Entries by Michael Wills

Vikings: the great helmet hoax

How practical would it be sail on a cramped ship, to charge around forests with low hanging branches and to avoid detection by a wary enemy, with two large horns sticking out of the top of your helmet? Well, the fact is, it never was a problem for the Vikings because their helmets did not […]

Great solar eclipses

On 31st August 1030 there was a total eclipse of the sun over Norway between 13.40 and 14.53. The eclipse happened during the Battle of Sticklestad. In the battle, King Olaf was killed, he later became the patron saint of Norway. His step brother, Harald Sigurdsson later known as Harald Hardrada, survived and eventually in […]

A Real Viking Ship

Although most of the images of Viking ships are of modern replicas, some real Viking ships have survived, although they have had to be lovingly preserved and repaired to put them on display. For me, the most iconic of restored ships is the Oseberg ship which is on display in the Oslo Viking Museum. The […]

Historical Novels: the fact and the fiction

Today I had the pleasure of giving an illustrated lecture to the Shaftesbury Historical Society. The subject of my talk was “Historical Novels: the fact and the fiction”. Shaftesbury, in the county of Dorset, is oldest and at 219 metres above sea level, one of the highest towns in England. Alfred the Great founded a […]

The Magna Cartas

For the first time for eight hundred years the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta, the Great Charter, have come together. The Magna Carta dates from 15th June 1215, when an unpopular monarch, King John, was forced by rebel barons to agree to a long list of fundamental rights. After the charter had […]

The poppies at the Tower of London

The spectacle of 888,246 hand-made ceramic poppies lining the whole moat of the Tower of London is an indescribably poignant reminder of the exact number of British and Colonial soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives in the First World War. The scene is a field of red with one corner of a tower […]