st. edmund


Tobias Smollett (19 March 1721 – 17 September 1771) 

Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), which influenced later novelists such as Charles Dickens. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: Frontispiece “Peregrine assists Cadwallader in the Character of a Magician. ‘Christ have mercy upon us! Sure he is the devil incarnate!’ John Ward Dunsmore 1902″ and title page from The Works of Tobias Smollett. Volume Four. Peregrine Pickle Parts III and IV.  St. Edmunds Edition De Luxe Limited to One Thousand numbered sets of which this is No. 727. Philadelphia: John D. Morris and Company, 1902. The University Press.

George Frederic Watts (1817-1904)
“Una and the Red Cross Knight” (1860)
Oil on canvas
Located in St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, England

Inspired by Book I from “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser. In the story the Red Crosse Knight and his lady Una travel together.

Endless List of Favorites

→ legendary figures: the Green Children of Woolpit

One day at harvest time, according to William of Newburgh during the reign of King Stephen, the villagers of Woolpit discovered two children, a brother and sister, beside one of the wolf pits that gave the village its name. Their skin was green, they spoke an unknown language, and their clothing was unfamiliar. The pair refused all food for several days until they came across some raw beans, which they consumed eagerly. The children gradually adapted to normal food and in time lost their green colour. The boy, who appeared to be the younger of the two, became sickly and died. After learning to speak English, the surviving girl explained that they came from a land where the sun never shone and the light was like twilight. They had been herding their father’s cattle when they heard a loud noise (the bells of Bury St Edmunds) and suddenly found themselves by the wolf pit where they were found. Based on his research into Richard de Calne’s family history, the astronomer and writer Duncan Lunan has concluded that the girl was given the name “Agnes” and that she married a royal official named Richard Barre. Many Flemish immigrants arrived in eastern England during the 12th century, and they were persecuted after Henry II became king in 1154; a large number of them were killed near Bury St Edmunds in 1173 at the Battle of Fornham fought between Henry II and Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester. Paul Harris has suggested that the green children’s Flemish parents perished during a period of civil strife and that the children may have come from the village of Fornham St Martin, slightly to the north of Bury St Edmunds, where a settlement of Flemish fullers existed at that time. They may have fled and ultimately wandered to Woolpit. Disoriented, bewildered, and dressed in unfamiliar Flemish clothes, the children would have presented a very strange spectacle to the Woolpit villagers. The children’s colour could be explained by green sickness, the result of a dietary deficiency. X

A Concise History of Medieval Iceland - Lesson 4: The Age of Settlements.

“Iceland was first settled from Norway in the days of Haraldr the Fine-Haired, son of Hálfdan the Black, at the time…when Ívarr, son of Ragnarr loðbrók, had St. Edmund, king of the Angles, killed; and that was 870 years after the birth of Christ, according to what is written in his [Edmund’s] saga.” (Ari Þorgilsson the Learned [1], Íslendsingabók, Chapter 1). [2]

We have discussed elements of this period already, but I think it would be best that we bring it all together before we move on. As we know, Iceland became a very unique place in the medieval world. This period of its history is its first, and a very important time that became a foundation for the identity. 

The Settlement Period lasted from about 870 until 930 (a period of 60 years). This period is attested for in sources such as Íslendingabók and Landnámabók. The Settlement Period for Iceland was a period that became very mythical, creating, for the Icelanders, a sort of “Founding Fathers” period for identity. These “Founding Fathers” were called, in Old Icelandic, Landnámsmenn (Settlers). There are two important figures during this period: King Harald Fairhair and Ingolf the Settler (we will talk about these figures in more detail at some point):


Harald was the king of Norway from 885 until 930, which roughly coincided with Iceland’s settlement period. He was the first king of Norway, which caused resentment across the land. According to Snorri Sturluson in Heimskringla, King Harald disturbed age-old customs as he centralized authority in Norway, especially family-based land ownership, called óðal [3]. This is likely the major reason the original settlers so strongly opposed kingship, and used King Harald as a tyrant who forced them from Norway and to seek a new life in Iceland. For the Settlement Period, King Harald was crucial at allowing the landnámsmenn to forge a new identity as Icelanders.


Ingolf was the first recorded landnámsmaðr in Iceland. Infold made two trips to Iceland, the first in 867/868 [4] and the second (resulting in his land-taking) in 870 (according to Ari’s Íslendingabók). There are other dates, such at 874 (according to Landnámabók), but, for this lesson, we will trust Ari. In general, there is a lot of uncertainty in exact dates for this period, but we’ll save historical debates for less concise courses [5]. Ingolf is credited with settling Reyjavík, which means Smokey Bay [6]. Though, during this time, Reykjavík was only a mere farmstead. Ingolf claimed a great deal of land, which he then distributed to later landnámsmenn [7].

Thus, this period was a very crucial time for Iceland. It, perhaps, can explain why Iceland refused a kingship. Yet, it also provides a glimpse into what the old customs of Norway looked like before the coming of kings like Harald. The year 930, which is the date marking the formation of the Alþingi [8], marks the beginning of the Icelandic Commonwealth.


[1] Ari Thorgilsson the Learned (ca. 1068-1148) was an important Icelandic historian and priest. He is the author of Íslendingabók as well as other early works of Icelandic history. For more on Ari, especially in relation to his Íslendingabók, see Siân Grønlie, Íslendingabók and Kristni Saga. (London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 2006), x-xiv.

[2] Ibid., 3.

[3] Jesse L. Byock, Viking Age Iceland. (London: Penguins Books, 2001), 83.

[4] Gunnar Karlsson, The History of Iceland. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 12.

[5] Ibid., 13.

[6] Jesse L. Byock, Viking Language 1: Learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic Sagas. (Pacific Palisades, CA: Jules William Press, 2013), 45.

[7] Ibid.

[8] William Ian Miller, Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Age Iceland. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 17.

2014 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir

Happy Howloween! Trick or treating as a shrimp sushi today! Hehe. Strawberries, red berries, and hint of damp earth on the nose. Strawberries and berries with a gummy finish. Serve this with a bit of a chill on it. 

3/5 bones



12.6% abv

El Dorado County, California, USA