The javelin

Although the javelin is out of fashion on the battlefield in the 14:th century, it still is in use in hunting. Livre the chasse shows javelins being carried while hunting several kinds of  game.
It is somewhat unclear if the javelin was used for actually killing the prey, or more of a ‘bleeder’, hurting game while on the chase so they will bleed out and tire faster, letting the hounds get to the prey and pull it down.

As the mort was usually done with a sword or dagger, I lean towards that theory.
The usual javelin in the manuscript dont have barbs. Barbs would be useful as it keeps the point in the game and the game will be considerably slowed from the shaft. Maybe the purpose was to bleed the game, as the heads are rather wide, and drop the javelin, leaving an open wound, and possibly leave the javelin to be picked up and used again. Blood-trails would also help the hounds to keep on the parfait (the right line, close on the game). We must remember that the chase of the hounds, not the actual kill was often the point of hunting, hunt-descriptions often relaying the thrill of the chasing hounds as the core of the hunt.

This is just speculations about the use of the spear… But since its my blog, I can speculate all I want.  You are also welcome to speculate in the comments, or on our facebookpage.

/Johan

Fleapickers and dogturds!

Of Falconers and hunters

 In the huntbooks there is sometimes pictures that makes you wonder what the heck is really going on here. One that I often get giggles and comments about when posting huntbookpictures is this one.

The picture is from Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio and shows hunters and falconers in a fisticuff about rank.
The story that relates to the picture is this (translated first from medieval French to Swedish… and then to english by me)

” Some hunters and falconers, being lodged in the same inn, where they ate and drank together, happened once in dissagreement about which way of hunting that would be considered the most noble, that with hound or with birds of prey. Each one held forth their own way, and heated argument ensued both with namecalling and fisticuffs. The hunters called the falconers fleapickers, for each time they came home from a hunt they sat in the sun to pick fleas from the falcons. The falconers in their turn mocked the hunters because they always walked around smelling of dogturds. None wanted to give in, but finally one of the present managed to barter peace by making the two factions listen to a poem of learning, featuring a disputation between two fair ladies about which of the way was to be seen as the most noble.

Diskussion om jakt

the two noble ladies in the garden

In the poem we are told about a knight and his lady who where out hunting stag and during the chase of the prey they came close to a castle on who’s land another knight and his lady where hunting partridge with sparrowhawk. Not until late in the evening the stag was killed in a river close to to the castle. When the lord and lady of the castle heard the sound of the horns, they hurried there and was very happy to see their neighbours. And since it was late in the day, they offered the staghunters to sleep over. But then the ladies engaged in a polite wordfeud about which hunt was the most noble. It was agreed then that a disputation would take place between the two the next day in the castle gardens. Here both held forth their huntideal one after the other. In the poem the feud now evolves to a philosophical feud of ranking or ‘paragonne’: which is to bee seen as the biggest joy -to see the flight of the falcons or listen to the bay of the hounds, or in other words which is the most noble sense, sight or hearing. As they could not meet in this matter  the decision was left to the great hunter the count of Tankarville. A messenger was dispatched to his castle and returned with the following judgement. It is true that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, the most noble sense and therefore the falconhunt should be considered the most noble, but the hunt with hounds must be given the prize, since that one alone gives the hunter opportunity to get joy from sight and sound at the same time. ”

its a recurring theme in the huntbooks, the argument about what is the most noble way of hunting. Edward of Norwich weighs in on the matter thusly in “the master of Game“:

“…For though it be that hawking with gentle hounds and hawks for the heron and the river be noble and commendable, it lasteth seldom at the most more than half a year. For though men find from. May unto Lammas (August 1st) game enough to hawk at, no one will find hawks to hawk with. But as of hunting there is no season of all the year, that game may not he found in every good country, also hounds ready to chase it.”

So.. to conclude:
It seems that falconers are fleapickers and that the true hunt is that with dogs.

