Medieval Public Health

 GCSE, Medieval  Comments Off on Medieval Public Health
Nov 162017

Dr Dolly Jorgensen is a leading environmental historian whose doctorate was on urban sanitation in England and Scandinavia from 1350-1600. She has written a number of articles on public health in medieval England which are available on her website: dolly.jorgensenweb.net/medieval-sanitation

These articles include a critique of the BBC programme presented by Dan Snow on medieval London in the Filthy Cities series in 2011. It’s a programme I only remember because I was so appalled by its approach (the lack of respect for the people of the time and for the evidence) that I abandoned it after ten minutes!

The article demonstrates how misleading a picture that programme created and is well-worth reading, both for the evidence and its broader discussion of how negative interpretations of the Middle Ages are a product of poorly conceived historical narratives based on assumptions about patterns of progress. Every period since the Middle Ages has had its reasons for looking down on the past (as Professor Carole Rawcliffe has demonstrated in detail in relation to Victorian discussions of medieval public health) and our own age is little or no different.

Download this article here …

See a discussion of Carole Rawcliffe’s work on this website here …

And there’s an old activity of mine that’s based on evidence from records from London here …


 Posted by at 9:34 am

Helping students understand more about studying history

 A Level, GCSE, Issues, KS3  Comments Off on Helping students understand more about studying history
Nov 082017

This diary entry introduces two brief discussions:

  1. Helping students identify different types of history books (for A level, possibly earlier)

This discussion is built around an A level textbook spread that never saw the light of day! In it I was trying to explain to students how an A level book I had written linked to other types of historical writings – ‘popular’ histories, university textbooks, monographs, articles and thence to sources. The questions it raises seem important – how can we help students, especially at A level, understand that there are different types of history books and writings and how can we help them navigate their way through the different types of books that they may encounter?

You can find this discussion here …

  1. What do we want students to understand about the process of ‘doing history’?

A development of ideas I’ve been playing with for a while, asking whether too much time is spent on the minutiae of the process of studying history and too little time on placing that detailed work in a bigger picture of the process that is clear to students. This discussion also looks at how classroom history differs from that undertaken by historians – a difference that may not be clear to students – and whether it’s important that students understand the differences.

You can find this discussion here …


 Posted by at 12:53 pm

Website revamp to accommodate the Exploring and Teaching Medieval History project

 Info  Comments Off on Website revamp to accommodate the Exploring and Teaching Medieval History project
Aug 302017

As the bulk of my non-retirement time is going to be spent on the medieval project we have revamped the website to accommodate it. We’ve added two sections, identified by the tabs on the left of the Home Page:

  1.  A new Introduction to the website, incorporating a selection of ‘highlights’ representing the range of material on the site and some material I’m very fond of!
  2. A section on the Exploring and Teaching Medieval History Project – at the moment the main elements are:
    1. a short description of the project
    2. an updated Contents page for the HA publication which will go free to every secondary school in late November
    3. the section on research into students’ perceptions of the Middle Ages which offers teachers the chance to take part in research being undertaken by Dr Jason Todd of the University of Oxford Department of Education – and provides resources for you to do your own diagnosis of students’ perceptions if you wish.

As the year goes on I’ll be adding material to the other sections, though at the moment all my time is taken up with the final stages of work on the HA publication.

To accommodate these two new tabs, we’ve moved the section on Chronological Understanding into the section headed ‘Issues in History Teaching’. We’ve also dispersed the material in the old ‘Reading History’ section around the site, to wherever seemed the most natural home for each item.

Lots more medieval items to come in due course,

With best wishes for the new school year,


 Posted by at 2:13 pm

New Activity: Martin Luther and the Road to Worms

 A Level, Activities  Comments Off on New Activity: Martin Luther and the Road to Worms
Aug 282017

A short play written by Mark Fowle to help his A level students deepen their knowledge of these events.

This extract is from Mark’s introduction to the activity:

I wrote this play to help A-Level students understand this crucial phase of the European Reformation, complete with tabards, props and a dash of make-believe (I even pretended to be a fire at one point!)

