Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Recent Discoveries for Anglo-Saxon England

ELB writes:

Important new research by ASNC Department members Prof. Simon Keynes and Dr Rosalind Love is highlighted in Cambridge University's Research Horizons newsletter this month. As Research Horizons puts it:
Recent headlines might give the impression that to strike Anglo-Saxon gold you need a metal detector but, as ASNC academics Professor Simon Keynes and Dr Rosalind Love discovered, there’s still plenty awaiting the historians and literary scholars who depend on texts.

When a 14th-century compilation of historical materials that had lain undiscovered in the library of the Earl of Devon for centuries went under the hammer at Sotheby’s, an eagle-eyed expert (and former ASNC graduate student) spotted that it contained a copy of a much older and incredibly rare text. It was the Encomium Emmae Reginae, a highly charged polemic written on behalf of Queen Emma, wife of King Æthelred the Unready and then of King Cnut, in 1041. But, unlike the only other surviving copy, it was preserved here in a version with a different ending, added after the accession of her son Edward the Confessor in 1042. Coincidentally, a related discovery was made in Oxford, where papers of a 16th-century antiquary were found to include a long-lost section from a biography of King Edward, written soon after his death in 1066.
Both ‘new’ texts have now been studied closely at ASNC, and interpreted in relation to each other. ‘The variant ending of the Encomium is rather explosive in its implications for our understanding of how Edward’s accession was perceived by contemporaries, spinning it as the longed-for restoration of the Anglo-Saxon royal line,’ explained Professor Keynes. ‘And it provides the perfect context for understanding a poem, now fully recovered, which describes a magnificent ship given to Edward at precisely that time,’ added Dr Love.
Prof. Keynes and Dr Love are publishing their study of this important new material in the forthcoming volume of the journal Anglo-Saxon England and this can already be accessed online (or purchased by those who do not have institutional access to Cambridge journals).

Monday, 24 May 2010

15th Oxford-Cambridge Celtic Colloquium

Ronni Phillips writes:

The Oxford-Cambridge Celtic Colloquium took place last Saturday, 22nd May. It was held in the Old Music Room at St John’s College, Cambridge, with a dinner afterwards in the Upper Hall, Peterhouse. The Colloquium is a conference for postgraduate students from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, held alternately at each institution, and is now in its fifteenth year. This year there were eight speakers, four from Oxford and four from Cambridge, representing a variety of disciplines within the Celtic Studies field.

The programme was as follows:

11am: Tea and Coffee, Old Music Room, St John’s College

Session 1 
Chair: Veronica Phillips

11.30: Kelly Kilpatrick (Oxford), ‘The Medieval Perceptions of the Pre-Christian ‘cemeteries’ of Ireland: a Toponymic Analysis of Senchas na Relec, Aided Nath Í ocus Adnacol and Related Dindshenchus’.

12.00: Dr Denis Casey (Cambridge), ‘Sources for the Annals of Clonmacnoise’.

12.30: Patrick Wadden (Oxford), ‘Cath Ruis na Ríg: Literature and History in the Twelfth Century’.

1.00: Lunch, Old Music Room, St John’s College

Oxford-Cambridge Celtic Colloquium 2010

Session 2
Chair: Robert Crampton

2.30: Angela Grant (Oxford), ‘Rith and Anyan: the Nature of Magical Transformation in Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi’.

3.00: Kelly Randall (Cambridge), ‘(Re-)defining Translation Style: Structure and Variation in Cyfranc Lludd a Llefelys’.

3.30: Owain Wyn Jones (Oxford), ‘Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd ei Chwaer/The Prophecy of Myrddin and Gwenddydd his Sister’.

4:00 Tea and Coffee, Old Music Room, St John’s College

Session 3
Chair: Jon Wolitz

4.30: Natalia Petrovskaia (Cambridge), ‘The Origins of Delw y Byd’.

5.00: Philip Dunshea (Cambridge), ‘The Sub-Roman Afterlife of the Hadrian’s Wallforts’.

