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“In the shape of a cooking pot over the fire”: Records of solar prominences in the 1180s

Gasper, Giles E.M.; Tanner, Brian K.



The second half of the 1180s witnessed an unusual number of solar eclipses visible within Europe in quick succession. These were recorded or referenced in a wide range of sources, from chronicles in Latin and Old Church Slavonic to the earliest epic poem from the medieval Rus’. A comparison between key elements of these accounts reveals several notable features. First, the identification of solar prominences. The account of the 1185 total eclipse from the Rus’ Laurentian Chronicle is well established in this context as the first probable textual witness to the phenomenon in Europe. It may not be the only one, however. A similar identification can be made within a Latin chronicle from England, by Gervase, monk of the community at Christ Church Cathedral Priory, for the total eclipse of 1187. Second, the contemporaneous nature of the descriptions is noteworthy, and more so in comparison with other contemporary accounts. A third area for focus concerns the nature of the observations and a case-study of Gervase of Canterbury who, if not an eye-witness to what he records, includes generally accurate accounts. These make his occasional inaccuracies all the more intriguing. Fourth, the wider comparison highlights the importance of taking account historical records across the European medieval heritage, Slavic and Orthodox alongside Latin and Catholic traditions.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 31, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 8, 2023
Publication Date 2023-09
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 9, 2025
Journal Endeavour
Print ISSN 0160-9327
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 3
Article Number 100875
Public URL