The British History Podcast

The British History Podcast

By Jamie Jeffers

The BHP is a chronological retelling of the history of Britain with a particular focus upon the lives of the people. You won’t find a dry recounting of dates and battles here, but instead you’ll learn about who these people were and how their desires, fears, and flaws shaped the histories of England, Scotland, and Wales.


415 – Cry Me a River

William was charging North. If he was going to hold on to his new kingdom, he had to counter this threat in person.
24/03/23·43m 44s

414 – The Uprising

News of the victory at York spread fast, and people everywhere were finding their courage.
17/03/23·26m 30s

413 – The D

It was Fall of 1069, and the Danes were coming.
04/03/23·42m 38s

Dispatches from Hoth

Let it go, let it go.
23/02/23·1m 14s

412 – The B Word

The Godwinsons  are back in England. Harold’s sons, along with a fleet of 64 Irish ships loaded down with fighters, have just hit the shores.  And it seems like they were students of history, because they were taking up the traditional family business.
18/02/23·33m 17s

411 – Tell it to St. Peter

Things in the North were dire. This was a problem, because as Orderic tells us, this wasn’t just a minor local revolt.  This was intended to be much bigger.
11/02/23·28m 59s

410 – The F Word

They appeared as if from nowhere.  A great force of men and horses… armed to the teeth… charging towards the city of York.    Where the fuck did this army come from?  And who was that in the back?  Was… was that William the Bastard?  He was supposed to still be in Normandy.
27/01/23·27m 8s

409 – The First Sparks

Earl Robert lay dead at Durham. Along with 700 of his men.   At least.  The Chronicle bumps the numbers up a bit, claiming Earl Robert had died 900 of his soldiers at Durham.  Either way, that’s a lot of dead Normans.
20/01/23·25m 53s

408 – Kerosene

Happy New Year!  It was 1069… nice… and as the new year dawned…things in England were getting a bit weird.
14/01/23·35m 25s

407 – Robbing the Hood

I feel for the English commoners in the late 1060’s.  They had nothing to do with the arrival of the Normans… everything they suffered was the result of the actions of the nobles.  Exclusively.
06/01/23·43m 48s

406 – King’s Rook Takes Pawn

In early 1068… as William was preparing for the tactical Coronation of Matilda…  the three sons of Harold Godwinson were in Ireland. They had come to meet with King Diarmad of Dublin and prepare  an invasion force to re-take England.
02/12/22·37m 48s

405 – Hereward the Wake: The Bourne Identity

Here is the beginning of Hereward the Wake.  And to tell this story, we have to begin with the legend, because nothing in this story is straightforward. Probably because at least some of it is true.
17/11/22·1h 3m

404 – The Coronation of Queen Matilda

Gytha and her supporters had fled into the Severn Estuary, and it was the final nail in the coffin of the Exeter rebellion. With no help coming, they were forced to negotiate a peace. But this wasn’t exactly a victory for William, either. He’d been on the throne for scarcely over a year, and he’d […]
03/11/22·31m 29s

403 – The Siege of Exeter

Exeter stood in open defiance against William and his army.
20/10/22·33m 42s

402 – Fire Sale

Earl Osulf II of Bamburgh was a Northumbrian, and he had earned his seat ruling over the region North of the Tyne in true Northumbrian fashion.
24/09/22·44m 24s

401 – Norms and Normans

Last week we left off with Dover with some good old fashioned french on french violence… Count Eustace had attacked and attempted to seize the Southern Town… and lost. In fact, he had lost so badly that his poor young nephew (who had never fought in battle before but, trusting his uncle, joined him on […]
16/09/22·37m 35s

400 – William: This is Fine

Feudalism had officially come to England, courtesy of the Normans…
09/09/22·33m 35s

399 – Into the Wild

1067 was a time of incredible change within England. Fortresses were being constructed everywhere. Existing fortresses were seized and then manned by foreign mercenaries. Estates and farms in the surrounding areas were being seized and handed over to many of these same foreigners.
01/09/22·35m 45s

398 – William: Winning Friends and Influencing People Is For Suckers

Do you remember the holy man who asked Edgar the AEtheling to confirm him as the Abbot of Peterborough, just after the Battle of Hastings? Well, that guy’s name was Brand. The previous Abbot of Peterborough, Leofric, had actually marched to Hastings with Harold. But Leofric didn’t make it. So the job fell to Brand, […]
20/08/22·37m 21s

397 – William: The Devil Inside

It was Christmas Day of 1066 and England was crowning it’s new King. In celebration, the King’s men…heavily armed and backed by divine authority, were going from building to building… taking whatever they wanted, doing whatever they felt like to the people inside, and then lighting it all  on fire. The first act of Norman […]
08/08/22·35m 8s

396 – King William I of England

Duke William was experienced at wielding terror.  Whether he was at home or on campaign, William often employed terror tactics. The people of France were well aware of this, and now the English were learning his skill first hand.
27/07/22·54m 22s

395 – Rearranging the Deck chairs on HMS England

It was autumn of 1066 and after weeks of deliberation, political wrangling, and arguing the English nobility had finally selected their next King. This may seem like a long time, considering there was a whole invasion happening at the time. And it was. But, to be fair, the politics were very confusing.
05/07/22·46m 52s

394 – Godwinson’s Revenge

The Battle of Hastings had been brutal – even for the Normans. The invading army had suffered terrible losses.
10/06/22·44m 31s

393 – To Kill a Legend

Here is how you probably heard the story of the Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror boarded a ship, won a battle at Hastings, and was crowned King.  Kingdom. Conqueror. Conquered.
20/05/22·32m 39s

392 – The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors

Chaos. The orderly rhythm of attacks… and the steady wall of the war hedge had dissolved, and it was replaced by a raging melee.
12/05/22·24m 9s

A Quick Update From Zee

A New Shoptalk Just Dropped
02/05/22·1m 19s

Chapter 9 – The Normans

The King is dead.
28/04/22·3m 42s

391 – The Battle of Hastings

Stamford Bridge had been a nightmare.  Thousands of dead… untold numbers of wounded. And the fallout was just beginning. All over Britain, all over Europe, families would slowly be learning the fate of their loved ones. Word was spreading across England and up to Orkney. Out to Flanders, and Norway.
18/04/22·3h 23m

390 – Stamford Bridge

King Harold, his Huscarls, and the fyrd of Wessex were driving north as fast as they could.
20/03/22·1h 17m

389 – The Tyrant and the Muddy Crossing

The shores of Saint Valery must have been quite the sight. Looking at the records, which discuss the size of this fleet and other notes that let us estimate the size of the original fleet launched from the River Dives, and comparing those to the records of the fleet following it’s mooring at Saint Valery…historians […]
27/02/22·1h 0m

388 – The Stupid Before The Storm

We left off in the Court of Harald Hardrada. And you probably feel like you know a lot about this man by now. There’s the stories about the empress, and his time as a Varagian, and about his reputation as a seductive warrior poet. And all of the “oh my god this guy is hot” […]
11/02/22·41m 43s

387 – The Douche is Cast

War was coming.  That much was clear.
28/01/22·39m 34s

386 – God’s Messenger

William had secured his promises.  Each Baron and lesser noble of Normandy swore to serve him faithfully and take part the invasion of  England.  And William made sure the nerds wrote every single oath down on paper.
18/01/22·41m 17s

385 – The Audacity of Boats

Ok nerds, take this down. Dear Harry, I was saddened to hear of King Edward’s death. but, I am writing to inform you that my beloved cousin promised me the throne a while back. Don’t worry if this is news to you, it was a secret so I understand if you are a little surprised. […]
06/01/22·50m 14s

384 – King Harold Godwinson

Edward was dead. Harold was King. Edith was sidelined. And as far as the Vita Edwardii was concerned, this was the moment where the wheels came completely off the wagon.
02/12/21·46m 57s

383 – The Death of King Edward

Christmas of 1065 would have been a grim affair. And as 1066 approached, the Court was likely consumed with anxiety. The King was childless and the throne was being eyed from all sides by foreign dynasties and, according to sources like William of Poitiers, the King had been terribly ill for quite some time. Poitiers […]
19/11/21·1h 0m

2021 Halloween Special

A 14th century monk made it weird. Or Wyrd? I dunno… it’s weirdly wyrd, though.
20/10/21·16m 38s

382 – Bros Before Thrones

It was 1065.  And King Edward was falling ever more ill.
15/10/21·39m 16s

381 – Weekend at William’s

After the traitorous murder of King Gruffydd,  Harold returned to England victorious… and as for Wales.  Well, their King had been assassinated and their lands were carved up between rival nobles who were subservient to England.
03/10/21·46m 15s

380 – Everybody Is Killing Everybody Else And Nobody Is Talking About It: Part 3

Up in the hills of Snowdonia, pinned between the sea and the English midlands, King Gruffydd fought against the invading forces of the Godwinsons.  And he was giving the English such a hard time that even  the Life of King Edward admits it in the record.
04/09/21·26m 48s

379 – Everybody Is Killing Everybody Else And Nobody Is Talking About It: Part 2

Earl AElfgar and his alliance with King Gruffydd of Wales was likely the one true barrier that stood between Harold Godwinson and the throne of England.
29/08/21·25m 16s

378 – Everybody is killing everybody else and no one is talking about it

On the year 1059, there is an enigmatic entry in the Welsh Chronicle.
25/08/21·22m 39s

377 – The King of Wales

Water, and the ability to control water ways, was an important aspect in the Welsh imagination. In fact, the importance of Welsh power on the seas even appears in the Mabinogion.
30/07/21·35m 38s

376 – Lost Years and Lost Lands

Things are moving quickly in our story, now. Pieces are moving into place, and the board is shifting rapidly. Thanks to the benefit of hindsight, we can see where this is going and see how these events are leading to a calamity in just a few years.
21/07/21·26m 0s

375 – Life and Death Politics. But Mostly Death.

For the first time in a long time, Wales was experiencing a time of internal peace, thanks in large part to its unification under King Gruffydd.
03/07/21·32m 18s

374 – Be Careful What You Wish For

1055 had been an absolutely crazy year. But, for the Godwinsons, it hadn’t been all bad. Having clearly given up on King Edward, Queen Edith was now fully on team Godwinson and bending all of her political and diplomatic talent towards advancing her brother’s positions…and since then they’d made significant advancements with large numbers of […]
22/06/21·29m 14s

373 – The First King

Earl AElfgar was having a rough time. The clergy and local lords of East Anglia had never really warmed up to him since his appointment to the post in 1053. Their loyalty to Harold went so deep that we can still see evidence of their loyalty to the House of Godwin in surviving records.
05/06/21·42m 19s

372 – Hostile Takeover

If I could interview one figure from this period, I think it would be Queen Edith. That woman had a WEIRD life. She was married off to a King. Then she watched that King try to destroy her family…As thanks she got stuffed into a nunnery by said King… then got to watch as her […]
20/05/21·27m 15s

371 – Naked Ambition

Godwin was dead, and now Harold Godwinson found himself leading the family. Befitting this new role, he was due to inherit the wealthy and politically potent Earldom of Wessex. His father’s Earldom. And according to the Vita Edwardi, the Kingdom rejoiced at Harold’s impending promotion.
13/05/21·41m 11s

370 – Breaking Bread

Earl Godwin and his family were back, baby.   Well, mostly.
22/04/21·33m 37s

Bonus Episode from the Archive: The Poet’s Curse

This is an old one, but it was specifically requested. Please forgive the audio quality and delivery.
12/04/21·26m 32s

369 – Move or You Will Be Moved: Part 4

When you come at the King, you best not miss… and now the Godwins had the King of France and the Holy Roman Emperor acting as their surrogates while they were constructing no less than two invasion fleets just off of two separate English coasts … which means Edward probably realized he had went at […]
26/03/21·34m 23s

368 – Move or You Will Be Moved: Part 3

“O happy earl, in bairns and forebears blessedSiring four guarantors of England’s peace.First, Edith, gem-link on the kingdom’s brest,All virtues’ friend, fit daughter for the earl,Her sire, and also her spouse, the king;By her advice peace wraps the kingdom roundAnd Keeps mankind from breaking pacts of peace.Thus from your single fount, O Paradise,You part in […]
19/03/21·23m 13s

367 – Move, or You Will Be Moved Part 2

Swegn Godwinson was exiled….again. Only this time it was for life. As that judgment came down, the Godwins must have realized they had been maneuvered into blind dependence on the King’s mercy.
02/03/21·22m 26s

366 – Move, or You Will Be Moved: Part 1

The summer of 1051 must have felt like some sort of nightmare. A French aristocrat rode into Dover, picked a fight and then slaughtered the townsfolk. And that man’s cousin, the King of England, told the townsfolk’s lord (Earl Godwin of Wessex) to go back and finish the job…by butchering his own people on behalf […]
27/02/21·31m 47s

365 – The Red Cliffs of Dover

In 1050, Thorrfinn the Jarl of Orkney went to Rome. And no trip to Rome is complete without a visit with the Pope. And when Thorrfin had his meeting, we’re told that Pope personally absolved the Jarl’s sins.
13/02/21·38m 3s

364 – Reconciliation

Complex societies are able to do incredible things.  By having an interconnected civilization, with people from all over the place contributing to it, people are able to specialize… and that specialization allows for entire classes of people who can do things that would be impossible if they had to meet their own basic needs all […]
31/01/21·29m 41s

363 – Treason!

