Sheepskins

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gregory23b
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Postby gregory23b » Sun Sep 30, 2007 7:14 pm

"I could use a gas stove which meant food and a hot drink in minutes rather than hours."

Ha! cook water in a metal (bronze) pot, not only does it not take long it keeps hot for ages dwahling.

In terms of comfort, I don't find plastic any more comfortable, easier yes, but not nicer, as I still only sleep on a sleeping bag, too lazy to inflate. My historical clothing are nice and warm and if dry are fine for kipping in - shirt and breech at least.

Camping at Kelmarsh - plastic - was great as we were not expected to kip in one of the buildings and we could do what we liked in our own plastic area, even re-erect our blown down and bent gazebo.

"I actually agree with the notion that the events I attend are not accurate representaions of medieval life but are 1300-1800 camping holidays."

Which is why I believe that many re-enactors would be happier doing SCA-style events, lots of historical compromise and no MOPS, so they do not have to apologise or justify anything and it would only cost them a few quid to hire the venue. Could do multi -period too, allowing more generic medievalists to do their thing.



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Sun Sep 30, 2007 7:47 pm

I was a wee bit annoye with the idea that because my ancestors liked watching public executions it meant they would have been to stupid 9or well hard) to put a blanket on the floor to keep their feet a little bit warmer or dry. There may well be sound economic, historical reasons for it that' I'm more than happy to accept, in fact i am not one of those re-enactors who do it. It just seemed a false logic to explain it that way. It's like those people who think everyone in the past must have been thick because they didn't use concrete breeze blocks and plastic.


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Postby Handbag » Sun Sep 30, 2007 7:50 pm

gregory23b wrote:Handbag, Jelly was trying to use an argument based on comfort rather than accuracy or at least mingling the two, the argument of comfort and the use or not of sheepskins is a false one are there are plenty of examples of our 'hardy ancestors' who used soft and warm things to take the rough edges off life.

I would bet our ancestors did not actually enjoy dysentry any more than anyone today, putting up with something out of necessity is not the same as saying one relishes it.

I agree with his doubt on the use of sheepskins but not for the same reasons, or not all of his reasons - ie those ones above.


ok! well I think i perhaps understand this a little more now. i agree with his doubt over use of sheepskins as floor coverings based on the primary evidence like the images i included. I have to build my conclusions on this because as a 21st century person my mindset is not that of a medieval person so i cant speculate. as much as i want too!!

I kind of know what Marcus is on about in regards to plastic camping. it takes the pressure off a bit and means you can relax into your surroundings more. i dont find it easier or more comfortable. its just different! i think one of the best tewkesburys i had was one when i stayed in the back of a transit van!!! :lol: :lol:



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Postby Dave B » Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:37 pm

We have all the kit to do the LH thing but normaly reckon there is enough of it without us and sleep in canvas tents on the plastic site.

The basic problem is that all the stuff is usefull in giving the public something to look at and getting debate going. you just have to be honest and not fool yourself that what we do is representitive.


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Postby m300572 » Mon Oct 01, 2007 1:51 pm

I imagine the process for cleaning a fleece with skin still attached, is very different from just cleaning shorn wool, and more expensive


Start off by washing the sheep - commonly done in the 19th C, there are a number of 'Sheepwash Lane's in England.

Cleaning shorn wool - pick out the big bits of mank to start withand then the rest gets picked out when the wool is combed or carded. You can also wash it out if its too mucky to start with (if the sheepwasher hadn't done his job properly before shearing)

Cleaning a wool fell - comb or brush out the manky bits then wash the fell.


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Postby Fox » Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:04 pm

Well doesn't this thread raise a number of issues.

First:
Jelly has told us all that anyone with sheepskins on the floor would clearly be wrong.
But he doesn't have a good reason, except that it isn't directly provinancable, and that medieval people didn't need luxuries.

That strikes me as very fragile thinking.

I'm not suggesting that we should represent sheepskins on the floor, but nor is it something I've actually seen in re-enactors authentic displays that needs stamping out.

But what you have done is, on the very thin, and also incorrect, supposition of a lack of luxury on campaign, "criminalised" [for want of a better word] anyone who does do it. They may have provinance for it, it doesn't sound beyond the bounds of possibility, there are illustrations that show quite posh looking floor coverings in posh tents.

Second, and moreover, we have moved down an assumption about common soldiery sleeping "out of doors". Certainly on summer campaign this might be the most practical. And there are any number of other constructions between being wrapped in your cloak and having to carry a tent everywhere.

But knowing something about trying to survive out of doors in the winter (having nearly died of hypothermia on one occasion inside a tent), I would be dubious of the chance of survival with everyone simply wrapped in their cloaks night after night. Especially when a single cart could carry enough canvas and supports for a very large number (probably more than 100) men, and certainly certain simple tents could be carried by the men they would contain.

