Labours of the Month: December

Last month we looked at pannage, feeding pigs on the autumnal fodder in wooded pastures, particularly on acorns. December, however, is less auspicious for our porcine friends. Vegetarians and vegans should look away now because after November's pannage, December's Labour of the Month is the slaughter of pigs. It may seem odd to us that this was …

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Labours of the Month: November

Imagine you are standing at the edge of a forest on a cold November day. The periodic thump of a woodsman's axe echoes in the still air and from the shade beneath the trees there comes the sound of many animals rooting around in the fallen leaves. You hear their grunts and the occasional thwack of the swineherd's stick …

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Labours of the Month: October

Sowing was the beginning and end of the agricultural season and was an important charge for the workers responsible. After the soil was loosened with a harrow and subdivided into furrows with a plow, the process of sowing was as follows: "The field to be sown was measured, and the seed was measured into open sacks …

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Labours of the Month: August

As we found out last month, the wheat harvest was a crucial part of keeping people fed year-round in the middle ages. In August, the Labour of the Month is threshing. By using a flail to beat bundles of wheat, the edible grains were shaken loose from the rest of the stock. Threshing wheat is best done …

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Roger of Salerno’s ‘Surgery’

Trinity College Library's Manuscript O.1.20 is one of the earliest and most important known collections of vernacular medical texts from the middle ages. It includes among its various treatises and receipts an illustrated Anglo-Norman translation of the Chirurgia Practica of Roger of Salerno. Rogerius (before 1140 – c. 1195), also known as Roger of Salerno, brought …

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