Piece by piece, the board was being set for a comeback. The Godwin family had been thrown from power decades ago. But Godwin knew how to be patient and grind it out. And now he was back on top, the second most powerful person in England.
13/01/21·29m 28s

362 – Meet the Godwins

History is just the story of humans across time. Therefore, like humanity, history is varied, it’s emotional, it’s complex. And often it’s just f*cking messy.
09/12/20·29m 29s

361 – W A Poet

King Edward came to England with a political migraine.
04/12/20·26m 22s

360 – The Long Game

In 1040, while England was dealing with the chaos of Harthacnut’s reign and the threat of yet another succession mess, Scotland was dealing with its own set of problems. The northern Kingdom just lost its king. And that wasn’t anything new for Scotland… their Kings rarely lasted long.
19/11/20·30m 22s

359 – Play Autocrat Games; Win Autocrat Prizes

In 1040, England once again had a new King. But England was finding Harthacnut a tough pill to swallow.
30/10/20·29m 17s

The Witch of Fife

Happy Halloween!
23/10/20·10m 17s

358 – King Harthacnut

Today’s story starts in 1039. It’s a big year, and a lot has happened to get us here. So let’s recap very quickly. The death of Cnut caused a cascade of consequences that reached up to the tip of Scotland and even into the continent. It was an empire crumbling just as it had been […]
16/10/20·29m 31s

357 – Walter Map’s Courtly Trifles

The early 11th century was an unlikely time of heroes. By heroes I unfortunately don’t mean people of good character and brave deeds, but just people who perform extraordinary feats for their time. One of these was the very first King of Wales, Gruffudd ap Llewelyn.
06/10/20·28m 42s

356 – Macbeth

Here is the story of Macbeth. If you have just tuned into this episode because of the title, know that it is the second episode in a two-part series. You will want to go to the previous episode, Double Double Toil and Trouble, and listen to that first. There you will learn about the peculiar region that spawned this shadowy highland King.
15/09/20·46m 18s

355 – Double, Double Toil and Trouble

As we have been covering the Dark Ages, we have been at the mercy of the scribes. If they don’t write something down, there is almost no way for us to know about it. One of the biggest casualties in this dynamic has been Scotland.
20/08/20·44m 16s

354 – The West, after Cnut

The death of Cnut and the fall of his near-Empire would obviously have impacts on his own dynasty. But while Harold was trying to secure England, Emma was trying to regain power, and poor Edward was trying to stay out of the whole mess, the political tsunami was roaring over the shores of the Irish […]
03/08/20·33m 18s

353 – Mother of the Year

The Medieval chronicler, Adam of Bremen, was writing at around this point in history and among the many things he tells us he also includes how Cnut planned his almost empire. And Adam tells us that Cnut intended Sweyn to rule Norway, Harthacnut to rule Denmark, and Harold Harefoot to rule England. And that might […]
17/07/20·31m 11s

352 – Chaos

It was November 11 of 1035 and King Cnut was dead. He was buried at Winchester Cathedral. Cnut, and likely the Court, seemed to anticipate his death. Possibly because he had been ill for some time. But the ruling classes of Europe were still completely unprepared for the chaos that followed.
08/07/20·20m 20s

351 – Collapse

I wonder if Cnut could see what was coming. All the signs were in front of him. Everything was starting to line up. But was he actually putting it together?
25/06/20·27m 37s

350 – A Tough Cnut to Crack

We have another mystery on our hands. We have a missing year. And I don’t think it was because nothing was happening.
11/06/20·23m 8s

349 – AElfgifu’s Tale

Successful Kings don’t rule alone. This is especially true for Kings with as much going on as Cnut. And one of Cnut’s most influential right-hand men was actually his Queen. And Emma was more than just an advisor. She was wielding considerable power in her own right, power that likely expanded every time Cnut journeyed […]
25/05/20·22m 40s

348 – Ruling Hard or Hardly Ruling

Europe was in chaos in the 1020s. Crises just kept coming, and the powerful were trying to capitalize on disorder. And in times like these, actions can have outsized impact, even the smaller ones. For example, if you sat in Leicester during the 1020s, the last thing you would have been paying attention to would […]
12/05/20·30m 1s

347 – Aggressive Diplomacy

What we call history was, at one point, just current events. And world affairs never happen in a vacuum. It’s never just one thing happening after another… it’s a whole mesh of events that, while they might happen in their own sequences that look very much like just one thing happening after another, they’re actually […]
02/05/20·25m 12s

346 – Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Drakkars

It’s 1025 Cnut had a problem on his hands. Barely a year after putting down Thorkell’s rebellion, Cnut was sailing for Denmark… again. To war, again.
22/04/20·31m 3s

345 – Building Blocks

In the early 11th century, the English were crushed by the Scots in the Battle of Carham. We are told that King Malcolm of Scotland, supported by King Owain of Strathclyde, brought their combined armies to bear against the forces of Ealdorman Uhtred of Bernicia in 1018… and there, they slaughtered the English. But there’s […]
10/04/20·19m 45s

Bonus Episode: Slavery

More material is coming, but here is a bonus episode to keep you company while you’re practicing social distancing.
20/03/20·30m 42s

344 – Cnut’s Mad Lads

In the year of 1021, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle tells us two things. A Bishop died. And Thorkell the Tall was expelled from the country. And that’s all it tells us.
12/03/20·29m 50s

343 – By Thorkell’s Beard

This is a story of palace intrigue, murder, and atypical alopecia… and it all begins where these things usually do… with a real estate transaction.
27/02/20·22m 39s

Bonus Episode: Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday. And if you’re not in Britain, you might be wondering what Shrove Tuesday is, and even if you are British, you might be wondering why you’re celebrating it.
25/02/20·10m 57s

342 – King Cnut of Denmark and England

If you have heard of King Cnut, what you probably heard was the story of Cnut and the Tides. The most common version of it goes like this. “Canute, the greatest and most powerful monarch of his time, sovereign of Denmark and Norway, as well as of England, could not fail of meeting with adulation […]
14/02/20·29m 30s

341 – King Cnut of England

Cnut made a lot of smart moves in a very short amount of time. He outlawed much of the corruption that had plagued the courts of AEthelred. He scrubbed his new kingdom of the loyalists to Edmund Ironsides. He granted key lands to key followers. Executed the main claimant to the throne, Eadwig. He executed […]
05/02/20·28m 31s

340 – A Bit of a Cnut

When we left off, Cnut had managed to get Eadric to go on the record calling for the execution of the English claimants to the throne… and then Cnut rejected the suggestion, and instead outlawed Eadwig, and exiled the sons of Edmund to Sweden. What the public likely didn’t know was the fact that Cnut […]
23/01/20·32m 11s

339 – Cnut the Conqueror

It’s been a strange few years. The fall of the House of Wessex and the rise of Cnut looks like a simple story of conquest. After all, it’s right there in the title. Virtually every book on this era has a chapter called “The Conquest of England.” And for good reason… Cnut /was/ a conqueror. […]
17/01/20·24m 24s

338 – The Fall of King Edmund Ironsides

Edmund hadn’t lost, and for now that was enough. He had shown himself to be a contender. So Ironside took his remaining men and marched East… but the accounts are careful to point out that he stayed north of the Thames…. And this decision has lead scholars to believe that Mercia may have already been […]
27/12/19·37m 53s

337 – The Rise of King Edmund Ironside

Can you feel it? It feels like there is a lull before the storm. AEthelred Unread is now gone, and Normandy is now officially on the board. 1066 is on the doorstep. But the lull is an illusion you experience because you know what is coming next. For the people living it, things are heating […]
22/12/19·31m 51s

336 – The End Is The Beginning Is The End

Christmas is old. Older than Christianity, in fact. As a consequence, there’s a lot to it. Symbols and traditions that come from all over the world, and from all across time. It’s a complex event that, predictably, can provoke a complex set of emotions from people. But when you look past the trees, and the […]
10/12/19·38m 37s

335 – Acts of Spasmodic Violence

Morcar and Sigeferth were under a lot of stress. These two noble brothers from the North had only just managed to join the Wulf dynasty through Sigeferht’s marriage to Ealdgyth, the niece of the powerful Ealdorman AElfhelm of York and Wulfric Spot. And that really should have been a smart move, given how powerful that […]
26/11/19·23m 19s

334 – No Cnut November

There are worse things than spending a holiday in Normandy. And one of those things is spending a holiday in Normandy because you just lost your entire Kingdom to the Danes. Support the Show
14/11/19·32m 37s

333 – The Conquest of England

England in 1013 was a Kingdom begging to be conquered. Decades of bad decisions have eroded its foundations and now it sat as a mere shadow of its former glory. It had none of the military prowess established by King AEthelstan. None of the political stability enjoyed under King Edgar. And none of the smart […]
08/11/19·33m 42s

Teig O’Kane and the Corpse

Happy Halloween
31/10/19·23m 10s

332 – The Jomsvikings

So here we are.  With two full companies of Jomsvikings laying waste to southern England… and in response, the nobility… the people tasked with defending the population and the Kingdom… decided that this was an excellent chance to fight among themselves, do a bit of pirating, and arrange a political marriage. And at the same […]
25/10/19·29m 2s

331 – Thoughts and Prayers

AEthelred, for the first time in quite a while, had a chance for a breather.  King Sweyn Forkbeard, having been paid a king’s ransom, had withdrawn his forces with a promise never to return.
17/10/19·24m 49s

330 – The Purge

The Court of AEthelred had turned over three times during his reign. First, there was his regency council.  Then, when he took full power he replaced his regency council with his young friends and corrupt enablers. Then the old guard reasserted itself, along with the powerful Wulf dynasty of the midlands in the 990s.  And […]
07/10/19·27m 2s

329 – Forkbeard

When you go to your local grocery store there’s a pattern. You go down your usual aisles, grab your bread, your tea, that thing you know you’re not supposed to eat but do anyway because it is delicious and you have no self control.  And then, when you head to the register, something happens. You […]
27/09/19·32m 13s

328 – The St Brice’s Day Massacre

The year 1002 was still 64 years away from 1066, but The House of Normandy had already begun a coup upon the Kingdom of England. The dynasty held only a minor Duchy, and for a fairly short amount of time, as it was only Duke Richard’s great grandfather Rollo who had established it. And in […]
20/09/19·23m 47s

327 – Sail Away Sail Away Sail Away

Now that we’ve checked in with the rest of the world, let’s get back to our story…which lately hasn’t been going so well. In the space of 70 years the Kingdom went from a preeminent power in the West to little more than a viking hunting preserve. By the year 1000, things had become so […]
14/09/19·30m 46s

326 – The Year 1000

It’s so easy to lose the forest for the trees. This show is a show about one small island which, even at this part of the story, is still at the edge of civilization. It is very easy to forget that there is a whole other world out there… and, it is a world that […]
08/09/19·35m 58s

325 – From Bad to Worse

When we left off, England was reforming its legal structure. Now, law isn’t known for being a sexy subject…neither are lawyers for that matter. But law shapes our societies in ways that are so fundamental that they are often invisible to us. And these reforms are no exception. These codes go on to transform English […]
24/08/19·21m 31s

324 – Law and Lawlessness

With the Scandinavian raiders gone, and with AElfric of Hampshire defanged, England was free to get back to work. And, as we saw last episode, this meant that the King was once again redistributing wealth from the have-a-lots to the have-even-mores. Which meant that the dynasty of Wulfrun, the upteen cousin AEthelbrads, and Mom, were […]
21/08/19·21m 56s

323 – Brotherhood of the Wolf

And we are back! Thank you all for being patient while the BHP went on a brief parental leave.  And speaking of things that are back… The Dowager Queen AElfthryth has returned to the King’s inner council following what looks like a political coup against AElfic of Hampshire and his faction. And just because it […]
10/08/19·26m 54s

PSA: Are We Dead?

(We aren’t)
03/08/19·1m 51s

322 – We’re Absolutely Forked

Ealdorman AElfirc of Hampshire was out… and Ealdorman AEthelweard the Chronicler was in. He would now be the King’s chief councillor… and he would be supported by his son, AEthelmaer… the King’s uncle, High Reeve Ordwulf of Devon, and the King’s mother, AEthelthryth. And as for the King’s old council.  Well, with the exception of […]
12/07/19·31m 7s

321 – Course Corrections

992 was a bad year. There was treason, Vikings, the King’s closest advisor absconded with half the navy, and tipped off an enemy invasion with just enough time to let them escape.
06/07/19·24m 56s

320 – Our Wooden Wall

The Battle of Maldon was a catastrophe. The brave last stand of Ealdorman Byrhtnoth was never going to change that fact. He was the leading man of Essex and the second most powerful Ealdorman in England and now he was dead. And his Fyrd was defeated. To top it off, there are indications that, facing […]
27/06/19·21m 5s

319 – The Battle of Maldon

Battles don’t appear out of thin air, not even in honor cultures. There’s a reason, a context, that develops long before soldiers or warriors enter a field prepared to do violence. And the Battle of Maldon comes with a lot of context. We left off in 988… and on that year, Archbishop Dunstan, who had […]
21/06/19·31m 41s

318 – Chaos is a Ladder

By 984 the Regency council had been broken and a new inner circle of nobles had been elevated.  And this development was accompanied by a rapid series of changes at the highest levels of the kingdom. The political rivals of this new council were rapidly losing power, with titles (and even lands) of wealthy dynasties […]
13/06/19·28m 46s

317 – A Culture of Corruption

At 16 years old, King AEthelred was considered fully grown by Anglo Saxon standards. And as a bonus graduation present, the powerful Bishop AEthelwold of Winchester… who appears to have been the defacto head of state while AEthelred was a child… had died. With his passing, the power of the old guard had been broken […]
30/05/19·26m 35s

316 – The Old Guard

Before we get back to our story, I’ve been seeing your conversations online and it made me realize I need to clarify something.   Some of you took the discussion of AEthelred’s unflattering nickname, and how he caught hell for some things that were out of his control or part of the common culture, and […]
23/05/19·25m 41s

315 – The Cracks in the Foundation

“Under AEthelred nothing was done; or, more truly, throughout his whole reign he left undone those things which he ought to have done, and he did those things he ought not to have done.”   That is the damning conclusion of  Edward Augustus Freeman, a Victorian historian, and epic beard grower.
16/05/19·30m 21s

314 – Æthelred: Are You Ready?

