Category Archives: Historical Sites and Monuments

Where to execute a criminal in the Middle Ages?

Do you have morbid fascination with gallows, pillories and other sites of execution and infamy? If you do, you will probably never confess this interest, lest your colleagues shall fear you as a closet maniac. Unless, of course, you are … Continue reading

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Medieval Churches in Latvia

Romanesque, early Gothic and late Gothic churches were all present on the landscape of medieval Latvia. Many of them have survived wars and fires and still make their mark on the surroundings. Constructed from the twelfth century onwards and rebuilt throughout their history, medieval churches offer a standing testimony to the malleability of history, a reminder of the instability, permeability of meaning. Burned to the four walls and erected once again (Krimulda Church), rebuilt to suit the latest tastes already in the Middle Ages (St. Peter’s), or ruined to the four shattered walls, plaintively exposed against the blue waters of the Daugava River (Ikshkile Church) – these are just a few examples of the still beautiful monuments of sacred history which have the power to take the visitors back in time. Continue reading

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Hillforts in Latvia

Hillforts or castle mounds (pilskalns in Latvian, literally meaning ‘častle’ or ‘fort’ on a hill) is not the same as your typical medieval castle. For one thing, they appear early, dating back to the Neolithic period, and disappear from the Latvian landscape around the thirteenth-fourteenth centuries. On the other hand, they are so closely related to the later stone castles, both geographically (often occupying the same site) and historically that I believe they should be studied together. Continue reading

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What did medieval people know about Hungary?

What do the Old Norse sagas, the chronicle narrative of Jean Froissart and the Old Serbian annals have in common? How about the Dominican collection of pious exempla by Jacobus de Cessolis, Liber de moribus? Well, to give you yet another clue, think of the late French Arthurian romance of Melyador and the anonymous fifteenth-century Middle English metrical romance Capystranus. Still no nearer to the answer? Hungary and the Hungarians! Surprising as it may sound, Hungary makes a frequent and variegated appearance in a variety of medieval narrative sources across Europe, from Iceland to Italy, not to mention Germany, France, England and such close neighbours as Poland and Serbia. Continue reading

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Illuminated Charters and Digital Humanities – A Conference Report

What is an illuminated charter? This is the question me and Edgar unfailingly heard from friends and relatives when we told them we are going to Vienna to a conference on Illuminated Charters. I must confess that I was puzzled and mystified when I first read the call for papers ‘Illuminated Charters: From the Margins of two Disciplines to the Core of Digital Humanities’. This may have been the reason I enlisted my co-author’s and husband’s help and sent a proposal to the conference organisers, on ‘The Functions of Illuminated Charters from Latvian and Lithuanian Archives in European Context’. Continue reading

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Matter of Epic or Romance: Comparing Castles in the UK and Latvia

On Easter Monday, me and my husband visited Ynys Mon, or Anglesey as the Saesneg call it, on a pilgrimage. The goal of our pilgrimage was the sacred well at which St. Seiriol, a Welsh 6-th century royal hermit once … Continue reading

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