Katherine Lack


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Lectures by Katherine Lack


I offer a range of subjects and styles to suit the requirements of varied audiences, from the ever-popular WI meetings and local history societies to university day schools and cruise ship passenegers. I favour an interactive approach, and illustrate my talks with maps, pictures and other visual aids wherever possible.


My portfolio of subjects includes:-


Dark Age England An evocation of life in England in the centuries preceding the Norman Conquest, focussing on the religious and political contributions of the Anglo-Saxons to the developing culture of these islands. Many of the examples are drawn from Mercia and the West Midlands, a relatively unexplored part of the Anglo-Saxon story.


PilgrimIn the steps of the Worcester Pilgrim Twenty years ago, a ‘pilgrim burial’ was accidentally discovered beneath the floor of Worcester Cathedral. Here I describe the trail of clues that led to his probable identification, and recreate his life in Worcester in the late middle ages. The spiritual motivation and physical reality of medieval pilgrimage is brought to life in a description of the pilgrimage to Santiago do Compostela in northern Spain, a pilgrimage which is experiencing a huge resurgence of popular interest in the twenty-first century.


Colbridge CottageThe People of Old Whitbourne The history of ‘ordinary people’ is popular today in a way that it has never been before, and it offers a wonderful opportunity to explore how our ancestors’ lives were shaped by their physical environment as well as by political events. In this lecture, I give a series of snapshots of life in one village in the Welsh Marches, through its archives, archaeology, agricultural landscape and architecture.


Columbanus – a saint for Europe A recreation of the remarkable and largely overlooked life of Columbanus (c. 545-615 AD), an Irishman whose long journeys across western Europe in the face of the pagan invasions of the Dark Ages ‘saved the continent for Christ.’ The story is told through the insights of his seventh-century biographer Jonas of Bobbio, who spoke to many people who had known Columbanus in person.


Lindisfarne GospelsThe Foundations of British Christianity By the time that St Augustine reached Canterbury, there had already been a well-organised Christian presence in the British Isles for two hundred years. Some of the key places in that story are Whithorne, Iona and Lindisfarne, but there were also innumerable smaller centres of sanctity, some now lost beyond recall, but many still telling their story. The art, ritual and spirituality of these ‘indigenous churches’ is an important part of our national heritage.


Robert Curthose's TombThe Conqueror’s Son: Lazy Duke or Thwarted King? This is about another of history’s ‘forgotten men’, William the Conqueror’s eldest son Robert. While two of his brothers in turn succeeded to the throne of England, Robert was left with his father’s patrimony of Normandy. He was deprived of even that by his youngest brother, Henry I, and spent the last 28 years of his life in captivity in Britain. I contend that there is good evidence that this was not so much a result of the Conqueror’s death-bed bequests, but a result of careful and sustained propaganda by Robert’s brothers, beginning with William Rufus’s seizure of the throne. I also take a fresh look at Robert’s reputation as a Crusader, and the old chestnut of who really killed Rufus in the New Forest.


The Danube - a River on the Fault-lines of History.
An introduction for travellers to the Balkans and south-eastern Europe, exploring how the medieval history of the lands of the Danube underpins recent cultural, political and military events.  In a region that suffers from "too much history", an understanding of the forces that shaped its people helps to explain their conflicting modern perspectives.


Copyright 2009 © Dr Katherine Lack

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