Research Projects

The Department of ASNC is currently directly associated with a number of major research projects:

 

Converting the Isles

'Converting the Isles' is a Leverhulme International Research Network for investigating Conversion to Christianity comparatively in Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and Iceland in the early and central middle ages. This interdisciplinary network brings together historians, archaeologists and literary scholars committed to researching social, economic, and cultural aspects of conversion. The core of the network's activities will consist of a series of colloquia held at different universities in Britain and Ireland. An interactive website is in the making, which will contain extensive materials relating to the topic and will serve as a platform for disseminating the network's contributions. Meanwhile, please visit our website.

 

Peter's Pence and Beyond: Monetary Links between Anglo-Saxon England and Rome

Dr Rory Naismith, together with Dr Francesca Tinti (University of the Basque Country and Honorary Research AssociateCoins in ASNC) have been awarded a research grant by the British Academy to research the topic of monetary links between Anglo-Saxon England and Rome, beginning in 2012 and continuing until 2014.

This project considers written and material evidence for payments from England to Rome: letters, law-codes and other documentary sources are studied alongside surviving coins, in order to reach a full understanding of this important aspect of Anglo-papal relations. Almost from the time of their conversion at the end of the sixth century the English were frequent visitors to Rome, and devout pilgrims brought with them cash for sustenance on the journey and for donation on arrival in the Holy City. The richest evidence for their generosity comes from the period between the late eighth and eleventh Housecenturies. Anglo-Saxon money was plentiful in Rome – possibly one of the largest elements of the currency circulating in Rome, and well known across Italy. Payments took the form of individual donations large and small, as well as a more institutionalised annual tribute which emerged in the tenth century, known as Peter’s Pence, theoretically consisting of a penny from every household in England.

Dr Naismith and Dr Tinti have undertaken research trips to Rome, and are actively preparing several publications. They have been invited by the Museo Nazionale Romano to prepare a catalogue of the largest and most important find of Anglo-Saxon coins from Rome: a hoard of about 840 coins, almost all of them English, found in excavations of the House of the Vestal Virgins in the Roman Forum in 1883. They are also considering the question of what became of English silver once it reached Rome by analysing the contents of papal coins now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to determine if they are made from Anglo-Saxon pennies.

 

Interpreting Eddic Poetry

Funded by the St John’s College Research Centre at Oxford University, Interpreting Eddic Poetry is an international research project led by Dr Judy Quinn and Dr Carolyne Larrington (Oxford), with Dr Brittany Schorn as Research Associate. The project aims to reassess the nature and extent of the eddic corpus (traditional anonymous poetry recorded in medieval Iceland), taking into account both thirteenth-century anthology manuscripts and verse preserved as quotations in sagas and treatises; it will also assess the significance of recent work on oral traditions as well as research on the eddic mode in Christian devotional poetry.  The first in a series of workshops, dedicated to interdisciplinary perspectives on eddic poetry, was held in July 2013 and brought together scholars from the fields of literary studies, textual criticism, onomastics, comparative religion, philology, mythology and folklore; a second workshop, focussing on mythology, will be held in July 2014. Work is underway on a database of resources for the study of eddic poetry, as well as a co-edited Handbook to Eddic Poetry and a number of other publications by the lead investigators.

 

Boethius in Early Medieval Europe: Commentary on the Consolation of Philosophy from the 9th to the 11th centuries

Since 2007 Dr Rosalind Love has  been a member of the team working on this five-year project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and headed by Professor Malcolm Godden (University of Oxford). The project aims to transcribe and edit all the full corpus of glosses found in manuscripts of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy from before 1100 (of which there are around 80 surviving). These glosses, running to many thousands, ranging from a single word to extensive commentary on the text, were produced across a considerable span of time and at many different centres, and present a fascinating insight into the way medieval readers responded to the Consolation. Given the array of events, stories, objects and texts from the Classical period to which Boethius referred, the glosses also provide evidence for the transmission of knowledge about the ancient world to and throughout the early Middle Ages. Scholars have known about and discussed this material for a long time but a complete edition of the full corpus has until now been an unattainable aspiration. The main outcome of the project will be a printed edition of the full corpus of glosses from all manuscripts (running to about 2000 pages), which will eventually, it is hoped, also be available in searchable electronic form. A further publication will print the glosses found in English MSS of the tenth and eleventh centuries, along with a translation and commentary, as a way to offer in accessible form a representative picture of the glosses circulating on the Continent as well as in England.

