Author Archives: flj

Dr Robert Gallagher reveals new evidence that doubles the corpus of surviving texts of Asser

Dr Robert Gallagher, Lecturer in Early Medieval History, has published an article in the prestigious journal English Historical Review revealing new evidence that doubles the corpus of surviving texts composed by the famous early medieval Welsh author Asser.

Asser is famed for his Latin biography of King Alfred the Great, which is one of the most important sources for the history of Britain in the ninth century. Until now, it was thought that Asser only wrote one text that has survived to the present day.

However, through the analysis of vocabulary and phrasing, Dr Gallagher has demonstrated that Asser is highly likely to be the author of a second surviving text, namely a charter issued by the West Saxon king Edward the Elder in 904 that records a royal donation to the bishop of Winchester.

This discovery not only transforms our understanding of one of the most important authors from early medieval Britain, but it is clear evidence for the involvement of international figures in the production of royal charters for English kings in the early medieval period.

The full article, Asser and the Writing of West Saxon Charters, is available to read online.

Whittington’s Gift: Reconstructing the Lost Common Library of London’s Guildhall

Led by Dr Ryan Perry, Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature and Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and Dr Stephen Kelly, Queen’s University Belfast, Whittington’s Gift aims to demonstrate that London citizens created new programmes of religious education for both the City’s clergy and for literate lay communities that have hitherto gone largely unnoticed by scholarship.

Thanks to the legacy of Richard Whittington (d. 1423), perhaps London’s most storied mayor, an extraordinary resource for religious education emerged under the auspices of Whittington’s innovative executor, John Carpenter, common clerk of London’s Guildhall.

By tracking the transmission of texts that the investigators contend were sourced from the Guildhall Library, the project aims to radically complicate understanding of fifteenth century devotional culture in the capital and beyond. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust (UK), this project will assess systematically what is hypothesised is material evidence that the Guildhall book collection caused a revolution in models for pastoral learning in London.

Created for the use of both the college of priests attached to the Guildhall building complex, but also for those directly involved in lay spiritual instruction – for those described in Carpenter’s will as, ‘sermonizancium communi populo’ (discoursing to the common people) – it fuelled a thriving culture of religio-literary production.

It is the project’s contention that the manuscript record, which reveals an extraordinary explosion in the production of miscellaneous religious books in London, testifies to a pastoral drive, a ‘ground up’ movement driven by the city’s poorer clerisy in concert with an aspirational mercantile citizenry, simultaneously facilitating clerical ministrations and a growing demand for spiritually improving literature amongst Londoners. Two postdoctoral researchers, Dr Hannah Schulhe-Lewis and Dr Natalie Calder, began work at the University of Kent and at Queen’s University Belfast in October 2020, and the project was officially launched in a seminar at the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies on 1 October.

The project will yield a collaboratively-written monograph, ‘Multiplicacioun of manye bokes’: the Guildhall Library and London’s Pastoral Revolution, and a research anthology of fifteenth-century pastoral and devotional literature entitled ‘Meke Reverence and Devotion’: A Reader in Late Medieval English Religious Writing.

The anthology will provide a truly representative assemblage of Middle English devotional and theological writing for the first time since Carl Horstmann’s Yorkshire Writers (1895-96), with up to 50% of its texts never having been edited for publication before.

For further information, contact Dr Ryan Perry ( and Dr Stephen Kelly (

Campus excavations reveal details of Bronze Age, Mesolithic and Medieval occupation

Dr David Walsh and Dr Luke Lavan, Lecturer in Archaeology in the Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies, are currently leading a group of 30 University of Kent students excavating an archaeological site on the northwest edge of the University estate.

For the next two weeks the group will be uncovering the ditches left by Bronze Age burial mounds, alongside traces of Mesolithic and Medieval occupation. The site is available for visitation on Friday 25 September, 14.00-16.00.

The site is located next to Blean Church, which is 10 minutes’ walk from the Oaks Nursery, up the Crab and Winkle path, just beyond the Sports Pavilion.

This dig has been made possible thanks to the support of Paul Dyer and the Parish of St Cosmus and St Damian in the Blean.

You will be able to follow the progress of the Blean dig daily on the site’s blog: