The Chained Books of Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, Herefordshire – Great Britain)
This cathedral contains two medieval marvels: a chained library of rare books and one of the earliest maps of the world.
In the Middle Ages, before the availability of the printing press, volumes on law and religion were quite rare and valuable. To protect against theft, the books at Hereford Cathedral were chained to desks, pulpits, and study tables.
The chained library was created in 1611 when a collection of hand-transcribed, hand-bound books was moved into the Lady Chapel. Most of the volumes in the collection are acquisitions dating back to the 1100s, although the oldest book in the collection, the Hereford Gospels, dates to about the year 800.
The medieval world map stored at Hereford Cathedral depicts three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. On the as-yet-unexplored periphery of these lands roam fire-breathing dragons, dog-faced men, people who survive on only the scent of apples, and the Monocoli, a race of mythical beings who take shade under their giant feet when the sun becomes too bright.
The 5 × 4.5-foot map (1.5 × 1.4 m), created around 1300, is part geography, part history, and part religious teaching aid. A lack of confirmed information on Asian and African geography presented no obstacle for the mapmaker, who used hearsay, mythology, and imagination to fill in the gaps—which explains the four-eyed Ethiopians.
In a bowl cream together with an electric or hand beater the cream cheese, lemon zest, juice, sea salt and pepper to a whipped cream consistency. Fold in the capers, onion and chives.
Spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of the cream cheese mixture, distributing evenly, then the smoked salmon and rocket. Sandwich bread together, cut off the crusts and then cut into triangles.
Tip: I like to use dark rye for this recipe, but sourdough is a good alternative.
The discovery of a dismantled stone circle—close to Stonehenge’s bluestone quarries in west Wales—raises the possibility that a 900-year-old legend about Stonehenge being built from an earlier stone circle contains a grain of truth. Radiocarbon and OSL dating of Waun Mawn indicate construction c. 3000 BC, shortly before the initial construction of Stonehenge. The identical diameters of Waun Mawn and the enclosing ditch of Stonehenge, and their orientations on the midsummer solstice sunrise, suggest that at least part of the Waun Mawn circle was brought from west Wales to Salisbury Plain. This interpretation complements recent isotope work that supports a hypothesis of migration of both people and animals from Wales to Stonehenge.
In the oldest story of Stonehenge’s origins, the History of the Kings of Britain (c. AD 1136), Geoffrey of Monmouth describes how the monument was built using stones from the Giants’ Dance stone circle in Ireland. Located on legendary Mount Killaraus, the circle was dismantled by Merlin and shipped to Amesbury on Salisbury Plain by a force of 15,000 men, who had defeated the Irish and captured the stones. According to the legend, Stonehenge was built to commemorate the death of Britons who were treacherously killed by Saxons during peace talks at Amesbury. Merlin wanted the stones of the Giants’ Dance for their magical, healing properties.
This 900-year-old legend is fantasy: the Saxons arrived not in prehistory, but only 700 years before Geoffrey’s own time, and none of Stonehenge’s stones came from Ireland. Yet the fact that Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’ derive from Wales—far to the west of Salisbury Plain—has led to speculation that there may be some truth in Geoffrey’s pseudo-history. Moreover, at the time Geoffrey was writing, this region of south-west Wales was considered Irish territory. One possibility is that the bluestones did indeed derive from a stone circle in west Wales, which was dismantled and re-erected as Stonehenge. A similar conclusion was reached a century ago by geologist Herbert Thomas, who established that the spotted dolerite bluestones at Stonehenge originated in the Preseli Hills of west Wales, where, he suspected, they had originally formed a “venerated stone-circle”