The wolfhunt

20170304_150616 Hunting wolf in 14th century was mostly considered something you had to do. Pestcontrol. The wolf was not considered a noble animal, and its by-name (Noanamn) in swedish was ‘varg’ who’s original meaning was thief, or a generally bad person (a ‘Kasevarg’ was an arsonist). By-names was used for creatures that was feared, as using its real name supposedly would make it take notice and come to your farm and you wanted to avoid that. Hence, it is called ‘varg’ (thief) instead of its real name, Ulv. These days it is generally known as varg (better not take any chances still, eh?).

‘Being hanged with wolves’ was a shameful way to be executed where you were hanged on the same gibbet as wolfs.

Edwards has some things to say about the wolf in his Master of game.

..and evil they be and strong, for some- 
times a wolf will slay a cow or a mare and he 
hath great strength in his mouth. Sometime he 
will bear in his mouth a goat or a sheep or a 
young hog and not touch the ground (with it), 
and shall run so fast with it that unless mastiffs 
or men on horseback happen to run before him 
neither the shepherds nor no other man on foot 
will ever overtake him. They live on all manner 
of flesh and on all carrion and all kinds of vermin. 
And they live not long for they live not more 
than thirteen or fourteen years. Their biting is 
 evil and venomous on account of the toads and 
other vermin that they eat.

So, hunting wolf is not considered a noble hunt, but more a hunt out of necessity. Therefor there was no rules to the hunt, they could be hunted with nets, traps, poison, dogs, spikes in meat, or, if you liked, par force.  According to the Book of St. Albans, the wolf was hunted from the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (September 8) to the Annunciation (March 25), making this a winterhunt.

c55_616

Wolf, hunted par force.

Men take them beyond the sea with hounds and greyhounds 
with nets and with cords, but when he is taken 
in nets or cords he cutteth them wonderfully fast 
with his teeth unless men get quickly to him to 
slay him. Also men take them within pits and 
with needles and with haussepieds or with veno- 
mous powders that men give them in flesh, and 
in many other manners.
c64_616

Haussepieds, as mentioned above, a type of snare that lifts the prey from the ground.

Traps

The traps depicted are often quite elaborate, which stands in opposition to some hunters saying that wolves do not return to a place where men have baited.

When men lay trains to acharne (with flesh) so as to take 
them, they will rarely come again to the place 
where men have put the flesh, especially old 
wolves, leastways not the first time that they 
should eat. But if they have eaten two or three 
times, and they are assured that no one will do 
them harm, then sometimes they will abide

c66_616 c65_616 The traps shown are ones that are recommended in huntbooks though, the ones above being from Livre de chasse.

c67_616Netting was a preferred way, in Swedish lawbooks the farmers were supposed to have a certain length of wolfnets prepared and was obliged to partake in wolfhunts when ordered to by the king or his appointed local men. The farmers then connected each length to each other making the whole parish combined wolfnet.

Getting geared

Clothing

20170304_153640As said before, the wolfhunt was a winterhunt, and when hunting in wintertime, grey clothing was preferred (as we have taken a look at here). Probably due to its camouflaging factors. In the pictorial evidence, in  most wolfhunts they are wearing other clothes than grey, but… people did as they pleased even then.

The other clothes I used during this little outing was green, as this is the preferred colour during summer. The good old bycocket hat, as seems very popular amongst hunters, also got to be taken out for a little ride.

More on hunters clothing in general can be read here .

The dog

20170304_151224

Not all dogs was suitable for wolfhunting. The wolf is a fast animal, and will outrun most dogs. And also uses hiding as a way to escape.

When 
he is long hunted with running hounds he fleeth 
but little from them, but if the greyhounds or 
other hounds press him, he fleeth all the covert
as a boar does and commonly he runs by the high 
ways

the wolf also measures the mettle of the dogs set on him, and if they are not courageous enough it will scarcely bother about them. This gave rise to special woulfhoundbreeds of greyhounds.

When men let run greyhounds at a wolf he turns to look at them, and 
when he seeth them he knoweth which will take him, and then he 
hasteneth to go while he can, and if they be greyhounds which dare 
not take him, the wolf knows at once, and then he will not hasten 
at his first going.

Wolfhounds have been known to be able to single-handedly take down a wolf. Usually by running just as fast and tackle them. Then keeping them at bay by fast attacks to the abdomen. But being tackled by a 75 kilo dog and going down in speeds around 60 km/h is rather a tumbling experience in it self.

The wolfcollarThe spiked wolfcollar is iconic and has been in use for a long time. There are several depictions of it from medieval times, and also a preserved Viking age spiked collar from Uppland, Sweden, that we wrote about here. 20170304_153545The purpose of this spiked collar is to prevent the wolf from getting its jaws around the neck of the hound to bite it. The added bell makes it easier to follow the dogs movements in dense terrain. The spikes does not have to be overly sharp as they will do their job just as well by just being there.

Weapons

20170304_153837This wolfhunter carries a javelin and a sword. The sword in this case being of the Falchion type.

20170304_152157The javelin had, by the 14th century, mostly been reduced to a huntingweapon. As such it is fairly common it seems and it is almost always carried in wolfhunts. The head of the javelins are most often leafshaped and very few have barbs, as one might have expected them to have. I am not sure why this is the case, a javelin that sticks to its target would be better in slowing a target, but it is possible that reuse of the javelin was considered, as it could be picked up and thrown again. To get more information about our thoughts on the javelin, i recomend you to read this.

The sword was carried as the main means to kill the prey. After the dogs had catched it, it was killed, and this, the ‘Mort’ was almost always delivered with a sword. Armingswords, long Basilardas, and also falchions are seen brought into the hunt. Stabbing swords are more useful with killing animals, so I am not sure what the falchion, being mainly a cutting weapon, would be good for. but… there it is. falchion

The hanging of most swords, and therefore also the falchion, in later 14th century is often very simple. A loop from the scabbard that goes around the belt.20170304_153513

Horn and leash.

20170304_153749

The horn is of course carried as it is the main means of communications during hunts. The Mort is not sounded when killing the wolf at the end of the hunt though. It seems it was not considered worthy of such honour.
leash on hornThe leash is sometimes seen as carried on the horn when not in use. It is suspended from the crossknot of the hornbaldric. 20170304_153423


The quotes above is all taken from ‘The master of game’, by Edward of Norwich, and the pictures from ‘Livre de chasse’ by Gaston Phoebus. Both BF and Morgan version is used. 20170304_151117


					

Viking age dogcollar and chain

Out of focus

As you might know this blog generally deals with 14th century, but today we will move out of focus a bit. Vikingage is not even considered being part of the medieval age in Sweden, but as the rest of the world considers it a part it will be covered now as we want to put some light on dogequipment from Uppland.

