Dr Janina Ramirez

Cultural Historian. Broadcaster. Author.

Resources & ARTICLES

'The Symbolic Life of Birds in Anglo-Saxon England'

Here's a copy of my PhD thesis on Bird Symbolism in Anglo-Saxon art and literature, completed in 2006 at the Centre for Medieval Studies, York. I'm happy for it to be used for research, but do please include a full reference in citation: Janina Ramirez, 'The Symbolic Life of Birds in Anglo-Saxon England' (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of York, 2006).

Article for the York Medieval Yearbook
'The Anglo-Saxon Cross at St Andrew's Auckland: Living Stones'

'The Anglo-Saxon Cross at St Andrew's Auckland: Living Stones', York Medieval Yearbook, Issue No. 2, 2003. 

The remains of the High Cross at Auckland St. Andrews are well-known, but little documented. Rosemary Cramp describes and dates the cross (to between the end of the eighth-century and the beginning of the ninth), and while it is referred to in the work of Collingwood, Coatsworth and others, it cannot boast the extensive study that sculptures such as the Ruthwell, Bewcastle and Rothbury crosses have received. The main reason for this seems to lie in the apparent simplicity of its figural scenes. However, by examining the St. Andrews cross in relation to other contemporary sculptures, by reassessing its figural scenes, and by questioning its function within the context of its religious and natural landscapes, it becomes clear that the cross does present an overall, coherent theme, which reflects the religious climate during which it was created, and which could even be connected to its function. In the course of this essay I hope to argue against a relatively simplistic reading of the cross’s figural scenes, and show instead that they are intimately linked to contemporary scriptural exegesis, issues regarding the role of the apostles in teaching and baptism, and the ecclesiastical relationship between late eighth-century England and the Papacy. 


JANINA RAMIREZ , "Sub culmine gazas: The Iconography of the Armarium on the Ezra Page of the Codex Amiatinus," Gesta 48, no. 1 (2009): 1-18.

DOI: 10.2307/29764893

This study emerges from the desire to explain the two affronted peacocks that appear within the pediment of the cupboard on the famous Ezra page of the Codex Amiatinus. Although many readings of this page have been suggested, no attempt has been made to connect these birds and the surrounding decorations on the cupboard with the iconographic readings proposed for other artistic features of the manuscript. This article analyzes the previously unexamined decorations on the baseboard, lintel, and gable of the cupboard, proposing that these are not a randomly collected group of images but a set of symbols deliberately included by the Anglo-Saxon artists who created the manuscript. These symbols work together to suggest an overall scheme associated with Christian salvation. That they interact in a meaningful way with the other elements on the page and the manuscript as a whole will also be proposed.

KEYNOTE LECTURE FOR THE Historical Association
Power, Passion & Politics

Keynote lecture from Dr Janina Ramirez
Power, passion and politics in Anglo-Saxon England

No amount of halos and gold leaf work in the books and on the walls can detract from the fact that becoming a saint was not a holy pursuit. In this lecture the brilliant Dr Janina Ramirez tells us how to pick up a relic on eBay and why if you don’t have the toe of a saint you won’t be whisked off to the afterlife to rejoin your chosen hero or heroine. This lecture brings to life the rebellion and contradictions of the men and women who will later be revered for their goodness. The smiling picture of saints and martyrdom will never be the same again.

8 viking myths Busted

Bearded, violent beyond reason and singularly successful at suppressing everyone around them. This, says Janina Ramirez, is the popular – yet questionable – image of Vikings. But how violent were they really, and did they actually wear horned helmets? These are myths that need to be unpicked…

Article for History today
The Sagas of Iceland: Creating Terra Nova

Janina Ramirez, presenter of a new BBC documentary on Iceland and its literature, explores the country's sagas, their wide-ranging legacy and what they tell us about the history and culture of the Arctic island and its people.

Article for BBC History Magazine

In the first of our new historical holidays series, Janina Ramirez shares her love for Mont Saint Michel – still a site of medieval splendour.

Article for BBC History Magazine

Janina Ramirez on… why the ‘Dark Ages’ weren’t dark