Watch this replica medieval trebuchet smash a log palisade

The trebuchet was a technology import from Asia that became a siege weapon of choice in 12th-century Europe. Expert Mike Loades and his team make quick work of a palisade made of logs with this German replica. Read the rest

Bardcore: Medieval-style cover of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'

Canada-based YouTuber Hildegard von Blingin' is getting medieval on your ears with this charming cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene." Welcome to "bardcore."

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene I beg of thee, pray take not my lord Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene I fear, from thee, ‘twould take naught but a word

Wait! There's more bardcore:

-- Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" -- Radiohead's "Creep" -- Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" -- Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks"

(Digg) Read the rest

Two well-known YouTube game crafters paint up an entire tabletop fantasy village in five days

"Two men, one highly detailed resin fantasy village, and five days to paint it."

If you're a fantasy tabletop gamer, you likely know about Tabletop World, two Croatian terrain makers whose resin-cast buildings are the gold standard in tabletop gaming. Read the rest

Turning the ruins of a Medieval Italian village into a home and stone masonry school

I have a weird confession to make. I have highly unorthodox "retirement home" fantasies. Every time I see a castle, a tree HOUSE, a decommissioned missile silo, an abandoned French villa, I start fantasizing about spending my twilight years building an artist colony/goth retirement home with family and friends there.

So, imagine how my neurons were tickled when I saw this video of a guy and his wife who bought a long-abandoned Medieval Italian village and are turning it into a small neighborhood and teaching center for "rural stone architecture." They claim there are dozens of these little ruined stone villages all over Italy and they want to encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Called “The Village Laboratory”, Ghesc is part-owned by the Canova Association and hosts workshops so college students worldwide can come learn historical stone construction techniques. The public half of the village includes a communal kitchen, pizza oven and concert spaces.

Right now Ghesc (in local dialect; “Ghesio” in Italian) in the commune of Montecrestese near the Swiss border has just 3 inhabitants (Maurizio, Paola and their son Emil), but the four homes that comprise the private side of town are at various stages of being rebuilt.

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New high-resolution scan of medieval Aberdeen Bestiary

The 12th-century Aberdeen Bestiary has just been digitally scanned and made available online. One of the most famous extant bestiaries, the new version includes newly-discovered details on the book's production. Read the rest

Hot Cockles and other weird medieval party games

Claire Voon takes a fascinating look at engraver Joseph Strutt's illustrations of strange medieval party games, many of which involve beating the hell out of other guests. Read the rest

People being stabbed in medieval art and lovin' it

Medieval manuscripts were the imageboards of their day, full of murderous rabbits and lewd butts, a new (to me) subgenre is "people who don't seem to mind that they've just been stabbed" -- perhaps the origin of the Black Knight? Read the rest

Why medieval monks filled manuscript margins with murderous rabbits

Long before Sergio Aragonés filled the margins of MAD Magazine with tiny, weird cartoons, the margins of medieval manuscripts were a playground for bored monks with crude senses of humor. Read the rest

Medieval music recreated and performed for the first time in 1000 years

'Songs of Consolation,' performed at Pembroke College Chapel in Cambridge last month, was the first airing in a 1000 years of a medieval tune the way it would have been.

...reconstructed from neumes (symbols representing musical notation in the Middle Ages) and draws heavily on an 11th century manuscript leaf that was stolen from Cambridge and presumed lost for 142 years... Hundreds of Latin songs were recorded in neumes from the 9th through to the 13th century. These included passages from the classics by Horace and Virgil, late antique authors such as Boethius, and medieval texts from laments to love songs. However, the task of performing such ancient works today is not as simple as reading and playing the music in front of you. 1,000 years ago, music was written in a way that recorded melodic outlines, but not ‘notes’ as today’s musicians would recognise them; relying on aural traditions and the memory of musicians to keep them alive. Because these aural traditions died out in the 12th century, it has often been thought impossible to reconstruct ‘lost’ music from this era – precisely because the pitches are unknown.

They believe they've pieced together about 80-90% of the melodies. The performers are Benjamin Bagby, Hanna Marti and Norbert Rodenkirchen. Here's more:

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Medieval Europeans knew more about the body than we think

Medieval Europe is generally known for its animosity toward actually testing things out, favoring tradition over experimentation and earning a reputation as being soundly anti-science. In particular, it's easy to get the impression that nobody was doing human dissections at all, prior to the Renaissance. But it turns out that isn't true. In fact, some dissections were even prompted (not just condoned) by the Catholic Church. The knowledge medieval dissectors learned from their experiments didn't get widely disseminated at the time, but their work offers some interesting insight into the development of science. The quest for knowledge in Europe didn't just appear out of nowhere in the 1400s and 1500s. Read the rest

Inn at the Crossroads: A "Game of Thrones" cooking blog

I've long been a big fan of modern attempts to cook medieval cuisine (see: Medievalcookery.com, University of Chicago Press' The Medieval Kitchen, and all the various scanned, historic cookbooks available through Wikipedia). There's something about the cultural anthropology of food that just really appeals to me. Plus, I love the way historic cookbooks assume you know how to do then-basic parts of household labor and will start a recipe with instructions like, "First, butcher and dress a pig." Oh, okay. Sure.

The Inn at the Crossroads blog combines the geeky joy I get from medieval cooking with the geeky joy I get from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The results: A brilliant collection of recipes for dishes mentioned in all five of Martin's novels, many developed using medieval cookbooks and techniques.

In a way, this blog is almost inevitable. I haven't read a series of books this obsessed with the food its characters eat since Little House on the Prairie. Unlike Laura Ingalls Wilder, however, George R. R. Martin doesn't provide much instruction in how to make that food. So bloggers Sariann and Chelsea should get serious props for reverse-engineering recipes for everything from medieval pork pie , to marinated goat with honey, to honey-spiced "locusts" (actually crickets). This is one of those food blogs that's totally worth gawking over, even if you never plan on cooking the recipes.

Thank you, Laci Balfour!

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Trebuchet attack! Elementary school kids build castle siege demonstration for school

[Video Link]

Boing Boing pal Mike Outmesguine shares this excellent video of his son Mikey and his classmates putting on a demonstration for his school. Mike is a wireless technology expert and a fun-loving explorer of DIY-hacker-maker culture, and his son Mikey appears to be following in his father's footsteps. Mike explains:

His class created their own culture faire after learning about ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. His class set up tables and demonstrations for parents and the lower grades at the school.

Mikey, Crashers, and I built the trebuchet from plans featured by John Park on the Make TV show. The kids assembled and were taught how to use it before the faire. His team showed off this trebuchet, a golf ball hurling catapult, a home made crossbow, and sword fighting (along with written info cards and dioramas of the coliseum). Separately, the other teams showed off foods, outfits, gods and goddesses, and how mummies are prepared and set into a kid-size sarcophagus. The mummies all came back to life after being laid to rest. It was at this time that I realized mummies have been replaced by zombies in the modern age.

I declare this to be excellent. Read the rest