Viking gravefinds

In Uppland, Sweden, old-time religion lasted longer. This also means that norse burial traditions also lasted longer. The habit of gravegifts is a heathen one. Christians generally frowned on this and christian graves have very few gravefinds. The Uppsala area was a religious hotspot, where the rulers of old lived. Great powerful people lived here and the Vendel gravefield is famous for its previking gravefinds.

We will look on two objects found in two different graves. 200 years separate them. They currently resides in Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala. A very old and venerable museum.

If this collar and chain have been used for guard or hunting dogs we do not know. A chain is seldom used for hunting, so this points toward a guard dog. The collar on the other hand might well have been used for a hunting dog.

The collar

This dogcollar was found in a viking boatgrave.That makes it the belonging of a nobleman. We know from other graves that big sighthounds was used by norse nobles in this area (several have been found in graves in Old Uppsala), So called ‘Mjöhunde’ . The collar is dated to 10th Century (900 tal).

20160130_153528_001

The leather is obviously new, just to show how it would have been mounted.
The collar have metal plates, approx 3 inches Square, with pointy spikes in each corner riveting it to the leather. We can see that the leather have been rather thick, able to hold a bigger dog. The grey pad between the metal and the new leather is just to protect the old rusty iron.

It is hard to figure out how big the spikes might have been as they are all rusted down. But as spikes generally are used to protect a dog’s neck against predators getting their jaws around it, they probably have been bigger than their current stunted size. 20160130_153610

Two plates are connected with a metal link. My guess is that this has been the attachementpoint of a leash. This would possibly give the collar a semichoke character.

 

The guard dog chain

 

This chain is thought to be a dogchain and it is a bit earlier then the collar.

It is dated to 8th Century (700 tal)

20160130_153657_001

There is no easy way to open or close this for attachment. Probably it was used to attach a dog to something (a house perhaps? ) and having it guard it. Or it was used with some kind of groundanchor, a short pole maybe. The chain is rather short, but dogkeeping could be quite harsh in old days.

In all honesty I am just guessing about its use. There is a swivelpoint that is quite common later in dogequipment, but the other end terminates in a ring and a plate on it… I cant really see how this is helping holding that dog to anything… but there might have been more to it that have corroded away.

In conclusion

The conclusion here is that we just wanted to show you a viking age collar as there is not that many out there and this one might be new to most.

/Johan

 

 

 

Get out! Get Dirty!

 

Your clothes looks so used! They look authentic worn, stained and patched like that! How do you get your clothes patinated that good?

I have no events to use my clothes at! No one makes events with my focus/timesegment.

You recognise these questions? We have gotten them and similar many times. People like to use the things they make but there is no place to do it at. Its the same for us. But it don’t have to be that fancy and difficult. We are what can be described as quite active. That’s how our clothes get ‘that used and tarnished look” (dirty and decript is also terms that has been applied…)

Why is it good to get out?

While some are perfectly happy to just make clothes and watch them hang on a rack, many want to feel how they work. To get a real feel for how they work, what works and in which way, you need to actually use them. Sitting at a table at a banquet you can do in almost any clothing. But walking, running, climbing and working in the clothes will make you feel what works and what doesn’t. It might also give you some revelations about why the clothes are cut, or the gear positioned, as it is. This is to slowly move into experimental archaeology…

Organising an event?

Now, all things we do might look very planned when it is digested and pooped out in blogform. But mostly they are about as planned as this:

Me: Hey, its supposed to be nice weather tomorrow, forest?
Emil: Yeah, we aint been out since two weekends ago. You finally going to shoot that hornsoundingvideo?
Me: Naa….. dun feel like it.. I need to check up sources…. lets just.. eat cheese.
Emil: Ok, new forest?
Me: Naaa…..  lets take the same one as I’m lazy and don’t wanna walk to far before  we get to the actual woods.

Evenets dont have to be big. Instead of cunducting a salmonorchestra ocf pipers, maybe just a pie in the park?

Events don’t have to be big. Instead of conducting a salmon orchestra of pipers, with a meatfork,  maybe just a pie in the park will do?

And this is the making of about 80% of our blogposts under the ‘hunting expeditions tag’ (like this one for example) . They usually result in a day or half day of medieval woodsmanship.

Time for planning: approx ten minutes.

Time to prepare approx 20 min (including looking for braes -ten minutes)

This is an excellent way to keep your medievaling going and get to use your clothes that you put all those hours into making.

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The next level, organising an event!

Lets say you want some more people to join you and not just the ones that are easily gripped at armslength.

It still don’t have to be very much work. Just set a date, a time and maaaaaybe some kind of theme (if it doesn’t feel to advanced) and tell people to be there. You usually get more people the longer time they have to plan.

A week?  You get maybe three to five people.

A month?  You get maybe ten to twenty.

noone ever liked Neighbors playing loud music. Keep the event civil.

No one ever liked neighbours playing loud music. Keep the event civil.

Now, some might think its more work the more people you get. But you don’t really have to do everything yourself. You don’t have to make all the food, get places to sit and tables and all that. Most people like making their own things. That is part of the hobby after all. These kind of events can range from rather small and cosy, like the huntgathering, or very big social historical crossovers, like “the ultimate historic megapicnic” , which where both in the form of a picknick and thus not as draining on the organisers.

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Its just me, myself and I

Lets say it is mostly just you that share the fascination of late spring 1378 and you’d like others to play with you. To get people interested there is almost just one way to go around it. Get active. If you build it, they will come. People like to be social, and they like to do things. This is why historic segments with alot of actives, get more actives.

Try to get cool pics for Facebook. But dont get photobombed by shady monks in sunglasses. No one likes those guys.

Try to get cool pics for Facebook. But don’t get photobombed by shady monks in sunglasses.
No one likes those guys.

If you want to get a new historic segment started you need to make things people can do in that segment. There is no use to try and lure someone to sew an outfit to clutter up yet more space in an overused closet. As stated above, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it has to be shown. If you are falling down in the forest and noone noticed it on Facebook, noone will ever know. But if you show all and everyone how you sit on a rock, eat a sausage and pokes a worm, they will see how cool it is and want to join.

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In conclusion

You don’t have to make things big and fancy. Just grab your stuff and go out.vår
/Johan

20.000 clicks

… well, its closer to 22.000 when I write this, but it went so fast at the end there we didnt have time.

I never really thought that the blog would get this many clicks at all, even lesser in such a short time. But we said that if we got 20.000 hits we would do a video about something not very serious. And so we did.

So, here it is:

♦Ten ways to wear your hood!♦

Out and about with all your stuff

ut på turMany of our readers are out and about in the woods themselves in your medieval gear. We all face the same problem eventually. How do I get all my my stuff with me?

I have said it before and I say it again. The medieval man was not the nature loving trekker we want her to be. You went into the wilds only when you had to. Even in Sweden, then a civilisation backwater, you had inns instated at least one day from each other. This was regulated by law. If this was not for some reason possible the villages where not that far-spread and you can often see one church from one parish to the other.