King Edward, like those before him, had died under mysterious and apparently violent circumstances. And the next in line for this increasingly bloody throne of England was his 12 year old little half-brother. Æthelred.
03/05/19·26m 13s

313 – How to Make a Martyr

“No man can make himself king, but the people have the choice to choose as king whom they please; but after he is consecrated as king, he then has dominion over the people, and they cannot shake his yoke from their necks.”   So reads the homily written by the famed writer, AElfric. He was […]
25/04/19·38m 46s

312 – King Edward

King Edgar is Dead… and in his place reigned his son, King Edward of England. And you’d think that we’d be referring to him as King Edward the First.  Or, if you wanted to fudge it a bit and give Edward the Elder some credit for forming the Kingdom of the Anglo Saxons… maybe King […]
20/04/19·22m 45s

311 – Team Edward

King Edgar the Peaceable was buried at Glastonbury in 975. But weirdly that isn’t the end of his story. William of Malmesbury tells us that nearly a century later, in 1053, the Abbot Ailward re-opened the King’s tomb. Malmsbury doesn’t tell us WHY the monk opened the grave, so I suppose we can just assume […]
11/04/19·42m 26s

310 – Political Theater

Human beings can’t really be summed up in a nickname. Usually we are more complicated than a word or two. And sometimes, the nickname just doesn’t reflect reality. If you take  Edward the Elder, for example, the name probably conjures up an image of Gandalf. But Edward was only in his early 50’s when he […]
29/03/19·32m 51s

309 – Size Doesn’t Matter (until it does)

You would think that someone named Edgar the Peaceable enjoyed a good reputation. But the closer you look, the more things start to look…off. And if you look closer than that, you start to get the sense that maybe things WERE off. Support the Show
22/03/19·30m 49s

308 – A Thirst for Reform

Across the North Sea, in Scandinavia, a man named Harald Greycloak was struggling for dominance in the region.  He wasn’t just any man, he was a son of Erik Bloodaxe and Gunnhilde. And his fight brought him into direct conflict with King Haakon.
14/03/19·32m 29s

307 – Cleaning House

The King is dead.  Long live the King. Eadwig, the 18 year old King known for his beauty, had died.  Somehow.
08/03/19·26m 32s

306 – King Eadwig

The King is dead, long live the King. So … last episode was a bit of a shocker wasn’t it?
01/03/19·31m 2s

305 – A Very Special BHP Valentine’s Day Episode

History is known as a field for being a bit of a slog. Tracing events, and people, and social movements through decades and centuries is a huge task and the results are usually dense at the best of times. But once in a while, in between all the battles and the politics and the dynasties, […]
14/02/19·16m 32s

304 – A Kingdom Divided

Northumbria was always the hot mess of the heptarchy. There are a few exceptions where they manage to pull it together long enough to produce something important, like Bede, or when Leeds United won the premiership in 1991. But generally, it’s a bit of a shitshow.  Sort of like Leeds United.
12/02/19·34m 17s

303 – Eric Bloodaxe

We can probably assume that Harald Fairhair, the King of Norway, had fantastic hair. It was either big, or really long, or super glossy, and it was almost definitely blonde. But it wasn’t the only trait he was known for. Harald Fairhair was also  known for getting around… and around… and around. According to records, […]
01/02/19·24m 32s

302 – King Eadred

Ok, where were we? With all this focus on culture, it’s been a little bit since we last talked about the political situation in Britain.  So lets remind ourselves of where things were politically.
25/01/19·21m 44s

Chapter 8 – Twilight of the Anglo Saxons

This isn’t going to end well.
17/01/19·3m 26s

301 – Common Folk

Today, we’re going to wrap up this cultural series with a focus on my favorite group of people.  The people who rarely, if ever, get talked about. The commoners.
11/01/19·26m 29s

300 – Noble Lives

When we left off, we were talking about Thegns. Specifically, we were talking about King’s Thegns and how they could wield degrees of power that could rival even the formidable Ealdormen.
18/12/18·24m 41s

299 – The Shape of Power

Ealdormen… Thegns… Ceorls. These were the  important cogs in the machine of government. They had powerful roles, and held powerful spaces within anglo saxon culture. And it’s time we get to know these roles like the back of our hand. Support the Show
07/12/18·36m 32s

The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: Ancient DNA with Maya Hoole

Links to material referenced in the show. The Achavanich Beaker Burial ‘Ava’: a Beaker-associated woman from a cist at Achavanich, Highland, and the story of her (re-)discovery and subsequent study, Published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe at A summary […]
03/12/18·42m 40s

298 – Uptown Ceorl

Long ago there was a settlement that had been occupied and farmed by the British and the Anglo Saxons for centuries. In fact, by the time that the Scandinavians arrived on the island, this village known as Wharram Percy was already well established, and had been inhabited continually for centuries. And it held strong for […]
16/11/18·37m 23s

297 – The Hundreds and the Wapentakes

We have spoken a lot about the life of a handful of individuals – namely the rulers that have descended from the line of Alfred. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first is the simple fact that by virtue of how limited literacy was during this era, these are the lives we […]
10/11/18·25m 53s

The Halloween Special

I love Halloween. I think it might be my favorite holiday, and it’s not really because I like spooky things. I actually kind of hate horror movies. The reason I love Halloween is because in the pantheon of modern holidays it stands out. Most holidays in the western world have been rebranded and repackaged to […]
26/10/18·24m 32s

296 – Darkening Skies

It begins in France. The struggle for power between King Louis IV and Hugh the Great had been raging for quite some time… When we last visited the continent, , Hugh the Great, King Otto of Germany, Duke William of Normandy, Count Herbert II, and various other supporting characters were allied against King Louis IV, […]
19/10/18·33m 39s

295 – The Return of England

You know the pieces on a chessboard? There’s the knight, and the queen, and the castle….and then there’s the bishop. There’s a reason why a game that simulates medieval power strategy has a piece called the bishop. Bishops had power. And it was a power that didn’t flow from the monarchy. And in britain, it […]
11/10/18·24m 37s

294 – It All Comes Crashing Down

The story of the last few episodes is a story about a lesson that humanity has had to re-learn again and again throughout history. When your society is ordered around a single figure it’s likely to descend into chaos the minute that figure goes away. And finding a new balance in the midst of sudden […]
05/10/18·25m 49s

293 – The Beacons are Lit

When we left off, AEthelstan had recently died, Olaf had returned from Dublin and been crowned King of Jorvik (which meant that the Kingdom of Jorvik was back). The English Fyrd was still recovering from the bloodbath at Brunanburh. And the English Navy were currently sailing up and down the French Coast shouting “Liberte, Fraternite, […]
23/09/18·24m 48s

292 – King in the North

How we understand any event comes down to what angle we are able to view it from. And the story of AEthelstan is no exception. On the one hand, it is easy to see AEthelstan as one of the greatest kings in English history, one to place on our shelf of real-life legends along with […]
10/09/18·21m 12s

291 – Pandemonium

When King Edward died, the plan was that his second son would take the throne. By all indications, neither Edward nor the power structures within Wessex, wanted AEthelstan. The young AEtheling had been discarded and sent to be raised in Mercia far from the halls of power. The throne of Wessex wasn’t for him. It […]
30/08/18·27m 7s

290 – This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land

Brunanburh had been a titanic struggle. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle speaks of how the fighting lasted from morning to night, until “the field grew dark with the blood of men.” Blood spilled from warriors of no less than four separate kingdoms. The scribes speak of how the ground was littered with men impaled upon spears. […]
23/08/18·29m 0s

289 – Brunanburh

You can’t just go to war. I mean… I guess you can. But it’s not a good idea. War takes work. It takes planning. It takes preparation. War, to put it simply, is a pain in the ass. You really have to want it. And the workload only increases with the number of people involved. […]
18/08/18·33m 2s

288 – Extracurricular Activities

I wonder if King Rudolph of France resented his crown. I mean, seeking the crown probably seemed like a good idea at the time but the whole thing had been turning out to be an enormous headache. And it all started when Rudolph’s father in law (Robert) rebelled against King Charles and drove him into […]
10/08/18·24m 12s

287 – The Conquest of Scotland

For the last six years, AEthelstan had been ruling in a manner that hasn’t been seen in Britain for generations. Beyond being a warlord, or even a King… AEthelstan was acting more like an Emperor. All of the Anglo Saxon territories were annexed into his new Kingdom of England, the Kings of Wales were now […]
27/07/18·26m 20s

286 – Noble Pursuits

After generations of devastating war, England has found itself at peace. Which leaves a question we haven’t had to ask in a while. What did the Anglo Saxons actually do during peacetime? Support the Show
21/07/18·29m 51s

285 – Full Court Press

The Era of AEthelstan is one of contradictions. His behavior, his policies, his wars… pretty much everything that is happening during this period seems to have an element of duality. This man was discussed by scholars of his time in terms of his piety and his generosity both with the church and also with his […]
11/07/18·28m 46s

284 – AEthelstan the Victorious

Last week, we ended with King AEthelstan’s aggression towards Kingdoms of Wales and Cornwall. We don’t know precisely what occurred, or why AEthelstan demanded crippling tributes from the Welsh and then violently expelled or executed the Cornish of Exeter. Support the Show
07/07/18·27m 14s

283 – The Kingdoms of the Foreigners

Imagine that you went from being a disfavored bastard with little power, to the most powerful English king that had ever existed, in the space of just a few years. Support the Show
28/06/18·23m 15s

282 – How To Win Friends and Influence Jorvik

AEthelstan had completed his annexation of Jorvik, and in doing so he had outperformed every last one of his predecessors, including his grandfather, Alfred the Great. But there were a few loose ends that he still needed to knot up. And as he watched the defenses of Jorvik burn and dolled out Jorvik’s wealth to […]
14/06/18·25m 13s

281 – England

The last couple of episodes have focused on the political tools that AEthelstan had at his disposal. Marriage alliances, fostering, dynastic cults and diplomatic entreaties were all powerful pieces moving on a huge dark age chess board. And the thing I want you to realize about these things is first, that they took time. A […]
08/06/18·31m 42s

280 – King AEthelstan’s Love Life

What is a King’s most important duty? Is it the defense of the realm? Or perhaps the growth of the kingdom’s borders? What about developing the economy? Fostering strong diplomatic alliances? Shepherding the souls of his subjects to Christ? How about just keeping his subjects happy and healthy? Support the Show
25/05/18·26m 24s

279 – Dynastic Cults

Want to know something strange? When Edward died, the Irish annals said nothing. Not a mention about his death, nor the circumstances of it. And it’s not like the Irish Annals were disinterested with what was happening in the Anglo Saxon kingdoms. After all, they’re the source for our story about AEthelflaed’s defense of Chester. […]
17/05/18·42m 47s

278 – The Thunderbolt

There’s a dirty secret to history podcasts, and it only becomes clear when you actually start one. The truth is that many people will SAY that they want to learn something new, and hear new stories and hear new facts. But every time, without fail, the most popular episodes – and the most popular history […]
10/05/18·22m 56s

277 – King AEthelstan: Say Yes to the Dress

It’s important to hit the ground running when you start a new job. Especially if it is one that carries a lot of responsibility. When you’re new, people are often trying to work out who you are and how you’ll fit into the system, and the best way to put people at ease is to […]
26/04/18·23m 18s

276 – The Bastard Rebel King

The story of Edward is one of contradictions. There’s something about his rule that seems … complicated and requiring more nuance than many of our earlier rulers. Here we have a King that did what must have seemed impossible… he began his rule holding dominion over Wessex and Kent. Huge portions of his kingdom were […]
20/04/18·31m 56s

275 – King Edward the Almost First King of England

The story of Edward is undeniably odd. There are events that are at best, unexplained and at worst look potentially horrible. But he’s also a man of contradiction, because the one thing we haven’t talked about is the one thing you’re probably not expecting. He was an effective king. Support the Show
13/04/18·35m 41s

274 – The Missing Shire

In the last several episodes I’ve been breaking down the weird evidence that surrounds Edward towards the end of his reign. It’s been a deep dive and has been focused on some pretty granular details, and the reason why I’ve done that is because I can’t conclusively make a statement on what he did… it’s […]
05/04/18·26m 44s

273 – I Do… Do I?

Last episode we talked about the rapid growth of AEthelflaed’s power, Edward’s militarizing AEthelflaed’s borders, Edward visiting her at her capital city and bringing his army with him… the fact that she died shortly thereafter and Edward ordered his army to occupy the city… and then the signs of rebellion coming out of Northern Mercia, […]
29/03/18·24m 4s

272 – The End of the Age of AEthelflaed

Trying to tell the story of AEthelflaed is like trying to study gravity. We know her indirectly, by the impressions she left and the political shifts that happen around her. We can see the impact she left both on her lands, and in the devotion of her subjects. And so in many respects, we know […]
15/03/18·29m 13s

271 – How to Break a Kingdom in Six Months

For the last several years, the Anglo Saxons had been on a true war footing. AEthelflaed and Edward had been showing skill and audacity in the field, and it had paid dividends. Under their leadership, the Anglo Saxon kingdoms of the south had been taking the fight to the Danish controlled lands and were seizing […]
11/03/18·58m 5s

270 – War in the Five Boroughs

There’s an entry from the Irish Fragmentary annals that caught my attention. It talks about the defeat of Hroald and Ohter at the hands of AEthelflaed… and it specifically gives credit to AEthelflaed for this battle, and then goes on to say that following that victory her fame spread in all directions. Support the Show
01/03/18·25m 43s

269 – The Western Front

Wessex and Mercia have had a busy decade. Both kingdoms militarized their borders, fought off invasion forces, and even took the offensive and marched into neighboring kingdoms. And even though the Chronicle is mysteriously tight lipped on all of these fights, it’s clear that way more than just construction work was going on at all […]
23/02/18·27m 12s

268 – Viking Invasion

AEthelflaed, Lady of Mercia, and her brother, King Edward, had been bringing the fight to the Danes… they had been stretching their borders into Danish controlled lands and they haven’t just been on the offense… they’ve been winning. When an army was raised out of Leicester in 913 for the express purpose of countering the […]
16/02/18·27m 23s

267 – The Southern Expansion

O potent elfleda! Maid, men’s terror! You did conquer nature’s self; worthy The name of man! More beauteous nature’s form of A woman; but your valour shall secure Man’s higher name. For name you only need Not sex to change: unconquerable queen, King rather, who such trophies have obtained! O virgin and virago both farewell! […]
01/02/18·25m 44s

266 – The Rise of AEthelflaed and the Breaking of Northumbria

The Battle of Tettenhall, as we discussed last episode, remains a mystery to us. We aren’t certain of the circumstances that started the battle, exactly where the battle took place, nor which Anglo Saxon leaders actually fought in it. But one thing scholars agree upon is that Mercia and Wessex won a resounding victory – […]
27/01/18·23m 57s

265 – The Battle of Tettenhall; and Zombies, maybe.

