Final Thoughts & Feelings (official post)

As the trip is winding down, I am forced to reflect back on the past few weeks and think about everything the group has done and accomplished as well as my personal triumphs and downfalls. It is very crazy to me to think time has flown by so quickly, as it seems like just yesterday we were traveling around Scotland.

I depicted many of my favorite memories in one of the last couple of blogs I posted, and now I can add the Tower of London to the list of my adventures and memories that I will always have from this island. We had a choice where we spent our afternoon today between Westminster Abbey and the Tower, and I chose the tower because I have always wanted to visit there since I first heard about how Anne Boleyn came to lose her head and became the first queen to do so. Though, I will say that I hope to be able to return some day soon to see Westminister Abbey. That too is on my bucket list of places to see.
When thinking about what I am taking away from this course, the list feels as if it is becoming more and more extensive as I think about it. Academically, I know more about how the Romans utilized technology, how an old clock inside a church tower works, how to tell where possible building additons were made on medieval buildings, and more. Socially, I learned a little more about how to open up and talk to people I do not know that well quicker than I am used to. I learned I am not much of a fan of England’s chicken nuggets while also learning I have a soft spot for their ice cream and Rosé wine. Personally, I may have found the limit to how much I can tolerate from other people and large crowds before I need a short break from the world.

However, I think the biggest thing I believe I am taking away from this trip is appreciation, especially for things I have a habit of taking for granted back home. Things like the ability to get in the car and drive somewhere as opposed to walking or taking public transportation sound pretty good to me right now in all honesty. But, if I were being completely truthful, I feel I am walking away from this trip with a better understanding of the need and importance of patience, flexibility, and understanding. There were quite a bit of things in the beginning that did not go according to plan (the whole needing to find a new flight and lost luggage fiascos, not being able to see a site due to it being temporairly closed, or switching days around). All these events required the three values listed, especially patience. Even though I do not consider myself a patient person, I feel like this trip has helped me grow significantly in that area as we figured things out day by day, hour by hour when something about our trip needed to be tweaked, altered, or changed.

I am definitely goinf to miss the United Kingdom, traveling around and seeing and experiencing new things every day, but it is time to fly home, graduate, and enter the post-college adult world.

The Day at the Museums (official post)

Yesterday, the group went to the British Library and the British Museum after we dropped our luggage off at the hostel and ate lunch.

While at the British Library, we had one main goal: to see an exhibit called “The Treasures.” This houses many wonderful artifacts from the Beatles to an original copy of the Magna Carta. The exhibit also had many other documents including letters about Mary Queen of Scots, to Cardinal Wolsey from Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Armenian bibles, the papal bull declaring the Magna Carta illegal, and so much more. This was an absolutely marvelous exhibit, and I wonder what the rest of the Library had to offer in terms of such imposing and impressive history.

Afterwards, we went to the British Museum via the Tube from the Kings Cross station. While there, we were on a scavenger hunt, and some of things we had to find were: a mummy, a statue of Ramses II, The Lion Hunt from the Assyrians, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles. We also had to find three things that we thought were “super cool.” For me, one of them was the practice of a wheel burial (I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what it was called or which culture it was from). In essence, the one being buried was laid into the ground with some wagon wheels, and the rest of the wagon was placed over them before the body was submerged in soil. That is an unique send off.

While at the museum, Sir Victor also got to have a little fun and hang out with the artifacts in the Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and other exhibits.

Below, Sir Victor is laying down and hanging out in front of part of a wall artifact from either the Egyptian or Greek exhibit. This artifact also has carvings on both sides of the writing that depict many different people.

Above, Sir Victor is standing in front of a Basalt Stella. According to the information plaque laying to the right of the stella in the picture, the information on the artifact, which is written in Greek, implies this has somethong to do with King Antiochus of Commagene’s cult rituals. It also states this stella was part of an oil press operation (hence the hole in the middle of the stone) and that the stella depicts Herakles and the “Sun God”.

Sir Victor also wanted his picture taken with the wall artifact shown below as we were walking between exhibits. 

The pots seen above with Sir Victor are made of “limestone breccia and andesite porphyry.” According to the plaque explaining these items, while use of these kinds pots were exclusive to the royals and religious buildings back when they were first created (the skills to make such items came during the Late Predynastic era), this technology and the ability to make items with similar materials helped Egypt advance in architecture, extraction, art, and transport.