The hunt was probably mostly over the day, judging from the huntbook descriptions. Starting in the morning and finishing in the evening when you where back home, or possibly in a hunting lodge if it was a far removed hunting area. Most described hunts are from dawn to evening, when you return to your home. The woods where also home to trolls and werewolfs. Even if we scoff at these notions today, they where real fears for medieval man.

This means that they did not have the same need to lug a lot of gear around, and when they did it was often A LOT of it (meaning a sumpterhorse was needed). The reason I am addressing this is that many are translating their modern needs to a medieval environment. this usually means they want, or need, a rucksack or similar to carry their things in. This need was not as great for medieval man as her needs to carry a lot of stuff was not as big. Sleeping outdoors probably was very rare, and something that was avoided as much as possible. It is not unheard of though, but when its mentioned, for example in Decamerone, they just lay down on the ground. Henri de Ferriers is shown laying on some kind of straw-mat, but we don’t know if he is sleeping out or just resting.

Henri Ferrieres having a Little laydown

Henri Ferrieres having a little laydown

 

So, the backpack, what about that?

harvesting leeks in the 1390:ies

Harvesting leeks in the 1390:ies

We can start by saying that a backpack is virtually unseen unless you are using it in work. For example people picking grapes use a wicker basket on their backs for the grapes. Quarry-workers also have similar, or people having a need to transport things on a workplace. These wicker-baskets are mostly seen when you are transporting different wares or when harvesting. Also, some do not use two straps, but one horisontal, carrying the bag with the chest more then the shoulders. Of course these COULD have been used to carry things further. For example if you have to carry things out into the wild, it is possible even if we have not seen this on pictures, and If there are these baskets around, you would use it. They seem to be a popular way to transport goods.

The Martebo sack.

martebo_02

martebo_01On the church of Martebo on Gotland, Sweden, we see a woman carrying things as she is wandering. She probably utilises a double sack, one that has two compartments and an opening in the middle. It is possible, although not likely, that it is a regular sack-, but the lack of a visible closing makes the first option more probable. This sort of bag appears to be both rather simple and common as it is seen in many other places too. It can be carried over the shoulder or used for sumpterhorses.

I have been using this kind of bag for several years and it is quite possible to walk long distances with it loaded with the necessities needed. You might need to change shoulders now and then to distribute the burden. It is not as comfortable as a backpack, but its working and it is also easy to use with a horse.

The sack carried by me

The sack carried by me

the same sack, carried by a sumpterhorse

the same sack, carried by a sumpterhorse

Of course, having a horse in medieval times is like having a car now. Most that actually where travelling around had a horse and they came as expensive as sin for a combat-trained stallion, destrier, or rather cheap  for the lowest quality nag, one step away from the glue factory (or the dinner table if this was vikingtimes). Using a horse is a great way to get your stuff moved about, if you like to see the use of sumpterhorses I recommend this video of a medieval pilgrimage I did, where sumpterhorses was put to good use.

pilgrimmer.Another way to use this bag is seen on some pilgrims in 15:th Century. They have made a hole straight through the bag and thus are able to carry it more evenly distributed on the shoulders. You can also see bags carried around their waists. Thos probably is shoulder bags worn like this. Talking about that.. lets have a look at…

 

 

Shoulderbags

pilg blackShoulderbags are mostly seen on pilgrims. They are so much associated with pilgrims that they are a part of what identifies a pilgrim (the bag, and staff are often used as symbols for pilgrims). Pilgrims are of course the very example of medieval people that are travelling. But they are also in a way very non-representative for medieval travellers. Being a pilgrim means that you are supposed to rely on God and the kindness of others to get along. So all you needed was your bowl, spoon and a canteen of water.

So, did others use shoulderbags, the ones we also call pilgrimbags? There is scarce evidence of anyone else then pilgrims using them. Why this is is hard to know. Perhaps the need was not big as they did not have a lot of things with them. But we can almost be assured that they had something to eat on long walks. Perhaps some coldcuts to nibble on between the inns. But we don’t know in what they carried this. I can not in good conscious say that shoulderbags was in good use by all, but to me it seems plausible if you had things you needed to bring.

pilgrimsbag, leather

pilgrimsbag, leather

There is also a ongoing discussion (I can say this knowing that even if this article is read in two or three years from now, it will still  be discussed…) if these bags are in leather or textile. If they are lined or not. No preserved pilgrimbags are known and in pictures they come in different colours. This can mean that it is textile, or that is dyed leather. I for one Think that they where common enough to probably have been made in both textile and leather. Lining of the bags is not easy to know. There are other bags and pouches that have linings, and using textile inserts in beltbags is not uncommon. Again, we do not know and both having and not having a lining seems plausible.

Bundle it up

You can also just fold everything into your blanket and tie it up nice and tight. This is sometimes seen when medieval man is packing up trade items. I guess there is nothing really stopping you from doing the same with your personal stuff.

carrying stuff

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Bundled up trade goods

 final thoughts

So, we probably have more needs then medieval man had when we are out. Sleeping outdoors is something we can quite enjoy when it was something to avoid for them. If they had to they mostly probably just slept under a tree with the cloak for blanket. But hopefully you have gotten some ideas about how to lug around your gear in a probable medieval way.

I myself mostly use the double carry sack (Martebo sack) when I need a full overnight kit, as these seems to be the most common pack of people travelling in the 14:th century. I have been walking days with it and it is not that uncomfortable, once you get used to it.

For dayoutings a pilgrimbag is all that is needed. Sometimes I tie an extra cotte to the bagstrap if I think it might be needed. All I carry then is some cheese and wine and maybe a sausage for lunch. And a little bowl if I feel abit fancy.

extra kyrtil

Extra cotte strapped to the shoulder-strap of the bag

/Johan

 

Warm, dry and happy.

Out and about in wintertime

We like to keep active the year around, and in Sweden we have the saying “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing”. To know how to dress in cold climate and what will keep you warm and why, that is the key. This article will be about HOW to keep warm, not just how the medieval people did it, but general tricks about how to be outdoorsy in medieval clothing. In the middle ages people where out and about in wintertime. These days we often think of winter as a troublesome time of year. But the medieval person did not really share this and in Sweden winter was a preferred time of travel.

Hålväg, Medieval road in Sweden. Eriksgata, Sandhem

Hålväg, Medieval road in Sweden. Eriksgata, Sandhem

The medieval ‘roads’ up here through the great forests where nothing more than tracks. Mostly orientated to the high ridges as to not become rivers in periods of heavy rain. Most modern hikingtracks are bigger then medieval roads. Keeping to high ground also meant that the meandering roads had alot of ups and downs. In wintertime the landscape was completely different. The frozen rivers and lakes became virtual highways. Flat, straight surfaces to use sleighs or to ski on and most places where situated along water and easy to get to. In old itineraries (descriptions of how to travel. the forerunners of maps) you often see two sets of descriptions, winter road and summer road. The winter road is always about one to two thirds faster. When the swedes themselves could choose, they also liked to wage war in winter. In winter the farmers was not needed to tend crops and where free to go to war in another way. (Swedish army was based on the levy of farmers. Well equipped and free men with regulated service to the crown).  

