St Bartholomew the Great

Packed tightly between Smithfield meat market and the Barbican’s brutalist towers, St Bartholomew the Great (or Great St Bart’s, as it is often called) is London’s oldest surviving parish church, and also one of its most atmospheric. Founded by Henry I’s minstrel and courtier Rahere in 1123, it is unique…

This week: Pacopampa

Understanding burial practices and funerary customs is a vital part of any attempt to understand an ancient culture – for while the need to separate the living from the dead is common to all human societies, the way in which this has been done over the centuries varies widely according…

This week: Water in Istanbul

Today, Istanbul – formerly Constantinople – is Europe’s largest metropolis, having grown dramatically in size since the 1970s to reach a population in excess of 17 million. But despite the gleaming modern towers, busy expressways and seemingly endless urban sprawl, the city’s long history as an imperial capital – first…

Water Features

Outside which French city would you find the Pont du Gard, the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges?…

This week: Military disasters

It is hard to disagree with the observation, made by the distinguished military historian John Keegan (1934-2012), that ‘all battles are in some degree… disasters’. But if the brutal nature of warfare means that all such conflicts end in calamity, it should be added (as Keegan himself noted) that not…

This week: The Harpole Treasure

It was, according to Levente Bence Balázs, the leader of the Museum of London team that made the discovery, a moment that might most accurately be described as ‘an archaeologist’s dream’. On 11 April 2022, Balázs was overseeing the penultimate day of an otherwise-routine dig in the village of Harpole,…

This week: the year in review

It has been a year of non-stop turbulence in the news – from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the continuing upheaval of Covid-19, and from record-breaking heatwaves to the return of rampant inflation. These seismic events have provided us with daily reminders that the study of history – both ancient…

This week: A pagan Christmas?

These days, some would have us believe that Christmas has been ‘hijacked’ – that the season of good cheer has been rudely stripped of its religious connotation (of ‘mass on Christ’s day’) and replaced instead by a secular and commercially dubious celebration of family, community, and the joys of eating…

This week: Alexander in the East

He is one of the most famous figures in human history, the subject of countless legends, and a commander regularly claimed as the greatest of all time. But who was Alexander the Great really? We know that he was born in 356 BC, in Pella, the capital of the ancient…

This week: Roman frescoes

Over the past few centuries of European history, we have grown used to the notion of the artist as celebrity. As far back as the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo and Michelangelo were famous in their own lifetimes. More recently, we can see from the careers of many modern artists – Picasso…

Pompeii Quiz

In which year was Pompeii buried under pumice and ash following the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius?…

This week: Royal residences

They are sometimes said to be the nation’s real crown jewels: the various palaces, castles and other grand houses which for centuries have formed the backdrop to royal life in the United Kingdom – from Sandringham and Windsor in England to Hillsborough in Northern Ireland, and from Balmoral and Holyrood…

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