Finally, before we left, Sir Victor posed with the bust of an Egptian queen. According to the informational plaque, her status in society is given away by the snake on top of her forehead in the headdress. It also states her name was Queen Ahmose-Merytamyn.

My Journey so Far (official post #1)

This trip so far has been a dream come true for me on so many different levels. What first attracted me to this course was the mention of being able to go around England (which I have ALWAYS wanted to do), seeing where prominent structures, events, and humans lived and existed, the mediedval time era we would be studying, and the actual history involved that we would be learning along the way. For at least the past six years, I have read fictional and nonfiction stories about royalty and aristocrats that were based in England, and from the first book I read, I have always wanted to see the places I read about. Now, fortunately and gratefully, I have been able to see these places, experience them, and watch them come to life right before my eyes.

The experiences I have had throughout this journey have been absolutely amazing, despite the rocky befginning it was for most of my group and the struggles we have had amongst ourselves, locations, and against, time. Trying a new kind of tea while having tea with three other female members of the group at the Jane Austen museum in Bath. Walking up towers in St. Andrews, York, Bath, Salisbury, and maybe more and other places. Trying Nepalese food in Bath. Walking where Mary Queen of Scots lived for the brief time she was actually in Scotland and seeing where her son was born. Seeing the Scottish crown jewels. Having cappacino at the palace in Edinburgh and hot chocolate in front of the art gallery in York. Going to the Dr. Who experience and having another layer of my nerdiness be revealed to myself. Going to pubs with members of the group in Oban and having dinner with some in Conwy. Dancing with the locals of Iona. Attending evensong in Gloucester. Having an evening at the thermal spa in Bath. Exploring numerous castles and church structures. Attend two Scotch whisky tastings (Oban and Edinburgh). Going to the Museum of London. Seeing various spots where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. And so the list goes on and on.

Another way this trip has been pretty awesome for me is how I have been able to open up to the other students about how I am and some things I have gone through in the past. This is huge for me because I am a quiet, introverted person to the point it should be a crime. Especially around people I do not know that well or I feel uncomfortable around. However, despite my introverted nature, I feel I have been able to socialize, communicate, connect with, and relate to many people in the group within the first two weeks of the trip (a personal best for me, honestly). I am personally very proud of myself for coming out of my shell to feel comfortable enough to tell people I have only known by name (if I knew of them at all) very personal information. That doesn’t happen in such a short amount of time for me. Ever.

From Religion to Defense (official post)

To start out our first full day in the York area, we went to four different places. One was Mount Grace Priory and Helmsley Castle.

In short, Mount Grace Priory was once a monastery that held monks who wanted a simple and secluded life. They would work in the fields, and live in peace with others who were members of the monastery, but they would only get together for two reasons. One was to worship God. Below, you can see Sir Victor on some rock where a wall once stood. This is possibly where housing for the laymen or servants were. Or some building to that effect.


Helmsley Castle, our third stop of the day, was tour-guided by one of our students. According to this student’s presentation, the castle has a long history of ownership between families. Many owners who passed away heirless would pass the castle on to their sisters, which only meant their brother-in-laws would get ownership. The castle eventually became government property in the mid-20th century. However, during the time it was passing through probate hands, the building was added on to and reinforced at least five times. Below is a picture of Sir Victor standing in the diorama of the castle.


Not much of this structure remains. While the house-like structure in the middle, slightly to the left, remains pretty well in-tact and serves as a museum, the don-jon-like tower in front of Sir Victor is in ruins. Below is a picture of Sir Victor in front of the landscape where the wall facing the outside once stood.

This is definitely in stark contrast to some of the structure we have already seen on our adventure through the United Kingdom. We have seen castles that were well reserved from their hey days. Helmsley Castle lacks the colorful decorations and paintings that places like Stirling Castle had put on display in their exhibits of all the different rooms that were utilized at that site.