The theoretical part

What keeps you warm?

There is basically two things that makes you warm. Activity, making your body generate heat, and air, that insulate from the outside cold.

What makes you cold?

You mostly get cold from being wet. As the moist evaporates from your body it cools it. You also get cold from the wind blowing away the air that the body have heated.

Being rugged

Humans are capable of getting used to highly uncomfortable situations. Our threshold for what constitutes as to uncomfortable versus just abit annoying can be pushed and is all a matter of what you are used to (as everyone that has spent time in the military is aware of). I guess that living a simpler life more in tune with weather and nature would make you less whiny. It is possible medieval folks was willing to accept a little more discomfort than a normal modern city-dweller. In a way this article shows abit of what I mean

On to the practical part

walkingBeing out and about in wintertime is actually not very cold in many ways. Walking in winter is making your body produce its own heat and generally it is enough wearing two cottes. The clothing should be airy, as it is the air that your body warms that will keep you warm, not the thickness of your garment. A airy garment that will ‘trap’ air will keep you warmer than a garment made just of thick cloth and slimmed around you. The outermost garment can be of a closer weave, or fullered as this will keep the wind out. The wind will blow “through” more open weaves and hence take all that cosy warmness with it. I usually have two or three cottes, depending on wind, cold, and the amount of work I think I will do. This brings us to…

Adjust the clothing to the activity

Actually one of the more common reasons people are getting cold is because they are wearing to much while being active. This makes them sweat and thus wet. When being active, that is walking, you need to regulate your clothes. Being to lazy to do this WILL punish you. When you get hot, remove clothing. As soon as you stop for longer than five to ten minutes, you will need to strengthen your clothing to preserve the heat generated. A coat or a cloak will be good for this. Many will feel to tired to root out a coat for what they think is a short break. Don’t be that person. Getting cold means loosing energy, so you will only get more tired the colder you get.

Don’t stand in the snow

branches is a good way to isolate from cold

branches is a good way to isolate from cold

Especially with medieval leathersoled shoes you need to insulate yourself from the groundcold. If you are standing in one place for a bit longer, kick the snow away, or compact it so your feet are not covered in snow. Use branches, fir preferably, and make a little heap to stand on. This will reduce the cold from the ground you are exposed to when standing still. (Also, to state the obvious, don’t sit in the snow.)

Your built in furnace

Heat is energy. To produce energy your body needs fuel. You need to eat regularly and drink more then you think. If your belly is full you will have fuel to burn. Technically it takes energy to heat and to cool food to body temperature so eating hot food is in a way a energyloss (lukewarm food and drink being the most efficient) but the psychological effect of having warmth spreading from inside is often more desired.

Cold feet but a hot head?

The body, as we now know produces heat. But it does so to keep you functioning. Thus it will prioritize keeping the parts of the body hot that is essential. This is firstly the head where your brain resides, and the torso, where your vital organs are. Extremities are not considered vital for your lifesupport. This will mean that if the head is not warm enough, the body will start to redirect heat (blood-flow mostly) from the extremities. Your feet first and then hands and working its way inwards progressively. Helping the head to keep warm will in essence help you to keep your feet warm. The body will not have to prioritize heating the head. So, you will feel cold in your feet, but not your head, because the head is getting the heat from your feet. Warming the head will let the feet keep their allotted warmth.

The little trick

The body have ventilation-points. The most used ones are located on your wrists, your neck, your temples and the jugulum (the hollow where the collarbones meet). As people in hot climates know, pressing cool clothes at these area will cool you down efficiently. The same goes with warmth. It is efficient to warm, that is cover, these and thus reducing the ventilation.

Get the snow off

Snow that falls on you, either from the clouds or from branches dumping their load, should be brushed off straight away. The snow in it self is cooling and it will also make you wet when it melts from your body heat. Help each other out and brush off snow that the other can not see. This is equally important with your shoes, pick out lumps of snow that has ventured inside them.

The materials

Materials in the clothing is a vital part. It all comes down to getting wet again. You will get wet, no matter how you act and how the materials in your clothes react when wet is vital.

double pair of wool hosen. I never needed more then this

double pair of wool hosen. I never needed more than this

You want to have wool. Wool have several features that makes it a very good material.It has a natural fat (these days often washed out, but it can be refatted) called lanolin. This makes it naturally water resistant. Wool is also able to soak up as much as 30 percent of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet. When it gets wet, it channels the wet to its lowpoints making the hems of the garment heavy with water, but the upper parts almost dry in comparison. Also, and this is the most awesome part, wool warms you when it is wet also (!). In comparison cotton is about 150 times more cooling when wet then when dry. Now, the most amazing part… Wool fibres are made up of cortical cells, and these cells are wrapped in cuticle. This scaly outer layer is then covered by yet another layer, the epicuticle — a filmy skin that helps to repel moisture. What’s more, the epicuticle also helps out in high humidity because it has tiny pores that draw in the moisture vapour to the centre of the fibre where it’s absorbed by a chemical process. The hydrogen bond of water, H2O, is actually broken, creating a chemical reaction with the wool fibre molecules to generate heat when it has taken on a lot of moisture. (taken from how stuff works). If wool is also fulled (hard felted), it repells water even better, but looses some of its ability to bind air. But this is countered by….

The use of layers

Emil showing Three cottes in layers

Emil showing Three cottes in layers

To trap air and keep warm, and also to be able to easily regulate your clothing to your activity (as covered above) you use layers of clothing. Ultimately you have a thinner closest to your body (I generally don’t use linen shirts at all in the wintertime as they just get wet and don’t have the moisture retaining quality of wool). Over this you have a more loosely woven woollen cotte, also loose in it’s cut, to trap air warmed by your body. Over this you use a fullered cotte to resist the weather and also to keep the wind out. When standing still you have a coat or a cape to reinforce the layers of trapped air. Another way of layering is….

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Lining your garments

furlined coat on Sofia, showing typical medieval furpattern

Furlined coat on Sofia, showing the typical medieval furpattern

Lining your garments allows you to combine two garments essentially. You can create a pocket between them making it two cottes in one, but you can also line with fur. Fur needs no closer explanation really.. It is vastly superior in binding air. Some fur even has hollow strands and will be very hot indeed (reindeer for example, has hollow hairs that allows you to sleep directly on ice on a fleece). In medieval times there are nothing in pictures pointing towards the wearing of fur with the hairs out. When this is seen on paintings it always shows heathens, or wild men. Those that are not part of the culture and the ones you define yourself as not being. Eva Andersson, dresshistorian with special edge towards medieval clothes, have seen some evidence of this in the north though.  There are examples, both written and in pictures, of lining your clothes with fur. But as there is mentionings of bear it is possible that this was worn as a “fur outward” coat, as it is a fur that is very heavy, thick and hard to line a garment with. This might also apply to wolf (depending on witch part of the wolf is used). You had to be a bit careful though, as it was thought that you could emulate the characteristics of some animals via some kind of fashion osmosis. Lining with another layer of wool, or preferably, with fur is a very good and medieval way to keep warm. Note that this refers to cottes and hoods, I have yet to see evidence of furlined hosen or shoes.

