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  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    In search of Shakespeare's dark lady

    On 20 May 1609, the publisher Thomas Thorpe stepped off Ludgate Hill into Stationers' Hall, and registered what was to become perhaps the most famous poetic works of all time: Shakespeare's Sonnets. It was a slim volume on publication, containing 154 poems over 67 pages, and the edition is now extremely rare: only 13 copies survive. But its influence has been all-encompassing, providing a template for language, for literature, for love, ever since. Recent years have seen the sonnets disseminated in ways that Shakespeare could never have imagined. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" is quoted 5m times on the internet. Apps have been created in which famous voices recite the poems, sonnets are tweeted, T-shirts are printed, and poetry that was once said to circulate only among Shakespeare's "private friends" is now stored for ever in the cloud.

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Is haggis actually from England?

    A RENOWNED food historian has claimed haggis is an English dish, whose Scottish origins are as “made up” as tartan.Peter Brears, 68, said that many traditional tartans were “invented”, claiming that haggis and tartan were both appropriated by Scots in order to revitalise the country’s national identity.“Haggis is a really good English dish,” said Brears, the author of Traditional Food In Northumbria.“The earliest recipes are from 1390 from a book called The Forme of Cury, which means ‘the art of cooking’....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Bonnybridge archaeologist discovers 700-year-old relics from the battle of Bannockburn

    An amateur archaeologist from Bonnybridge is hoping his remarkable discoveries can shed more light on one of the most famous episodes in Scottish history.James Bayne (64) used a metal detector he was given as a birthday present three years ago to unearth a number of number of intriguing artefacts from the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, the great conflict in 1314 in which the Scots army under the command of Robert the Bruce vanquished the much larger force of King Edward II of England.The retired maintenance engineer has unearthed a variety of items including a bronze pendant and the remains of a brutal medieval dagger known as a ‘bodkin’....

  • Originally published 05/04/2013

    No Kinky Porn, Please -- We're English

    Letícia Román in a publicity still for Russ Meyer's 1964 film adaptation of Fanny Hill. Actual illustrations from Fanny Hill are decidedly NSFW.In England, the eighteenth century was a time of questioning, exploration, scientific advances, and an expanded worldview -- the birth of modernity, according to some historians.This age of remarkable energy and innovation also saw an explosion of erotic literature that reflected dynamic social and cultural changes as it challenged the authority of Church and State, satirized the hypocritical, and explored the fantasies of its consumers.

  • Originally published 05/03/2013

    Ancient Roman cemetery found under parking lot

    Hidden beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, archaeologists have discovered a 1,700-year-old Roman cemetery that seemed to show no religious bias.The new discovery, found at the junction of Newarke and Oxford Streets, includes numerous burials and skeletal remains from 13 individuals, both male and female of various ages. The cemetery is estimated to date back to around A.D. 300, according to University of Leicester archaeologists who led the dig."We have literally only just finished the excavation and the finds are currently in the process of being cleaned and catalogued so that theycan then be analyzed by the various specialists," John Thomas, archaeological project officer, told LiveScience in an email....

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Newark tunnel 'legend' to be investigated

    A team of historians and archaeologists plan to use radar to find out whether tunnels beneath a Nottinghamshire marketplace exist.Newark and Sherwood District Council said the tunnels are rumoured to run beneath the marketplace in Newark but have never been investigated.The council is funding the initial work, which will cost between two and three thousand pounds....

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Battle rages over bones of England's Richard III

    (Reuters) - King Richard III is at the center of a new fight over the location of his final resting place, just weeks after the remains of the last English king to die in battle were found underneath a council car park.Archaeologists announced one of the most remarkable finds in recent English history last month when they confirmed the discovery of the body of Richard, who was slain at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, during excavations in Leicester.

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    London's gin palaces, past and present

    London in the 1830s was the biggest city in the world and among the innovations that catered to its vast population was the gin palace. Shops at the time had been spruced up to entice the increasing number of locals who had a disposable income and these businesses, alluringly lit by newly arrived gas lighting and with large plate-glass windows to showcase their wares, provided inspiration for the first wave of gin palaces in the capital.The arrival of London’s gin palaces was preceded by a growing understanding of how to make increasingly sophisticated, palatable spirits, and a desire to consume them in an agreeable setting. Up to that point, most establishments selling alcohol were gloomy, unattractive places; the introduction of gin palaces, illuminated by gaslight and with an unusually ornate exterior, was an exciting addition to the urban landscape. (That said, the palaces’ interiors didn’t mirror their external elegance – they typically contained a long bar at one end, which faced a simple open space without seating.)...

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    Amazing find in Dartmoor Bronze Age grave

    A rare discovery dating back 4,000 years has been described as the most significant find on Dartmoor (Devon, England), and has given archaeologists a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived there.  The undisturbed bronze age granite cist uncovered in 2011 in a peat bog on White Horse Hill revealed the first organic remains ever found on the moor, and a hoard of about 150 beads, including two amber beads. Previously only eight beads in total had been found on the moor.... 

  • Originally published 02/19/2013

    Hoard of 16th century toys found

    In the course of my research of Viking Age woodcraft, I somewhat unexpectedly turned up information about a most delightful archaeological find: an entire hoard of children’s toys, found at Market Harborough parish church, England. A charming stash of the everyday playthings of sixteenth or seventeenth century children, the hoard throws a rare spotlight on the material culture of children in the archaeological record....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Remains of medieval villages excavated

    Archaeologists have found evidence of settlements in the grounds of Wimpole Hall, where they have been carrying out digs ahead of a programme which will see thousands of trees planted in the grounds of the house.Stephen Macaulay, senior project archaeologist at Oxford Archaeology East is leading a team of five who are digging small pits around the house.He said: “We know from maps dating back to the 1600s that there were villages and hamlets around Wimpole Hall, such as Bennall End and Thresham End. But the owners of the house at the time, the Chicheley family, decided they wanted to surround it with parkland, so they turfed everybody out and landscaped over the area....

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    The Tragedy of Involuntary Commitment

    Airswimming Irish Repertory Theatre 132 W. 22d Street New York, N.Y.Airswimming is a jolting shocker about two women incarcerated in a mental hospital in England for fifty years due to their eccentricity and because they violated British society’s rules of conduct during the 1920s. At the same time, Charlotte Jones’s 1997 play is an enduring, enchanting story of the strength of the human spirit and how two people’s friendship helped them survive a living hell.In 1922, Dora (played by Aedin Moloney) was tossed into St. Dymphnas Hospital for the Criminally Insane and followed there two years later by Persephone. They mark the first few years of their imprisonment, but so many years go by they lose count. The hospital has teamed them up to clean the bathrooms one hour each day, and that is the time we see them on stage. There, scrubbing down the bathtub, the pair realizes that they need each other to survive the Hades they occupy.

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