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A Disaster in Bolama by Joanne Major & Sarah Murden

Henry Hew Dalrymple (1750-1795) has been forgotten by history, but in his lifetime he enjoyed a brief period of renown. During 1788 and 1789 he travelled to the Caribbean island of Grenada where he owned a plantation, but appalled at the treatment of the slaves, he took the decision to free all those on his own land. Back in London, …

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In search of Lord Lovell

It was a beautiful afternoon on which to visit an ancient medieval ruin in the middle of England. Minster Lovell was once home to Viscount Lovell, one of England’s richest barons. But what I saw, when I started to take a few photographs, had the hairs rising on the back of my neck. Lovell was Richard lll’s Lord Chamberlain , who, because of …

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Medieval Textiles

Many modern people think that clothes in the Middle Ages were drab, grey-brown things. Archaeological finds of clothing or textiles, rare as they are, often seem to support this: they all look brown. This brown-ness is deceptive, though. Medieval people enjoyed colours, and dyeing textiles has been done since at least the Bronze Age. Modern methods are getting better and …

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Inventing an Outlaw: Joseph Ritson’s Robin Hood (1795)

Most people have heard of Robin Hood. He is the outlawed Earl of Huntingdon who (supposedly) lived in the 13th century during the reigns of King Richard the Lionheart and King John. He lived in Sherwood Forest with his band of ‘merrie men,’ and they stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Yet this is an image of …

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1940s Tank Crews: Who Did What?

If you’re ever lucky enough to drive a tank, you’ll soon realise that it’s a military monster unlike any other vehicle. Attempting to skid-steer several tonnes of metal on tracks is tricky, to say the least. When you’re in the driving ‘seat’ (many tanks require you to kneel uncomfortably or practically lie down, so there’s no real seat to speak …

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Knowing Medieval Authors: William of Malmesbury

Interpreting our historical past through the lens of medieval historical writers such as William of Malmesbury, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Orderic Vitalis provides both fascinating insight and complex problems. This is certainly the case with the writer William of Malmesbury, who was recently the subject of a recent three-day conference (William of Malmesbury and his Legacy, University of Oxford, 3-5 …

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The Story of the Nazi Super Cows

This may sound like an internet hoax but it isn’t. In January of 2015, farmer Derek Gow from Devon had to put down seven of his rare breed Heck cows. The reason for their demise? The cows were so aggressive they had tried on multiple occasions to attack him and his farm hands (and this is a breed with large …

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Reading Anatomy in Francis J. Cole’s Collections

Professor Francis J. Cole loved to read. And while this might seem a prerequisite for a professor, it was Cole’s way of reading that first got me interested in him. Despite studying Zoology, Cole didn’t just read for scientific information, but seemed constantly fascinated by how knowledge itself travelled, writing on subjects as diverse as A History of Comparative Anatomy …

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The Georgian Self-Made Man

Throughout history much has been said of the self-made man, that fabled sort who dragged himself up by his bootstraps to make his mark on the world and usually make a fortune at the same time. Sir Richard Arkwright is truly the model of this Georgian dream; from humble beginnings he triumphed through a combination of his own ambition, shrewd …

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