/Johan

Woman hunters

boarwiev

:

:
When talking about hunters in medieval times one easily get into the assumption that it was a male domain. When we look closer that theory does not appear to hold water.
:
:

Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

The medieval literature is ripe with women hunting, they appear in illustrations doing all kinds of hunt. It is always a possibility in cases of illuminations, that the pictures are meant to be allegorical. But most of them seems to just depict women out hunting. It would seem that this is nothing unusual in the eye of the 14:th century person.  So if this post gets quite pictureheavy, it is because I wanted to show the plethora of pictures of women hunting, that its not just in one odd book, but a wide representation.
:
:

The most well known picture of a woman riding out on a hunt is of course from Lorenzettis fresco ‘The good rule’ the good rule

:
Here we se a confident noblewoman riding out with her raches afoot and the typical hunterscap on her head. A squire carries her falcon. This is indeed a caption of the good rule.
:
.
:
What kind of hunting did they do?

A well placed shot in Queen Marys psalter

thaymouth curre

Blowing the Mort and disemboweling the kill in the taymouth hours

Looking at the pictures it seems that hawking and rabbithunting was a preferred method of hunting for women, although it does not seem to be exclusive in any way.  Females are depicted as doing all parts of the hunt and all kinds of hunt. In Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio two women argue witch hunt is the most noble; Hawking or Hunting with dog. Both women holding forth their way of hunting. So, it doesn’t look like the women favoured the less ‘dangerous’ hawking before the more dangerous hunt with horse and dogs.

Taymouth hours 1

fast riding and shooting in the Thaymouth hours

 

Although its oddly enough just in Hawking you see parties of mixed men and woman. In texts though there is mentioning of man and woman riding the hunt together.

one exception being this lovely ivory panel from Paris 1350. showing a woman in the midst. Also shows falconers riding together with hunters. Possibly this is a general celebration of the joy of hunting. Currently in the Metropolitan museum.

1350, Paris, From metropolitan Museum.

Not even the most dangerous hunts, boarhunting, seems to have been excluding woman (as there is no reason it would)

All in all, it seems that hunting was one of those few sports in medieval times where men and woman was allowed to participate on equal terms.

kvinna mot svin cut

boarhunting from unknown manuscript

 

boarhunting from Taymouth hours

 

 

 

 

 

:

:

 The women in the huntbooks
:
:

In the huntbooks themselves the representation of women are halting. Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio there are some women depicted (more in some versions then others) and they appear in the text. Also half of the book is the allegorical Queen Ratio talking (granting that this is mostly a semantic feature).

In Livre de chasse there are no women to my knowlege, and also not in Master of Game.

But then we have the book of st. Alban.

Dame Juliana having opinions on the never ending discussion amongst hunters on with hounds to have in witch relay…

This book is printed in 1486 and consists of  Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms. It consists of treatises of the subjects written at an earlier date. The part about hunting is widely attributed to Dame Juliana Berners, who herself probably based it on Le Art de Venerie of the huntsman Guillaume Twici. Being a prioress of Priory of St. Mary of Sopwell she is believed to have kept to her love of hunting (hunting clerics seems to be nothing odd…If we see to the monk in Canterbury tales for example). So, women are not invisible in the huntbooks, they are writing them.
:

:

Social strata of female hunters

mjöhundar

Slipping the greyhound relay

This is a hard nut to get into as most pictures display noble hunters, or at least seems to do so. It is not always easy to guess their class from the pictures. But the hunts that are mostly depicted are the hunts that nobles enjoy.  Although, some of the actions taken, as slipping the hounds, was commonly done by huntsmen. In one version of Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio the part of the poor farmer that has only a small net, is depicted as a female waiting on the hare. It could be argued that if there is nothing stopping noble women from hunting, the same might apply for the less fortunate. Or the roles of the lower classes are less mobile. I have found no hard evidence, but lean towards the first.

:

:

Dressed to kill

:

:

Just as male hunters, female hunters dress in the same clothes as is the fashion of the time. One thing that strikes you when looking at the illustrations though is that many women lack whimples. Some have donned the hat of the hunter (the Robin Hood classic) but most seems to prefer hunting with their hair snuggly braided.

kvinnor jagar hare  crop

rabbithunting with flying whimples and snuggly braided hair

braids

Helena sporting our take on the preferred braiding

Whimples will of course be in the way of both hearing, and catching onto branches, so the preference is understandable. When riding the hunt I expect it might be outright dangerous to get caught in underbranches with a whimple.