As well as giving them a welcome break from note-taking, the role-play provides a narrative whilst also getting students involved in thinking about the key turning points, decisions and reactions of various people.  Students really enjoy it and say it helps them remember the chronology and to think about some of the big issues, like whether the Reformation was inevitable and the historical significance of individuals.  It can lead into a really good discussion about how Luther ended up facing down Charles V at Worms and should prove to be an engaging experience which I hope will help to break up the 2 year course into a series of memorable and meaningful participatory events.  It reinforces rather than replaces reading and note-taking.

Download the script, discussion notes and other information HERE …


 Posted by at 12:26 pm

Valuable resources on Magna Carta, 1381 and much else from Citizens800

 Info  Comments Off on Valuable resources on Magna Carta, 1381 and much else from Citizens800
Aug 272017

The Citizens800 web-page to start from is www.citizens800.org

… and the page introducing their resources for schools is HERE …

Don’t be put off by all the AQA coverage on that first schools page if you teach other specifications as the resources being developed will be useful to everyone, including at KS3 and A level.

At the moment, they include animations and video material on the project’s YouTube channel on King John and Magna Carta, the battle of Sandwich of 1217, Great Revolt of 1381 with plenty more material to come on later periods of history.

Even if you don’t teach or have never heard of the battle of Sandwich the animation is worth a look for the demise of King John and the departure of Prince Louis!


 Posted by at 5:28 pm

Useful Website for Anyone Teaching the Crusades

 Info  Comments Off on Useful Website for Anyone Teaching the Crusades
Aug 262017

Dr Andrew Holt is Professor of History at the University of Florida. His website can be found at apholt.com

I first saw the site on twitter as it advertised an interview with eminent Crusades historian, Professor Helen Nicholson on the state of Crusades studies HERE …

Amongst other things, Dr Holt’s site also includes a series of contributions from other historians on the ‘most influential Crusades historians’ and ‘the most important books’ on the Crusades.

Hope it’s helpful!



 Posted by at 5:27 pm

Trinity History Teach Meet for Teachers in the Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and nearby areas

 Info  Comments Off on Trinity History Teach Meet for Teachers in the Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and nearby areas
Jul 112017

This initiative has been set up by Alex Ford and you can find full details plus a sign-up form at his website:


In brief, the inaugural Teach Meet is scheduled for Friday 10th November, meeting at 4pm for a 4.30 start. It will have a theme of sharing teaching and ideas and resources for GCSE History. Everyone is welcome to come along for a drink and some great discussion about teaching history. Please share the event with as many local history teachers as you like.


Venue: The Emmott Arms, Rawdon which has a big car park and good bus links. Horsforth and Apperley Bridge train stations are close by too.

Format: Bring along a non-digital idea, resource, or great local history story connected to your GCSE teaching. You will need to be able to explain it / show it off in 3-4 minutes. You will then do “speed dating” with other teachers to share your brilliant ideas, stories and resources. We are wrapping up by 5:30pm, but you are welcome to stop on for a drink and a chat.

This is a great initiative so do visit Alex’s site for more details HERE …



 Posted by at 9:17 am

Valuable Reading on Henry VII and the Early Tudors

 A Level, Tudor  Comments Off on Valuable Reading on Henry VII and the Early Tudors
Jun 052017

The Institute of Historical Research have published a very helpful review essay on their website by Professor Christine Carpenter of Steven Gunn’s book, Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England (OUP, 2106) and you can find it HERE …

The core of the five-page essay is a discussion of the structure and conclusions of Steven Gunn’s book but in addition A level teachers and their students will be helped by Professor Carpenter’s summary of changing interpretations since the 1980s of Henry VII and his reign and of how these changes relate to the perspectives of historians – whether they are approaching the reign from the understandings gained in research on fifteenth century politics and society or from work on the sixteenth century. There’s much else here too (some of which is relevant to later Tudor history too) but I’ll leave you to read it for yourselves! It’s also worth following the links on the first page to other book reviews on this period.

And while on Henry VII, www.tudorchamberbooks.org is a website in development that will be very useful.

