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The year 2009 saw many new discoveries about the Middle Ages, and its share of stories that were important to anyone interested in the medieval period.
Medievalists.net has chosen its top ten medieval news stories for 2009. They include several archaeological discoveries, some excellent research by scholars, and a couple of disasters that have damaged medieval Europe’s heritage.
1. The Staffordshire Hoard Discovery
In September it was revealed that an amateur metal detector enthusiast had discovered a hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure near the English county of Staffordshire. About 1800 gold and silver items dating back to the the seventh century were found and have been valued at £3.285 million. It is considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in England.
2. L’Aquila Italy struck by earthquake
On April 6, an earthquake struck the central Italian city of L’Aquila, killing over 300 people and leaving another 40 000 homeless. The earthquake also severely damaged several important medieval landmarks, including the main churches in the city. The cost to repair the ruined buildings will be in the billions of dollars.
3. Cologne City Archive Collapses
On March 3, the building housing the archives for the German city of Cologne collapsed, killing two people. The disaster was caused when work on a nearby subway line weakened the building’s foundations. Hundreds of medieval manuscripts and records were buried in the collapse, and it will take years before the city knows how much of these priceless records were recovered.
4. Over-Fishing in the Middle Ages lead to Marine Declines
Scholars at an international conference presented evidence to show that over-fishing damaging fish stocks as early as the Middle Ages, and as the size of freshwater fish caught got smaller, fisherman had to go further away from shore.
5. New evidence about Robin Hood discovered
Dr Julian Luxford of St.Andrew’s University came across a reference to Robin Hood in a 15th century manuscript. It is one of earliest accounts of the legend.
6. Vinland Map authentic, expert confirms
The 15th century Vinland Map, the first known map to show part of America before explorer Christopher Columbus landed on the continent, is almost certainly genuine, according to a study released in July. Controversy has swirled around the map since it came to light in the 1950s, with many scholars suspecting it was a hoax.
7. Site of the Battle of Bosworth discovered
One of the most important battles in British history is marked in the wrong place, according to new research. Bosworth, fought in 1485 and ending in the death of Richard III, is now believed to have taken place two miles to the south west from its traditional location.
8. 1000 Year Old Fish Trap found with Google Earth
A large medieval fish trap has been found off the coast of Wales, after it was spotted in aerial photographs on Google Earth. The 260m (853ft) man-made V-shaped structure could be more than 1,000 years old.
9. Paris rediscovers its first Medieval Fortifications
Archaeologists in Paris, France have found the oldest medieval fortifications in the city. The earth and wood ditch and a bank probably held in place a wooden palisade. The archaeological find dates back to the Carolingian period.
10. 13th Century medieval Charter found in Canada
A medieval charter dating back to the 13th century was found in Brock University in Canada. The manuscript was sitting in a drawer in the university’s library for over 30 years before scholars realized what they had