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A Gathering of Ghosts – Tuesday Tidbits

Posted on: 14/08/2018 with tags: Gathering of Ghosts, karen maitland, Tuesday Tidbits, Medieval

For her new novel, A GATHERING OF GHOSTS, Karen Maitland picks out some special Tuesday Tidbits relating to Dartmoor where the novel is based: Bel Tor If you climb Bel Tor on Dartmoor take care to ensure that you leave before the sun sets for, according to legend, on dark nights a ghostly herd of white horses gallops through Ipplepen village towards Bel Tor. When they reach the summit of the tor, they leap to their deaths and vanish, sweeping anyone foolish enough to be standing in their path ov…

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Tuesday Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 27/02/2018 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval facts, The Plague Charmer, Tuesday Tidbits, Medieval, Middle Ages

First Catch your crocodile Products from the Egyptian cocodryllus or crocodile were highly prized in the medieval markets of the Middle East and Europe. Its dung was made into an unguent which was said to make aged and wrinkled prostitutes appear firm-bodied and youthful, until it ran off as they sweated from their labours. It was also said to fade freckles. And the teeth were believed to be an aphrodisiac, but only if extracted from the living beast.   The beggars are coming to town’ There…

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Festive Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 05/12/2017 with tags: boxing day, christmas, Holly, karen maitland, The Plague Charmer, tidbit, Yule Log, Christmas, Medieval, Middle Ages

Feast of Fools In the Middle Ages, on the eve of the Feast of Circumcision (31 December) when the Magnificat was read out in cathedrals and abbeys – He has put down the mighty – all the junior clergy would start chanting Deposuit! (Put down!). They’d drag senior clergy from their seats and take their places, appointing a fool precentor. For the next few days the ‘humble’ ruled. On 1 January, a donkey carrying a woman and baby was led into the church. At the end of the Mass, the priest brayed thr…

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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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