The Medieval Mayhem of Framlingham Castle

One of the spectacular views of Framlingham Castle, which has aged into a highly interesting tourist attraction managed by the English Heritage charity today. Source: Ian Dalgliesh / CC BY-SA 2.0

Framlingham Castle is a Medieval castle located in Framlingham, a market town in the eastern English county of Suffolk. The first castle was built during the 11th century and was originally a timber structure. Soon after, this wooden castle was replaced by a stone one.

In the centuries that followed, Framlingham Castle was witness to various significant events in English history. Therefore, the castle can be connected to numerous historical figures, including the English monarchs Henry II, John, and Mary. For about three centuries, Framlingham Castle was in the hands of the Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Ultimately, Framlingham Castle was given to the state, and is today under the management of the English Heritage charity.

The Inner Court of Framlingham Castle, showing the open backed mural towers. (foshie / CC BY 2.0)

The Inner Court of Framlingham Castle, showing the open backed mural towers. (foshie / CC BY 2.0)

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The Underwater City of Cuba: A New Theory on its Origins – Part I

Artist’s representation of underwater ruins.

(Read Part II here)

In his Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Graham Hancock examines the numerous structures that have been discovered underwater around the world. Most of the sites that Hancock discusses lie less than 120 meters (395 feet) below sea level, which comes as no surprise since the sea level never fell below this mark during the time Homo sapiens walked the earth. Submerged over 700 meters (2300 feet) underwater, the Cuban city discovered by Paulina Zelitsky and Paul Weinzweig during a joint Cuban-Canadian expedition is the singular exception.

Overturning Old Theories

How can the existence of this underwater city at this great depth be reconciled with the well-established consensus that the sea level never dropped so low? In Hancock’s own words: “What one would not expect to find in water anywhere near as deep as 700 meters would be a sunken city - unless it had been submerged by some colossal tectonic event rather than by rising sea levels.”

Reconstructed Image from the sonar scan of the sea floor off the coast of Cuba.

Reconstructed Image from the sonar scan of the sea floor off the coast of Cuba.

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Denisova Cave DNA: Neanderthals, Denisovans and Humans Lived Together!

The entrance to the Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia where the so-called new “Denisova Cave DNA” has proven, for the first time, the Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo sapiens occupied the same cave at the same time sometimes!   Source: Professor Richard G. Roberts / University of Wollongong  By Ashley Cowie

The deeply-ancient Denisova Cave in Siberia was at times home to Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans “at the same time” based on the latest Denisova Cave DNA research.

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Roman Building Found Under Cinema in Verona A “Miniature Pompeii”

Researchers found the charred remains of wooden furniture at the site of the former Astra cinema in Verona leading them to the discovery of the ancient Roman building that is now being called a "miniature Pompeii."

Recently, during excavations carried out in Verona, Italy under an abandoned cinema, archaeologists discovered the remains of a second-century Roman building. 

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Oldest Wine in Europe Found at Prehistoric Greek Site

The oldest wine in Europe has been found at Dikili Tash in Greece

Archaeologists undertaking excavations at the prehistoric settlement of Dikili Tash in northern Greece have completed analyses of wine samples from ancient ceramics revealing evidence of wine dating back to 4200 BC. These are believed to be the oldest known traces of wine in Europe!

The Site of Dikili Tash

Dikili Tash is situated 1.2 miles (1.93 km) from the ancient city of Philippi and has been inhabited since 6500 BC. The site is a tell, a massive human-created mound of earth which looms some 49 ft. (15 meters) above the current ground level over an area of 11 acres, the result of millennia of human building and rebuilding in the same place. Archaeological deposits in the tell extend below the current ground surface, for a total of 55 ft. (17 meters) of human occupation.

Caius Vibius Quartus Monument near the village of Krinides and the prehistoric tell Dikili Tash. (Schuppi/CC BY-SA 4.0) Samples taken from ceramics found at Dikili Tash are believed to be evidence of the oldest wine in Europe.

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The Measure Of Ancient Mirrors: Planispheres, Phenakistoscopes And Telescopes

Mirror magic, fortune telling and fulfillment of desires. Fantasy with a mirror, dark room, magical power, night view. (MiaStendal /Adobe Stock)

In some early texts concerning long-distance viewing, the term ‘mirror’ is used, but not as a device for simple reflection. Instead, the mirror takes on other powers, and the term seems to serve as some kind of metaphor for a fantastical device to view scenes remotely.

