What Is A Household? Brief Summer Placement Report

The summer placement is going really well. Our Undergraduate Student, Richard, has completed his research for the database of terms relating to marriage and the household in Anglo-Saxon law codes and the Cyfraith Hywel, and is now putting together a workshop for the able & talented AS Level students taking part in the SEREN Network sessions.

The workshop will be available in different formats suitable for other abilities and Key Stage groups after the summer.

The premise of the workshop is to explore the idea of what a household is, comparing modern ideas and legislation with the ideas and laws of the early medieval past. The inclusivity of the medieval household may come as a surprise, as might the legislation around cohabitation and rights of cohabiting couples, lodgers and others living/cohabiting with the family (especially in the Welsh laws).

The aim is also to to get the students to look at the original words and have a go at basic translation – easier for Welsh speakers in the case of the Cyfraith Hywel – through a series of games and activities that build on each other over the course of the hour session.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday 8 November 2017, in Coleg y Cymoeth’s Nantgarw Campus, led by Richard and coordinated by Dr Melissa Julian-Jones. Richard will write up his experiences on the project in full for a future blog post!

Meanwhile, Dr Melissa Julian-Jones will be adding Old Frisian and Scandinavian words to the database for comparison, and Richard will be presenting his part of the research in poster format at the CUROP Poster Exhibition at the start of next term. Follow the link to book your place on Eventbrite – tickets for the event are free.



Registration Open: Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250

Registration Open: Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250

Hi everyone!

The Voices of Law Colloquium, Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250 has now got a live registration page. If you have difficulty in registering or creating an account, please email us at voicesoflaw @ gmail .com, and we will try to help.

Please note that there is a fee for this conference, payable via the [secure] registration page, which has been set up by Cambridge University. We have tried to keep costs as low as possible, and we have a concessionary rate for students and unwaged. The last day to book is 04 January 2018. Great way to beat the post-Christmas blues!

To download the programme, click here.

To register and pay for your place, please click here.

Continue reading “Registration Open: Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250”

#SpotlightOn… Early English Laws

#SpotlightOn… Early English Laws

Over the summer, a lot of us will be looking at our courses and altering things or adding things to prepare for next year. If you are new to teaching medieval law or an Anglo-Saxon course, Early English Laws is a good online project to start with.

“Early English Laws is a project to publish online and in print new editions and translations of all English legal codes, edicts, and treatises produced up to the time of Magna Carta 1215.”

The Project Description outlines the research questions of the project, giving information about past and present scholarship, future avenues of research, and outlining the project aims. Analysis of the texts and their translations aims to shed new light on what the texts were saying, so that the question of what was the law can be properly tackled.

There is a list of texts still available for editing, a list of manuscripts and their common abbreviations, and a range of material including essays and glossaries to help you understand Early English laws are available in the Reference tab. The Reference tab links to contextual essays, articles, a bibliography and links to other projects. Additionally, the short blog posts may prove useful for offering thoughts on the topics, and snippets of information about the project and its editions.

A comprehensive index of the texts tackled by the project can be found here in the Laws section of the site.


Have you used the site in your teaching? How have you used it? Let us know!


Medieval Murder & Public Engagement

Network Facilitator @MedievalMJJ got a write-up in The Cowbridge Gem last week for her talk to Cowbridge’s U3A group on the murder of William Cantilupe in 1375.

The U3A or University of the Third Age is a great wider community engagement avenue, where retired or semi-retired people come together to learn out of interest, and are staffed by volunteers. There are many local U3A groups across the UK, with the emphasis of learning for pleasure. Speaking to the Cowbridge group was a pleasure in itself, and it is great to create and reinforce links with community education groups. In lieu of a speaker’s fee (which in this case is always given to a charity of the speaker’s choice by the group) the group spent the equivalent amount on food to give to the local Food Bank.

A popular hour-long murder mystery presentation, Mel has blogged about its creation and delivery before on her blog, here and here. It was part of her ongoing blog post series, Keeping Up With The Cantilupes.