There is so much that the Chronicle hides from us after the death of Alfred. Edward’s apple seems to have fallen fairly far from the tree, because the record his court produces during his reign is spare even by Anglo Saxon standards. But even with all of its contradictory statements and black holes, the Chronicle […]
13/01/18·31m 32s

264 – The Lost Rebellion

In the year 909 we get an odd entry from the Chronicle. “This year St. Oswald’s body was removed from Bardney into Mercia.” It’s an weird entry that caps a very strange section of the Chronicle. In the seven year period from 902 to 909 we’ve got three blank years, two star gazing entries, one […]
05/01/18·38m 48s

263 – AEthelflaed and Ingimund

When we left off last episode, war had come to Mercia. Ingimund and his Scandinavian allies abandoned their peace treaty and were seeking to expand their borders, but according to the Irish Annals and the Welsh annals, it wasn’t AEthelred Lord of Mercia who was organizing the defenses. It was AEthelflaed, Queen of the Saxons. […]
06/12/17·24m 51s

262 – AEthelred and AEthelflaed

A year after Edward took the throne – in year 901, while he was still fighting AEthelwold’s rebellion – something strange appeared in the Charters. This event doesn’t get discussed in the Chronicle. But these Charters reveal that in 901, there was an enormous gathering of the important political figures of Wessex. This gathering took […]
01/12/17·27m 12s

261 – The Anglo Saxon Chronicle and the Mercian Register

I hope that after the last few episodes (and honestly, the last few years) have dispelled the myth of elegance that surrounds monarchy. Especially medieval monarchy. Support the Show
25/11/17·24m 26s

260 – King Edward’s Forgotten Love Life

Sometimes life comes at you fast. So much happens in such a short space of time that you barely have a chance to take note of where you’re at and, only after it’s all passed, only /then/ do you have a chance to say “oh my god, what /was/ all of that?” I wonder if […]
17/11/17·23m 32s

259 – The Last Stand of the House of AEthelred

It was an audacious move. To take possession of two towns, to fortify himself inside the Royal Estate of Wimborne (the resting place of his father), and to do all of this after taking an unnamed nun as his wife. But that was what AEthelwold son of AEthelred did. As we discussed last week, we […]
04/11/17·30m 0s

258 – The Rise of King Edward I of Wessex

On October 26th, 899, Alfred the Great died. He left behind his wife, Eahlswitha, as well as his grown children. I imagine that the loss of Alfred was probably quite difficult on all of them. It’s always hard to lose a family member. But for Edward… the designated heir… what must that have been like? […]
30/10/17·27m 25s

257 – Political Accommodation Within The Danelaw

Things in Britain are changing rapidly. In Scotland the MacAlpin dynasty is rising, and with it comes the merging of the Scottish and Pictish cultures. A similar blending is happening in the Anglo Saxon regions. As we’ve see in the last few episodes – cities are changing, economies are emerging. And the sudden appearance of […]
22/10/17·36m 34s

256 – Scandinavian Settlement in England

For the last few episodes we’ve been discussing the way life has been changing in Southern Britain. While the dramatic battles and political maneuvering dominated the story of the last season, you’re now learning of the many of the changes that were changing how lives were lived on the island, and some of them weren’t […]
12/10/17·27m 38s

255 – Londonwic to London

London is a world unto itself, and it has been for most of its very, very long history. One of the weirdest things about the city is that it contains its own separate city – distinct from the rest of London. It has its own laws, its own government, its own walls. The City of […]
28/09/17·34m 0s

254 – Worcester

If you read of old Britain… even if you read of modern Britain… you’d be forgiven if you thought it was all London. And London does soak up a ton of the spotlight. It’s like the Stonehenge of the non-neolithic period. You can’t avoid it. And we won’t here, either. London will be covered regularly, […]
14/09/17·23m 23s

253 – Anglo Saxon Market Towns in the Viking Age

Cultures change all the time – yours is changing right now, in ways you may or may not realize. It’s a completely normal, everyday fact that has been with humanity since we began. Probably before we began. And yet, telling the story of how a culture changed is extremely challenging. Cultural shifts are messy, they’re […]
07/09/17·26m 10s

252 – The Coming of the Anglo-Scandinavians

At the start of 867, there were four major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain. By 874, three of the four – Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia – had lost their independence. That’s a timespan of only 7 years, and in that 7 years the political landscape of Britain had changed dramatically and permanently. That’s insane. For […]
01/09/17·26m 4s

251 – Chapter Seven: England

We are entering a new era in the BHP. Support the Show
17/08/17·2m 8s

250 – The Year 900

It’s the year 900. We’ve closed out another century, and the 900’s are looking as tumultuous as the 800’s. But before we move forward in our story of our Island – still in many ways at the end of the world – the BHP is going to take a moment to look at what is […]
10/08/17·36m 56s

249 – Kenneth MacAlpin and the Birth of Scotland

We’ve reached the end of an era. It was late 899, and Alfred (who has been our central figure for dozens of episodes) was at last at rest. But with his death, there was a sudden opening at the top levels of West Saxon politics and Alfred’s son, Edward, was a top contender for that […]
03/08/17·33m 40s

248 – The Death of Alfred the Great

By 897, everything Alfred had known…. changed. He was barely in his 20s when he took the throne and he hadn’t had a chance to stop for a breath for the decades that followed. He had been king for over half of his life, and in those years he’d proven himself to be an energetic […]
16/07/17·25m 4s

247 – Our Wooden Wall

The Danes encamped at Bridgnorth had been campaigning for years. Many had come here with Haesten and the Appledore fleet. They were the veterans of the continental campaigns. And for years now they had been fighting tooth and nail with the Anglo Saxons. But despite all the time they had spent here. Despite their massive […]
08/07/17·22m 32s

246 – The Hard Edge of Soft Power

When I write an episode I begin by looking at what has happened in the past, then at what will come in the future, and only after that do I allow myself to focus on what is occurring for this episode. I do this because I want to know the context of these events. The […]
25/06/17·36m 21s

245 – King Alfred: Infrastructure is Sexy

For the Viking army fleeing Shoebury, there wasn’t much to look forward to in a winter holiday at Chester. It would be wet. It would be cold. It would be creepy. The old Roman settlement had been abandoned for quite some time, and that probably didn’t sit well with the superstitious danes. And besides being […]
13/06/17·25m 22s

244 – Haesten’s Advance

“Then came the king’s troops, and routed the enemy, broke down the work, took all that was therein money, women, and children and brought all to London. And all the ships they either broke to pieces, or burned, or brought to London or to Rochester.” That’s what the Chronicle has to say about AEthelred’s siege […]
31/05/17·24m 52s

The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: The Beaker People with Dr. Alison Sheridan

Learn more about Dr. Sheridan and her work Dr. Sheridan’s Wiki page Dr. Sheridan’s Great Archaeology page Dr. Sheridan’s page The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project Links Twitter: @AvaBeakerBurial Facebook: Website: Support the Show
24/05/17·34m 42s

243 – The Sieges of AEthelred of Mercia

Imagine that you’re in your 20s. You are a member of the royal dynasty… the next in line for the throne. But your future court is filled with powerful Ealdormen who expect their king to be a warrior. Given the mood of the nobles, and how some of them are chaffing at your father’s style […]
20/05/17·26m 23s

242 – Edward AEtheling at Farnham

892 was not a very good year. Alfred’s gambit to pacify the forces of Hastein through the power of baptism and gifts had failed utterly, and now they were encamped in Benfleet Essex, launching raids into Wessex and (probably) Mercia. And as for the gargantuan fleet of 250 ships to the south at Appledore? It […]
12/05/17·28m 40s

The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: Discovering Ava with Maya Hoole

Twitter: @AvaBeakerBurial Facebook: Website: Canmore: Support the Show
03/05/17·1h 38m

241 – Haesten

What was Alfred’s reaction to the news of a massive viking fleet crossing the channel? Was it a surprise? Did he just expect it at this point? Was he angry that he would have to fight for his kingdom yet one more time? Based on his apparent devotion to his religion, I imagine he wondered […]
27/04/17·25m 41s

240 – Viking Roadshow: Rollo edition

A massive fleet was off the coast of Kent, heading directly for Alfred’s realm. It was a fleet of 250 ships teeming with skilled, highly experienced raiders. But fleets don’t materialize out of thin air. They come from somewhere… And curiously, over the last 14 years, the scribes of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle were actually […]
21/04/17·28m 56s

239 – The Dying Time

Today we’re going to cover 5 or 6 years, and we’re going to cover a fascinating theory that (if true) should color virtually everything we know about the life of Alfred the Great… and that’s because the Life of Alfred the Great might not have been written for Alfred. But I’m getting ahead of myself. […]
13/04/17·30m 30s

238 – A Patchwork of War

The Sons of Rhodri Mawr were in a difficult position. Their father had been a powerful ruler in Britain… he was a man who had gained vast swaths of territory for his dynasty and was one of the few kings in British history that could claim the title of “the great.” Now when he died, […]
31/03/17·28m 54s

237 – Asser

The Sons of Rhodri, rulers of vast swaths of Wales, have followed in their father’s footsteps in their quest to bring all of the Western Kingdoms under a command of a single dynasty. Their dynasty. In aid of this, they sought common cause with the Danes of Jorvik and their new King… a man called […]
25/03/17·27m 50s

236 – A Return to Scholarship

“I can not find anything better in man, than that he know, and nothing worse than that he be ignorant.” That’s a quote from Alfred, and I think it’s my favorite quote. The nice thing about Alfred is that he’s a man for all seasons. There’s something in his reign for everyone. He’s got an […]
17/03/17·33m 6s

235 – Alfred’s Educational Reforms

One of the interesting things about piecing together the life of Alfred is that we find little windows into who he was in the strangest of places. Most kings of this era didn’t write much down for us to read… but Alfred did. In fact, he translated entire books (which we’re going to talk about […]
10/03/17·24m 19s

234 – The Sons of Rhodri and AEthelred’s Beautiful Hair

This episode has been difficult to write. In fact, the last several have been difficult, and it all comes down to issues of time. Not space time flexing due to gravitational pull, and issues of whether a minute for Alfred in Wessex was the same as a minute for someone climbing the alps. Just good […]
03/03/17·27m 24s

233 – Alfred’s Powerplay and the Restructuring of Wessex

While all of the political wrangling was occurring in Tamworth, Guthrum-AEthelstan was relocating to East Anglia, and he was bringing serious changes with him. Culture isn’t something that you can easily uproot in a person – it goes deep. Sure, Guthrum had spent 12 days feasting like and Anglo Saxon, and even gave that one […]
25/02/17·33m 48s

232 – Fifth Century Britain with Dr. Catherine Hills

Dr. Hills discussed material culture, ethnicity, Anglo Saxon migration, and more in this fascinating interview. You can learn more about what Dr. Hills at her departmental website here. Support the Show
19/02/17·58m 0s

231 – Anglo Saxon Economics and Money with Professor Rory Naismith

Follow Rory on Twitter @Rory_Naismith and make sure to follow him at his Academic page at Kings College London as well as on This episode covers how the economy transitioned from food rent to coinage, how currency was a reflection of the soul, why King Offa had such funky hair, and much more. Support […]
11/02/17·1h 22m

230 – Guthrum Gets a Bath

For Alfred, everything had changed at Chippenham. It was at Chippenham where he had lost his crown and his kingdom… it’s also possible that he was the victim of a coup, considering how Guthrum’s conquest had gone virtually unchallenged. Chippenham was a place of great shame for the House of Wessex. That is, until now. […]
03/02/17·28m 34s

A Ten Year Old in WWII: A Memorial

Thank you for always being there for me, Nanna. <3 Support the Show
30/01/17·12m 57s

229 – The Battle of Edington

Four months is a long time. It might not seem it. And in many ways, four months can pass in the blink of an eye. But four months is around 120 days. It’s a full season. In four months, the harshness of winter can be replaced by the the bright warmth of spring. Four months […]
14/01/17·26m 3s

228 – Alfred and Odda: The Audacity of Nope

In spite of everything standing against them, Alfred and AEthelnoth are bringing the war directly to Guthrum on a daily basis. We know this thanks to Asser and the Chronicle, but both sources neglect to tell us exactly HOW the rebel army was bringing the war to Guthrum. The one time I want more information […]
07/01/17·27m 57s

227 – Alfred’s War for the Mind

The last episode ended with an account by Ethelweard which told us that after the arrival of AEthelnoth, Alfred was attacking Guthrum on a daily basis. Alfred was no longer just trying to survive, he was trying to take his kingdom back. Support the Show
22/12/16·29m 0s

226 – Alfred and Legitimacy: The First Steps to War

Today, we are going to talk about the early steps of Alfred’s guerrilla war against King Guthrum. We will talk about the elements of this sort of war, the circumstances of the West Saxons under Guthrum’s rule, and the resulting fallout within Wessex. Support the Show
10/12/16·29m 27s

225 – Alfred in Somerset

It was January of 878. The dead of British winter – and Alfred was running. Through fields, past hamlets, keeping out of sight whenever he could. He ran. He headed for the Somerset Levels. This was a coastal plane during the 9th century – a dense network of impassable marshes. It wasn’t ideal, but at […]
01/12/16·30m 59s

224 – Chapter Six: Wessex

For generations, the Anglo Saxon dominance in eastern Britain has gone largely unchallenged. In the face of this, the warlike vagabonds that first came to these lands had been transformed into gentry. Power had calcified into the hands of a few, war had become a ritualized way for dynasties to settle arguments over wealth, and […]
23/11/16·1m 52s

223 – King Alfred and Chippenham

How do you redeem a year like 877? If you’re Alfred, how do you fix something like this? Even if he cast it in the best possible light, the story of 877 would still be the story of how Wessex lost control of two of its major coastal strongholds, was unable to directly counter the […]
17/11/16·28m 56s

222 – Viking Kings and The Black Pool

At some point early in the Viking Age, a group of Northmen came across a natural harbor on the western side of the Irish Sea. Being that they were a seafaring people, having places in foreign lands where they could safely make port was a significant advantage. Orkney was already showing its usefulness, and now […]
11/11/16·23m 6s

221 – Alfred and Guthrum: The Price of Peace

When we left off, Guthrum had marched into the heart of Wessex without being noticed, lead his forces right past Alfred’s hold in Winchester, and seized the Royal tun of Wareham. In response to this, Alfred raised the Fyrd, marched upon the southern port town, and besieged it. Now all of our surviving sources are […]
03/11/16·26m 26s

220 – Alfred and Guthrum: Magic, Madness, Heaven, Sin

It’s the year 876 and historians Dudo and Flodoard tell us that a fleet of Vikings slammed into the Frankish city of Rouen and nearly leveled it to the ground. In response to this attack, King Louis the Stammerer, brother of Judith, launched a campaign to oust them… but he never saw this completed because […]
29/10/16·31m 40s

219 – The Halloween Special: The Statement of Randolph Carter

I repeat to you, gentlemen, that your inquisition is fruitless. Detain me here forever if you will; confine or execute me if you must have a victim to propitiate the illusion you call justice; but I can say no more than I have said already. Everything that I can remember, I have told with perfect […]
21/10/16·18m 46s

218 – The Kingdom of Jorvik

Today we begin in Orkney. The history of Orkney is rather obscure, and that fact is reflected in the show… with it appearing only occasionally in the Scotcasts and Celtcasts. However, in the last 80 years, things have been changing rapidly for the inhabitants of this misty land, and the people of Orkney started to […]
19/10/16·38m 52s

217 – Halfdan’s Ravaging of the North

We begin our story in Alt Clut. Alt Clut was an ancient British Kingdom and it could trace itself back to Roman Britannia – and possibly even further. At the center of this kingdom was an old fortress on a River, the River Clyde. The Kingdom’s name derived from the Brythonic name for the rock […]
06/10/16·28m 25s

216 – The Great Heathen Army: Always Be Prepared

Click here to go the Summary of Zee’s PhD that I talked about. We are coming to a major turning point in the story of Britain.The Anglo Saxon kingdoms never had a chance of turning the Great Heathen Army back, and now it looks like they’re here to stay. There’s no denying it anymore. But […]
29/09/16·32m 9s

215 – King Burgred and the end of the Danish Sausage Fest

It’s 873 and so far Halfdan has extracted THREE Danegelds from King Burgred in exchange for promising to not occupy Mercia. And, of course, he’s gone on to occupy Mercia… most recently in a town called Torksey. He also put down a rebellion in Jorvik and reclaimed the city. He pushed King Ricsige of Northumbria […]
16/09/16·50m 46s

214 – National Lampoon’s Viking Vacation

It’s 872 and Halfdan’s year has been a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, he had received a major Danegeld from Mercia, to add to the one he received from Wessex in the previous year. And now he was residing within London. But on the other hand, he had just gotten word […]
04/09/16·24m 26s

213 – Danegelds, Peace, and Shame

Last time we left off, Alfred… who we have been following since his earliest days, and whom we now know the most intimate details of, including the state of his butt (which was swollen) and the state of his libido (which apparently was also swollen)… well, by mid 871 his brother was dead and he […]
24/08/16·33m 47s

212 – Alfred the Last AEtheling

It’s mid April of 871. For four long months, the House of Wessex has been battling against an invasion army of Danes who are holding the Royal Tun of Reading. Battle after battle had resulted in bruising defeats at the hands of these pagans. They had won against the Danes in Ashdown, true, but what […]
12/08/16·30m 27s

211 – The Battles of Basing and Meretun

It’s January of 871, still… A tremendous amount has happened in the last fortnight, and the year had barely even begun. People tend to compress the past… especially periods they are unfamiliar with… into short blurbs. It’s why many people are completely willing to accept minute by minute accounts of World War II, but balk […]
28/07/16·28m 2s

210 – The Battle of Ashdown

“God, in his goodness and justice so much offended by our sins, had thus worn down the lands and kingdoms of the Christians.” That’s a quote from Prudentius of Troyes, who was struggling to explain why the Franks met abysmal failure every time they fought the Scandinavians. While that quote came from from across the […]
19/07/16·34m 27s

209 – The Battle of Reading

When we left off, the Danes had occupied Reading, fortified it for several days, and then sent a detachment West along the river Kennet… In response, Ealdorman AEthelwulf of Berkshire had raised the local Fyrd, killed one of the Danish lords, and for the first time in a very long time, at Englefield, the West […]
08/07/16·20m 14s

208 – The Battle of Englefield

When we left off the Great Heathen Army had conquered East Anglia, established their dominion, and then a good portion of it returned to their territory of Jorvik. However, not everyone returned north or stayed in East Anglia. Their leaders, Ivarr and Ubbe… brothers in battle and sons of Ragnarr, departed. Some accounts state that […]
01/07/16·21m 34s

207 – Christianity in Early Danelaw

Here is part two to our story of religion and religious life at the age of the Great Heathen Army and the Danish invasion of Britain. Last episode, I told you about how the stories we’re often told – of violent atrocities committed against Christian spaces and against Christendom itself – didn’t actually originate from […]
23/06/16·33m 20s

206 – Did the Great Heathen Army Persecute Christians?

Last week we covered the events of 869. The situation was dire. We have at least one dead Anglo Saxon king, two Anglo Saxon kingdoms that were now under the thumb of the Danes, and as far as the record tells us, everyone else was just keeping their heads down. They may have taken comfort […]
11/06/16·29m 26s

205 – Saint Edmund the Martyr

Last episode we ended with the engagement of Prince Alfred to Ealhswith, daughter of Ealdorman AEthelred Mucel of Mercia and descendant of King Coenwulf of Merica, and I briefly mentioned political implications of such a match. But there was a personal aspect to this as well. Not the marriage itself, though that was certainly personal… […]
02/06/16·27m 27s

204 – Snottingham

At the end of last episode, the gates of Jorvik had opened and the Great Heathen Army marched forth. They were headed South, to the Kingdom of Mercia. Mercia makes sense for the Northmen. The leaders of the Great Army had already bolstered their northern border, through their puppet King Ecgberht. East Anglia had been […]
27/05/16·30m 12s

203 – Jorvik

I’d like to start today’s episode with a poem. Not about my feelings, or about a tough breakup… but a skaldic poem from the 12th century. It’s called The Lay of Kraka, and it was probably recorded somewhere in Scotland. The reason why it’s important is that it contains what is claimed to be Ragnar […]
19/05/16·31m 27s

202 – The Fall of Eoforwic

When we left off last time, King Edmund of East Anglia had paid a Danegeld to the Great Heathen Army… and rather than leaving, the army had set up camp in his Kingdom. It was a situation that would have caused all manner of havoc for virtually everyone who lived in the small eastern Kingdom. […]
11/05/16·29m 46s

201 – East Anglia’s Danegeld

Here we are, with a new king in Wessex. King AEthelred, son of AEthelwulf, was now sitting the throne. He was in his 20s, and despite having a large family back when he was a child… now his only family left were his wife… Queen Wulfthryth (and good on you Wulfthryth for insisting on being […]
02/05/16·35m 38s

200 – The Q&A

To celebrate the 200th episode, I took questions from the community which gave me a good excuse to complain about bad GI Joe villains, Rome, Lack of Sources, Rome, and a dearth of available female historical figures to crush on…. and Rome. (It was bad, you guys.) Guest spots from… Jamie Redfern of A History […]
25/04/16·46m 11s

199 – AEthelred vs Alfred: One of the Most Exciting Moments in Probate History

It’s 865 and we just had yet another King of Wessex die. Alfred has been losing family members fast and furious, and this time it was his older brother, King AEthelberht. What’s worse is King AEthelberht seemed like he was a pretty decent fellow, and Wessex could have really used long reign by a fair […]
17/04/16·22m 3s

198 – The Great Heathen Army Begins

On 864 or 865, a great Scandinavian fleet of Dragon ships, or Drakkars, beached themselves at Thanet in Kent. For the people of the south, this would have been terrifying It had been scarcely more than a decade since the last fleet of Drakkars landed in Thanet, and the army exploded forth from those ships […]
03/04/16·23m 23s

The April Fool’s Episode

Things are changing at the BHP, and here’s a preview!
01/04/16·1m 25s

197 – The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok (versus Battle-Cattle)

We’re at a massive turning point for Britain. The Great Heathen Army is arriving on the Northern shores. I have been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out how best to tell you this story deal with the Great Heathen Army, because it has all the elements that make a story nearly impossible […]
26/03/16·47m 47s

196 – Vikings and Mercs and Franks. Oh My!

When we left off last week we spoke about King AEthelberht’s ascension to the throne of Wessex in 860 and how, despite the insistence of the Chroniclers that his rule was marked by peace and tranquility, on that same year we had records of a Viking raid that struck the heart of the Kingdom of […]
16/03/16·28m 10s

195 – Red Sea Rising

Today’s episode will focus upon the goings on in Britain for King AEthelberht, AEthelred, and Alfred. We will also cover what has been happening up in Northumbria… and predictably, it involves a lot of civil war. We will also have a quick discussion about stats, because why not? (History of Britain, History of England, History […]
07/03/16·23m 12s

194 – My Big Fat Dark Age Wedding

King AEthelbald of Wessex, Queen Judith, Bjorn Ironsides, Prince Alfred, King Charles the Bald, Pope Nicholas I, Baldwin Iron Arm, Ivar the Boneless… this episode has it all! (History of Britain, History of England, History of Wessex, French History, Vikings, Roman History) NOTE ON RESEARCH I get a lot of questions about this episode asking […]
27/02/16·36m 56s

193 – Alfred the Young Part Two

When we left off last week we were talking about Alfred’s upbringing and how he was a proficient hunter from a young age, and how he honed those skills throughout the rest of his life. But also how he lamented the fact that he was illiterate until he was twelve years old. Something which he […]
21/02/16·33m 36s

192 – Alfred the Young

We’ve discussed Anglo Saxon propaganda, and what goes down in Anglo Saxon cities, now let’s get back to the main story. When last we checked in with the House of Wessex, King AEthelwulf had died, but thanks to his incredible fecundity he had a wealth of potential heirs. And the kingdom of Wessex, it was […]
13/02/16·21m 56s

191 – Urban Fervor

You might not realize it, but we on the precipice of a major change in Britain. Alfred the Great is about to reach adulthood and enter the scene. The era of Danelaw is coming. Things are about to come to a head. But if I’m being honest, we’ve been seeing pretty big changes happening for […]
06/02/16·25m 37s

190 – House (of Wessex): Everybody Lies

This episode is going to be a bit different from most, because I’m going to be addressing something which has been bugging me about the 800s, and Wessex in particular. I feel like I haven’t done a good job pointing something out. So I’m going to explain something crucial about the house of Wessex and […]
29/01/16·42m 58s

189 – What on earth is an English

This episode is going to be a little different from most episodes. We’re going to break from the main story briefly and talk in larger terms about what is going on in Eastern Britain, because I realized that my slavish attention to the main storyline has probably allowed you to miss something truly astounding. And […]
16/01/16·27m 4s

188 – Rebellion and Succession in the Kingdom of Wessex

Before we begin, I’d like to address something from our last episode. I told you about reports of Vikingr armies marching around the countryside near the Wrekin. I offered a variety of methods of reaching the Wrekin, all of which would have involved quite a bit of work. However, as some of you have noted […]
08/01/16·27m 42s

187 – The Queen of Wessex: aka The Worst Midlife Crisis Ever

It’s Christmas day 854. King AEthelweard of East Anglia, a king who we know almost nothing about, is dead. The only evidence we really have that he was alive in the first place are his coins, and this is likely due to the fact that, throughout the Viking Age, succeeding bands of Scandinavian pyromaniacs destroyed […]
02/01/16·26m 39s

186 – Wessex: A story of Myth building, Opportunism, and Annexation

This episode is getting a bit into the political weeds and it’s for a very important reason. We’re seeing the development of that dynastic juggernaut we all know and love, the House of Wessex, and I want you to see how and why it’s forming into what it will eventually become. Because the successes of […]
19/12/15·19m 54s

185 – Building the House of Wessex

When we left off last time, we were taking a look at the problem facing Europe that no one wanted to talk about. And this wasn’t like plague of people mistaking tights for pants. In that situation, the only solution is to ignore it until it retreats back to the darkest recesses of fashion. The […]
11/12/15·33m 14s

184 – The Chaos of Bad Governance

When we left off last time we discussed the viking raids of Paris and Hamburg… though they were far more than the raids we’d seen in the last 40-50 years. Now we’re looking at fleets that number in the hundreds and we’re seeing the nobility on the continent, especially the Frankish nobility, hiring many of […]
03/12/15·26m 38s

183 – Ragnar’s Siege of Paris

This is a big event for Medieval Western Europe, and it doesn’t come out of nowhere. The surge of Northmen, and in particular the Danish attacks against Frankia, had a starting point. This wasn’t a simple matter of pagans picking a random point on the map and charging… the Vikingrs may have been motivated largely […]
22/11/15·35m 30s

182 – Ragnar Lodbrok

Ok, when we left off, a fleet of 120 ships set sail from Scandinavia. And at their head, according to legend, was Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar Hairy Breeches. Support the Show
15/11/15·28m 45s

181 – Vikingrs Gotta Viking

When we left off last week, the Vikingrs had established fortified bases in Ireland… Not only that, but after building the bases they decided to hang out there for the winter, choosing to stay in the relatively warmer climes of the British isles rather than return home to freeze in the long northern nights. Support […]
07/11/15·32m 38s

180 – The Cracks in the Shieldwall

It’s 838. Only two years earlier the West Saxons were defeated by a fleet of Vikingrs, and they responded to this loss the way you would expect them to… by completely ignoring the loss and, instead, focusing on dynastic politics and making endowments to the church at Canterbury. And now another fleet of Vikingrs was […]
30/10/15·29m 30s

Halloween Special: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Music of Erich Zann

The Music of Erich Zann By H. P. Lovecraft You can read a copy of the story at Happy Halloween!
26/10/15·23m 47s

179 – The Battle of Carrum

When we left off last week, 35 ships launched from Denmark and set their course for England. As we have been learning, the Anglo Saxon kingdoms were now seriously in danger of Vikingr attacks for the first time, having lost the protection of the Frankish coast guard. Not only that, but over the last approximately […]
17/10/15·19m 9s

178 – Dereliction of Duty

When we last left off we were talking about what a big deal King Egbert of Wessex was. And for good reason. In 829, King Egbert of Wessex held virtually all of the south and even demanded the submission of Northumbria after a battle at the River Dore, an event that earned King Egbert the […]
09/10/15·24m 42s

177 – The Road to 830

Last episode I gave you a forest view of where we are going and, roughly, who these Viking raiders were as well as the scale of the impact that they will have upon Europe. And it really is something to behold. The Viking Age isn’t very long, but Europe hadn’t seen this level of rapid […]
02/10/15·29m 9s

176 – The Prophecy of Jeremiah

“Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea.” Jeremiah 50: 41-42 This passage of the […]
25/09/15·24m 24s

