Normans and identity

This post is a response to some questions on Twitter about the nature of Norman history and identity, particularly

and

I responded on Twitter, but it’s not a great medium for extended discussion, so I’ll do my best here.

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Woman in sensible swimming costume performs minor acts of environmentalism

The title of this post would not be out of place in ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’s‘ newspaper headline round.* While I would not dare to place my comic talent, such as it is, on a par with Barry Cryer et al., the echo is deliberate. This is a post inspired by Victoria Whitworth’s book Swimming with Seals and Gary Budden’s ‘Landscape Punk’. It’s a little story about a little swim on a little beach in a small part of Cornwall. Continue reading “Woman in sensible swimming costume performs minor acts of environmentalism”

In search of Orderic Vitalis

Originally published in September 2008 on ‘On boundaries’ (now defunct). Reivers is still my partner in all things, but now keeps his own blog under his real name somewhere on GitHub.

I haven’t mentioned Orderic Vitalis for at least a couple of months, so it is about time he had another post. Reivers and I have recently been on holiday in Normandy, causing one colleague to ask if I’d had a productive time in the archives as he couldn’t understand why I went on holiday to an area I research. I didn’t spend any time in archives, but I did visit, with Reivers in tow, many sites and museums. One of those was St-Evroult, home of Orderic.

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Reflections on the ‘countryside’

This blog is called ‘Landscapes of the Normans’ and so far, there’s been very little about landscapes, though rather more about Normans. As other articles and projects are now done and away, I can finally get on with drawing together the disparate threads of the landscapes project, send in the book proposal and write it [1]. Recently, a modernist friend, Matthew Kelly, wrote a long post relating to his current research on the nature state, national parks, and rewilding asking ‘what is the countryside for?’ His answer was nine-fold and for me posed interesting questions about definitions, the longue durée, and historical responses to the problem of people living on this planet.

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Teaching charters: interaction and reconstruction in the seminar room

I have a confession to make: somewhen between the First Crusade special subject I took as an undergraduate [1] and teaching my own undergrad special, I fell out of love with charters. I’m not sure I was ever really in love with them, but at some stage they fell, like Domesday Book, into that category of documents labelled ‘hard to teach due to perceived dullness’. Ever since I’ve been puzzling over how to make teaching charters a bit more interactive than just reading and distinguishing their sections. Continue reading “Teaching charters: interaction and reconstruction in the seminar room”

Reading and writing Hastings: the battle and its sources

Today marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, famously noted by Sellar and Yeatman as one of only two memorable dates in British history. It is  an event that has done much to shape the field in which I work, setting the marker by which the Normans were judged, informing the research agenda and leading to seemingly endless debates on what happened on that fateful October day. At fist glance we have a plethora of sources that provide wonderful accounts, yet none of them agree, except as to the outcome. And why should they?

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