|My attempts to be a real-life Pre-Rpahaelite depiction of Morgan LaFey|
It is not enough for me to merely find interest in the appearance of buildings, I am always led to their function, and that then draws me back into the history - old abbeys, cathedrals, grand houses etc. always have rich histories, and it fascinates me how the uses of buildings change over centuries, and boggles me to think of all the thousands of people from so many periods and places that have visited these places and looked at them with their own unique perspectives.
What also amazes me is the size and complexity of the buildings designed considering the limited understanding of physics and mathematics at the time. People sometimes think that because people in the past were illiterate and superstitious with a limited grasp of science and mathematics that they were stupid but education and intelligence are different things, as can be shown by ::this:: article, where it describes how a string and a weight could show if the vast spire of Salisbury Cathedral was straight or not (it wasn't, it was leaning, and Christopher Wren figured out how to straighten it in 1668) in an age long before optical surveying equipment, let alone laser levels! These cathedrals were built by a largely illiterate work force. People had to be creative and use their initiative to overcome the lack of technology and get things done by other means.
This does not just apply to great cathedrals across Europe, or even to medieval times alone, of course, but it is one of the things about the medieval period that does intrigue me.
Also, as an enthusiastic archer, and a person with an interest in historical arms and armour, Medieval European weaponry is very interesting to me, and to understand the weapons, one has to understand the conflicts that were their context, and how they became visual symbols in later periods, which necessitates some understanding of medieval life.
(Those interested in medieval weaponry may be excited to know that I have asked a friend who is more knowledgeable than me in this area to write a guest post on such things!).
⚜Understanding Where I live
As my readers already know, I live in the UK, currently in Scotland and previously down in the Thames Valley. I am the sort of person that likes to know the history of the places where I live; they make up part of the culture, and inform present day attitudes (like someone I know here, with a tattoo of the Declaration of Arbroath, which was originally made in 1320). The history of the UK stretches back millennia and millennia before the Middle Ages, but much of its best recorded history is that recorded by the monasteries and onwards, i.e Saxon through to Medieval and onwards.
Earlier history interest me too, especially the pre-Roman 'Celtic' history of the various Iron Age, Bronze Age and earlier peoples of Britain, but much of these cultures is lost to time, and what we know is pieced together from artefacts and remains, and the writings of later Roman authors writing as outsiders. The very early history is full of mysteries, and these mysteries intrigue me, but they are mysteries, not things we know.
Medieval history, on the other hand, includes quite a body of knowledge about what life was like then, and is quite accessible - it is not that expensive to go on a tour of Oxford castle and get quite good account of the castle's history, starting with its ecclesiastical history and moving forwards, and I certainly studied the Norman Invasion, the Charter of Liberties, the Magna Carter and the Peasant's Revolt at school, and am sure that various aspects of Medieval history are fairly widespread in history teaching at various levels. I guess it was something I could easily get into, and unlike Roman history, I wasn't faced with my Dad's near-obsession (he spent several years working at a Roman pottery manufacture site with several kilns and a processing works for clay) with the subject.