Horologium clock, Lund, Sweden.Detail of the Zygtlogge Tower in Berne, Switzerland. Photo source: http://io9.com/astronomical-clocks-were-a-wonder-of-the-medieval-world-1484069867

Hallo everyone, and happy New Year. Will your new year be tropical or solar? Will it be Julian or perhaps Gregorian? Will you keep standard time, or will you update that extra second that scientists now say our current Greenwich mean time lacks? Does anybody really know what time it is?

Our period of study is to blame for much of the over-scheduling of lives we currently… I want to say enjoy, but that might be too strong a word. Think about it. Starting with Stonehenge and moving to the Gregorian calendar and the Astronomical (and simultaneously astrological) clock in Prague, we as a race have experienced a timekeeping renaissance.

Once, folks knew what time it was from the position of the sun. Modern medievalists might be hard pressed to accurately guess the time based on sun placement in the sky. Your personae, during the actual middle ages, might know by the tolling of church bells announcing the time in sound code, what they should be doing. Today, most modern municipalities consider that type of ringing to be sound pollution. I say most because I was privileged to hear a call to prayer piped into the Grand Bazaar via loud speaker (the call was in voice, not bells) in modern Istanbul this past July. It was lovely to witness the city workers suddenly stop, and redirect themselves to their individual mosques. The Turks, though more than 90% Moslem, are very respectful of other religions in general and have taken beautiful care of the land marks and iconic historic buildings of other faiths in their care.

I hope you enjoy this timely column. Wouldn’t it make a terrific subject for a term paper? Here’s your research, already accomplished! I invite you to share this column wherever it will find an interested audience.

Dame Aoife Finn, m/k/a Lisbeth Gelatt
~from the cold and wintry wilds of the Barony of the Endless Hills, an Eastern highpoint in the snow-capped woodlands of the Sylvan Kingdom of Æthelmearc.


Ancient Wisdom. Stonehenge. Retrieved 01/07/2015.
There are many sites dedicated to Stonehenge on the web. Whatever religious or metaphysical purposes these various websites ascribe to this ancient monument, nearly everyone agrees that part of the purpose of the giant stone circle is to track the various positions of the sun throughout a solar year. Stonehenge, at its most basic, is one of mankind’s earliest calendars. To the right is one of several positions that would mark the sun’s rise between the pillars on cloudy days such as the one pictured.

Bettelheim, Matthew. Nature’s laboratory: What’s a Sundial in the Shade? Retrieved 01/06/2015.
DSC00075This article, in .pdf format, is about the development and history of the Aquitaine, arguably the first “pocket watch.” Named after Eleanor of Aquitaine, it provided an advantage to those who were able to schedule their lives tightly and accurately. It might be worth learning how to work an Aquitaine, so that if it should make an appearance again as a Pennsic token, (as it was for Pennsic XXV) you will be prepared.

Time and Date. From the Julian to the Gregorian Calendars. Retrieved 01/06/2015. This site will explain in layman’s terms why the most common method of time keeping was changed, and how the change made it more accurate to measure time. However, not everyone agrees with those changes, and some folks still follow the Julian calendar.

About. The Invention of Clocks and Calendars: Part 1: Ancient Calendars – Aztec, Egyptian, and Sumerian Calendars – Stonehenge. Retrieved 12/27/2014. Although I usually hesitate to recommend About.com because of its terse treatment of any given subject, this particular page is well connected to leads for further study. See the emnu boxes to the right of the article to find further reading to a good number of related articles.

Miklos, Vincze. I09: Astronomical Clocks Were a Wonder of the Medieval World. Retrieved 12/31/2014.
Venice clockPlease ignore the sidebar, which trends titles to some NSFW articles from the web. It will be easy to do so when you load the terrific photographs of astronomical clocks from Europe. How did I live without seeing these wonders? If you think your life is regimented, imagine living by the many religious cues these clocks produce! This beautiful cobalt colored timepiece, left, graces the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, and was built from 1496 to 1499.


paduaclockNew York Carver. Medieval Inventions: The Clock. Retrieved 01/03/2015.
New York Carver has done it again with a great article on how the medieval clock came to be, and how it developed to its current state of magnificence. Did you know a former pope is credited with the invention of the gear driven mechanical clock? His clock rang bells on the hours, ushering in the age of town clocks regulating the lives of everyone within hearing distance. The photo, right, graces the article.

Medievaljo1 of Winchester University’s student history blog. On Medieval clocks. Retrieved 01/03/2015.
Note the feature “historicalish” hand-drawn image is NSFW and features suspiciously perky mammaries. Regardless of the image, however, this is a terrific scholarly article on the medieval development of clocks brought to you by the history department of Winchester University. Be sure to check out the reference section if you want more quality sources.

Murphy, Trevor. How tower clocks work. Retrieved 01/04/2015.
|The title says it all. Watch this video to see behind the scenes of tower clocks. This is an informational and instructional video, not somebody’s holiday video. There are two further updates listed on individual bits of the mechanisms, for the diehard clockworks fan.

Claytonav. Medieval Clock in Berne Switzerland. Retrieved 01/03/2015.
In contrast to the above video, this video from May 2nd 2008 is actually home video from someone’s vacation. Please watch the first bit, as it is the best, being fascinating footage of the striking jester and hurrying mechanical townspeople.

GypsyNester. Astronomical Clock of Prague. Retrieved 01/02/2015.
Prague astoWhen this astronomical clock strikes every hour, the deadly sins make an appearance. Pictured left is the dial of the piece from the above link Astronomical Clocks Were a Wonder of the Medieval World.