 

There is no depiction of a woman wearing hose and Cotte though, even if one could argue that a dress is as hindering as a whimple out in the woods.
.

:

Some mentioning should be made about some pictures in British Library’s MS royal 10 E IV.

Here we see a dress with an odd hem. It shows furdepiction and on the top of the tips there are some kind of round…things.

kvinna med horn crop

British Library’s MS royal 10 E IV Odd upturn. Also look at above pictures

We have mused around this dress quite alot and have had an idea that it is an uppturned overdress. If we look at the picture to the left we see that the dress has tippets in the same furlining. This might show that the inside of the dress is furlined at that it has been uppturned and fastened in those round things. It could also mean that it just have a wide fur brim with some round ornaments on top.  We think it might be the first option tough, as the dress seems to be shorter then the one under it. If this has any practical use or if it is just a fashionstatement, I can not say as of yet. maybe some testing in the field will answer that.

 

 

We tested using fimbula clasps to upturn the Dress of Helena on our photoshoot, and the result is rather alike the illuminations, even if she lacks the fur lining

 

Helena sporting uppturnIf you want to see more pictures of women hunting we collected all of the pictures we collected for this article on our facebookpage

/Johan

 

“Every man that has good sense, knows well that this is the truth”

A misty grey light over the forest, a new day dawning. In Sweden in early July, there is no night. The sun never sets, so it never gets dark. You know it is night-time during the hours when the birds keep quiet. Now they sang again, so our short rest was over due. I felt like I hadn’t slept, just closed my eyes for a moment. But it was time to get up and see if we could spot any game on the move.

15985_10151521284902765_1248907419_n

A hunter and his hound crossing a field before dawn.

This hunting report is from an earlier expedition we did in July last year, one of our first visits at the field where we tried the Bell-rope tick I wrote about earlier. We had planned to stay out over night as we wanted to try to watch the game on the move at dawn, drinking or grazing. Johan, Frida and me got our gear together and walked out in the woods in the evening. Boudica, their Irish wolfhound was tagging happily along our trail.

DSC_0085Frida is a tough one, she walked all the way to our camp site with nothing but thin leather soled hoses on her feet. Her only pair of medieval turnshoes gave up during her pilgrimage on Gotland a few weeks earlier. But when we look on contemporary pictures of 14th century hunters on foot, it is not uncommon to see hunters without shoes.

422094_10151395373692765_289034461_n

Hunting fox barefeet. Livre de Chasse 1407

603683_10151395373657765_1571462427_n

Boarhunt with shoeless crossbowman.

Why is this? Did the hunters want to spare their shoes or is it easier to sneak about without ’em? To me it seems that at the least in Livre de la Chasse it is often the doghandlers that go for the shoeless look. I have no idea why. Our doghandler decided to try for himself.

971576_10151445457722765_1579580566_nJohan claims that he could sneak twice as good without shoes as with ‘em. But I also heard him swearing occasionally when hurting his feet. In short, I’m not entirely convinced about the success of the barefeet-concept. I think I’d rather keep my pretty boots on.

DSC_0067

Me crossing a bog in full blossom, late in the evening before arriving to our designated camp site.

In medieval times hunters, poachers and maybe occasional swine herders or coaler’s were the only ones moving about in the forest. The woods was unfamiliar, road-less, wild and dangerous ground for most people. The deep forest was believed to be inhabited by criminals, outlaws and dangerous creatures – and it was. Our folk lore from the time tells us about a rife fear for werewolves, but the fear for predators like wolf and bear must also have been very real.

Today it is quite the opposite. Many of us enjoy outdoor life just for fun and are used to it since childhood. I like the idea of reenacting the medieval hunt because it is so easy to do for leisure. Where we live it is never far to the forest. Most of the year you’ll need no tent or other heavy gear if you want to stay out over night wich gives you a great freedom of movability. In Sweden all flowing water in the forest is drinkable so you can easily refill your water bottle. Clothes of wool, a single blanket and good company is enough for warmth at night if you have shelter from the wind.