175 – Chapter Five: A Sea of Blood

A sea of blood. Support the Show
03/09/15·3m 24s

174 – CeltCast Part 3

We start today with a few bare statements in the record. They’re easy to overlook, and most people do, but they hint at a very important aspect of Pictland in the 700s. The absolutely enormous amount of political wrangling. Here’s what we know. In 725, King Nechtan stepped down from the throne of Pictland and […]
28/08/15·17m 53s

173 – The CeltCast Part 2

I’m continuing my quest to organize and bring all the stories back together and so today we’re going to move the timeline forward (to get us closer to the Vikings) and we will also be talking more about the kingdoms that were active in the region that would later become scotland. There were several of […]
19/08/15·25m 1s

172 – CeltCast Part 1

Today we’re beginning the process of creating a singular British history podcast. The side casts made sense when the story was first beginning, but now (rather than helping you understand the story better) they’re confusing it) and so today we are merging the Scotcast and Welshcast into the Celtcast. I’m eager to get the story […]
10/08/15·27m 36s

171 – The Welshcast Part Seven

When we left off last time, we were talking about how we have a limited understanding of this area of history due to a combination of scarce resources and the victorians building a mythology of englishness. We also covered the early middle ages and the turn that was occurring in Southern Britain in the 6th […]
29/07/15·38m 18s

170 – The Welshcast Part Six

It’s been two years since we checked in with the Britons of the West, and last time we spoke, a big part of our discussion was focused upon the people that Gildas hated. Which was pretty much everyone. Support the Show
20/07/15·21m 39s

169 – The Rise of Wessex

This season we’ve seen the Anglo Saxons come incredibly close to forming an early unified English Kingdom… in fact they will continue their attempts in this episode. Though we can guess how that will go because we have seen their culture and governmental structure hamstring their previous attempts at unity. From our vantage point of […]
08/07/15·28m 9s

168 – The Fall of Mercia

When we left off, King Beornwulf was reigning over Mercia. Beornwulf was the beginning of the creatively named B-Dynasty, due to the fact that Anglo Saxons seemed to denote their dynasties by selecting the same first letters for their kids. So Beornwulf had two kids named Berhfrith and Behrtric, a brother named Bynna, and it’s […]
01/07/15·29m 56s

167 – The Beginning of the End

Season Four is called Anglo Saxon Ascendancy because we have been seeing mighty kings like Offa, AEthelbald, and Coenwulf acquire vast amounts of power in Britain that enable them to nearly become the first kings of England. Their hegemonies were so big and impressive that we have one Mercian leader getting into arguments with Charlemagne […]
23/06/15·40m 22s

166 – Wulfred: The Rogue Archbishop

We start today with a death. On the 28th of January, 814, Charlemagne died and the throne passed to Louis the Pious. The death of Charlemagne was a big deal for early medieval europe, not just because it meant that we wouldn’t have anymore passive aggressive comments about the quality of British wool, or weird […]
14/06/15·24m 12s

165 – Did Archbishop Wulfred Just Kill a Guy?

Last week we talked about the impact that the Church was having on internal politics within the Anglo Saxon kingdoms, and that is something we will continue to talk about today. However, before we begin, let’s talk about something strange that’s happening on the continent. Support the Show
02/06/15·30m 13s

164 – Shadow Governments in Britain

When we last left off, King Egbert was ruling over Wessex, King Cuthred (Coenwulf’s brother) was ruling over Kent… and Emperor Coenwulf held Mercia. I call him Emperor, by the way, because that’s what he called himself. And also because he does seem like he was a king of kings. His brother answered to him, […]
22/05/15·25m 44s

163 – The South of Britain Grows Restless

There’s a shift that’s happening in Anglo Saxon politics that’s occurring… we’ve had powerful queens in the Anglo Saxon kingdoms (especially in Mercia, where Queens were more powerful than most). But something is happening in Wessex that will impact around the next several hundred years. West Saxon Queens were getting demoted. Women on the throne, […]
16/05/15·23m 39s

162 – Emperor Coenwulf, Emperor Charlemagne, and The World

So today, lets briefly talk about the world context since we’ve largely just focused on our main character. No not Coenwulf, or Offa… the main character is and has been Britain… but sometimes it feels like it’s an island adrift and alone, when in actual fact there’s a whole world out there that’s been going […]
07/05/15·29m 23s

Q&A: How to Start a Podcast

I’ve gotten this question a lot over the years and after quite a lot of thought, I’ve come up with a few basic pieces of advice. I talked it over with some fellow podcasters and they gave it the thumbs up, so hopefully it will help you out if you’re looking to launch your own […]
01/05/15·7m 31s

161 – King Ceonwulf’s Rise in Power

While Offa was an effective leader in Mercia during his life, his dynastic purge was a disaster. Looking at what followed, it appears that he heavily targeted extended members of his own family. Now this placed his immediate family in a very good position to pursue power… and we did see a seamless transfer of […]
30/04/15·23m 50s

160 – An Offa Inheritance

King Offa of Mercia has died after a surprisingly long and productive reign. The degree of power he had gathered for himself was truly something to behold. While his reach didn’t stretch into Mercia’s ancient enemies beyond the Humber, Northumbria, he had a stunning degree of influence over the English Kingdoms in the south. Throughout […]
21/04/15·24m 29s

159 – An Offa End

Lets start with Christmas Day 795. That’s the day Pope Hadrian died… so uh… Merry Christmas? Hadrian was actually a pretty decent Pope… not Pope Francis level of awesome, though really who is? But he was still pretty good, and upon hearing of his death, Charlemagne commissioned Alcuin to write a poem that was carved […]
09/04/15·26m 48s

158 – Offa With His Head

Last week was dark, wasn’t it? Not only that, but it only covered the first half of 793. The end of the 8th century was an eventful period so lets pick up right where we left off and talk about what else was happening in the other half of 793… and specifically with King Offa […]
31/03/15·22m 11s

157 – Lindisfarne

Northumbria was no stranger to problems… blood feuds, regicide, and kinslaying… they really have it all up there. But as 793 began, it was clear that things were taking an even darker turn. As the new year dawned, a massive whirlwind slammed into the northeastern coast. The sky was ignited with flashes of lightning and […]
24/03/15·27m 29s

156 – An Offa Marriage

When we left off things were looking pretty good for Mercia. Wessex was now acting as a subkingdom, with their King (Beohtric) married to Offa’s daughter… Kent was thoroughly dominated, East Anglia appears to have been brought fully under Offa’s control. Really, Offa’s only neighbors that he didn’t have command over, appear to have been […]
06/03/15·27m 4s

155 – Its Always Sunny in Mercia: The Gang Throws a Party

Back to our story, when we last left off, King Offa of Mercia was doing pretty well. He had just received Papal support for his plans of succession and he was demonstrating that he was a mover and shaker not just among the English kingdoms, but on the world’s stage. On his southern border, King […]
26/02/15·23m 39s

154 – Having it Offa

Today we’re covering more about King Offa, and the reason is that he’s a really big deal. He reigned for about as long as King Henry VIII, he constructed one of the wonders of the world, he was the starting point for the continuous use of currency in England, Alfred the Great ranked Offa’s laws […]
19/02/15·25m 44s

153 – An Offa You Can’t Refuse

As you might have guessed, today we’re talking mostly about Offa. But before we get into some of the cool things that were going on under Offa’s reign… lets start with something shady. Support the Show
12/02/15·27m 13s

152 – Limited Time Offa

Today we begin in Northumbria. King AEthelred of Northumbria, son of AEthelwold Moll, was sitting the throne, having taken it from a man who claimed to be from the Line of Ida. And initially it seems that many people were quite happy with AEthelred, and we’re told that he was put in power with a […]
05/02/15·26m 20s

151 – Offa and Acceptance

Alright, where did we leave off. We had a new Archbishop of Canterbury, King Offa of Mercia was on the rise, Kent was in decline, and the minor kingdoms were being brought to heel by… yep, Offa of Mercia. Support the Show
30/01/15·20m 42s

150 – King Offa: The Turnover

Today’s episode is going to go all over the kingdoms of the Heptarchy. We have the Kings of Kent, Wessex, East Anglia, Northumbria, and of course, Mercia all involved. It’s a busy one. But Offa will continue to be our main character. Support the Show
19/01/15·24m 20s

149 – King Offa Ascends the Throne

Today we’re starting a series on one of the most influential Mercian kings in history. King Offa. But before we start this story, I need to fess up to a couple things. Support the Show
13/01/15·29m 2s

148 – The Fall of King AEthelbald

Alright, as you already know, King AEthelbald of Mercia had a bit of a rough start… what with being exiled and living in a swamp. But once he was able to take the throne, he hit the ground running and it wasn’t long before he was the supreme power in the South with even Bede […]
02/01/15·29m 8s

147 – The Twelve Days of Christmas

This year for our Christmas special, I thought I would give you an idea of what Christmas was like for some of the people in Middle Ages Britain. Now, Christmas in the middle ages was quite different from our modern experience in many ways. And like with everything else, it would have varied from location […]
23/12/14·20m 26s

146 – King AEthelbald: A Whirlpool of Perdition

The first half of this episode is a combination of letting you know what is happening in the Heptarchy (basically, chaos unless you’re in Mercia) and it’s also setting the stage for the second half, which… I’m not going to lie to you… is going to get a little weird. But stick with me. Support […]
15/12/14·30m 29s

145 – The Rise of King AEthelbald of Mercia

Ok, so we ended our last episode with the death of King Ceolred at a banquet. And he went out swinging… or at least gibbering and cursing the heavens. Let’s face it, Ceolred was a colorful character and really brought his A game right until the end. I mean, you really have to work hard […]
12/12/14·26m 40s

144 – King Ceolred: A Lunatic Running the Asylum

Ok, so recently we’ve chatted about some cultural matters and I’ve also given you a broad overview of the failed dynastic politics of Northumbria and where this is all headed. But we really didn’t cover too much of what was going on elsewhere. We hinted at it, but I’m sure you’re curious about the other […]
01/12/14·24m 20s

143 – Man Up: Gender in the Middle Ages

Often times, the way the Middle Ages are presented, are as an era where everyone was lily white and a time when men were men and women were women. A time of hyper masculinity where all the guys were muscle bound warriors with big bushy beards and a bone structure that makes them look like […]
19/11/14·39m 24s

142 – The Failed Dynastic Politics of Mercia and Northumbria

Now today is going to be a little complex. But if you keep the theme in mind, you should be largely ok… and that theme is the bloody dynastic politics in the midlands and the north are getting completely out of hand. And Wilfrid is Wilfrid. Support the Show
12/11/14·41m 22s

141 – King Aldfrith and St. Wilfrid

Ok, when we left off, Bishop Wilfrid was jilted out of the Archbishopric of Canterbury, and instead Abbot Beorhtwald became Archbishop Beorhtwald. So Wilfrid readjusted and made an attempt to reunify the Bishopric of York and then head it up. But King Aldfrith didn’t agree and, presumably because the Wilfrid wouldn’t let it drop, he […]
29/10/14·32m 31s

140 – Wilfrid: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Today’s episode will take place in the turbulent years from 686 to 692 and the main characters will be… Aldfrith – King of Mercia, son of Oswiu, brother of Ecgfrith, and scholarly dude. Wilfrid – Former Bishop of York, friend of the terrifying pagan king Caedwalla, and man you really don’t want to cross. and […]
21/10/14·26m 32s

139 – The Rise of Aldfrith and Caedwalla

This episode will roughly cover the eventful years between 685 and 689. The main characters today will be two kings, two wannabe kings, and a bishop… here we go: First we have King Aldfrith of Northumbria – He was the brother of the slain King Ecgfrith and also the son of King Oswiu, and he […]
14/10/14·33m 37s

138 – Religious Lives in Britain

Alright, so last week we talked about how uneven and confused the conversion of Britain was. And how the beliefs of one village might not bare all that much similarity to the beliefs of another village even though they both might profess to worship the same god. Support the Show
07/10/14·28m 51s

137 – Preaching in the Dark Ages

Today we’re going to cover the crazy environment that early Christian converts found themselves in during the Dark Ages, and some of the bizarre notions they might have gotten regarding their religion thanks to poor access, education, and stubborn attachment to old pagan traditions. Also: we learn why mothers don’t stuff their feverish daughters into […]
29/09/14·25m 6s

136 – The Power of Mercia

This episode will cover the years 678 to 685 and its major characters will be… King Ecgfrith of Northumbria, the man who brought down Wulfhere, was wielding supreme power in Northumbria and was arguably exercising quite a bit of power south of the Humber as well. King AEthelred of Mercia, son of Penda and brother […]
16/09/14·30m 37s

135 – A Reshuffling of Power

Today we’re going to cover the eventful years of 675 to 678, and our main characters will be… King Wulfhere of Mercia, Son of Penda and tough guy with a bloodied lip. King Ecgfrith of Northumbria, Son of Oswiu and guy who bloodied Wulfhere’s lip. And Bishop Wilfrid… the Northumbrian Bishop who was a key […]
10/09/14·25m 41s

134 – The Power of Northumbria

This episode covers the years 670 to 685. The main characters are: King Ecgfrith of Northumbria – son of Oswiu, former hostage of the Mercians, and generally tough dude. King Wulfhere of Mercia – son of Penda, veteran warrior, and leader of a growing southern Hegemony. Queen AEthelthryth of Northumbria – Queen of Ecgfrith’s, unhappy […]
05/09/14·25m 37s

133 – Scotcast: Part Ten

To start with, we have nine praise poems that tell us of a mighty king of Rheged named Urien, who reigned in the 580’s and 590’s. Urien was no slouch and from the records, it appears that his kingdom stretched all the way to the Solway and he was also given the title of “Defender […]
26/08/14·34m 47s

132 – Scotcast Part Nine: St. Columba and King Brude

This episode will cover the years 506 to 584 and will focus primarily upon: King Brude (also known as King Bridie), the King the the Northern Picts … also referred to as King of Fortriu and St. Columba, the man credited with converting the Northern Picts… and lesser known monster expert. Support the Show
06/08/14·23m 0s

131 – Scotcast Part Eight

So we will begin the account of what was going on with the Picts following the withdrawal of Rome with a rather discouraging fact… isn’t it nice when I can start an episode on an up note? In the Group A version of the Pictish Chronicle there are only 3 Pictish Kings before Kenneth MacAlpin […]
29/07/14·23m 6s

130 – Scotcast Part Seven – Who Were The Picts?

