The taxonomic name for the great grey shrike, Lanius excubitor, is Latin for butcher sentinel. Sentinel because of the way shrikes stand tall on top of a post, as both a warning and declaration of territory: they practically shriek vigilance and eagerness to tangle. (They remind me of new bouncers at a club: overready to get into it.) And butcher because they spike their prey—smaller birds, mice, lizards, bees, crickets—on thorns and barbed wire fencing, like feathery little Neroes playing with Christians.Read more "Hild’s bynames #2: Butcher-bird"
Exploring one of Hild’s bynames, freemartin. The first of an occasional series.Read more "Hild’s bynames #1: Freemartin"
While writing both Hild and Menewood I drew dozens of maps to help work out everything from travel routes to weather events to Hild’s thinking to battle tactics. These sketch maps are full of private code and wouldn’t make sense to most readers. But every now and again I like to post one to illustrate a point. So I started […]Read more "Making my own Hild art"
In which I talk about Cadwallon, his origins, faults, and battles—as one giant excuse to play with mapsRead more "Making sense of Cadwallon (or, An excuse to play with maps)"
The first draft of MENEWOOD is finished!!Read more "MENEWOOD!!"
This is a call for contributors, and ideas, to a companion volume to Hild: an accessible guide to the book and its Early Medieval context.Read more "CFP: A Hild Companion"
Today is the anniversary of Hild’s death in 680. I mark it because Hild—and Whitby, and ammonites—have marked my life.Read more "Hild’s feast day"
Last week I spent five days at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, to attend IONA: Early medieval studies on the islands of the North Atlantic—transformative networks, skills, theories, and methods for the future of the field. If you are an early medievalist, you should go the next one at King’s College London, November 2021.Read more "IONA Vancouver"
In 2017 Charlotte Hedenstierna‐Jonson, Anna Kjellström, Torun Zachrisson et al wrote “A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics” and kicked off a storm. ow they respond to t heir critics.Read more "Viking warrior women: reassessing Birka grave"
Usually at this time of year I blow up the Christmas tree with FX (one of my favourites so far: a dragon flaming the tree to ash). But 2017 has been a year of too much destruction, so here’s something entirely fun. It makes me grin, anyway.Read more "Dancing Reindeer"