More than 2000 of the world’s most knowledgeable medievalists descended on Leeds for the 21st annual International Medieval Congress at University of Leeds on 7-10 July 2014. It is the second time the event has been held on our campus, after many successful years at our former residence at Bodington Hall.

Travelling to Leeds from 57 countries, delegates took part in more than 1500 different talks and events, some of which were open to the public including a mock medieval village built in University Square. Here you could peruse and purchase the knee length leather boots that were very à la mode in the period, along metal-adorned horn trinkets, jewellery and many other types of handicraft.

The medieval village included historical demonstrations such as chain mail production, spinning, apothecary, falconry displays, musicians and a storyteller.

Knights-to-CameraA personal highlight was the “Battle of the Knights”; in which two valiant men donned armour weighing approximately 6 stone and traded blows with pollaxes in the afternoon heat, using techniques garnered from the circa 1400 French combat manual “Le jeu de la hache” (“The Play of the Axe” or “Axe Play”).

Ryan-and-Kes-3 Me and our KesI also had the honour of handling a European Kestrel, the species which found fame from the Ken Loach film “Kes”. Being from the same neck of the woods as young Billy Casper from the film, I felt that the Kestrel and I shared a bond of sorts, which can be seen as we both look at the camera in the same instant (right).

MEETinLEEDS’ event manager, Anthony Lowe said: “The Congress is a huge area of focus for our team every year and it continues to go from strength the strength.  This year we served around 3,000 meals a day with the refectory turned into a dining room and also served an authentic medieval feast, prepared in collaboration between the University Catering team and food historian Caroline Yeldham.”

When the time came for the catering team to whip up the medieval feast, cheese-stuffed eggs were among dishes on the menu. Other dishes included a lamb and kidney stew; not a million miles away from a Moroccan “Tagine”.

Marc Mottershead, Head Chef at University House, said the experience had been fascinating: “It’s not every day you get asked to recreate an authentic medieval feast.”


Marc-and-Axel Marc (left) with IMC Director Axel Muller

He added: “Instead of dull, uninspiring dishes, the recipes called for cloves and spices and really unusual combinations which are close to modern Middle Eastern cuisines. One of the biggest surprises was the recipe for Crespells, which turned out to be a medieval take on a doughnut!”

The International Medieval Congress is now Europe’s largest annual gathering in humanities; in the past 21 years, more than 21,000 papers have been presented to over 12,000 visitors, bringing more than £10 million into the city and surrounding areas.

It is always impressive to see such a large event make use of the wealth of facilities we are able to offer on campus, especially an event that had such a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. This was no doubt helped by the fact that the delegates got to stay in our high quality campus accommodation, make use of the many culinary talents of our Head Chef, wander around a medieval village and still get to the business-end of the event by attending inspirational conferences in our well-equipped meeting rooms.