The last time we had episodes focusing upon the Scotcast, it was at the end of Season Two… at the end of roman Britannia, and quite a lot of things have changed for our friends in the north. So, as is our custom, now that we’re changing gears and focusing on a new era in […]
17/07/14·23m 49s

Chapter Four: Anglo Saxon Ascendancy

It began with Cassivellaunus. The first recorded King to have commanded the submission of most, if not all, of the British tribes and who fought valiantly against Caesar and his legions. And although the hegemony under Cassivellaunus didn’t last, it presented a tantalizing new possibility. Unity. A century later, the Romans returned… and this time […]
07/07/14·6m 9s

129 – The Life of King Wulfhere

About a year and a half ago I did a series on the Staffordshire hoard. And talking with the experts and viewing the relics was easily one of my favorite moments from the entire experience of putting together the BHP. As you might remember, the hoard was found in Mercia and it is dated to […]
04/07/14·27m 27s

128 – The End of King Oswiu’s Hegemony

The episode covers 664 to 670 and the major characters are… King Oswiu, ruler of Northumbria, son of AEthelfrith, and all around terrifying fellow King Alhfrith of Deira, Oswiu’s son and one of his probable rivals Wilfrid, abbott of Ripon, guy who argued for Rome at Whitby, and all around ambitious guy. and King Wulfhere, […]
25/06/14·23m 46s

127 – The Synod of Whitby

The major players for today will be Hild (who was the daughter of King Edwin’s nephew, Hereric), King Oswiu of Bernicia, Bishop Colman of Lindisfarne, Wilfred the abbot of Ripon, and Bishop Cedd. And they will be, ostensibly, arguing over Easter. See? Once again, we’ve got Easter causing trouble in Britain. Cadburys chocolate can’t come […]
04/06/14·27m 14s

126 – The End of an Era: The Triumph of Christianity in Britain

Today we’re going to tackle the history from 660 right up to the lead up to the Synod of Whitby… and we’re going to have a lot of moving parts, but the theme that is developing here is one of the last gasps of Paganism in Britain and the rise of two rival imperiums: one […]
27/05/14·32m 47s

125 – King Oswiu: A Gathering Storm

So in late 655, following his victory at the Winwaed, King Oswiu occupied and ruled Northern Mercia and thus now ruled over an additional 7,000 households, according to Bede. Consider how much power that was conferring upon the King. We’re talking about 7,000 hides of land. Think of how many Ceorls and Thegns now answered […]
15/05/14·23m 46s

124 – Social Mobility: Getting a Raise in Anglo Saxon Kingdoms

Today we’re going to wrap up this talk that we’ve been having on the development of social classes in Anglo Saxon britain. Hopefully, once we’re done, much like our talks on other matters like food, clothing, and warfare… you’ll have a fuller understanding of who these people were, what their lives were like, and where […]
09/05/14·1h 0m

123 – Retail Therapy: The Rise of Anglo Saxon Towns

Alright, lets get to history. Specifically, lets talk about towns. And to start with, lets establish a couple terms I’m going to be using a lot. When I talk about towns and cities, what I’m largely talking about are larger communities that have a permanent population of traders and craftsmen and whose economy is focused […]
30/04/14·32m 23s

122 – The Concentration of Power and Wealth

I’ll be talking in broad strokes today, but I want to give you a forest view of what we’ve been talking about over the last couple seasons. Support the Show
21/04/14·26m 38s

121 – King Oswiu: The Aftermath of the Winwaed

The Battle of the Winwaed is over and Penda is dead along with 30 noble warleaders who had joined him in battle… with them was King Anna’s brother, King AEthelhere of East Anglia… and as for King AEthelwald of Deira… well, I’m not sure what happened to him. But he isn’t in the histories any […]
09/04/14·22m 17s

120 – Penda and Oswiu: The Winwaed

So when we last left off, things were going crazy in the North and in the Midlands. But the very last thing I mentioned was that Honorius, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had died. Well, his seat remained vacant for about six months until March 26, 654 (or maybe 655) when a new Archbishop was ordained. […]
01/04/14·28m 55s

119 – King Penda: No Posers

So where were we? Oswiu had arranged for the murder of his cousin, which is awkward in itself… but the slain King Oswine was also related to Eanflaed, Oswiu’s wife. So… even if Oswiu wasn’t fussed about kinslaying, chances are that dinner still had suddenly become a lot more awkward following that rather underhanded victory. […]
25/03/14·23m 16s

118 – Oswiu and Oswine: There’s No Anglo Saxon Word for Take Backsies

When we left off Cenwalh of Wessex had left his wife, irritated Penda (since his wife was Penda’s sister), and gained a fancy new wife but lost his kingdom when Penda arrived to have a little chat with him. So he did what many nobles of the time seemed to do… he fled into exile. […]
18/03/14·23m 20s

117 – Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Oswald was the King of Northumbria and son of AEthelfrith who was killed by Penda at Maserfield. Oswiu was his brother Osric of Deira was the King of Deira, and nephew of Edwin, who was killed by Cadwallon. and Oswine was the son of Osric… So to recap… Oswald and Oswiu are brothers and Bernician. […]
10/03/14·26m 25s

116 – Wait, Where Are We? Part two of the history of Britain so far.

It’s been about 2 years and 100 episodes since I did a recap episode to remind you where we were, what the flow of history was, and give you a forest view of the whole thing. Seriously, 100 episodes! And since then, we have gotten to know the Anglo Saxons and their culture really well. […]
27/02/14·52m 15s

115 – Maserfield: Blood Makes The Grass Grow

Edwin, Osric, Eanfrith, Eadfrith, Cadwallon, Sigeberht, Ecgric… Following Hatfield Chase, we have seen a blood letting of the aristocracy of Anglo Saxon Britain of epic proportions. And we are only hearing about the very highest echelons… but how many Thegns, AEthlings, and minor nobles have also lost their lives in these power struggles? If the […]
19/02/14·35m 41s

114 – Oswald and Sigeberht: The Softer Side of Rule

This is going to be one of those episodes that has a lot of moving parts and you might want to listen to it twice. Just a heads up. Alright, so things have gotten pretty exciting. We’ve had the downfall of Cadwallon of Gwynedd and the rise of Oswald of Northumbria and the return of […]
13/02/14·34m 6s

113 – Religious Ambitions: The Rise of Oswald (and Others)

When we last left off, Oswald son of AEthelfrith and Acha, defeated and killed Cadwallon of Gwynedd at the battle of Heavenfield. The defeat was a serious blow for the Northern Welsh kingdom. In fact, in the praise poem written about Cadwallon, we see the first use of the term which would become the modern […]
05/02/14·30m 45s

112 – The Battle of Heavenfield

The year was 633 or 634, and the tide was turning against Northumbria for the first time in as long as anyone could probably remember. AEthelfrith’s victory at the Battle of Chester was not just a problem for the Welsh, it was also a problem for Mercia because it further established Northumbria domination. And while […]
29/01/14·20m 59s

111 – Edwin: What Goes Around Comes Around

That’s something I’ve heard my entire life. When I was younger and picked on at school my father would sometimes say “Don’t worry, Jamie, what goes around comes around.” The problem with that bit of advice is that it requires a sense of fairness in the world that isn’t always there… not to mention a […]
23/01/14·27m 33s

110 – Mercia: A New Contender Enters the Ring

Ok, last episode, we jumped forward a little to take the story of East Anglia to the point where Sigebehrt took the throne… but lets go back about 3 years… to 628 (ish)… and look at what is going on in Mercia. Mercia, the Midland kingdom, has been a bit of a backwater in our […]
14/01/14·20m 41s

109 – Edwin’s Ambitions

When we last left Edwin, Bishop Paulinus finally had his prize. He convinced the great King of Northumbria… the Bretwalda!… Edwin… to abandon his gods and convert to Christianity. It had been a long hard road for the Bishop. Failed assassinations, war, marriage, magical visions, and some pretty astoundingly rude arguments regarding the weather had […]
07/01/14·28m 8s

108 – The Christmas Special

Ever since I was a kid in Catholic school, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the date of Christmas. I often wondered where it came from, given that it doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible, and (as the feast is celebrating the birth of Jesus) it seemed rather odd to set the date so close to […]
23/12/13·17m 7s

107 – Edwin’s Conversion

Ok, so when we left off, Bishop Paulinus thought he was about to get Edwin to convert… but then Edwin pulled a bait and switch, and said that god hadn’t jumped through enough hoops yet. And that he wanted to speak with his council and then deliberate privately before making a decision. Support the Show
16/12/13·25m 46s

106 – If You Give Edwin an Inch…

Alright, so when we last left Edwin he was installed as King of Northumbria by King Raedwald, Bretwalda. And he had wielded his newly granted power to exact revenge upon King Ceretic of Elmet, probably in response to the British King poisoning Edwin’s Nephew. But for as powerful as Edwin was in the north, Raedwald […]
06/12/13·23m 56s

105 – Sutton Hoo: Treasures of the Dead

Alright, so last episode we learned all about Edith and Basil’s experience at Sutton Hoo, and we covered the opening of four of the 18 mounds… and the excavation of the Burial Chamber of Mound 1. But we haven’t discussed what was actually found and what it means. So guess what we’re going to be […]
25/11/13·56m 12s

104 – Sutton Hoo: The Finding of Raedwald… and Rabbits

Raedwald… King of East Anglia… Bretwalda. When he is mentioned, if you had heard that name before this show, chances are you heard it in connection with Sutton Hoo, which is possibly his burial site. And Sutton Hoo is one of the most famous archaeological digs in Britain. Just the name conjures images of the […]
14/11/13·23m 23s

103 – Edwin the Conqueror

Alright, last week we finally saw the fall of AEthelfrith and the rise of Edwin of Deira and King Raedwald of East Anglia… Bretwalda! As you probably gathered, that was not the last would will hear of Edwin. Support the Show
06/11/13·21m 52s

102 – Have Exile, Will Travel

Ok, when we left off, Edwin… the exile from Deira, had been on the run for quite some time. The King of Bernicia, AEthelfrith, now occupied the throne held by his father, and his father’s father, and so on and so forth. His sister, Acha, had given birth to a child with the man who […]
28/10/13·24m 10s

101 – I Ran (So Far Away): The Life and Times of Edwin of Deira

Today we’re going to talk quite a bit about Northumbria. And actually, Northumbria is going to start to get really important in our story going forward. Now much of what we know of Northumbria during this period is due to the efforts of Bede, and other Northumbrians who maintained his tradition of keeping annals. And […]
21/10/13·25m 33s

100 – There’s a New Barber In Town

So you might not know this about me… but I used to have long hair. Really long hair. That flowed down my back in ringlets and, if I left conditioner in it, sausage curls. Basically, I had captain hook hair. And of course, I had all manner of people taking an interest in my hair […]
08/10/13·21m 48s

99 – False Starts

This episode is going to have a lot of moving pieces and a lot of AEthel’s. So many AEthels. I’ll do my best to keep reminding you who I’m talking about and what they rule over and why they’re important, but this might be an episode you’ll want to relisten to. A lot of important […]
01/10/13·29m 57s

98 – The Zeal of Augustine

Ok, when we last left off, Augustine had become the Archbishop of England, had been given orders to make London the seat of the English Church, and had some Papal answers to some rather odd questions. Support the Show
25/09/13·34m 49s

97 – Augustine and Gregory Make a Diocese

So last week we ended with Augustine converting the people of Kent to Christianity and AEthelberht coming out as Christian… was he converted by Augustine or had he already been converted? We just don’t know. Support the Show
17/09/13·26m 0s

96 – The Conversion of King AEthelberht

In the last several episodes we’ve been speaking about religion. We’ve spoken about the paganism that existed on the island, the christians that lived on the island, the reasons why individuals and rulers might want to convert, and of course we’ve spoken about what the church in Rome was up to and what their plans […]
09/09/13·20m 42s

95 – Two Old Men and a Slave Boy

Ok, so lets leave Britain for this episode and head to Rome. I hear it’s nice this time of year. Actually, I hear it’s really hot this time of year. But it seems like everywhere is right now… so Rome it is! Support the Show
05/08/13·20m 32s

94 – Dark Age Beliefs

As we go forward in this series, what I hope you’re beginning to get a sense of from both the WelshCast and all the other shows focusing on the so called Dark Ages, is how fragmented life in Britain was at this point in history. We simply are not dealing with homogenous populations over the […]
29/07/13·1h 11m

93 – Chapter Three: The Warriors of God

It has been nearly two hundred years since Rome withdrew from Britannia setting this small island at the edge of the world on a course that could not have been predicted. Over the generations, a new culture has developed in the lands that will one day become England, and with that new culture came new […]
22/07/13·1m 51s

92 – WelshCast Part Five: More People that Gildas Hated

Alright, so we have two more kings of Wales before we leave Gildas and his spittle flecked rantings. And something that you might notice as we go forward is that we don’t haven’t been provided a Tyrant of Powys nor are any of the Eastern Kingdoms listed. Sure, we don’t know where Aurelias Conanus ruled, […]
15/07/13·44m 3s

91 – WelshCast Part Four: Three Kings of Wales Who Really Annoyed Gildas

Today, we’re going to talk about some of the people who were really pissing Gildas off. People that drove him so batty that he just couldn’t contain his rage. And since Gildas was Welsh, he was predictably focusing his ire upon the Welsh kings. Though, like I mentioned earlier, the term “Wales” isn’t something that […]
09/07/13·28m 18s

90 – WelshCast Part Three: The Silent Treatment

As you probably remember from the main podcast, before we had the appearance of major Anglo Saxon kingdoms, there was an initial migration and invasion in the sub-Roman period, with famous Germanic leaders like Hengest, Horsa, and Aelle appearing in Kent and Sussex. But there was also a staunch British resistance to these incursions lead, […]
02/07/13·21m 53s

89 – WelshCast Part Two: All The Comforts of Rome (well… some of them)

We’re now at the point where Rome has withdrawn from Britannia (and more important to our story, from Wales), and today we’re going to talk about the impact that had upon the people. Support the Show
25/06/13·48m 12s

88 – WelshCast Part One: From the Stone Ages to the Withdrawal of Rome

Ever since I did the Scotcast I’ve been receiving messages on facebook, on twitter, on the forums, and I’ve even been getting personal emails asking for more about Wales. And my response has always been the same, I’ll do it but not yet. Support the Show
11/06/13·25m 7s

87 – Concubinage and Apartheid in Anglo Saxon England

Ok, so last episode we ended at 597. For those of you who are really into Anglo Saxon history, you might recognize that date as the date that Christianity gets reintroduced to Anglo Saxon Britain. It’s a big deal. A huge deal, in fact. It will bring war, it will bring chaos, and it will […]
04/06/13·20m 30s

86 – The Fall of Ceawlin… and others

Ok, from the title you might have gathered that we’re going to be talking about Ceawlin today. Now from all this discussion of various anglo saxon leaders, you might have noticed that while I’ve been saying Cynric, Cerdic, and Ceawlin… with C being a CH sound… we also have this Cutha fellow in Wessex, and […]
30/05/13·23m 25s

85 – Ceawlin and the Sons of Ida

So it’s 568. And things in what will someday become England are still chaotic. Remember what was going on up north in Bernicia? Where Ida, who was probably part of some sort of Anglian group, had taken control of Bamburgh, then he died, and then his sons started taking over for him? Well, that’s still […]
30/04/13·23m 12s

84 – The Q&A Episode!

