Medieval finger-counting on the BBC
Updated: May 12, 2020
Yesterday I had an opportunity to present some medieval science on the BBC. I had been asked to contribute to “Free Thinking” on Radio 3. The theme of the programme was “Hands”, so I decided to fill my allocated 4 minutes by talking about early medieval finger-counting.
You can listen to the full programme here – my short essay and interview start at 22 minutes. (You can also download Free Thinking as a podcast.)
I also recorded this spur-of-the-moment clip, showing some numbers on my fingers. A bit clumsy, but I only got one try at it!
If you want to read some more about finger-counting and hand-diagrams in the Middle Ages, I recommend this blog post by Irene O’Daly. You can also read Bede’s The Reckoning of Time in a great edition by Faith Wallis.