Textus Roffensis/Textus 900, 2021 to present
Continuing my work with Rochester Cathedral, which stretches back to 2013, I've more recently been collaborating with Jacob Scott, the online curator of Textus Roffensis.
Together we are gradually transcribing and translating every text in this internationally important manuscript, now officially recognised by UNESCO.
In addition, along with other contributors, I've been writing new public history pieces which interpret the contents of Textus.
Please check out the Textus Roffensis pages.
YouTube Channel, Monk's Modern Medieval Cuisine, 2020 to present
I've been working hard on a food history project, which will culminate in a new book, How to Cook in the Fourteenth Century. Alongside the research and writing, I've also started a new YouTube channel which is devoted to recreations of medieval recipes, with an emphasis on the cookery book of King Richard II, known as Fourme of Cury (c.1390).
Lyricist-translator for Clive Nolan, Song of the Wildlands, 2020-21
Clive Nolan, musician, singer, composer and producer, is a leading light in the recent development of progressive and symphonic rock.
Clive was looking for someone to translate his words and ideas for the chorus sections of his new album project, Song of the Wildlands, a retelling of the famous Old English epic, Beowulf. And that's where I came in, writing the Old English words for the album which, by the way, is stunning.
Above, you can see Clive's Wildland Warriors passionately singing the Dragon Fire chorus. It's still amazing several months on whenever I hear them singing the very words I penned. And I always have to join in!
Song of the Wildlands was released in 2021 and is available here in various formats, vinyl, CD, digital downloads, and as a beautifully illustrated 'ear-book'.
Author, Liverpool University Press, 2020
This is what I get up to when not collaborating with others on their projects: I write scholarly stuff, though I always aim to write it in a way that is accessible to non-experts.
In the book you see here, published in 2020, I've written two chapters, as follows:
6. Bedship and Sex-Play: Sex and Sensuality in Early Medieval England
10. Sensing Joy in Early Medieval England: Reconstructing Acts of Rejoicing in the Harley Psalter
Voice-over, animation for All Saints Church, Ilkley, 2019
Fuzzy Duck asked me to record some Old English (Anglo-Saxon) readings for a cartoon Saxon priest, as part of an animated projection in All Saints Church, Ilkley. How cool is that!
It was really good fun in the recording studio shouting out the Lord's Prayer and getting all the creative staff to join me in a resounding Sī hit swā (= Old English 'Amen') at the end.
Historical advisor, Salix Games, 2017-19
"Join Arthurian immortals Sir Lancelot Du Lac and Morgana le Fey on a thrilling quest to stop history's most famous murderer and save the city."
Salix Games is an indie games developer with a focus on narrative driven adventure games and strong characters.
Jessica Saunder, Salix Games' Creative Director, was a Bafta Breakthrough Brit winner in 2015 and AAA sound designer for Batman Arkham Knight, Fable Heroes and Kinect Sports, and it was great collaborating with her and her team.
I worked as one of the historical consultants, advising on historical points of reference for the writers and artists. You will see from the video above that the game is set in Victorian London, but it also includes flashback scenes to early medieval Britain, to the world of the fabled King Arthur, his knight Sir Lancelot (Du Lac in the game) and the sorceress Morgan le Fey (Fey, the hound, in the game). So that's where I came in as a specialist in medieval culture. One particular fun part was translating a number of spells into Old English.
TV historian, Viking Dead, UKTV Yesterday, 2017-18
Filmed on location on Lindisfarne and St Cuthbert's Isle, I discuss the terrors of the Viking raid in 793. I thoroughly enjoyed myself working with the DragonsheadFilms team. Many thanks to Jeremy Freeston, producer, writer, cameraman and all-round good Viking.
Translator, Rochester Cathedral, 2017-18
I translated 36 documents from Textus Roffensis, the most important medieval collection of laws and charters from early England. The focus was on texts that had never previously been translated, or only partially translated.
Laws translated include: bequeathing property, how to swear an oath, and the infamous ordeals by fire and water. Diplomas and decrees by Ethelred "the Unready" and William the Conqueror are also translated.
It is hoped that these translations will further open up to the general public the complex culture of the peoples who lived in medieval England.
UPDATE, December 2021: Rochester Cathedral is presently in the process of transferring and re-formatting my translations directly to its new Textus Roffensis pages. It is also planning to commission further translations by me and add these and related essays (by me and others) about the contexts of this medieval treasure. You can keep up to date by following the link below.
Public lecture and workshops, Rochester Cathedral, 2017
eBook author, 2017
Sodom in the Anglo-Saxon Imagination is an accessible scholarly study exploring the way the biblical story of the Sodomites was recast and alluded to in texts and art of Anglo-Saxon England.
It develops and expands upon the research from my PhD thesis.
It is available in eBook format, published by Rounded Globe. There is no charge but donations are welcome.
Manuscript specialist, writer/voice-over for short film and interactive media, Rochester Cathedral 2013-16
I was commissioned by Rochester Cathedral to work on its exhibition, Hidden Treasures, Fresh Expressions. The work included examining the cathedral's most important manuscript, Textus Roffensis ('The Book of Rochester'), compiled and written by a leading scribe of Rochester Cathedral Priory in the early 1120s.
As part of the project, I wrote the narration and performed the voice-over for a number of interactives for the exhibition's 'turn-the-pages', virtual Textus Roffensis. These were designed and created by the wonderful Fuzzy Duck at MediaCity UK, with whom I later collaborated on the animation project for All Saints Church, Ilkley (above).
I wrote the script and did the voice-over for the short film, Scribal Practices, which you can watch on the embedded video above.
In the preliminary stages of the project, I performed a number of readings from Textus Roffensis, recorded by Phil Smethurst, and these are available on YouTube.
Manuscript and history consultant, Rochester Cathedral, 2016
Custumale Roffense is the thirteenth-century customs book owned by Rochester Cathedral.
This 140-page register, written in medieval Latin (with lots of annoying abbreviations), records the customs, dues and revenue of the monastery at that time.
It also reveals the way the monastery was organised (who did the laundry and cooking, for example) and gives us insights into the relationship between the monks and the outside world.
During 2016, I read through the manuscript to discover what life was like for the monks of thirteenth-century Rochester. My research has fed into the cathedral's exhibitions and public education programme.
Historical advisor, The Salariya Book Company, 2015
The Salariya Book Company publishes a great range of historical books for children.
I was commissioned as development editor/advisor on the historical content, both textual and visual, for a revised edition of You Wouldn't Want to Be an Anglo-Saxon Peasant.
It was published in 2016.