What fur was used?

The aforementioned Eva Andersson have been looking at medieval testaments in regard to clothes. According to her squirrel is the most common but marten gains popularity in 15:th cent. amongst the burgers lamb/sheep was popular and also rabbit, ferret (polecat) otter, wolf, reindeer and bear are mentioned in some cases. (På svenska; ekorre, mård, lamm/får, kanin, iller, utter, varg, ren och björn.) Edward Of Norwich, in Master of game, say that wolf is good to use in cuffs, or pelisses. For this, especially ‘cuffs’ he also recommends fox.

some need no extra fur

Some need no extra fur

(Check out “Clothing and textile materials in medieval Sweden and Norway ” in Medieval clothing and textiles. Vol. 9 edited by Robin Netherton and Gale R. Owen-Crocker., pp. 97-120 for more extensive info here)

 On to the garments!

So, lets take a look on how medieval people might have tackled the above problems and solutions.

Cottes

As we already covered in the ‘layering’ part. you will get along splendidly with just some extra cottes. Two or three is usually enough up to -15C or even -20C . Just think about not having to tight clothing. And Wool. Always wool.

Hood

Furlined hood, your friend in the snow

Furlined hood, your friend in the snow

The hood is very popular and is excellent in some ways. The collar of the hood keeps the bodyheat that raises from the body, and collects it. The hood in it self is covering the ventilationpoints in the temple, the neck and the jugulum. The hood also keeps the air warmed of the head in close proximity to the face, so the wind don’t blow it away. When worn with a cloak or coat, it seems that it is common to have the collar of the hood inside the coat.

Shoes

regular medieval shoes

regular medieval shoes

So far I have seen no evidence of any special ‘wintershoes’. The thing that is needed by shoes in winter is that they are big enough to make room for socks and extra hosen. There is some evidence that higher boots might have been of this kind, that is bigger to allow the use of socks. There is no difference in the feet as opposed to the body in regards to what makes you freeze. Trap air and keep dry. if there is dry snow, as it is when its more then -2 C you can actually just use several socks, without a shoe. The key is not to cram socks into a shoe that is not made for it. This will only compress the sock and make the air it is able to hold less. It will also press on your foot and reduce the bloodflow thought it. This will also make the foot cold as bloodflow is vital to keep warm. A well greased up shoe will, of course, keep water out better (I usually make a shoefat of sheepstallow, beeswax and tar) but if it is wet out, the shoe will get wet sooner or later.

Shoestuffing

Stuffing materials into the shoes to isolate from the cold is also a method that was used. One of our readers, Nicolas Hofbauer, pointed us to a german poem from 13th century; “Meier Helmbrecht” where there are peasants mentioned “who dance so wildly that the straw comes flying out of their boots”. We also know of ‘bootstraw’ from later times. There is even a grass here in Sweden called ‘shoegrass’.

There are finds of wool thats seems to have been stuffed loosely into the shoes and then felted together in the shape of the shoe (they have found the felted wool).

Socks

Socks are in use for reinforcing the feet. These are made with naalbinding, knitting is not used in Europe at any bigger extent at this time. The knitted socks that are in existence seems to be very fine and for the very top classes of society. Naalbinding is a very old technique and seems to have been used throughout the viking- and medieval age. To get to know more about naalbinding you can follow this link.  Also there is some suggestions of sewn socks that are shorter then normal hosen.

a Naalbound sock, probobly medieval

a Naalbound sock, probably medieval

Footwraps

The Bockstens man, one of few full medieval clothes ensable that have been found from 14th century, wore patches of cloth, footwraps, (fotlappar in Swedish) that was made from old used clothing and then cut into squares and wrapped around the foot. He used three to six wraps.

 

* Gloves

Naalbound glove, Lund, Oslostitch. Around 14:th cent

Naalbound glove, Lund, Oslostitch. Around 14:th cent

 of all kinds was in use. Either five fingered or threefingered of thumbed. The threefinger glove seems to be more common on males then females. The materials are probably cloth, naalbinding and some in leather. The leathergloves are often interpreted as workgloves. There are some gloves that show signs of fur lining, but these are rare.

threefinger gloves. one show signs of fur inside

Threefinger gloves, one show signs of fur inside

a glove, felted, from Lödöse.

Two gloves, one felted

Coats

Bigger coats are great for when you stop to rest. Testaments (wills) shows that these are inherited between sexes. This might show that men and women alike could use them, or just that they where deemed valuable. Many coats have a slit in the arms, allowing you to stick the arm out if it becomes to bulky. Coats are often better then cloaks as they don’t open themselves and let the air out when you move.

 heavily fullered coat lined with fur.

Heavily fullered coat lined with fur

Cloaks

Cloaked men from MSBod 264

Cloaked men from MSBod 264

Cloaks are maybe not as popular as coats in the 14:th Century. But they are used in rough and wet weather. Most common is to wear it buttoned on one shoulder and seldom longer than below the knee.

Bild 306The shepherds hood

This hood is often shown on shepherds. it is a hood with a longer collar to it. almost as a short cape. They usually are as long as to go to the wrists of the hands. Our friend Vix have written an extensive article about these cloaks that you can read here.

Water

Although snow is water of a sort it is not always suitable for drinking. First of all, it cools you, and secondly its dry and don’t quench the thirst as good. For cooking, snow is excellent though, so there is no lack of water when in camp where there is snow. One problem that we have encountered is that the water in the leather canteens freeze. This results in that some of the canteens, that use a cork, was frozen shut and could not be opened at all. The one using a wooden plug could be pried open and the layer of ice that had formed inside hacked through with a dagger to get some drinking water. with modern bottles you usually carry them inside the clothes to keep them from freezing, but as almost no leathercosterel is safe from leaking, this is not recommended with them.