The site will publish the content of the expense and receipt books of the King’s Chamber covering 1485 to 1521. You can follow progress and see items from these records on their twitter feed @tudorkingship and their Facebook page. Initial discussions are under way to develop teaching material linked to these resources.

For further information on this project see How did Henry VII spend his money? by Dr James Ross HERE …

New to teaching Henry VII?

For anyone new to teaching about Henry VII the following may well be useful:

Dictionary of National Biography On-line – available free to holders of local library cards if your local authority has a subscription, which many or most seem to do. The articles are excellent and lengthy (Steven Gunn on Henry VII runs to 18 A4 pages) and by leading historians HERE …

Sean Cunningham, Henry VII, Routledge, 2007 – 315 pages, HERE … the most authoritative recent biography.

Also keep an eye out for Sean Cunningham’s book on Henry in the Penguin English Monarchs series, due out in Spring 2018 – this will suit students as well as teachers.

Other detailed books worth reading:

  • Steven Gunn, Early Tudor Government, 1995.
  • Christine Carpenter, The Wars of the Roses, 1997 – chapter 11 on Henry VII.
  • Ian Arthurson, The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy 1491-1499, 1994.
  • Ralph Griffiths and Roger Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, 1985.
  • Thomas Penn, Winter King, 2011 – I really must read this again! I didn’t get on with it at all first time round, probably because I was expecting a different kind of book with much more on Henry’s early life to contextualize his reign.

And finally, if you haven’t found them yet, there’s a range of teaching resources on Henry VII and much else on this website HERE …


 Posted by at 12:00 pm

Conference and Resources News, Summer 2017

 Info  Comments Off on Conference and Resources News, Summer 2017
May 302017

1. SHP Conference, Leeds Trinity University, 7 to 9 July

One of the strongest programmes in the 29 years of the SHP Conference which runs from 2pm on Friday to Sunday lunchtime, leaving delegates enthused, elated and exhausted!

Full details of the programme plus booking details HERE …

2. HA summer CPD

Rethinking the Normans for GCSE,  

Tower of London, Saturday 17 June. Details HERE …

Teaching English Medieval History and Historical Interpretations for the new GCSE

Four sessions at 5.30 – 7.30, beginning 11 July, Westminster City School, London. Details HERE …

A thousand years of the forging and re-forging of Britain: Insights into teaching thematic history for the new GCSE

Four sessions at 5.30 – 7.30, beginning 17 June, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, London  HERE …

Teacher Fellowship course for 2018: Teaching the Age of Revolutions

This Fellowship has three strands, one for primary teachers, one for secondary teachers, one predominantly for A level teachers. Details HERE …

3. Battlefields Trust Education Resource packs

Resources for teachers on the battles of Shrewsbury (1403) and Stoke (1487) HERE …

4. Battle of Falkirk

The battle of Falkirk is one of the case-study conflicts identified by Edexcel for its GCSE unit on Warfare through time. Anyone teaching this unit may find this article by historian David Santiuste useful HERE …


 Posted by at 5:16 pm

Using Domesday Book to Explore the Norman Conquest

 Activities, GCSE, KS3  Comments Off on Using Domesday Book to Explore the Norman Conquest
May 292017

A pair of activities, suitable for both KS3 and GCSE, created by Ruth Lingard and Helen Snelson who teach in York, together with Professor Stephen Baxter of St. Peter’s College, Oxford whose research on Domesday Book underpins the material and activities.

The two activities are:

  • ‘Efficient and ingenious.’ Why is that an accurate description of the Domesday Survey and Norman government?
  • ‘What does Domesday Book reveal about the impact of 20 years of Norman rule?’

Introducing these activities Helen and Ruth comment:

“We find that students don’t easily connect Domesday Book with the Conquest itself beyond a superficial level. We also find that some textbooks cover the Domesday survey in very little depth. Extracts from Domesday Book itself are also hard to access for students. Using them seems like a good idea to enliven the topic, but they do need some adaption to be useful. These activities use adapted extracts from Domesday to give students a sense of what it includes and the opportunity to use Domesday Book as evidence for the impact of the Conquest.”

For the whole of the first activity and its resources click here

And for the second click here.


 Posted by at 1:54 pm