The murder mystery format allows people to engage by guessing whodunnit once all the clues and evidence has been presented to them, and the outcome of the trial itself is then up for critique in the Q&A. There is scope for it to be delivered in a traditional lecture format with seated engagement – a combination of traditional talk format with ‘armchair-detective’ work on the part of the audience – but it could be delivered in a scavenger hunt style with the lecture printed out in clues and acted out in various forms of RPG/Murder Mystery evening events, which are also quite popular. The possibilities for a talk like this are as limited as one’s imagination and opportunities, really!

In this case, it was delivered in a traditional way to about 20 members present in a small room in Cowbridge Town Hall, using a PowerPoint and handouts, which seemed to go down well. There was good feedback after the session, and lots of thought-provoking questions.

It should be noted as an aside that public interest in the Middle Ages seems to be on the rise thanks to the popularity of shows like pseudo-medieval Game of Thrones, and sites like The Public Medievalist works to stretch the boundaries of public history and bring Medieval Studies into the public eye. Their latest special series on Race, Racism and the Middle Ages is especially relevant to discussions in the public sphere in which the Middle Ages as a period is often invoked.

This is why public engagement is a crucial part of what the Voices of Law network seeks to achieve in a small way, and why public engagement – not only with schools but with the wider community – is such an important thing for researchers to engage with.

Soon we will be working with Richard, this year’s successful CUROP candidate, who will be creating a workshop based on his research for the SEREN Network, or for another school engagement opportunity. This will be exciting, as the topic of marriage and kinship in Welsh Laws is an interesting one in itself, but the real challenge will come in presenting the results (recorded in an Access Database format) in an engaging and pedagogically relevant way. The SEREN Network is geared towards specialist workshops to stretch the attendees and challenge them, while giving them opportunities to meet representatives from various institutions and organisations, and build their confidence in ways that match their ability.

On that note, congratulations should go to one of the enthusiastic pupils who attended the Voices of Law SEREN session in February 2017, and achieved Highly Commended in the Vellacott History Essay Prize awarded by Peterhouse College, Cambridge.

The SEREN workshops are a different type of engagement to U3A engagement, and both are equally valuable. Being flexible in approach, format and subject matter is a skill that want to help develop in those the Voices of Law Network employs, be they Undergraduates or ECRs.


We look forward to engaging with other school, education and community groups in future, and creatively presenting topics on medieval history and law!



Voices from Shetland #2 – Sara Ponz-Sans

For the next few weeks we will be sharing the summaries of the talks given at the workshop that took place in Lerwick, Shetland. Our second guest post is a summary of Dr Sara Ponz-Sans (Cardiff University)’s discussion, ‘Old English and Old Norse/Danish, where is the research today? What can new research gain?

Sara Pons-Sanz presented first an overview of the lexical impact of Old Norse on English, focusing particularly on the difference between French and Norse loans in medieval English in terms of number and character. She then discussed the methodological advances for the identification of Norse-derived terms that are being pioneered as part of the AHRC-funded Gersum Project: The Scandinavian Influence on English Vocabulary https://www.gersum.org/.


The project, involving Pons-Sanz as well as Drs Richard Dance and Brittany Schorn (University of Cambridge), focuses mainly on nine Middle English texts associated with the so-called ‘Alliterative Revival’, but its findings can be applied to the identification of any Norse terms in English and, more widely, to the lexical effects of other contact situations involving closely related languages. In the final part of her presentation, Pons-Sanz spoke about the need for collaboration among scholars working on a wide array of disciplines and languages in order to gain a better understanding of the impact that the Anglo-Scandinavian contact might have had on specific lexico-semantic fields, such as the field of PROTECTION (mainly in relation to the native frið and the Norse-derived grið.


The thorough study of such legal terms requires the input of linguists and legal historians working on Old English and Old Norse materials, as well as other Germanic languages so that comparisons between cognate terms can be duly established. Our network, Voices of Law, is ideally suited for such academic endeavours.

You can read more about the Gersum project here in our #SpotlightOn series of posts.

Voices From Shetland #1 – Carole Hough

For the next few weeks we will be sharing the summaries of the talks given at the workshop that took place in Lerwick, Shetland. First, here is Prof. Carole Hough (University of Glasgow), discussing the Mapping Metaphor project. Each summary will be brief, and offer a glimpse into the perspective of a variety of academics approaching the subject from different angles.