So, is this idea of everyone sleeping rough another re-enactorism, or do we actually know better?



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Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:08 pm

Its the very reason why campaigns had a season- to ensure you didn't have to campaign in winter.

Troops would also be billeted in buildings where possible in the main so this idea of camping "rough" is a variable and relative term- since we have very few C15th buildings then tents are used and excused as a practical medium.


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Postby Fox » Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:13 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:Its the very reason why campaigns had a season- to ensure you didn't have to campaign in winter.


Absolutely, travel was slower, and undoubtedly some did fall victim to the conditions.

Nevertheless, winter campaigning did occur, and you couldn't guarentee what buildings you would reach at the end of each day. There had to be a practical, even it was simple, alternative.

That would also lean against campaign out of season, because you'd have to carry more stuff.

Of course, you'd use building where you could, winter or summer, simply because they'd limit the ammount of effort in setting and breaking camp.



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Postby zauberdachs » Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:22 pm

The Cad has a thing for simple thatched shelters that he has evidence were used on campaign in the later 15th century.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:08 pm

The one that vexes me isn't so much the 'too many tents' approach (look at the size of some of the camps in manuscripts), but 'too many PERSONAL tents'. A Camp full of one man tents looks like a modern camp to me. Only the officers would have a personal tent, just for them and their family and imediate servants...

I blame the 18th C.


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Postby gregory23b » Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:20 pm

Come on Jelly imprint, tell us more.

Otherwise I will call you when I leave work, circa 11.30 and I don't mean Angevin time either ;-)


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Postby the real lord duvet » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:36 pm

i thought this was like the "be more authentic chuck all your kit away" thread that happened a while back.

criminalising - good word fox - people's kit for no reason



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Postby KezT » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:51 pm

we have been known to put a couple of our old sheepskins on the floor - I know that aufentikly I should use hay/straw (we do lots in Wales - too wet to have just grass!) but I do not have space to lug hay bales around everywhere, nor do I have easy access to hay! Old sheepskins cover up the occasional bit of plastic that i also have on the floor of my tent because - we ALL take authenticity only so far! I always explain that "real" floor coverings would be straw/rugs or whatever was locally available. And thast only the nobs had tents. And that there was a 75% mortality rate amongst children, and I re-enact with three young children. I prefer them all to live thanks.

Plus, I have been known to wrap myself up in my cloak and sleep on the field. I was rudley awakened by a kick and someone saying "wow, look they've even put props on the ground". This happened on numerous occasions until I learned to sleep on a sheepskin/rug inside a camp area!

Plus, the public are not interested in seeing a blanket on the floor near a fire - they can imagine that for themselves when you tell them how the normal soldiers lived. they want to see (and touch) the posh stuff - tents, pictures, chairs, beds etc...



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Postby Dave B » Tue Oct 02, 2007 7:41 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:The one that vexes me isn't so much the 'too many tents' approach (look at the size of some of the camps in manuscripts), but 'too many PERSONAL tents'. A Camp full of one man tents looks like a modern camp to me.


We nomally have only one tent open, plus the 'cooking shelter' and the rest closed up, so we can give the impression that they had 6 soldiers sleeping in the closed tents rather than one couple. As we have a few members who travel light and are in the plastic camp, it works well.


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Postby Lady Cecily » Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:08 pm

Wool is too valuable to throw on the floor - even when you slaughter the sheep at the end of it's life the wool I think would be sheared off first. Hence no fleecy skin for the floor.

That would be my thought on the matter anyway.


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Postby the real lord duvet » Wed Oct 03, 2007 8:50 am

then again if you had lots of wool you'd flaunt it?

or if you had just raped and pillaged your enemies flock - you'd commit a bigger taunt by wiping your feet on it afterwards.

how about the skins of your enemies instead then? and skulls for drinking vessels.



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Postby Fox » Wed Oct 03, 2007 8:56 am

Lady Cecily wrote:Wool is too valuable to throw on the floor - even when you slaughter the sheep at the end of it's life the wool I think would be sheared off first. Hence no fleecy skin for the floor.

That would be my thought on the matter anyway.


But is that view consistent with other evidence and information presented on this thread?

I'm not saying that it isn't, but it might appear contary to some of it, and it appears you are expressing an "gut feeling" opinion rather than a fact, or an extrapolation from facts [in fact, you say as much].

Again, not a critisism; but at this point in the discussion, I think the distinction is important.

My reason being that I would object, based soley on what we've seen so far, on the tone of the first post.



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Postby gregory23b » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:47 am

"But is that view consistent with other evidence and information presented on this thread? "

It is a reasonable one based on the fact that wool was a cash crop as it were and what use is a sheepskin on the floor when it could be sold?

