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New: Article on the Medieval minsters of Beverley, Rippon and York, submitted by Stuart Sharp.

We now have an RSS feed so you can stay up to date with the latest news here.

We've added lots more images. Check out the new photos on our Roman history site, such as Hadrian's Wall. Great new photos of Stonehenge and Avebury are on megalithic sites


Our castles pictures and notes have been updated with Farleigh Hungerford Castle. A full list of the historical galleries we have on line is also available now.


The use of animals for transport, agriculture and construction was a medieval innovation that took different forms in Europe and the Arabic world. Bulliet saw the "chaotic" layout of the Arabic medieval cities as resulting from the use of camels. Unlike wheeled vehicles, camel transport did not need wide streets. This allowed human, rather than transport, needs to determine city layouts. A camel's carrying capacity also limited the use of stone and fostered brick-based architecture (Bulliet, discussed in p131-133). There are problems with this argument, including its technological determinism and the fact that it cannot explain the relatively chaotic growth of non-Islamic cities where wheeled transport was used. (In any case, the view of Arabic city layouts as chaotic has been challenged by evidence of planned layouts in Iraq and the Lebanon (Chant & Goodman, 1999:p132)).

In medieval Europe, the horse replaced the ox in transport and agriculture. The impact was less marked in shaping the city layout, although European cities needed some streets wide enough to accommodate wheeled vehicles. Horses contributed to a "revolution" in agriculture that provided a surplus allowing urban living (White, in Chant, pp99-103). Referring to a specific project in Renaissance Rome, Fontana saw the use of horses as the only innovation in building technology since ancient times (Fontana, in Chant, pp182-83).



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