Johannes Hevelius observing with one of his telescopes (1674) (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Johannes Hevelius observing with one of his telescopes (1674) (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Mirroring The Future

The Gesta Romanorum (Deeds of the Romans) is a collection of anecdotes dating from the late 13th or early 14th century. The work seems to have been written for the purpose of providing morality tales, as each anecdote or story in the text includes a heading referring to a particular moral virtue or vice — for example, de invidia. One of the tales in this book deals with the idea of viewing images at a distance in this context. A knight has married a woman who is unfaithful, but he is unaware of that fact; moreover, he is away from home, travelling in the city of Rome: “In the meantime, while the knight was passing through the main street of Rome, a wise master met him in the way, and observing him narrowly, said, “My friend, I have a secret to communicate.” “Well, master, what would you please to say?” “This day, you are one of death’s children, unless you follow my advice: your wife is a harlot, and contrives your death.” The knight, hearing what was said of his spouse, put confidence in the speaker”.

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Researchers Discover Ancient Urartian Castle in Eastern Turkey

The outlines of the 2,800-year-old Urartian castle, the most recent discovery of its kind, found in eastern Turkey recently.                    Source: Anadolu Agency

A team of archaeologists from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University recently unearthed the remains of a 2,800-year-old castle in eastern Turkey, which was first reported by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, one of the country’s top media outlets. 

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Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Death by Immurement

Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Death by Immurement

Immurement is a practice whereby a person is enclosed within a confined space with no exits. Normally, a person who is immured is left in that space till he/she dies, either of dehydration or starvation. In cases where a person is buried alive, asphyxiation may be the cause of death instead. 

Although immurement is often carried out as a form of execution, there are also several other reasons of it being performed, for instance, as human sacrifice, or for ascetic purposes. Examples of immurement can be found in various cultures around the world, and across time. Additionally, there are many legends about people being immured. At times, skeletons have been found sealed behind walls, which has been regarded as evidence of this practice being carried out.

The word ‘immure’ is derived from the Latin words ‘in’ and ‘murus’, meaning ‘in or into’ and ‘wall’, respectively. The word traces its origin to the Medieval Latin word ‘immurare’, which literally means ‘to shut up within walls’. Considering the Latin origin of this word, what better place to begin a journey through the history of immurement than in ancient Rome?   

Immurement in Ancient Rome

In the context of ancient Rome, immurement is most often associated with the Vestal Virgins. More specifically, this was supposed to have been a punishment for those who were found guilty of breaking their vow of chastity. 

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World’s Largest Rhino Species Ever Found in Chinese Animal Graveyard

A color drawing of the largest rhino ever based on the remains found in Linxia, China.

China continues to be a land of mystique and wonder, with many facets of its culture and society yet to be fully understood. But it is also a country known for amazing dinosaur fossils and the latest find is extraordinary! 

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Bolsover Castle: 11th Century Fort Bloomed Into Stunning Residence

Bolsover Castle and its grand view over Bolsover town and the surrounding landscape. Source: Matthew / Adobe Stock

Bolsover Castle is a famous and unusual castle in Derbyshire, a county in England’s East Midlands. Although the current building was constructed during the 17th century, the history of Bolsover Castle stretches back to the 11th century. 

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Mementos for the Dead: Surprising Burial Customs in Iron Age Britain

Close up of an ancient crying angel statue with tears as a symbol of the end of human life. According to the latest research burial customs in Iron Age Britain frequently involved the keeping and burial of everyday objects associated with the deceased. Source: zwiebackesser / Adobe Stock

A University of York researcher has developed a new framework for interpreting collections of everyday objects found during archaeological excavations, specifically at sites linked to Iron Age Britain.

Despite the absence of skeletal remains, Dr. Lindsey Büster believes that such caches in Iron Age Britain were created and buried as a way to remember and honor family members, close friends, or community leaders who had passed away. This idea is somewhat groundbreaking, since the collections of objects she is referring to were not found beside human remains. Her paper is part of the latest edition of the Antiquity journal.

Iron Age Britain: Collections of Buried Everyday Objects

Buried collections of personal and everyday objects have been frequently found at Iron Age (800 BC to 100 AD) and mid-to-late Bronze Age (1,800 BC to 800 BC) sites discovered on British soil. Some of the items found, like coins or jewelry, might have some value. But in most cases the artifacts recovered would have only been meaningful to those who’d owned and used them.

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Farmer Digs Up Stone Egyptian Stele Saluting Sixth Century BC Pharaoh

The Sphinx of Apries, dated to between 589 and 570 BC. Like the Egyptian stele found in the farmer's field, this sphinx is dedicated to the pharaoh Apries of the 26th dynasty of Egypt. Inset, stele of Apries in situ at find site.