Mapping Metaphors of Law

Carole Hough, University of Glasgow


Mapping Metaphor with the Historical Thesaurus was a three-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2012 to 2015 (PI Wendy Anderson), which compiled a near-comprehensive picture of metaphor throughout the history of the English language. Word meanings were grouped into semantically-coherent categories such as “Faith”, “Law” and “Punishment”, and the project team analysed all occurrences of word forms with more than one meaning in order to identify metaphorical connections between categories. One of the outputs is an online resource that enables users to view and to explore metaphors in different ways. My presentation at the Shetland Workshop focused on demonstrating the resource, and on discussing some of the new perspectives that it offers on legal language.

mappingmetaphor_arts_gla_ac The online resource is in two parts. The Metaphor Map of English covers the history of English from 1150 onwards (http://mappingmetaphor.arts.gla.ac.uk/), while the Metaphor Map of Old English covers the preceding Anglo-Saxon period (http://mappingmetaphor.arts.gla.ac.uk/old-english/). The decision to keep them separate was made partly to avoid swamping the Old English data with the much fuller data available for later English, and partly to avoid obscuring the differences in worldview reflected in metaphors from different periods. For instance, our monarchy does not issue laws, whereas Anglo-Saxon monarchs did. That means that the concepts within category 3D02 “Rule and Government” are much closer to 3E “Law” in the Metaphor Map of Old English than in the Metaphor Map of English. Other categories that abut closely on Law, particularly in Old English, include 3A05 “Marriage”, 3F01 “Morality and Immorality”, 3A09 “Social Position” and 3C02 “Armed Hostility”.

mappingmetaphor_arts_gla_ac 2

The resource displays the direction of metaphorical transfer, the strength of the connection between categories, the period from which the metaphor is first recorded, and selected examples. Some categories characteristically function as the source of metaphors; others, as the target. 3E “Law” falls within the latter group. In other words, law tends to be conceptualised in terms of other areas of experience. However, there are exceptions, and the Metaphor Maps provide some fascinating insights into changing perceptions of law through time.

Calling Cardiff University Students!

Calling Cardiff University Students!

CUROP Placement Call for Voices of Law

  • Are you a Second Year student?
  • Have you taken a Medieval Module in 2nd year? (This can include your EHD)
  • Are you available from 17 July 2017 – 25 August 2017? (You don’t have to be in Cardiff – you can work from home and have meetings via Skype!)

If so, you may want to apply for our research placement funded through the CUROP scheme.

Dr Jenny Benham (SHARE) and Dr Sara Ponz-Sans (SHARE) are supervising a CUROP project on “Law, Marriage and the Household 600-1250” with Dr Melissa Julian-Jones (SHARE/CPE).

The Successful Candidate Will:

  • Be paid £200 per week for the 6 weeks of the project to undertake original research
  • Compare 10 Anglo-Saxon and Welsh Laws through the period 600-1250, data-mining for terminology relating to marriage and the household
  • Enter this information into a database for future researchers to use
  • Compile the information in the form of a poster to display at the CUROP Presentations the following term
  • Turn the information into an educational workshop aimed at KS4-5 students, enriching the school curriculum with their own original research
  • Write a blog post about your experiences

(Want to know more about what it’s like? Read last year’s CUROP placement student’s post, here.)

Criteria for Candidates:

  • Cardiff University 2nd year student who has taken a medieval module in 2nd year
  • Selection will be made based on academic performance
  • Due to the translation and linguistic elements of the work, and the fact that it will be in its original languages, preference may be given to bilingual Welsh/English students, or students that have a modern foreign language up to A-Level standard. However, no language experience in Old/Middle Welsh or Old English is strictly necessary.

How to Apply:

Email voicesoflaw (at) gmail (dot) com with your supporting statement of 400 words explaining why you are suitable for the role, and a CV.

Address applications to Dr Jenny Benham and Dr Melissa Julian-Jones.

Deadline for applications is 01 June 2017.