This Archive Captures Centuries of British Crime, From Cheese Theft to Murder

Cheese & Murder

In 1580 in the British diocese of Ely, an Englishman named William Sturns went down in history for an unusual crime. His alleged malfeasance? Stealing not one, not two, but three cheeses. Ultimately, he was found not guilty, but this alleged felony was dutifully recorded in an archive spanning 200 years of crimes in Ely.

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Archaeologist Found 12th century Medieval castle in England

The greatest Archeological and historical discoveries are often found in the most unlikely of places. This was the case on December 2015, when construction laborers were left in awe while renovating a men’s prison in Gloucester, England.

Back around the year 1110, the rulers of Gloucester built an impressive castle ”similar to the Tower of London,” It had 3 chapels, 2 drawbridges, and walls that were a solid 12 feet wide.

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Why Were Medieval Europeans So Obsessed With Long, Pointy Shoes?


In 1463, London outlawed the shoes of its fanciest men. These dapper lords had grown ridiculous in their dapperness, and had taken to ambling streets shod in long, carrot-shaped shoes that tapered to impish tips, some as long as five inches beyond the toe. These shoes were called “crakows” or “poulaines” (a term also used to refer to the tips alone), and the court of King Edward IV eventually found them offensive enough to pass a sumptuary law prohibiting shoe tips that extended over two inches beyond the toe.

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Late Medieval Books and their Fittings: A material culture study

Paper by Charlotte Howsam

Given at the Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference on December 19, 2017.

Abstract: There have been various approaches applied to study and understand the nature of the late Medieval book, including historical, palaeographical and codicological methods, and yet, traditionally, little attention has been given to the book as a form of material culture, especially by archaeologists. This paper will briefly discuss the different approaches that have been applied in recent years to the study of the book, before giving a detailed consideration of how the archaeological investigation into late Medieval book fittings excavated from English monastic sites offers an innovative approach to the wider study of the late Medieval book.

To move beyond simply defining the various types of late Medieval book fittings, an interdisciplinary approach can be applied to further understand the nature of this type of material culture, including the books on which fittings were used, the influences of different monastic orders, their geographical distribution and the significance of their deposition. It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate how the archaeological investigation of book fittings provides not only the opportunity to study book fittings typologically but also to place such material culture into its wider social and cultural contexts within late Medieval society.

You can follow Charlotte on or on Twitter @c_howsam