Recently, a farmer ploughing his field in Egypt’s Ismailia Governorate dug up something massive and historically significant. The unnamed farmer was shocked to realize the heavy object he’d uncovered was not a large rock. It was actually a huge stone Egyptian stele that contained hieroglyphic writing in an ancient language.

Suspecting he’d found something important the man immediately contacted the local Tourism and Antiquities Police. After retrieving it, antiquities experts identified the thick stone slab as an ancient Egyptian stele, or sandstone monument. This stele was constructed in the sixth century BC, as a monument to a largely forgotten pharaoh.

The Egyptian stele of Apries, as it was found in the farmer’s field, with its hieroglyphic inscription related to one of the pharaoh’s numerous completed or planned military campaigns . (Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)

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From Peasant To Pharaoh: The Popularity of ‘Pizza’ in the Ancient World

A medieval baker with his apprentice. The Bodleian Library, Oxford. (Public Domain)

Since the ancient times, people have been eating pizza in one form or another. By 2200 BC, Egyptian flatbread was topped with a spread called dukkah and evidence of flatbread consumed in Italy also date back to 2000 BC.

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More Than Summer Solstice - Prehistoric Calendar Revealed at Stonehenge

Prehistoric Calendar Revealed at Stonehenge

As the Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere has come around, the craving to celebrate at the world-famous Stonehenge Neolithic site has again proven irresistible to crowds of people wishing to watch the Sun rise above the Heel Stone and shine on the central altar. For those in the northern hemisphere, this is a time when the Sun's path stops moving northward in the sky, the days stop growing longer and will soon begin to shorten again.

English Heritage, who manage the iconic Wiltshire site had planned to welcome those coming to celebrate, but with Covid measures in England extended until July 17, the anticipated numbers would have exceeded the 4,000 limit for public events, and so the event was cancelled. However, hundreds of dedicated people still arrived at the site and hopped over the fence into the main stone circle. The invasion was described as ‘peaceful’ by the police, but the illegal gathering still forced English Heritage to halt their live broadcast of the annual solar event, to the disappointment of more than 200,000 who had tuned in to watch the sunrise live at 04:52 BST. Another case of the determined dissenting few ruining things for the law-abiding majority.

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2,000-Year-Old Shoe Unearthed in German Bog

2,000-Year-Old Shoe Unearthed in German Bog

Bogs have been home to some of the weirdest items and artifacts, some that were buried or stored intentionally, and others that were inadvertently lost in the mud. The archaeological record is full of bizarre finds including barrels full of butter to well-preserved human bodies, murder weapons, wheels, or tools. Archaeologists have now made another discovery in the “bogosphere”, within the mystery-laden moors of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. The very well-preserved leather artifact, a 2,000-year-old shoe, was found alongside the remains of a wooden road dating back to the Bronze Age.

Known as the Bohlenweg Pr 6, this ancient bog path is currently being excavated as part of a project which concludes in 2022. Next to this path archaeologists found the remains of a 2,000-year-old shoe. (Bernard Warnking / CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Scandalous Fashion: The Naked Appeal of Dhaka Muslin

Could Dhaka Muslin be coming back?

Dhaka Muslin is a precious fabric that gained popularity around 200 years ago, but its roots go back much further. In the late 18th century, Dhaka muslin became a new fashion and gained both admiration and notoriety throughout Europe. With its transparent appearance and its use in dresses and blouses, giving a near-naked appearance, the fabric became scandalous.  

Marco Polo was the first to describe muslin in his book The Travels in 1298 AD, where he wrote that it originated in Mosul, Iraq.  During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bengal (now Bangladesh) emerged as the foremost muslin exporter in the world, with Dhaka as capital of the worldwide muslin trade.  It became highly popular in 18th-century France and eventually spread across much of the Western world.

The Story of Dhaka Muslin

Dhaka Muslin was made through a 16-step process, using rare cotton that was found only in the holy riverbanks of Meghna. Hence, this cloth was considered as one of the greatest treasures to possess in that age.

18th Century Dhaka Muslin (Faizul Latif Chowdhury / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Ancient Necropolis Found Hidden in 17th Century Croatian Palace Garden

Ancient Necropolis Found Hidden in 17th Century Croatian Palace Garden

An ancient necropolis dating to the 4th and 5th centuries AD has been discovered at a 17th-century palace on the idyllic Croatian island of Hvar. This Hvar necropolis is being called “the most important ever” in the island’s thousands of years of inhabitation. 