Hunters huddled up around the camp fire. Picture: Johan Käll

The camp fire experience is essential for every hunting tour.

When arriving at our destined camp site late in the evening, it was about as dark as it would get. We gathered some firewood and then had our dinner; marinated grilled meat, wine and a nice piece of cheese. By midnight we called it a day, rolled out our blankets by the glow of the fire and tried to get an hour or two of sleep before dawn. I tucked myself in beside Johan and the dog rolled herself up against my back, sharing her warmth. Within short everyone was snoring lightly.

It was not long before the birds began to sing and we woke up to a new day, only hours later. Dawning and birdsong. A misty grey light over the forest. As Frida was’nt interested in our scouting business, Johan, the dog and I left her sleeping in camp. Soon we found our way to a small pond where we hoped some animals would come and drink. We sat in hiding and waited for a long time, watching and listening at the sound of a forest waking up from the short Scandinavian summer night.

Up at pre dawn, down by a small pond, waiting to see if anyone will show up to drink.

Watching the pond.

We waited and waited. Then we walked and walked, as quiet as we possibly could. Waiting and walking are the essentials of every hunt. We changed our hiding place a few times, trying to sit by the edge of a lovely green field and on a place where we had seen plenty of tracks of roe deer.

I waited patiently.

I waited patiently.

We were out for about 1,5 hour and saw the sun rise over the fields and the forest. But even though we were very quiet we saw nothing but a few birds. Yet the woods was magically beautiful and it was all worth it anyway. When returning to camp, we were surprised to be met by a burning camp fire. Frida had prepared breakfast for us!

A hunters breakfast, 04:30 am.

Hunters breakfast.

1468_10151445502437765_1782049024_n

Not dogs breakfast.

992795_10151445511477765_2135592870_n

But the doogkeeper shares his rations with the beast.

After eating we rolled up our blankets and headed home. We were tired but pleased with our efforts and the experience of a hunters night in the woods. I’m not sure of the exact phrasing but as Edward Norwich states in his Master of Game from early 15th century:

“The hunter is more joyful than other men and he is never idle. He returns tired and pleased with himself after hunting. Every man that has good sense, knows well that this is the truth.”

946986_10151445499582765_524586860_n

Tired hunter walking back home, early in the morning.

 / Emil

RELEASE THE HOUNDS!

This post about the medieval dog was written for ‘the dogdays’ of Bohus Fästning and therefore regrettably in Swedish. For a more extensive article in English, click here.

:
:
:

Hjortjakt5

Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

:

:

Den medeltida hunden.

.

Det vi vet om den medeltida hunden kommer främst från handböcker i jakt. Den mest kända av dessa är Gaston Phoebus ”livre de la chasse” från sent 1300/tidigt 1400-tal och Kung modus ”Kung praktik och drottning teoris jaktbok” från 1300-talet. Dessutom har vi Edward av Norwich bok, som är en engelsk översättning av Gaston Phoebus, men omgjort något för Engelskt bruk. Just hetsjakten med hund var den som ansågs som den mest ädla jakten.

Kort sagt kan man säga att hundar avlades efter funktion, och inte utseende. Att avla efter funktion ger dock ett visst utseende.

Namnen på de olika rasena var mer generella på den tiden. I alla fall vad vi vet, de var mera indelade i användningsområden.

Ett nutida problem är att många tar ett hundsnamn som är en beskrivning av hundens funktion och/eller ursprungs område, som bevis på att just den hunden är en gammal ras. Lanthund från korpilombolo (en fiktiv ras…) betyder bara lanthundar från den regionen. Att de har haft hundar för det ändamålet där. Men deras utseende och vad vi kallar ‘ras’ nu är troligen väldigt löst korrelerat.

De vanligaste ‘raserna’ var:

:
:

c34_616 Lymer

Livre de Chasse 1407

Lymer/Limer.