 

Jocelin of Furness

Fiona Edmonds was involved in a two-year, AHRC-funded project, which ran from July 2010 until July 2012. She worked with a team at the University of Liverpool comprising Drs Clare Downham and Ingrid Sperber. Hagiography at the Frontiers: Jocelin ofFurness and Insular Politics, focused on one of the most significant medieval writers to emerge from England’s north-west. Jocelin (fl. 1175 to 1214) spent most of his life at Furness Abbey (in pre-1974 Lancashire, now Cumbria), and wrote four great works including a Life of St Patrick, which has never been published. Dr Sperber and Dr Downham have been working on an edition, translation and notes of the Life, founded on the work of the great Patrician scholar Ludwig Bieler. Fiona explored the environment in which Jocelin worked, aiming to contextualise his interest in Celtic saints’ Lives. Furness was culturally and linguistically diverse: the peninsula protrudes into the Irish Sea and had strong trading and cultural links with Ireland and the Isle of Man. For a time Furness was under Scottish rule, but the area had become part of the Anglo-Norman realm by the mid-twelfth century. The abbey was initially part of the congregation of Savigny (located on the Breton/Norman border), but it founded daughter houses in Ireland and on Man. Fiona’s contributions to the project include an article in a volume arising from the project conference, Medieval Furness: Texts and Contexts, and a journal article.

 

The Hyperborean Muse

The Hyperborean Muse is a collaborative research project funded in 2011 by the Co-operInt Programme at the University of Verona between Dr Judy Quinn and Maria Adele Cipolla (Lingue e letterature straniere, Università degli studi di Verona). Involving scholars from the UK, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Germany and Australia, the project has investigated the transmission and reception of Old Norse literature from the earliest period to the twenty-first century, in media as diverse as opera, drama, lyric, crime-novels and cartoons. The outcome of the project, a volume of essays entitled The Hyperborean Muse: Studies in the Transmission and Reception of Old Norse Literature, is being finalised for publication.


The Early Irish Glossaries Project

A three year project to edit the early Irish glossaries funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) was hosted in Cambridge between 2006 and 2009 under the direction of Professor Paul Russell assisted by Dr Sharon Arbuthnot and Dr Padraic Moran. An important but under-used resource for our understanding of the literary and cultural environment of medieval Ireland, the series of three inter-related Irish glossaries, conventionlly known as Sanas Cormaic ‘Cormac’s Glossary’, O’Mulconry’s Glossary and Dúil Dromma Cetta ‘the Collection of Druim Cett’ consist of alphabetically listed (first letter only) headwords followed by an entry which can range from a single word explanation, often an explanation of the headword, to a whole narrative running to several pages.

The Early Irish Glossaries Database (EIGD) was a pre-existing database which was enhanced to include the text of the entries behind the headword; to see the text of an entry in most versions, it is necessary simply to click on the headword.

 

The Revised Sawyer (catalogue of Anglo-Saxon charters)

Peter Sawyer's catalogue of Anglo-Saxon charters was published in 1968, and remains a standard work of reference for the surviving corpus of Anglo-Saxon charters. The work of systematically revising and updating 'Sawyer' began in the 1990s, but was taken further in 2003-7 as part of a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Council, based in the Department of ASNC, with technical expertise provided by the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at KCL (as above). This led to the the appearance of the 'Electronic Sawyer', which is now accessible online, and also to the associated 'Kemble' website, which is based in the Department and which serves as the website of the British Academy-Royal Historical Society Joint Committee on Anglo-Saxon Charters. Further details will be found on these websites. The 'Electronic Sawyer', and the 'Kemble' website, remain in a continual process of development.

 

Early Medieval Corpus of Coin Finds (EMC)

The Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds (EMC) was created by Dr Mark Blackburn (former Reader in the Department) in 1997 based on a three-year major research grant from the Leverhulme Trust, with subsequent funding from the British Academy. Its aim is to provide a searchable online corpus of coins minted in the period 410–1066 found in Britain and Ireland. Hundreds of coins are added each year, most of them discovered with the aid of metal-detectors, and all reported to EMC voluntarily. The database now contains records of some 10,000 coins found and reported in this way. Many carry notes and comments added by Dr Blackburn, Dr Rory Naismith and other specialists, who regularly refer new finds to the database.

In 2000, Dr Blackburn expanded the scope of the EMC database to include the Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles (SCBI), a British Academy project aimed at publishing major museum and private collections of British coinage; as a result, some 50,000 additional coins from major collections have been made available on the database.

The EMC corpus is widely recognised as a major scholarly resource, central to study of early medieval numismatics as well as economic and monetary history, and is frequently consulted by metal-detector users and collectors and dealers of coins.

For further information, please refer to the database’s website: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/coins/emc/emc_intro.html


PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England

The 'Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England', known as PASE (2000-10), created a comprehensive, systematic, analytical and searchable register of all persons recorded in Anglo-Saxon England, in contemporary and later (mainly twelfth-century) sources, including Domesday Book. It now takes the form of an online database, linked to several other e-projects. The work was carried out in association with the Department of History, King's College London, and the Centre of Computing in the Humanities, KCL, and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board/Council (AHRB/AHRC). Full details of the project, and of the several research officers who worked on the project in London and in Cambridge, and available of the PASE website (About PASE/Team). It is hoped that we will have an opportunity to develop the electronic resource further.
To view the PASE website, please follow the link here.


The Department is also associated with several other research projects, including Fontes Anglo-Saxonici and Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages.

 

 

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