The light blogging of late has been because I took my family on a little vacation. Now I come back to find all heck has broken loose. Let's start with the medieval news:
There's been a lot of Sturm und Drang at AnSaxNet over the use of the word "apartheid" to describe Anglo-Saxon social structure in "Evidence for an Apartheid-Like Social Structure in Early Anglo-Saxon England." I read the posts with (very) mild interests at first, then put them on my mental "delete immediately" list as one of the sillier debates Anglo-Saxonists have had for a while -- but it's summer, so I guess we can cut ourselves a little slack. You can find some of the debate at In the Middle, Heo Cwaeth, and Old English in New York ... or you can search the AnSaxDat.
I suspect there are two reasons people might object to the use of the term "apartheid." One is a kind of Anglo-Saxon nationalism. Me, I don't really have a dog in that fight. By current American cultural definitions, I'm an Anglo-Saxon in the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant formulation, but by actual descent I'm far more Anglo-Norman and Irish (at least if Uncle Mike's genealogy is accurate). I find it mystifying that anyone today might derive their personal self-worth from the politically-correct racial attitudes of ancestors dead for a millennium, but then again I don't understand a lot of things that must be obvious to other people. I myself am (supposedly) descended from John Chandos, but if tomorrow I found out that I'm not, or that he was the most evil man in the history of Western Civilization, who cares? It would be slightly interesting, but I'm not culpable -- after all, he begot me, not the other way around.
The other reason I suspect is that people want to demonstrate their political virtue by showing that they oppose apartheid in the previous century and in the medieval era. One of the ugliest elements of academic life are the frequent pageants of political virtue. Even when I agree with the political stance taken, I find these tiresome. Perhaps it would just be quicker if people were to post images of their Labour Party membership cards online.
Enough of tempests and teapots. The real interesting news comes out of a bog! An Irish construction worker found a Psalter from c. 800-1000 AD in a midlands bog. Naturally, it is fragmentary -- you try leaving a book in a blog for a thousand years and see how much is legible -- but it is still a wonderful find. I can think of at least one Briton who'd be happy to know about the survival of the psalter. Unfortunately, I don't have much more to say about this find, since we don't have a lot of detail yet. Maybe more will come later.
Other non-medieval issues arose while I was away, but I'll deal with those later.