En spårhund. Den gick alltid i lina (lymes) och hade därför detta namn. Dessa hundar var goda spårare och kan till användning liknas vid en blodhund. De ser dock inte riktigt ut så även om de är ganska stora och har hängande öron. Ståndöron är för övrigt väldigt ovanligt under denna tid. De användes till att spåra upp bytet i början av jakten när det ligger i sin lega. Efter att de har  skrämt upp bytet släppte man lös sina…

c47_616

Livre de Chasse 1407

Raches.


(Kommer faktiskt av det gamla fornskandinaviska ordet Racka, som lever kvar i t.ex. ‘byracka’ och betyder liten hund)
Raches var ‘mängdhunden’ under 1300-talet. Det är en mellanstor hund som släpps efter bytet när en Lymer hittat det. De är packhundar som släpps i grupper runt 12 eller 21 stycken. ”The more dogs the merrier the music they make” som Edward of Norwich säger. Dessa var oftast ihopkopplade två och två, ”coupled” eller släppta helt fritt. När de släpps tas ofta halsbandet av och man ser deras förare avbildade med ett antal halsband hängande på armen. De var hundar av medelstorlek till mindre, släthåriga och med hängande öron. Till kroppsbyggnaden liknar de en labrador ungefär, men de fanns i alla möjliga färger. Deras jobb var att driva bytet och hålla kontakten med det. De fick inte byta byte om ett annat skulle komma upp, utan skulle hålla sig till det utvalda. Längs med vägen stod sedan, vanligen tre,  ‘relays’ med:

:

:

Greyhounds.

;

mjöhundarUnder benämningen greyhounds döljer sig alla sorters vinthundar, från stora varghundar till små Italienska vinthundar. Greyhounds hölls vanligen i grupper om tre som placerades ut på olika ställen efter jaktspåret. När raches drev bytet förbi deras ‘relay’ så släpptes vinthunden på det för att dra ner det. För det mesta jobbade man med tre relays.

På bilder dominerar den vanliga släthåriga vinthunden, men t.ex. Edward of Norwich beskriver dem som att de ska ha ”Ett fullt hår under käken, som ett lejon” vilket passar mer in på en strävhårig hund som, t.ex. Irländsk varghund.

:
:

Spaniels.
:

Falkdressyr4

Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

Spaniels kommer från Spanien. De användes till jakt på vattenfågel redan då och Edward har inte mycket gott att säga om dem. Detta beror antagligen mest på att han tycker att fågeljakt är en tråkig jaktform som han inte har något till övers för.

Han säger att de nog är bra hundar men att de tyvärr delar kynne med sina landsmän spanjorerna. De kan dock bli bra Berclettis (Berclettis är skjuthundar, hundar man har med sig när man är ute ensam och jagar med båge, den typ av medeltida jakt som kanske mest liknar dagens jakt). Spaniels är avbildade med vågigt, ganska långt hår,  inte olikt en modern spaniel.

.

.

Mastiff.
:

Mastiffen kallas för en ‘blandras’, en mongrel. Den var dålig till jakt eftersom den gärna anföll både kor, hästar och även sin egen förare. Den var dock en bra hund för en slaktarbutik. Edward tycker att man kan ha den till att rota ut vildsvin som sprungit in i buskar ”så slipper man riskera en av sina dyra hundar”

Vi vet också att mastiffer använts av adelsmän som har hundar med sig ut i krig. Det verkar som att mastiff var en form av aggressiv gårdshund. Använd till att bevaka och angripa. Den behöver inte nödvändigtvis varit lika stor som nu utan kan ha varit allt från Staffordshire terrier till vad som nu kallas mastiff.
:
:

Talbot

.

En talbot, som blivit känd inom heraldiken, var under medeltid ett ganska vanligt egennamn på hundar. Senare blev det mer synonymt med större ‘lufsiga’ hundar. En ‘riktigt’ Talbot skulle vara vit.
:
:

eyck_arnolfini_dog_1__800_800

Van Eyck, 1435

Sällskapshundar

.

