Be Thou My Vision

Today, dearest traveller, I would like you to come sit by the fire because I have to tell you about this famous song, that you no doubt know. But do you know its history?

The text of “Be Thou My Vision”/”Rop tú mo Baile” reflects aspects of life in Early Christian Ireland (400-800CE). The original Old Irish text, “Rop tú mo Baile”, is often attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill in the 6th century. However, scholars believe it was written later than that. Some date it to the 8th century; others putting it as late as the 10th or 11th century.

A 14th century manuscript attributed to Adhamh Ó Cianáin contains a handwritten copy of the poem in Middle Irish, and is held at the National Libray of Ireland. Here you can read a most excellent piece by Sheila Louise Wright! It includes the handwritten manuscript from Adhamh and has sheet music! Brilliant, right!!

The Irish version can be seen here on You Tube. Scroll down for a ‘regular’ version of this song in English.

A short list of names 1450-1459

Oh Traveller! Come sit! Because this… this is so important.

For a long time have I wanted to share with you what I know about names. Yes, names. Simple names, difficult names, long names, short names. Just: names. In this particular case: the names of women.

The book you see here is similar to a guild book. It is the book of Leiden Poorters, those citizens who were entitled to live & trade within the city walls. Some of them were women.

Book of Leiden Poorters

If you follow the link, you will find the list of women, who between 1450 and 1459 became poorters (similar to burghers) in the city of Leiden.

It is a work in progress and that is why it has its own page Anthroponymy, which you can visit here. Make sure you check it often and please send me your feedback.

I intend to study more cities, more periods and more people. But for now, let’s start with the Leiden women.

Costume book

Dear Traveller,

Have I got news for you! Please have seat, get warm by the fire and please read this guest post by renowned Dutch historical costumer Martine Teunissen. I am so very proud that she is here to tell you about her latest book AND that she is using my research! Read on!

Hello, I am Martine Teunissen, historian and owner of Beleef het Verleden.

I am the writer of ‘Representation of the Past in Public Spheres’ and together with Dorothee Olthof I wrote a book on Roman beauty secrets.

Would you like to sponsor a publication on historical costumes and help realise a beautifully illustrated book on historical costumes? 

Publication on historical costumes

Why this book?

Historical costumes and accessories are often kept in museum depots, that are not easily accessible for the general public. Archaeological textile finds are even less visible and more difficult to interpret, as it is more difficult to see what it used to be in the past. I would like to bring these finds into the spotlight with this publication. I would love to share with you my passion for the wondrous world of historical fashion, what women wore, at court, in high and lower societies and in the country side (16th-19th century).

Why is this book unique?

This book will take you on a discovery journey along archaeological finds, museum collections and paintings. Also I’ll show you my own creations and experiences with historical costumes. This knowledge is combined with information about inventories and bills with notes on costumes that were bought. This will show you what pieces of clothing women owned, how many, and what was the value of them. Also you will discover our journey of making replicas of archaeological finds. This includes a journey your very own Ava van Allecmere has made on the replica of a 16th century bodice

This publication will be in Dutch, but it will provide beautiful images and could also be of interest for the non-Dutch speaker. If you value the work I do, please donate to make this publication possible!

To donate without reward click here. It is the yellow button that says: kies een bedrag

You can choose different rewards for your donation, or give a donation without a reward. The English text follows right after the Dutch text in each category that is of interest abroad.
These rewards are:
1) get the book for € 50,- and please add another € 10,- to have it send to your home (price for Europe).
2) get the signed book for € 60, and please add another € 10,- to have it send to your home (price for Europe).
3) donate € 25,- and get a reduction coupon for the book of € 15,- + karma-points
4) donate € 35,– and get a reduction coupon for the book of € 15,- + karma-points + a mention as a sponsor on my website.

Thank you for your support!

May Giveaway!

Stop traveller! Have a seat by the fire and let me tell you all about this gift I made.

In the year 2007 a spectacular spur was excavated in Dorestad (modern day Wijk bij Duurstede). Though the owners will remain unknown, it is striking how many swords, horse harnesses, lances and spurs were excavated. Dorestad is believed to have been quite an affluent place!

What made this spur so incredibly interesting was the details, it is quite a unique piece! The gilded spur was decorated with dragons, and so these came to be known as the Dorestad Dragons.

I have used this design as inspiration for the May Giveaway. I wanted to make a gift that I could easily slip into an envelope and send to someone, but it also needed to be something the recipient could use at an event. In addition, I wanted it to be something from my country. And so, I decided to make a placemat….

The embroidery is in Bayeux Stitch and is done in wool and silk. The placemat is made of a double layer of linen.

And the winner is: Lady Branwen Scholastica

House from 1540

Here you see one of the oldest houses in Alkmaar, built in 1540, situated on Kanisstreet number 1.

A ‘kanis’ is a pedlar’s basket and because the house is situated near an old almshouse you may assume that pedlar’s went to the almshouse often to sell their items.

The façade is that of a typical medieval shop. The shutters at the bottom of the window could be used as a counter when opened. The porch roof kept customers dry in case of rain.

We are lucky the house was fully restored in 1985. Until recently it was used for a local arts club but it is now a private property.


1573 is the year my birth town Alkmaar was liberated from the Spanish oppression. The Eighty Years War, as it was also called, was the Dutch revolt against the Spanish monarch Philips II.

Because it is almost 500 years ago, I will not go into the politics of that time. Suffice it to say the Dutch just didn’t agree with Philips’ ideas…

I made an attempt at recreating the dress of a woman of those days, please read all about the process on the Alkmaar 1573 project pages. Check back often as there will be regular updates. Also, feel free to send me your questions or comments.

A 1000 year old Viking ring

Stop traveller, come sit by the fire! I have quite story for you!!

On Christmas day of the year 2019 a silver ring was found in Hoogwoud, The Netherlands. The ring dates from the 10th century and is a typical Viking ring. Viking experts believe the ring was worn as a pendant, as it is actually too large to wear on your fingers.

Look at the size of the ring in the hands of museum curator Annemarieke Willemsen. I had the privilige of meeting her a few times, she has so much knowledge!

pictures by RMO Leiden

The Museum of Antiquities in Leiden was able to purchase the ring, you can read more here. It will be on display after the modern plague has passed.

This isn’t the first Viking ring that was found in the Low Lands, as this silver ring resembles a gold ring with similar patterns, which was found in Friesland in 2009. The gold ring is on display at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. This museum also has some excellent Viking Stories in English you really need to listen to!

14th century house

Now that the world basically has stopped turning due to a modern ‘plague’ I feel the need to share with you pictures of one of the oldest houses in my country The Netherlands and lucky me, I live very close to it! So, just to cheer you up I am sharing these.

The house was built in 1366 and is situated in central Leiden, right next door to the American Pilgrim museum. The bottom part of the house is the oldest part, the second floor was added later, the stones as you can see are much darker.

I hope this cheers you up, if only a bit…. hang in there!

The Law Stones

There are three stones buried in the streets of Leiden, which aren’t just decoration, they actually mark the city’s medieval different districts. The stones not only function as a border between the districts, it was also the place where law was practised in public; which means that many punishments and executions were held here. The three stones all date from the 14th century.

The Blue Stone was part of the parish Rijnoever (translated Rhine Bank), on the south of the modern day city. Back then, this was a seperate town and parish. The Red Stone marked the area of Marendorp, the White stone marked area around the city’s fortified tower De Burcht.

Picture by Erfgoed Leiden