Located in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar is best known today as a summer holiday resort. However, it has been part of a long history having been continuously inhabited since early Neolithic times. In the 8th century BC Illyrians settled the island and in 385 BC Greek colonists founded Dimos (presently Hvar) and Pharos (Stari Grad). In 219 BC the island was taken over by Rome, while Slavs fleeing the mainland in the 7th century AD settled on the island.

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Ghosts in the Landscape: How Did the Village of Gainsthorpe Vanish?

How could an entire village disappear? Source: Ivan Kmit / Adobe Stock.

There are many medieval villages in England that have disappeared throughout the years. However, one that remains more visible than most is the village of Gainsthorpe in Lincolnshire. When viewed from above, many elements of the village remain visible, such as the houses, barns and streets through earthworks in an unploughed field. Furthermore, Gainsthorpe was no small hamlet but a significant village, which can be traced from its earliest origins right through to its disappearance in the 17th century.

The Origins of Gainsthorpe

One of the earliest mentions of the village of Gainsthorpe is in the Domesday Book of 1086. This book was a great survey of England ordered by William the Conqueror after his conquest of the Anglo-Saxons. It sought to record how the land was occupied, by what sort of man and what stock was upon the land. The Domesday book shows how much dues and taxes should be due to the King each year. It is here where Gainsthorpe has its first mention, as the village known as “Gamelstorp”.

It was originally owned in 1066 by a Saxon lord called Ulgar or Wulfgar. This name is associated with 21 other places in the Domesday book, though it should be noted that these may not all be the same person. By 1086, though, the possession of the land had been transferred to a Norman lord, Ivo Tallboys or Taillebois. This perhaps implies that during the taming of England by William, Ulgar/Wulfgar was killed.

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Conquering the Dark: Finding the Light Behind Paleolithic Cave Art

Paleolithic cave dwellers used torches, lamps, and fireplaces. Source: Gorodenkoff /Adobe Stock

Fascinating scientific experiments at Isuntza 1 Cave in the Basque region of Spain have attempted to replicate Paleolithic lighting conditions. The work is inspired by a desire to understand and recreate how Paleolithic cave dwellers might have travelled, lived in, and created art in the depths of their caves.

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Natural Harmony: How did the Stonehenge Druids Measure the Landscape?

Stonehenge and surrounding earthworks.

What were the Proto-Druids up to at Stonehenge? Advances in GPS technology and other sophisticated mapping software allow their prehistoric surveying activities to be investigated in ways that were virtually impossible before the 21st century. In this article I discuss their spectacular measuring and construction activities across the Stonehenge Neolithic landscape, circa 3,500 – 3,000 BC.

Background

I have been investigating British Prehistoric landscapes for some time and I believe that there were certain Neolithic people, whom I refer to as Proto-Druids, who were surveying their lands on a scale never fully appreciated before. To examine this phenomenon of measuring, I utilized GPS and other mapping software.

However, I realize that the reader will not have immediate access to such technology but one could still gain an appreciation of my forthcoming data by using both Ordnance Survey maps and Google Earth. And I will provide the necessary Ordnance Survey map coordinates to help you identify the key locations discussed here, so that you can check the measurements for yourself (see Table One).

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Plague Victims In Medieval Cambridge Treated With Care and Compassion

Reconstruction of plague victims being cared for at All Saints Church, Cambridge.      Source: Mark Gridley / European Journal of Archaeology

“Yersinia Pestis,” the killer pathogen that causes plague, was identified in bodies dated to the medieval period in Cambridgeshire, England. A new study of these corpses confirms for the first time that many plague victims were not carelessly buried in mass graves but instead treated with compassion and care under the most testing times imaginable.

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Thoth’s Storm: New Evidence for Ancient Egyptians in Ireland?

Deriv; Ancient Celtic dolmen from Poulnabrone, Ireland and carved Egyptian deity Thoth

When ancient Egypt and Ireland are spoken about in the same breath it usually results in the rolling of eyes, polite exits and the sound of murmurs citing pseudo-history and new age babble.
At least, that used to be the case.

Recent discoveries in DNA research have added to already verified archaeological finds to present a scenario that is now more difficult to dismiss.

Lia Fáil, also known as the Coronation Stone or Stone of Destiny, was an important ritual component in the coronation of ancient High Kings of Ireland. (JohnJDuncan /CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s most ancient sacred sites. It is surrounded by many other Neolithic earthworks and tombs and although commonly associated with the Celts, the site pre-dates their arrival in Ireland by thousands of years.