7.00: Dinner, Upper Hall, Peterhouse

Friday, 21 May 2010

Vacancy in the ASNC Department

Teaching Associate in Modern Irish

Applications are invited for a part-time post in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, available from 1 September 2010. The successful applicant will be expected to teach Modern Irish language to University students at all levels, develop online resources to support this teaching, and contribute as a member of the team to the scholarly life of the Department. A good first degree and relevant postgraduate qualification are essential, as well as a good understanding of IT as it relates to language teaching and learning. Given the strong research culture in the Department, developing research activity commensurate with stage of career is desirable. Further particulars can be downloaded from here or obtained from the Departmental Secretary at 9 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP.

Applications, including a curriculum vitae, completed PD18 (Parts I and III), covering letter and the names of three referees should be sent to the Departmental Secretary at the above address by the closing date. Referees should also be asked to write directly to the same address by the closing date.

Quote Reference: GH05389, Closing Date: 15 June 2010
Planned interview date: 28 June 2010

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.
The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hidden Treasures in the Cambridge University Library

Dr Denis Casey writes:

In a previous post, Dr Elizabeth Boyle drew attention to the wealth of ASNC-related medieval manuscripts housed in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, which were recently digitised as part of the Parker Library on the Web project. Thanks to that project, the Parker Library's collection is now not only the best-known in Cambridge but also the most accessible (on this, see the recent audio slideshow on the BBC News website). The Parker Library, however, is not the only repository of such valuable material. Other Cambridge libraries also contain many interesting (and sometimes overlooked) manuscripts, not least the Cambridge University Library. To illustrate my point, let's look at one Irish manuscript in Cambridge University Library: a nineteenth-century paper miscellany, now sporting the fetching title of 'Additional MS 4182'.

Additional MS 4182, whose contents vary greatly in age and genre, contains a little something for everyone interested in Irish studies. Excerpts from the ninth-century Triads sit comfortably alongside poems ascribed to the eighteenth-century Jacobite master poet Seán Clárach mac Domhnaill, whose work has been performed in recent years by a collection of Irish and Scottish musicians and singers on BBC Four's Highland Sessions and in alternating Irish and English stanzas in a wonderful collaborative recording by Sting and The Chieftains. Alternatively, for those whose interests lie in analysis of the Irish language, grammatical sections like Ga mhéad rann san oraid? ('How many divisions in speech?') may prove interesting.

Other gems in this manuscript include two copies of an anecdote explaining the origins of the name Ó Súilleabháin (O'Sullivan), which appear to be a version of a story Míchél Ó Cléirigh recorded at the end of his copy of the Life of Saint Ruadán of Lothra (Plummer, ed. & trans., Bethada náem nÉrenn: Lives of Irish Saints, I, 329 & II, 319-20). In this anecdote, a druid named Lobán came to Eochuadh mac Máolura and made exorbitant demands of him, including that he give the druid one of his eyes! Eochuad, fearing that refusal of Lobán would result in dishonour, plucked out one of his own eyes and gave it to the druid. Saint Ruadán avenged Eochuadh by causing Lobán's eyes to replace Eochuadh's, hence the name Súilleabháin, i.e Súile Lobáin ('Lobán's eyes' - a play on súil amháin 'one-eyed'?) stuck to Eochuadh and his descendants.

The contents of Additional MS 4182 are not confined to amusing anecdotes and vignettes. A seemingly separate book bound into the volume contains a lengthy text entitled Gabháltais Shéarlais Mhóir ('The Conquests of Charlemagne'), a late medieval Irish translation of an eleventh-/twelfth-century Latin original. Douglas Hyde edited and translated Gabháltais Shéarlais Mhóir for the Irish Texts Society in 1919, but does not appear to have known about (or at least he did not make reference to) the Cambridge copy. Who knows whether this copy may represent a previously unrecognised recension of Gabháltais Shéarlais Mhóir? Even if there is nothing new in it, it still may broaden our knowledge of manuscript dissemination of that text.

Cambridge University Library Additional MS 4182 is just one of a substantial number of Irish manuscripts in Cambridge, which, although catalogued, have yet to be explored in depth (the Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in Cambridge Libraries was compiled by Máire Herbert and Pádraig de Brún and published by Cambridge University Press in 1986). Hopefully this brief note will show that, like an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, the Cambridge collections contain a vast amount of material just waiting to be properly exploited ...