Pic. by Sofia Stenler

Picture by Sofia Stenler

*

*

 in conclusion

This article builds heavily on years of experience. the theoretical parts comes mostly from survival-courses in the Swedish army, coupled with books on the subject by  Lars Fält (founder of Swedish Army survival School and internationally recognised survival expert). For the reconstructing we do as always, look at period text and pictures and go from there (our methods can bee seen more in Four grey hunters and Can I wear this? ) To conclude this article though;

  • Wear layered clothing.
  • Wear wool, wool, and only wool.
  • Keep in motion to generate heat  (“only lazy and stupid freeze” another saying, meaning those that are to lazy to to move or to stupid to put on more clothes)
  • Don’t stand in snow
  • Regulate clothing to activity to avoid getting sweaty
  • And most of all…. don’t get wet!, change wet clothing as soon as possible

Also eat and drink and.. be happy. Its always easier if you have a cheerful attitude instead of starting a negative spiral. /Johan

Winter is upon us.

10922461_903329519712312_2446594680176877832_nYesterday I woke up to a snow white landscape. I knew it would be one of those precious winter outings, my favourite. All seasons in the woods have their charm and beauty, but I have come to especially like cold weather because of how snow and ice really puts my kit and my skills to the test. I like to use my gear in different weather conditions to see if my craft and gear hold water, sometimes quite literally.

This was not only our first outing in snow for a long good while and Basilards first one ever. It was also première for our new grey kirtles, the winter clothing for hunters as recommended by Gaston Phoebus.

IMAG4615We had a heavy snowfall the day before but it was not very cold, just about -5°C/23°F. That means cold enough for nice dry snow, but not so cold it hurts if you dress accordingly. Dry snow is lovely to be out in, but wet snow can be difficult. Thaw is soon absorbed by our thin leather shoes and becomes freezing water. It makes your hose soggy and your feet hurt with cold until they numb. After some time walking in this state of misery, the damp permanently damages the shoes as well.

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Dry feet in dry snow.

You can never know if the weather will change when you are out, so I always grease my boots the day before a planned outing and it helps a little. As long as you keep moving it is usually alright, but even in dry snow our shoes absorb some water after a while. The thin leather sole is then half frozen, constantly warmed by the foot and cooled by contact with the ground. This gives you a better grip than you might expect if you are used to walking in rubber soled shoes on ice.

Boots with many buckles like mine are not the most common ones in period pictures. When they appear they seem to be worn only by the most wealthy in society. I had mine made for me three years ago after archaeological findings of shoes from 14th century Stockholm. I too feel that they are a bit luxurious, but usually I’m very happy with them.

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Before.

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After!

However, on previous winter outings I’ve sometimes had trouble with snow getting trapped in the shaft and slowly melting there to my discomfort. It happens when the shaft is too low or not tight enough around the ankle. Recently I had a friend who is a really good shoemaker help me put on an extra pair of buckles to solve the problem. It worked out very well, kept the snow at bay and I think it looks great. Thank you Sofia!

I had been looking forward to this outing for some time, longing for snow. Now I plunged my way through it with childish delight and Basilard seemed to enjoy it as well. He was on his best behaivour all day, but I doubt he has ever seen so much snow. This was really good training for him and I’m glad that he goes so well together with Johans Boudica.

10917330_902327219812542_6400472687767569062_nThe forest was so heavy with snow on some places that young trees arched down over the track just like the ceiling in a gothic cathedral. Stunningly beautiful, but also treacherous as the forest dropped little icy surprices over us when you expect it the least…

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Fur lined hood makes one happy hunter.

Both Johan and I had put on our hoods lined with rabbit fur for this occasion and agreed that it is the best winter garment you can get. It is easy to regulate the warmth by pulling the hood up or down and it protects your neck from snow dropping from the trees. The fur gives you that instant warm fuzzy feeling that makes you all glad when your ears are nippy.

Except for my hood for warmth I also wore fur lined mittens and three layers of wool kyrtils. The most thin and soft one closest to the skin to keep me dry and then increasingly more thick and coarse fabrics on top to keep the snow out. The new grey kirtle got heavily felted when I dyed it and turned out almost water-proof. The massive width makes it drape nicely and the folds of the fabric make little pockets of air, soon warmed by the body. I didn’t freeze one bit.

IMAG4598_1Johan was happy with the extra long sleeves on his new kirtle. Gloves and mittens are sometimes a bother when you are out and about, holding horns and spears and dogs and whatnot. But folded down, the sleeves keep the warmth around the hands even without gloves, and you will not likely loose them in the snow.

We stopped for a light meal as usual, but this time we skipped making10354590_10152571715607765_3887943407287273709_n a fire.  We were both warm enough anyway and most wood was deep frozen. If there had been a need for it, we could probably have found usable branches up under firtrees, but we didn’t feel the need to scavenge half an hour for it. Instead we gave the sausages meant for cooking to two very happy dogs and just had the wine and cheese for ourselves.

The tracks we saw told us that we were alone in the woods that day, apart from its inhabitants of wild boar, hare and roe deer. All in all, it was a lovely day out.

Want to see more? Check out our FB-album.

/ Emil

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Four grey hunters

distance greyhuntersThe Point of research 

As we find new information, it is time to implement it. When we found that Gaston say you use grey clothes in winterhunting, as we wrote about here, we had better make ourself some grey clothing. For us this is what reenacting is about. When you find new information you need to upgrade your kit to reflect this. Otherwise…. what is the point of research?

This article is about the use of research and the first one literally written by both of us together. We wanted to share an example of how you can go about to interpret the material you have, how to think around your sources to reconstruct a believable garment. You will never be spot on, so it is always good to know HOW you think as you do and WHY.

For us the interpretation is often based on how the garment falls around the body in the picture. This will give some clues to what kind of textile, how it is cut and what seams that are used. Many people look at the pictures, but don’t really see them. They have a illustration of a person from the age, but they do not see things that they do not already ‘know’ they wore. Another common thing is to explain everything that don’t fit into your picture of the age is to call it ‘artistic freedom’ on the illuminators part, even if it appears in several pictures and from different artists.

Another trend in reecreating is going fancy. Sure, you like to have the tight cottehardi with fifty-eleven buttons. Sure, they where high fashion at the time. But what is the type of character you are actually wearing? Many have very simple cottes, especially when doing manual labour. Not to say that the manybuttoned cottes are not used here also, but how many reenactors dare to make the simple cotte today? Or to renounce from wearing all the nice stuff they have accumulated over the years? We are the same here, we like to use the nice things also. But we feel in our hearts that we should show the simple and common as well.

We scoured our homes after fitting textile, and the books after fitting clothing. Granted, the climate in the books might not be the same as we have. The books are written in France, and Gaston himself lived in Occitania. I don’t really know how winter down there is, but  there might be a difference from Scandinavian winters in cold and snow-depth. The cloth is not very thick though, as we see the garments mostly as a over-garment for functionality. The layer principle is at work here, and our experience tells us that you don’t need thick clothing when moving around in the winter forest.

Emils kyrtil

My kyrtil is partly inspired by two pictures of boarhunters from Livre de chasse, the Morgan library version, folio 83 and folio 84. Kombo 83 och 84On both pictures, most hunters wear greyish clothing, so I assume it is a winter hunt. Both kyrtils are of calf length and very wide, loose-fitting.