In legend it is the place where the Tuatha De Danann reigned. These were a God-like people who were said to have arrived in Ireland in mysterious ships and had magical powers.

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AI Finds New Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA Mutations in Human Genome

A drawing of a Neanderthal man looking to the horizon and wondering if he will meet another "human" and, if so a human woman. The human genome it turns out has a lot of Neanderthal genes and now a Danish AI program is proving it.

Scientists affiliated with the GLOBE Institute’s GeoGenetics Centre at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have created an Artificial Intelligence program that is helping them identify ancient mutations in the human genome. 

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Foundation Dig Finds Evidence of Medieval Scotland in Inverness

Foundation Dig Finds Evidence of Medieval Scotland in Inverness

During excavations in advance of new development, archaeologists in Scotland have uncovered medieval ruins, and they are revealing secrets about the industrial past in Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. 

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The Origins Of Mankind: Was There An African Eve?

Australopithecus Afarensis (procy_ab / Adobe Stock)

Archaeogenetics is a fascinating science. Accepted current research suggests that every human being on earth is descended in an unbroken line, traced through their mothers in a genetic system called matrilineal descent, from one woman who lived in western Africa some 200,000 years ago. 

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Homo Sapiens African Migration Occurred When the Climate Was Good

The landscape of Ethiopia today. During the first African migrations by Homo sapiens heading north to Europe or west to the Middle East, Ethiopia and East Africa in general were areas where the climate fluctuated frequently.

Some researchers believe the ancestors of modern humans migrated from their homelands in Africa to Europe and Asia 60,000 years ago in response to the climate becoming dryer.

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Yazılıkaya: 3200-Year-Old Temple Reflects Hittite Views on Time and the Cosmos

Yazilikaya, Hittite sanctuary and astronomical observatory

Yazılıkaya is a 3,200-year-old building that was known to have been central in religious ceremonies in the capital city of the ancient Hittite Empire.

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Medieval People Were Reopening Graves, But Not to Rob Them

Medieval People Were Reopening Graves, But Not to Rob Them

In the Middle Ages being dead wasn’t a guarantee you would rest in peace. Researchers have found hundreds of examples of people re-opening graves in cemeteries from Transylvania to southern England in the 5th – 7th centuries AD.

What could this mean? The first explanation for the apparently inconsistent reopening of graves and removal of artifacts, or fragments of artifacts, was common grave robbery. But a new study published in the journal Antiquitychallenges that view, saying that the widespread re-opening of graves did not signal theft, and it was actually a part of regular mortuary practices at the time.

Reconstruction of a chamber grave from eastern France. (figure by B. Clarys/Antiquity)

“Excavators Have Realized that Something Stranger is Going On”

This study demonstrates that in early Medieval Europe the dead and their possessions continued to be important after they were buried. Lead author of the research Dr. Alison Klevnäs from Stockholm University explained,

“For over a hundred years, archaeologists in many European countries have discovered graves from the early medieval period which look like they were robbed soon after burial. But over the decades, many excavators have realized that something stranger is going on.”

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6,000-Year-Old Yukon Throwing Dart Was Made Using Beaver Secretion

6,000-Year-Old Yukon Throwing Dart Was Made Using Beaver Secretion

Scientists from the Canadian Conservation Institute have discovered the earliest evidence of the use of castoreum in the making of weapons. The castoreum, a product sourced from the anal castor sacs of beavers, was found during the analysis of a 6,000-year-old throwing dart, unearthed back in 2018 in southern Yukon, Canada. “Our ancestors were connected to the land, the water, and the animals in our Traditional Territories,” stated Chief Doris Bill of Kwanlin Dün First Nation. “They understood how to use the things around them to design complex and ingenious tools, like the atlatl.”

Images showing the location where the Yukon throwing dart was discovered. (Yukon Government / Science Direct)

Finding the Yukon Throwing Dart in the Ice

The artifact at the center of the current media frenzy is an ancient atlatl, or throwing dart. This 6,000-year-old specimen was discovered near Alligator Lake in southern Yukon, located in northwestern Canada bordering Alaska.

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Relic Cults: Why Dead Saints Were So Important in the Middle Ages

The holy relics and reliquary of Saint Ivo of Kermartin (St. Yves or St. Ives; 1253–1303 AD) in Tréguier, Brittany, France.

The practice of preserving and enshrining the remains of saints and heroes, or other items associated with their life or death, has been ongoing for thousands of years dating back well into the pre-Christian era in Europe.

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