However, there have been other castle sites like Dunstaffnage Castle that lay in a bit of ruins. However, that building was not in too much ruin because we were free to walk on top of the castle walls, down by where the kitchens were, go up into the gate house, and sit by the well (or well like structure) that sat in the middle of the court yard. In other words, we got more at Dunstaffnage Castle than walls that we barely got off the ground at Helmsley. However, Helmsley Castle did have the ground’s structure and shape working for them because it sits on top of a hill (bailey?). None of the castles we have seen thus far was equipped that way for defense.

Today was definitely an interesting day filled with both religion and defense buildings. We also visited two other castles, but they are talked about in a different post by another student in the class. Tomorrow, we will be staying within York and exploring the medieval structures there. Stay tuned!

It’s Almost Time!

I am finding it difficult to believe that the beginning of the trip to England is beginning in approximately twelve days. Less than a week. Words cannot describe how excited and happy I am about this fact. I am most particularly excited to be spending so much time in Scotland, going to the Tower of London and Westminister Abbey in London, and going to see Stonehenge. I think I have mentioned this before, but I was a little Tudor nerd in late junior high, high school, and even a  little bit into college. When I read about these places, I knew I wanted to go visit them and I wondered what they would be like and every thing like that, so being able to go to those places will be really really cool.

In terms of getting ready for the trip, I have already bought a money belt, some camping towels, a TSA-compatible lock, and a converter for my electrics. Luckily, I already have a pretty decent-sized backpack that I got when I was in Alice Springs that I am assuming I can use since I have taken it on plans as a carry-on before without any issues. I also got a new luggage set from my parents this past Christmas (or maybe my birthday….I can’t quite remember – it’s all around the same time),  so I will be using the 21″ carry-on from that set as my second bag. also have a day bag I will be bringing. The only things I really need to get that I will be taking with me are travel-sized toiletries such as deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. I figured I can get shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and stuff like that upon arrival so it does not take up too much weight in my bags.

Wells Cathedral

For my final presentation and tour guide assignment, I am going to be providing information on Wells Cathedral. Most of the information in this blog post and the tour guide assignment, will be coming from Dr. L’s book Wells Cathedral, which was “authorized by the Dean and Chapter of Wells (according to the front cover). This cathedral, which was started in the year 705 by Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, has the roots of its heritage in the Saxon era of England. However, very unfortunately, there is only one item which represents the original church that was replaced in the late part of the twelfth century. That item is a very Saxon font that has been slightly modernized and does not have very much of what originally decorated the piece still there (p. 4).

More specifically, between 1174 and 1191 (during Reginald de Bohun’s reign as Bishop of Bath), what is now considered to be the Wells Cathedral started being built where it is now – on a part of the previous area the building stood. However, it was not until the mid-thirteenth century (1260, to be exact) that the building process was completed. Fortunately, worshipers were able to begin utilizing the church in 1239; new construction would begin on the building almost a hundred years later, in 1320 (p. 7).

According to http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/timeline/, “Bishop’s Palace garden”‘s water holes are what initially drew people to settle in the area. Items from the Roman and Stone Age eras have  been found in addition to a possibly Christian “Romano-British burial chamber,” which eventually held a “mortuary chapel” on top of it that the Saxons built. A minster church was started on this property in 705 when King Ine of Wessex gave the go-ahead. This church was settled where the cloisters are now – just south of where today’s cathedral sets. This is also where the chest and font of the Cathedral first were. When 909 came around, the cathedral came into existence as the Minster Church of St Andrew, which covered both Somerset and Wells, came to be a diocese after Sherborne’s diocese was broken up. French gothic-style blueprints were procured by de Bohun in 1175, and Wells Cathedral was built to be the first cathedral of this style in England. About 300 of the statues from the medieval period remain in the cathedral, and it took around 80 years for the first construction phase.

The website also goes on to say the three cloisters associated with the cathedral were first built in the 1200’s while the Chapter House was not completed until 1306. The cloisters were also updated in the 1400’s, and they now include a library and school. The end of the Chapter House’s (where business issues and dealings on the cathedral were taken care of) construction initiated the beginning of the expanse of the cathedral itself.

Between the 1200’s and 1300’s, the Virgin Mary was highly-regarded more than usual (even though the parishioners had looked to her from the start). However, the Lady Chapel, which is the spot in the cathedral, and many other cathedrals, to demonstrate to Jesus’ mother the integrity in which was her due (p. 13).

