the ‘Viking Compass’ Originally a Christian Symbol?

Although the name Vegvisir may not be familiar to you, you may have seen its symbolic representation before. This emblem has gained iconic status largely due to its frequent use in the media...
Japan’s Okunoin Cemetery, Est. 816 AD: Graveyard for 200,000 Monks

Japan’s Okunoin Cemetery, Est. 816 AD: Graveyard for 200,000 Monks

Nestled in the mountains of Wakayama prefecture a couple of hours southeast of Osaka, Japan by car lies a world-famous cemetery that is home to the graves of over 200,000 Buddhist monks who are said...
Massive Medusa heads under Istanbul lend support to the legend of the Medusa sarcophagus.	Source: Goinyk / Adobe Stock

Did a Sultan Find Medusa’s Sarcophagus in the Basilica Cistern?

Nestled beneath the winding streets of Istanbul, just 490 feet (149 meters) from the Hagia Sophia, lies an ancient cistern that may have been the final resting place of Medusa! The Basilica Cistern,...
The Valknut symbol has transcended time, remaining popular today.	Source: danlersk / Adobe Stock

The Enigmatic Valknut: Odin’s Symbol Shrouded in Mystery

Norse mythology is a rich and vibrant source of tales, myths and legends. It has provided us with some iconic gods, monsters, and even symbols. One of the most controversial and mysterious of these...
This painting, from circa 1675 by Joseph Heinz the Younger, shows a wild Venetian bridge war on the famous Ponte dei pugni bridge. Source: Joseph Heintz the Younger / CC BY-SA 4.0

Venetian Bridge Wars: The ‘Fighting Spirit’ of Renaissance Venice

For generations of Venetians, “guerra di canne” or “war with sticks” was a celebrated tradition. Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, Venice was divided into many different...
The Greek goddess Eris inspired fear in everyone	Source: Likozor / Adobe Stock

Eris: The Gleeful Greek Goddess of Chaos and Discord

Many of the Greek gods and goddesses enjoyed inflicting in pain, suffering, and destruction, but few took as much joy in it as Eris. Eris was the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord...
Tamerlane's cruelty was legendary and extensive, including 120 skull towers containing about 90,000 heads near Baghdad after the sultan of the city insulted him. (Kanphichaya / Adobe Stock)

Did The Curse of Tamerlane Cause One of the Bloodiest Battles in World War II?

When Tashmuhammed Kari-Niyazov and Mikhail Gerasimov were tasked by Stalin to lead an expedition to Samarkand in Uzbekistan to open the tomb of Tamerlane, they didn’t know just how significant their...
If your star sign is Sagittarius then your “animal” form is that of a centaur. Sagittarius, the centaur archer, is the sixth sign of the Zodiac. Source: Daniel Eskridge / Adobe Stock

Centaurs in Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to Sagittarius and Harry Potter

Greek mythology is full of interesting magical creatures. From the sirens and their alluring voices to the one-eyed cyclops, these creatures have captured the imaginations of people worldwide from...