Last Hay Festival entry, 2013

3 Jun

Saturday 1st June

We were still a little tired after attending six events the previous day, so I think we were both glad to have only two events booked. The weather was good, and we dressed in lighter clothing. I even wore sandals! Hay looks and feels much better when you are not sheltering from squally showers and trailing mud around. I find it a little depressing to be among the huddled damp masses. A few summer clothes make it look much brighter.

The first event we went to was a talk by Peter Sawyer, ‘The Wealth of Anglo-Saxon England’. Alright, this is very closely associated with my Masters’ thesis, so I was Keen to go. It was strange to see someone who appears on my list of sources. He described the volume of coinage available, especially when Danegeld was being paid, where the silver came from and how well the production and distribution was organised. In comparison, Frankia and northern Europe were in the Dark Ages. I asked a question about sceattas and their relationship to the laws of Athelberht of Kent. He made the right reply that schillings and sheattas were measures of weight of bullion at the time and not coins. I sent an email thanking him and giving a link to my thesis.

At two thirty we went to a talk in the same tent (Sky Arts) where Jerry Brotton and Adam Lowe talked about the Hereford Mappa Mundi in 3D. I had expected a visual representation of a medieval world map. What this was, however, was a surface mapping of the calf-skin on which the map is painted. The result was an exaggerated 3D printer model of the actual surface of the map, with little or nothing about the painting on the surface. [Aside: The labelling of Hereford on the map was over-painted. It used to be thought that this was because the map was produced in Lincoln. It turns out that it was because of people touching that point in a kind of ‘You are Here’ exercise.] Anyhow, as an article to touch the model was fascinating, though I doubt it advances our knowledge of the meaning and iconography very much. Other maps were shown in staged relief, 10:1 to show the surface of the Earth and depth of the oceans. AS a visual representation, this was quite stunning.

Ah, well, goodbye to Hay for another year!


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