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‘Take the Skull of a Hanged Man …’ – Karen Maitland

Posted on: 27/09/2017 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval, Skulls, the raven's head, Medieval, Middle Ages

The Medieval period was an age of contradictions and none more so than the curious attitude towards the skulls of the dead. Skulls were thought to be where the human soul or spirit resided in life, and after death the skull retained the consciousness of the deceased. This belief is so ingrained in our imagination that, even to this day, if ancient skulls are discovered in houses and removed, some people fear misfortune will follow. The skull of Theophilus Brome was reported to have screamed in f…

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Tuesday Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 26/09/2017 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval facts, The Plague Charmer, Tuesday Tidbits, Medieval, Middle Ages

Larks claw Delphinium consolida, also known as larkspur, larks toe and larks heel. In Medieval times this plant was used to pack wounds and treat the stings of scorpions. Oil from the seeds was extracted to kill lice. If tossed in front of any venous beast, it was widely believed the creature would not be able to move until the herb was removed. Leek sops A popular medieval dish. The white part of leeks was sliced and boiled until tender in a meat broth, together with lard or butter. Then the le…

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West Country Links to the Medieval Plagues by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 06/04/2017 with tags: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, karen maitland, Somerset, the plague, The Plague Charmer, West Country, Medieval, Middle Ages

Karen Maitland explores medieval plague links in the West Country – the setting of her latest novel, The Plague Charmer.   DORSET Melcombe (now part of Weymouth) – Dorset Several medieval chroniclers claimed that this town is where the plague first entered Britain in 1348 via two ships from the Channel Islands or Calais. This town is said to be the first in England to be infected. (I wrote a scene of this event in Company of Liars). Others chroniclers claim it was a ship from Bristol which…

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The Plague of Men by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 04/04/2017 with tags: company of liars, England, karen maitland, Pestilence, plague, The Plague Charmer, Middle Ages, Plague

My new medieval thriller, The Plague Charmer, is set in 1361 and if you’d been unfortunate enough to be living in England that year, you would probably have believed the world was coming to an end because that was the year the Black Death struck again, only thirteen years after it had first ravaged England. In the minds of medieval people, omens of impending disaster had been building steadily. The weather was unusually hot and dry causing a terrible drought so that food crops failed, as well as…

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