In 1209, when King John got on the pope’s bad side because of a disagreement, building the nave of the cathedral was halted for a little while (p. 16). The building, which had begun at the crossing of the church, halted due to the pope temporarily ending the use of churches in England as a result of the argument (p. 16).

Vicars (a synonym for “deputy”) have also been a part of life at Well’s Cathedral since the twelfth century (1348) when a dining hall/business area combination building and 42 homes were built by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury when he wanted to have a Vicar’s Choral. These men were talented singers who lived at the cathedral’s property and performed in services. However, they were not allowed to marry until all of the religious turmoil that came with the 1500’s. This is still a community that exists today. Choir members and the organist continue to live in Vicar’s Close with their families and participate every day in the musical life of the cathedral (p. 24).

Today, there are around 3,000 “friends” (so I’m assuming supporters – financial or otherwise) around the planet for Well’s Cathedral with mainly volunteers running the building with a few employees (p. 27).

Well, that is the briefest of outlines on the Cathedral from Dr. L’s book and http://www.wellscathedral.org.uk/history/timeline/. Over the next week I will be looking online for more information to present while in England. Below is an image of the Cathedral that I found at https://www.google.com/search?q=Wells+Cathedral&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjsl4uBr7bTAhXhxFQKHXjUBPUQ_AUICCgB&biw=1366&bih=662#imgrc=3ydlPqSSu5CkGM: after Googling an image of the building. The image leads to http://www.englishcathedrals.co.uk/cathedral/wells-cathedral/ which has more information and images on the Cathedral.

Image result for Wells Cathedral

Mind-blowing Facts of the 14th Century

Throughout the course of the past month or so, we have been reading this book called
The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer. This book is filled with facts and knowledge ranging from the food, to traveling, spending and currency, clothing, crime, and many other
cultural aspects about English society in the fourteenth century. As a class, we are only through chapter ten, but another really interesting fact I have noticed about the way it is written is this book covers all three levels of the hierarchy of England.
The poor, middle class, and aristocracy are each given their fair share of a chance to explain what life was really like for them in that era.

Any who, enough about critiquing and explaining the book. This blog post will essentially be a bunch of random facts I came about while reading that I have found either fascinating or simply boggle my mind for different reasons.

One thing that truly boggles my mind is how much what a person owned and was worth dictated what they could or could not dress themselves in.
The Time Traveler’s Guide has this chart on pages 104 and 105 where it explicitly states who could and could not wear what kind of materials, items, and colors. Those who had £1,000 worth of land on a yearly basis, or immediate family who owned so much,
did not have any limitations on what they could and could not wear while those who did not even have 40s worth of items to their names were only allowed to wear rope (linen) belts, blankets, and russets. Cloth for some reason was just not an option for them.
I understand having to be able to differentiate between socio-economic statuses on the spot and having some sort of hierarchy, but for me, the fact the villeins, cowherds, and the other poorest of the poor had to be so restricted by law (the Sumptuary Laws
of 1363) with what they could put on their bodies.

Another thing that baffled me relates to one particular item: money. Going into this course, I already knew that those who lived in the country literally lived off the land. They got their food sources from the ground they worked and their
meat from the animals decided to slaughter and salt. I also already knew that those who lived in the cities had to buy everything they ate in order to survive. However, what I did not know was exactly the pricing of food and exactly how those prices could
have impacted those who worked but yet were way behind in bills. For instance, on page 177, it talks about how workers would need to labor for nine days in order to afford one pound of citronade (which was priced at 3s). How could something that was probably
extremely beneficial for someone’s health back in that day cost so much? How could people make so little in a day’s work and still be expected to support their families?

Maybe it’s just the fact I was born and raised in the 20th and 21st centuries, but these ideals and concepts truly do astonish me.

Edward IV

Before taking this class, all I have really heard from a historical and factual standpoint about Edward IV was that his brother was Richard III, and Richard III was accused of murdering or doing something to make Edward IV’s two young sons disappear from the Tower of London after Edward IV died so Richard III could become king. The Death of  Kings video we watched  for class was more specifically the first non-literary place I learned anything about Edward IV. Admittedly, I do not remember much from the video other than the fact  he went behind the backs of his uncle, the rest of his family, the nobility, the other aristocrats, and, for lack of better words or label, the best interests of his country  arranged to be married to the daughter of a low-born aristocrat in secrecy. The website mentioned below talked about Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, Sir John Grey of Groby’s widow and Lord (Richard) Rivers’ daughter, which had gone against the French union the Earl of Warwick wanted.