We made it to 100! How awesome is that? (Well, it was the 100th episode before I combined a bunch of episodes… and now it’s the 84th episode). Support the Show
16/04/13·30m 2s

83 – Dark Age Warfare Combo Episode

Ok, so last time we talked about how Aethelberht of Kent invaded the kingdom of Wessex and was pushed out by Ceawlin and his army. We don’t have a lot of facts regarding that conflict, we aren’t even told why they were fighting, but we know that they were both destined to become Bretwaldas and […]
09/04/13·1h 46m

82 – War. What Is It Good For?

So the year is 586, and Ceawlin is the leader of the men of Wessex. Wessex has been expanding their holdings to the north and the west, and have been growing in power. Conversely, in the East are the men of Kent under the leadership of AEthelbehrt, who (we are told) has been ruling since […]
02/04/13·24m 21s

81 – In Search of Unity: A Tale of Selective Memory

Ok, we have a battle coming up but things are still changing rather rapidly and there’s some interesting stuff to cover regarding that, such as language, religion, culture, warfare, and that question that’s probably nagging you at the back of your head… if we have wealthy powerful kings in England, why don’t we have anything […]
25/03/13·27m 34s

80 – Bloodletting

Ok, when we left off, Ida had become king of Bernicia and we had the beginnings of regional cultural groups. These groups were the result of a whole host of influences including everything from geographical features, to political decisions, to things as simple as wealth and a sense of cool. But the point is that […]
18/03/13·20m 2s

79 – Saint Patrick’s Day Special

We begin our story in Bannaventa Berniae, a small town somewhere in the West of Britain, probably along the coast. This was probably a small typical Roman style settlement laid out on a grid with small Roman houses and a villa, or villas, for prominent families in the area. Though it’s doubtful it would have […]
11/03/13·1h 9m

78 – It’s Only Natural

I’m going to wrap up the discussion of the development of regional cultures with a talk on an omnipresent (yet often ignored) influence on all of human development. This subject is often ignored in most disciplines, and it is definitely undervalued (unfairly) in many treatises on history. I speak, of course, of Nature. Support the […]
04/03/13·12m 36s

77 – Cliques: How the In Crowd Created Our Culture

Ok, when we last left off, we were talking about a new class of elites in sub-roman britain. A group of individuals we identify as anglo saxons and kings, and we also mentioned the class of nobles that was growing up around them. We also talked about how that change, the increase in social stratification, […]
01/03/13·23m 59s

76 – Developing Class

Today we start with a death. Wihtgar, brother of beloved Stuff, warrior, conqueror of Cerdic’s-Ore, and ruler of the Isle of Wight died in 544. Or did he? Support the Show
19/02/13·23m 1s

75 – Cerdic and Cynric: A Story of… well… Probably Farmers

Alright, so when we left off, Cerdic and his son had recently arrived on the island and the Battle of Mons Badonicus had just taken place. So that’s exciting. And Gildas says that it was followed by peace, and procopius tells us that Germans were fleeing from Britannia as late as about 30 years later. […]
11/02/13·29m 57s

74 – When Neighbors Attack: A Story of “Kings”

Right, so here we are right in the middle of all the drama and bloodshed that has been called the Anglo Saxon invasion. We have famous names such as Hengest and Aelle showing up. Support the Show
05/02/13·24m 10s

73 – And This Gives You Power Over Me?

Ok, it’s been a while since we’ve spoken about the story. Instead, we’ve been chatting about the culture and the people, we’ve been speaking about digs and hoards, we’ve been discussed booze and horse dung. But we haven’t spoken too much about the politics of the time. Support the Show
28/01/13·22m 51s

72 – Staffordshire Hoard: Wrapping Up with Kevin Leahy

Today we’re wrapping up the Staffordshire Hoard project. We have been given an amazing amount of depth and detail thanks to the wonderful experts who took the time to talk with us. And today, we’re going to hear from Dr. Kevin Leahy. You might have read his scholarly articles or his books, some of which […]
25/01/13·30m 1s

71 – Staffordshire Hoard: Psychopathic Peacocks with David Symons

Today we’re going to learn more about the context and the craftsmanship of the Hoard. I think this will help shed some light on what makes this find so special, and also help you understand the sort of research that’s going into it and the number of mysteries it is revealing! The Staffordshire Hoard: […]
21/01/13·54m 13s

70 – Staffordshire Hoard: Interpretation with Cathy Shingler

Today we have more from Cathy Shingler! Now that we’ve heard about the discovery of the Hoard and how it has been excavated and preserved, we’re going to talk a bit about how it is being interpreted. And Cathy has quite a lot of fascinating theories to share with us regarding the objects that have […]
18/01/13·37m 4s

69 – Staffordshire Hoard: Conservation with Deborah Cane

Today we’re chatting with Deborah Cane about how the Hoard is being preserved for future generations. Some of this stuff is cutting edge work. I hope you’re as fascinated by it as I was. The Staffordshire Hoard: The Potteries Museum: The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: Support the Show
15/01/13·40m 40s

68 – Staffordshire Hoard: A Bonus Update on the New Find

Deb Klemperer took the time to chat with us via telephone today regarding the treasury inquest that focused on the 81 new objects that were found and added to the hoard including a new cross and what looks like a “cheek piece” that matches the one originally found! Also, for my money, the most exciting […]
08/01/13·18m 22s

67 – Staffordshire Hoard: Deb Klemperer on the Dig

I love the way Deb Klemperer tells stories, so today we’re going to hear more from Deb on the Hoard. As you might recall from the last episode, she is the head curator at The Potteries Museum at Stoke-on-Trent.  She has quite a lot to share with us on what was going on, and some […]
07/01/13·15m 15s

66 – Staffordshire Hoard: Receiving the Hoard

Today’s episode features Deb Klemperer, the head curator at The Potteries Museum at Stoke-on-Trent.  We will be discussing the museum side of the Hoard, theories on the objects, and what it was like to be at the center of one of the biggest events in Anglo Saxon archaeology! The Staffordshire Hoard: The Potteries Museum: […]
02/01/13·31m 12s

65 – Staffordshire Hoard: The Dig

Today’s episode features Stephen Dean, the principle archaeologist of the Staffordshire County Council.  We will be discussing all things related to the first dig. And then, once the inquest is over in the new year, he will return and fill us in on the findings from the newest covert Staffordshire dig! The Staffordshire Hoard: […]
27/12/12·46m 35s

64 – Merry Christmas (plus listener email)

I just wanted to record a short episode today to thank all of you (and also respond to some listener email). Thank you very much, everyone! And Merry Christmas! Support the Show
25/12/12·5m 55s

63 – King Arthur Part One

We’ve reached 3,000 likes on facebook!  So as promised, here’s a bonus member’s only episode.  This time, I’m releasing an episode looking into the potential beginnings of the Arthurian myth.  I hope you like it! Support the Show
18/12/12·12m 32s

62 – Staffordshire Hoard: Rise Up O Lord

Today’s episode features Cathy Shingler, of The Potteries Museum in Stoke on Trent.  She will be discussing with us the iconic band, possibly from a cross, with Latin inscriptions along both sides of it.  We will also speak about the cultural significance of the materials used in many of the objects found in the Hoard, […]
17/12/12·15m 58s

61 – Staffordshire Hoard: Introduction

Today we are beginning our project on the Staffordshire Hoard.  We will be featuring interviews from major figures within the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The Potteries Museum in Stoke on Trent, and with the Staffordshire County Council. The Staffordshire Hoard: The Potteries Museum: The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: Support the […]
11/12/12·15m 11s

60 – The Return of the Kings

They’re coming… Support the Show

59 – The Halloween Special

As you might imagine since I’m doing an episode on it, Halloween has a lot of British influence upon it. In fact, the name itself comes from Scotland, where All Saint’s Eve (also known as All Hallow’s Eve) was shortened in the 16th century to Halloween. And the name stuck. But as you have probably […]
22/10/12·22m 53s

58 – Dark Age Medicine

This is a combination episode covering medicine in the Dark Ages! Support the Show
15/10/12·1h 43m

57 – A Tale of Three Cities (sort of)

Ok, we’ve been getting pretty deep into the weeds and have been getting farther and farther from a coherent story. On the one hand, the culture is the story, but on the other hand it’s hard to get attached to a story if you forget who we are talking about and the people involved. So […]
01/10/12·18m 8s

56 – Telling the Full Story (a Bonus Episode)

So I’m doing a short midweek episode because something’s been irking me. I’ve heard repeatedly from a variety of people that history is a guy thing. And that’s f#*king stupid. I mean, you could say that just on sheer mathematics, 51% of history is a female thing. But that’s not the truth of it. The […]
25/09/12·11m 34s

55 – Anglo Saxon Construction

OK, So I had requests for an episode on construction. I actually had a surprising number of requests for it, actually. So we’re going to do a single episode on how things were built, and since we’ve been talking about feasts, we’ll talk about… of course… feasting halls. Support the Show
22/09/12·18m 5s

54 – What Not To Wear: In The Dark Ages

Clothing… we all wear it. Well, most of us do. And in this episode we’re going to learn about what sort of clothing people were wearing in Britain during the Middle ages. Support the Show
14/09/12·25m 48s

53 – Producing the BHP Full Time, a Proposal

Ok, so right now I’m in a situation where I might need to make some hard choices on where my time goes. The thing is that this has been one of the best experiences of my life, but for financial reasons I might need to go back to law full time. The problem there being […]
22/08/12·2m 6s

52 – DRUIDS! (Bonus Episode)

Today we’re going to talk about Druids, who they were, and where our information comes from. [s2If !current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)] Click here to be able to read the full rough transcript. [/s2If] [s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)] Ok, lets talk about Druids. And no, I’m not talking about the people who gather at Stonehenge every solstice in robes blowing a […]
17/08/12·23m 17s

51 – Dark Ages Feasting

This is a combination episode covering everything to do with feasting in Anglo Saxon Britain! Support the Show
04/08/12·1h 27m

50 – The Denbighshire Hill Forts

Today we have something pretty exciting. Listener Simon put me in contact with Erin Robinson and Fiona Gale, who are currently working on archaeological sites in Denbighshire north Wales, and they were kind enough to agree to speak to me via Skype. So today we are taking a break from our middle ages cultural discussion, […]
20/07/12·1h 19m

49 – Dark Age Economics

This is a combination episode covering matters of economies and travel in the Dark Ages. Support the Show
03/07/12·1h 5m

48 – Dark Age Diets Combo Episode

This is a combination episode focusing upon the food and drinks that the Anglo Saxons enjoyed. Support the Show
26/05/12·2h 8m

47 – Was there an Anglo Saxon Invasion of Britain?

Ok, so last week I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger. We talked about the invasion stories and I alluded to how some people don’t believe that there was an invasion, but I didn’t really go into a serious analysis of the evidence as it relates to it. But worry not, this entire […]
19/05/12·36m 41s

46 – Hengist and Horsa

So to start with I’m going to try to compile the various accounts and stories we have of the Anglo Saxon invasion into a single narrative. As you might recall from prior episodes, this means that I’ll be drawing from some rather unreliable sources. But I think that telling the story in a single cohesive […]
13/05/12·21m 23s

45 – Britain: The Last Outpost

So today we’re going to do a forest view of what we’ll be talking about over the next few months. And then, after this episode, we’ll be getting down into the trees. I figure this is the best way for you to have a firm grasp of what is going on and what I’m talking […]
28/04/12·25m 49s

44 – Sources of Confusion

Ok… the dark ages. This is going to be a hell of a project, so let’s talk about what we know, what we don’t and why. I want you to be able to trust the stories I’m telling you, and so it’s required that I let you know how unreliable damn near every source we […]
18/04/12·26m 32s

43 – Le Mort d’Arthur (Bonus Episode)

Today we’re going to have a reading of Le Mort d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory, Book 1 Chapters 1 through 4.  You can get a free Kindle copy of Le Mort de Arthur to read along with at Friend of the show, James Cartwright, was kind enough to do the reading for us.  You can […]
09/04/12·15m 15s

42 – Wait, Where Are We? A summary of the history of Britain so far.

Today we are going to be recapping the story thus far. (History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History, Welsh History, English History) Support the Show
06/04/12·32m 0s

41 – Chapter Two: The Birth of Britain

Next week we will start our second season. So here’s a promo of what to expect! I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am. :) Support the Show
30/03/12·1m 50s

40 – Scotcast Part Six

Here we have the sixth and final episode of the Scotcast. This will bring us up to 410, where we are in the main podcast, and we will be able to continue forward into the dark ages! (History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History, Roman History) Support the Show
27/03/12·27m 8s

39 – Scotcast Part Five

We’re getting ever closer to uniting the two shows! Today we’re going to cover several hundred years (and about six months of podcasts) in a single show. (History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History, Roman History) Support the Show
21/03/12·29m 51s

38 – Scotcast Part Four

We’re closing out the BC period. Which means we’ve got iron, Celtic culture, and Brochs. Good times! (History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History) Support the Show
10/03/12·32m 20s

37 – Scotcast Part Three

Bronze Age Scotland! (History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History) Support the Show
02/03/12·22m 41s
Heart UK