Något engelskt namn har jag inte på dessa. Men diverse små hundar som hölls bara för deras sällskaps skull fanns också. På van Euyks berömda bröllopsmålning finns tex en liten hund som ganska mycket ser ut som en Bichon pour la Frissé.
:
:
:

Herdehundar


Tyvärr vet jag inte så mycket om herdehundar då det är svårt att hitta information om dem i källorna.Men herdar verkar ofta ha haft med sig större hundar som skydd och framförallt som upptäckare av, rovdjur.

Utöver dessa kan det mycket väl funnits andra raser som använts till olika saker men vars namn inte kvarlevt till eftervärlden.

.

.

Man kan säga att medeltida hundar kunde se ut ungefär hur som helst. De vanligaste hundarna verkar ha varit släthåriga av medelstorlek och ha hängande öron. Men alla möjliga sorter däremellan fanns. Då man främst avlar på användning och inte utseende blir rasgrupperna större och variationen inom dem mer spridd. Man kan därför inte tala om raser på samma sätt som idag och att spåra en ‘ras’ bakåt kan bli svårt.

.

.

Den medeltida hunden i Sverige

I Skånelagen (bl.a.) finns en uppteckning om hur mycket man skall böta om man har ihjäl en annans hund. Där står de olika raserna upptecknade.

De är:
Gårdsvar (en gårdshund. En alltiallo hund för gården)

Mjöhund (alla vinthundsraser, Mjö kommer av fornnordiskans Mio som betyder smal)

Bärsaracka (samma som Raches. Bärsa är ett gammalt ord som betyder jakt/jägare)

Köffren ( en knähund. Små hundar som ”en man kan omsluta runt halsen med en hand” )

.

Av dessa fick man böta mest om man hade dräpt en köffren, men bara om ägaren kunde intyga att den aldrig bitit någon

Den vanligaste hunden här i norden sedan bronsåldern verkar ha varit spetshundar. Jämthund och Älghund och andra inhemska raser är väldigt gamla. Utgrävningar i Gamla Uppsala visar dock på högreståndsgravar från vikingatid med stora hundar. Jag har ännu inte pratat med osteologerna så jag vet inte vilken sort dessa är.

:

Förhållandet till hunden

Ett medeltida ordspråk säger ”Hunden skall tjäna mannan och kattan tjänar kvinnan”.
Hunden verkar ha varit en kär och omhuldad varelse. I Sverige finns en historia om en kvinna som dödar en mans Bärsaracki ”som är han väldigt kär” och han blir mycket ledsen. Andra historier som visar på en man och hans kärlek till sin hund är relativt vanliga. Ett annat Exempel är Tristan och hans kära hund Husdent. Hunden är frekvent en symbol för trohet.

c23_616 Kennel

Kennel, från Livre de chasse

De medeltida jaktböckerna beskriver hur man skall ta hand om sina jakthundar.

.

De ska ha en kennel med uppvärmning i.

Deras sovplatser skall var upphöjda från marken så de är skyddade mot drag

De skall ha sex stora stenar att kissa mot och väl dränerat med diken från dessa.

En liten dräng skall sova med dem så de inte blir oroliga om de vaknar mitt i natten.

Varje morgon skall de tas ut till en grön äng där de kan springa och leka och om de vill äta gräs.

Ny halm skall de ha varje dag och efter att de varit på ängen skall de gnuggas rena med halm.

Hunden utfodrades som bas med en sorts hårt bröd på engelska kallat ‘Brombread’ . De fick också tillägg av slaktrester och ibland kunde de tas ut på jakt bara för att hållas i trim och få kött för sig själva.

För fina bilder på jakthundar se gärna  ‘livre de la chasse

Som avslutning bjuder jag på denna dam från 1400-talet med en liten taxliknande hund… med spikkrage

Dachsen:

Johan Käll

The song of the bell rope

One of the first medieval hunting techniques I remember Johan told me about is the use of a long rope with bells tied to it. I call it “The bell rope trick”. It is depicted in Livre de chasse, a handbook on hunting from around 1388 written by Gaston Phoebus. The rope is stretched out between two hunters who walk with it across a field to drive up small game such as hares towards the end of the field. There the hares are welcomed by other hunters with a net, spears or clubs.