I found this website (http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/edward4.htm) that was able to give me a lot more insight into and knowledge about Edward IV’s life, major accomplishments, and trials  to keep the English crown.

According to the website, Edward IV, who was first known as the Earl of March, was born in late April, 1442 to Richard Duke of York and Cicely Neville in Rouen. His first trip to France, after Ludlow being his main permanency throughout his childhood, was with his cousin (Earl of Warwick) and uncle (Earl of Salisbury) to Calais in October of 1459. Edward eventually went back to Wales after agreeing to be next in line for the English throne until his father died.

On March 4th, 1461, Edward IV became ruler of England after fighting at Mortimer’s Cross against the Earl of Wiltshire and the Earl of Pembroke in February. A battle at Towton in the northern part of England was won on March 28th with the help of the Earl of Warwick, thus solidifying Edward IV’s crown and claim to the throne.

After getting married, Edward IV further tipped off his cousin by not allying with France and deliberately choosing Burgundy instead. I’m assuming this built tension wihtin the family, along with how Edward IV lavished things such as really good marriages and promotions on his wife’s kin, because Edward’s own brother George, the Duke of Clarence, stood up against Edward with the Earl of Warwick in 1469.

After being imprisoned at Middleham for half a year, Edward was able to break free of Warwick and beat him in battle after hiding out in Holland in 1470 and getting the help of his brother, Richard of Gloucester, and his wife’s brother, Charles of Burgundy. In 1475, a war with the French rose up and the treaty of Pecquigny with Louis XI was able to settle matters on that front.

Other than that, Edward IV was pretty secure in his rule of England and promiscuous in his personal life until he died in April of 1483.

All the information, except for that from the video from teh first paragraph, was found at: http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/edward4.htm.

Castle Building

Throughout the past few weeks of the course, I have learned quite about what qualified as a castle as well as the architecture, functionality, and design on a castle. In the Medieval Castles by Oliver Creighton and Robert Higham, it was revealed the word “castle” was generally applied to any structure on the building continuum from an actual defense building to a manor house where gentry-level people lived. When it comes to the functionality of a castle, I have always known they often housed families and their servants in addition to being a place of defense in times of war. However, in terms of their structure, design, and architecture, I never knew exactly what kind of defenses castles had that made them useful in combat other than providing the defenders and those who lived in the building a few places to hide. For instance, I never knew there were typically defenses between the gates and/or portcullises such as murder holes to annihilate any enemies who managed to get stuck in that area. I also did not know there were specially-designed narrow windows (arrow-slits) where archers could stand while firing arrows at the oncoming party while being optimally protected. I also did not know there would be a stability difference in the way towers were built. I remember very distinctly sitting in class hearing Dr. L describe the circular structure being more stable as there would not be the corners a square tower has for the energy of oncoming artillery to run thru and destroy. Walls of a circular tower would not come down and expose the rest of the castle to the invading party.

It was also really interesting to me how the castle builders would use the landscape to their advantage (to an extent, at least) when designing a structure. Sometimes, they would build the keep (main tower of the castle) on top of a hill (often called a motte). This would work to the family’s advantage by helping them keep safe in their day-t0-day lives as well as probably keep important documents, weapons, oubliette (dungeon) and its prisoners, and whatever else they would store in the main tower safe from oncoming enemies. This would be especially beneficial if there was a fosse (ditch) around the keep or the outer walls of the castle so the enemies had a harder time getting up, close, and personal to their target(s). Sometimes they would put a bailey, also known as a ward or an outter wall, around the motte, keep, guard’s quarters, and other such buildings as another defense mechanism. However, if there were no fosses, baileys, or other defense mechanisms, it is possible the castle architects decided to work with nature or start from scratch with implementing a moat (ditch). Typically, moats are displayed in recent common culture as having water flowing through them; however, this was often not the case as, if I remember right from what Dr. L said one night during class, many of the moats were either man-made or just not filled with liquid.