F 83 (left)  has a delicately cut S-curved shoulder seam, almost like a grand assiette. It features a puffy sleeve, seemingly cut at an angle by the elbow, possibly also with a narrow cuff making it tighter over the wrist (it doesn’t really show but is an assumption based on my interpretation of how the fabric falls when the hunter is aiming with his crossbow). If F 84 (right) was thought to depict a garment of a similar cut is hard to know, it looks a little simpler, without the grand assiette and it could have another type of baggy sleeve with less fabric in it. Still, they are much alike and on both pictures I notice that the grey fabric folds and drapes very nicely against the belt. That makes me think of an ingenious cut that I’ve seen on preserved 14th century kirtles from Herlofsnes, Greenland.

As none of the pictures show the front of the garment or the cut of it in detail, I decided to combine them with an archaeological find in my interpretation. From Herjolfsnes there is a wide kirtle known as Norlund 63. I think it appears to be much similar in cut and drape to those depicted in Livre de chasse and it is also contemporary with them. 61

Norlund 63 is characterised by its loose fit and baggy S-cut uppeIMAG4346r sleeves with a narrow cuff over the wrist. The most obvious difference to the kirtles of Livre de chasse is that this one has a small standing collar and that it buttons down front with 16 cloth buttons. I went for just a handful of buttons as I don’t need more. In Livre de chasse it is more common to have just a few, rather than a full button row down the front. I really like the collar and as collars appear on other kyrtils from the same manuscript, I decided to keep it.

All in all, my winter kirtle is far more based on the archaeological find rather than the pictures from Livre de chasse, but I think it is a fair interpretation as they all are contemporary and of a similar cut.

 

johans

the inspiration for Johans kyrtil

Johans kyrtil

I found a loose garment in the same book (Folio 83v.), a jaunty loiterer mostly chewing the fat with the other hunters down in the corner. As the cloth I found at home was double-sided, grey and light brown, it seemed like a nice fitting garment. The scene is a boarhunt at winter and all hunters wear shades of grey. I thought the garment was probably very simple and loose. The arms looked straight and I could see no collar. While it was possible it had an opening at the front, I did not think it had one, based on the thought of the simple garment. To get width over the 10898268_10152526556922765_3317232265131267743_ntorso but not over the shoulders, I extended the gores in the sides up to the arm-opening. Based on most cottes construction at the time, I used grand (or grandish..) assietes for the armholes. This is also for the freedom of movement. Grand assietes is superior in matters of movement in a garment. The seam of the arm was left on the underside of the arm though, not on the back as is more common. Perhaps a rear-centred seam would have been a better choice, but I choose the underarm variant to stay with the thought of the simple construction. The edges was left raw.

Using it

As the weather was not really on our side we thought we’d just snap some photos of thejohans grey kyrtils to get this article running. We found a grey tangle of brush, to show why grey might have been a smart move during the defoliage season. Most  woods up where we live are evergreen fir, juniper and pine so green might work just as well at wintertime really… But staying true to the huntbooks we took our grey kyrtils out and posed up!

Johan had a basic cotte under and another more loose on top. The grey came up ontop of that. It kept the warmth rather nice, don’t let the absence of snow fool you, it was a very chilly day. Judging from the picture the arms are longer then the arms of the man wearing it, and then turned up. This was a rather good feature as turning them down kept the warmth over the hands well enough.

20150104_151940Emil had double layers of wool with his thin summer-cotte under the new heavy grey one. The generous cut of the new kirtle made the garment drape just like in the pictures. All the draping and folds of the fabric made little pockets of air, soon warmed by the body. When needing to regulate the warmth, it is easy to just undo a button or two.

IMAG4315

 

 

 

 

 Conculsions

So, after we found out that wintertime you wear grey, there wasnt really much you could do but make some grey clothing. These hands on instrutions are rare in reecreating. Most have to make guesses and read between the lines in recreating a certain type of person. When you also see the text mirrored in the pictures showing wintertime hunting (mostly boar) we felt we did not have any choice but to make a set of ‘greys’
greyhuntersBy Johan and Emil.

 

 

 

A hunter in Green

A hunter clad in green, with his pointed hat jauntly cocked on his head. That is the common perception of the medieval hunter, but does it hold sway?

I used to say that “a hunter wore what was in fashion in its day”, referring to all the gaudily coloured hunters I have seen in the huntbooks in their red, blue, yellow and pink clothing. But in the same books there are also hunters wearing all green, in a way that suggests they have a reason for it – in some pictures all hunters are clad in green. But of course, hunters wear different clothes in different style of hunts…

Clothes that fit the purpose

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Hunters afoot

As I look abit closer on the issue of clothing in research of this article I see that it is not really mentioned in “Master of game”. “Les Livres du roy Modus et de la royne Ratio” does not dwell on it, but in a summary of a text I find that Gaston Pheobus declares that hunters should wear green, and in winter grey.

Now, on a fastpace hunt, with dogs barking and horses running, the aim to chase the prey until exhaustion, the colours of the clothes matters little. In this case the animal is supposed to see you and run from you. Also the relays on the sides serves to herd the animal into the desired path. Clothes of colour also helps the other hunters to locate each other. One could compare it to the modern hunters orange if one likes. Most pictures in a huntbook concerns this kind of hunt.

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stalking deer, clad in green

When stalking prey and trying to get within bowrange we have a whole other situation. Here it is desirable that the deer does not see you, and hunters are advised to wear green. When standing in wait for deer driven to you, it is also advised that the hunters should wear green in “Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio”. Even Gaston Phoebus advices the use of green. Gaston Phoebus allegedly even advocates painting the bow green. When looking more closely, you see that when hunting deer, notoriously skittish animals, they usually wear green. Edward of Norwich also advocates that the best hunting horns is waxed green. He say this is for the better sound in them, but as he has misunderstood a couple of things in his translation of Gaston Phoebus, he might also have missed the point of why they where green.

Camouflage

dagges

Green and dagged clothes on hunters in Livre de Chasse

As seen above the reason to wear green is to melt into the woods better, or at least to be less visible to the animals. But did the medieval hunter use camouflage? As in camouflage in a modern sense?

Well, yes, and no.

The use of green is a camouflage in it self, it melts into the environment. Also Phoebus stated that, when hunting a boar in winter, grey, not green, was to be worn. But there is no proof of use of mottled or patterned clothing in order to break up silhouettes. There might be some use of dagges to look more….. bushy.  (“Dagges” are decoratively cut hemlines, in shapes of tounges, leafes, roundels, points and so on). At the least in ‘Livre de chasse’ there is alot of dagged open garments, but this might also just reflect the fashion of the time.

this hunter uses branches on his head

this hunter uses branches on his head

The use of branches and greenery is advised though.”Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio” advices you to ‘Wear a branch between your teeth to hide your face” when stalking deer. The use of branches on a wagon to hide its occupants is a clever trick from King Modus, and it appears in “Livre de chasse” also. As seen to the right, evidently one could cammouflage your head in such way tovagn

 Shoes, and the lack thereof

Hunters are shown wearing a variety of shoes. The ankle-high being in prominent use.  Most show no buckles.