943307_10151399394457765_1061918120_n

To drive the game by making noise is in no way unique but I think the bells adds a bit of glamour and makes it look like a lot of fun. I have not yet managed to tie myself a proper net, but Johan did his part last month when purchasing a range of brass bells suitable for the rope. As we can’t legally kill anything, the net is not essential and we thought it worth a try – perhaps we could stir up a few hares anyway?

IMAG1505

Stretching the rope with the bells on it.

For this hunting expedition we were accompanied by our friend Helena. One of the advantages of reenacting the medieval hunt over other other aspects of medieval life is that women seem to have participated alongside with men. They are depicted doing the same things as men, often with their kirtles tucked up in their belt to allow for easy movement and without the linnen veil otherwise worn by most grown women during this period. These pictures below are from the same French manuscript, but there are many others and the topic of women hunting will need a post of its own in the future.

K043765

Women hunting hare with bow and a club.

K019608

A lady spearing a boar.

IMAG1503

From the perspective of our game for today, the hare.

We hit the outdoor rabbit hutch field in the late evening when we expected the small game to come out and graze after a really hot day. The field of choice was located far out in the woods. We saw lots of rabbit holes in the ground nearby, so we moved against the direction of the light breeze to try to prevent the animals to get our scent to early on. But once Johan had positioned himself at the edge of the field and the bell-rope was spread out, there was no longer any need for silence. It was time for the rope to sing.

Sadly, we could not raise any hares from the field this time. But just as I had thought, the bell rope sang beautifully in the wind and against the high grass on the field. We all had a try on handling the rope and speculated afterwards by our camp fire on the reason of our failure to find any game.

10363492_10152091656207765_2180561960715492262_n

Johan is also having a try with the bell-rope.

It could be that the day had been unusually hot and that the hares prefer to stay in their hiding places protected from the heat. The field could have been a bad choice for a place to hunt. We have been here many times but only seen tracks of animals here, no actual creatures moving about so we know not their habits of movement around it. Or it could be that we wasn’t as quiet and careful as we should have – after all we are not as skilled as the medieval hunters would have been.

To hear the song of the bell rope for yourself, take a look at the short film Johan made about our attempt to reenact this medieval hunting technique.

/ Emil

Exploring the medieval hunt

Welcome to our new blog!

10380998_10152912184822926_8575826694850091842_n

Emil.

We are two Swedish reenactors who decided a while ago to start exploring the medieval hunt, around late 1300, early 1400. Our reasons for taking on this stems equally from our love of outdoor adventure, a lust for wine and cheese by the camp fire and an ambition to learn more about the medieval world by experimenting and experiencing.

My name is Emil. I found my way to reenactment when I plunged into the Battle of Wisby project in 2011, after years of studying archaeology and practising historical crafts. I’m a born blogger and enjoy writing about our adventures almost as much as I enjoy outdoor life in historical clothing. My unseemly love for pretty things and the neat and tidy look of my 14th century outfit have sort of landed me in the well polished shoes of a young land owner. So, I have come to reenact the relatively wealthy huntsman, hunting for the joy of it more than anything.

Johan, my hunting comrade and co-writer on this blog is an experienced reenactor as the founding father of Albrechts gunners, 14th century company of Swedish gunners. He to has a genuine academic background and all sort of practical skills that is beyond my ability to rightly describe. Johan is reenacting the huntsmaster and doghandler, a veltraus. He wears the hunting horn that signals the different phases of the hunt and the great Irish wolf hound Boudica answers to him.

DSC_0049

Johan.

Hunting is an unusually grateful subject for reenectment since apart from other sources there actually are several contemporary handbooks on the topic preserved. These books feature both literal advice and guidance as well as amazingly vivid and detailed pictures of medieval hunters and their equipment.

Our task is to look at the material we can get our hands on and do our best to imitate and re-create what we see with techniques and materials used in the 14th century. Reenactment is learning by doing.

As a little taste of what is to come, here is a short film Johan made after one of our first hunting expeditions, I hope you’ll enjoy it. If you do, make sure to follow us on our future adventures while exploring the medieval hunt!

Yours truly, Emil