Many riders sports a high boot. They seem to be of the fold closure sort and fastened with hooks and eyelets. These are very good in protecting the leg from burrs and twigs catching in the hose and ripping them while chasing through the woods. They appear to be above the knee.

Some high boots from “Livre de chasse”

highboots

Even hunters afoot could use this, judging from these pictures in “Livre de chasse“, Sporting a leash hanging on his horn and therefore one of the berners, doghandlers. The second shows a rider and a lymer, a doghandler handling the scenthound. The third showing a regular venator, hunter. There are several more pictures of high boots in the book.

naalbound sock

Hunter in socks

Another thing that seems prominent amongst hunters are the habit of using no shoes. Strikingly often we see hunters plodding along in just hosen. This happy fellow seems to be out and about in just his naalbound socks.

There is a possibility that they are using ‘soled hoses’, hosen with a leather sole on, but there is no way of really knowing. I have used soled hoses and I have been walking around in hoses with ordinary soles. I can say that soled hoses works rather well in a dry forest. Regular hoses is very dependant on what kind of wool they are made off, but in general they do tend to make you abit more vulnerable to pebbles and pinecones.

a few of all the pictures of hunters not using shoes

shoeless modus

There is no reason stated in the huntbooks or anywhere else that I have seen, as to why they scamper about shoeless. My own experience shows that it a little easier to sneak in hosen as you get more ground-feeling. Possibly you also get abit more grip with a wool soles then you get with a leather one. especially in wet grass. These are mostly speculations.

Of course, there are pictures of non-hunters not wearing shoes also, but looking at the average, it sure looks like hunters liked being shoeless for some reason.

The bycocket, a hat for a hunter?

Collection of bycockets. early to late 14:th cent

The robinhood hat, hunters cap or as we jokingly call it the “unicorn” (threepointed hat=tricorn, twopointed=bicorn… onepointed=unicorn) is possibly called a ‘bycocket’ during 14:th Century (or they mean something totally different…. the sources are abit shady here).

This hat seems to be favoured by hunters. Its is featured on them frequently in 14:th Century. It is also a hat that seems to be used by both men and woman, possibly this strengthens its position as associated  with the hunt and not gender (few other head wear is not gendercoded). When seen on other nobles in outside hunt situations it is a theory I have that these are fellows that has their interest in hunting as personifying their character. As some hunters these days wear their camouflage and old hat to the supermarket to show that they hunt. But this is only my personal musings on the subject.

There is no bad weather

In Sweden we say “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”.

Now and then the question about bad weather clothing, and especially rain clothes comes up in the reenacting community. Even though this might not fit in this post, I thought I would address it here, in wait for a post later on on how to reenact outdoorsy type things.

In medieval times they don’t seem to have the same obsession about being dry all the time. One can perhaps understand this as being dry is an utopia when being active in the woods. If you don’t get wet from the outside, marshes, dew, rain or moss, you get wet from the inside (commonly known as sweating). One might Think that they had a mindset that tolerated a higher degree of uncomfort before they started feeling downcast. Living a life where starvation, plague, and untimely death was never far away, a little wet was possibly not much to be concerned about. As a rule people are not made out of salt and hence do not dissolve from water.

What is problematic when getting wet is getting cold. Its the cold that is dangerous and what makes up most of the discomfort. Wool is naturally fat unless it is washed. If it is also fullered it withstands rain quite well. Wool is also a material that warms even when wet (as opposed to cotton that cools 150 times better when wet). Using wool clothing and keeping away from cotton undergarments (I usually keep away from linen as well, going all wool) will keep you warm even when wet.

The most common garment for protection against the weather is therefore …. Another tunic, possibly fullered

In conclusion, and some speculations

As I already had a nagging feeling would be the case, I was both right and wrong. Hunters did dress as fashion dictated, but there where several times where green was the preferred colour. There is also nothing stating you can not wear green on other hunts so I am guessing that many wore their ‘hunting clothes’ on hunts, and that these often where green , as they where supposed to be that on some of the more popular hunts. Also, green is not all that common amongst other people. Sure it exists, but it is not THAT popular if one looks at its percentual representation with other colours. It might surely be that green was a colour connected with hunters. In Canterbury tales the yeoman is described as having a hood and jacket of green, and that he was indeed a woodsman. This also could point towards the colour green being connected to people of the woods.

So… a hunter in green, with his bycocket jauntly on his head. Yes. It is not a faulty perception of the medieval hunter. Sometimes the middleages are so cliché. errol-flynn-robin-hood/Johan

Using the hunters horn.

The sound of the horns and the barking of the dogs, the excitement of that experience, is often described as the most joyful thing in hunting. 1176193_10152147330522926_384463484_n

Communication with the other hunters is most important use of the hunters horn. In the medieval huntbooks different signals are described that should be sounded in different phases of the hunt. You blow a certain signal when you are going out on a hunt and another when you are riding back home. There is a signal for when the game is sighted or the hounds are to be released or to call them back and finally after a kill you blow the “mort”.

What not everybody knows is that the horn also plays an important role before the hunt, used in a way that may seem strange to us today. The huntbooks describe how some hunters are sent out in advance to track up animals and suggest appropriate game.

NamnlösThey return to the merry gathering of the hunters and report their findings to the Master of the Hunt, informing him about where the animals are, what their tracks look like and bring back fumes for him to judge them by.

When found, the fumes are stuffed into the hunters horn and he seals it with some grass to keep the fumes from falling out.

Here the hunters are seen pouring “fumes” out of their hunting horns. Judging by the shape, size and quality of the fumes from different animals, the master of Hunt decides for the most appropriate game.

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Hunter pouring fumes out of his horn.

Edward of Norwich teaches us in his book Master of Hunt from early 15th century, how a to know a Great Hart by the Fumes:

“I shall teach you to know a great hart by the fumes of the hart, for sometimes they crotey in wreaths, sometimes flat and sometimes formed. Sometimes sharp at both ends and sometimes pressed together.

If he find the fumes that are formed and not holding together as it is from the beginning of July into the end of August, if they are great and black and long and are not sharp at the ends, and are heavy and dry without slime, it is a token that it is a hart chaceable.

If the fumes are faint and light and full of slime, or sharp at both ends, or at one end, these are the tokens that he is no deer chaceable. If they be slimy it is a token that he has suffered some disease.”

Edward elaborates quite a bit on the subject of fumes so I took the liberty of shortening his advice slightly. Read more about our hunting horns and how Edward of Norwich thinks they should be made here. Johan is as always one step ahead and provides an informative video about the use of the hunters horn.

/ Emil