I would certainly subscribe to that more than mere whim of having to stand on.


It all boils down to, again, that we do know what they used but spend more time on arguing the possibilities of what they might have done, similar to the hose thread.

Jelly has a point, if only to say what evidence is there for sheepskins being used as floor coverings, given the amount of crap coming off shoes, purely on a practical basis, cleaning and keeping a white fleece white is a challenge, possibly pushing the idea of a sheepskin being a luxury item, but then we know that finished goods, woven textiles for exampe were really held in esteem - a strange set of contradictions.

Not sure if sheepskins are worse than modern straw bales though - Havana is nice this time of year ;-)


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:57 am

Really this comes down to what your expectation of re-enactment is and how you interperate the past. I have read enough to understand that the LH camp i play act in is not a real 15th century camp. There are too many tents, there are too many women, there are too many weapons around, there are too few "soldiers", no horses, etc, we're all too well fed, clothed, scrubbed, old and so on (bloody hell what a depressing list).
I make sure that I inform the public of these things and that we are trying to represent what a very senior member of Lord hastings Household, with a reputation for generosity, may have had in his camp, not a real medieval army on the march. We have one or two (at the most three tents on display) and the rest closed off. I don't think I have seen sheepskins on the floor but I am willing to admit that I havn't been looking for them.
But I have done my bit sleeping rough with little or no food, forced marches and the rest of it, and quite frankly even though the pay wasn't that grand it was better then the nothing i have ever been paid for taking part at an event. I'll try to be authentic as i can while still desiring 21st century comforts i know are out of place.
It also depends on what people expect. Ian has a vision of medieval life that is dirty, brutal and short, where men where men and women were nervous. I have a vision of medieval life that sees it as a time of great Faith and creativity. Lots of MOPs have a vision that is tied directly to Robin Hood and King Arthur (which is why they get up set when I "arm" up for battle by doning a filthy jack and soem unpolished bits and peices of armour with ne'er a sword, a white steed or feathered plume in sight). All of these have some validity but all are wrong visions taken in isolation.
It certainly is making me think about what i want to do and what I would like to portray as a re-enactor.


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Postby Fox » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:41 am

gregory23b wrote:It is a reasonable one based on the fact that wool was a cash crop as it were and what use is a sheepskin on the floor when it could be sold?

I would certainly subscribe to that more than mere whim of having to stand on.

It all boils down to, again, that we do know what they used but spend more time on arguing the possibilities of what they might have done, similar to the hose thread.

Jelly has a point, if only to say what evidence is there for sheepskins being used as floor coverings, given the amount of crap coming off shoes, purely on a practical basis, cleaning and keeping a white fleece white is a challenge, possibly pushing the idea of a sheepskin being a luxury item, but then we know that finished goods, woven textiles for exampe were really held in esteem - a strange set of contradictions.


OK, first it seems like a random point, I've never seen a sheep skin on the floor. I have no desire to put a sheepskin on the floor, I don't know people crying out to do it.

Second, the tone of the thread suggests it's self evident that sheepskins were not on the floor. I don't think it is self evident; it simply seems unlikely on a why would you type basis.

Third, the arguments against it have been on a too expensive/luxury argument, which is spurious. Possibly this would be better expressed as it being the wrong type of luxury.

Forth, the argument assumes that were you ever to see a re-enactor using a sheepskin as floor covering they would be wrong; I'd prefer to find out what evidence they have extrapolated before I cast judgement.

And finally Jorge, why would sheepskins be white?



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Postby gregory23b » Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:40 pm

Because in the main, most sheep are/were white (or whatever passes for it), to enable effective dyeing thereof?

I agree it is not self-evident, but there is no evidence either, at least from an off the top of the head thing. So on that basis alone maybe there is no case to do so.

Marcus, you can have the luxury comfort items, even if misplaced in the 15thc military craft fair, as long as they are the right ones - you can have quilts, bolsters, cusions, blankets, floor coverings etc. Or to have those luxuries, portray a persona that would have them - the cosmetic issue is the conflcit of wanting to be crap head soldier on one hand then living rather comfortably on the other - a good case for more plastic camping and less 'medieval' camping - unless done to the right scale. Otherwise you spend too much time agonising over what compromises you have made to do the event.

Also, Jelly doesn't really thnk they lived like dogs, he is a Burgundian posh knob, so he knows otherwise.


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Postby Fox » Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:35 pm

Are we arguing against each other, but on the same side of the argument again?



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Postby the real lord duvet » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:13 pm

i think you've been wound up by someone who said you can't do something that you don't want to do. nor had you even consided doing it but because they said you couldn't, you then decided to fight for the right to do it if you wanted to but you don't.

but that doesn't mean that you won't fight for your right to do the thing that you never considered doing or wanted to do but are probably going to do now just because someone said you couldn't..........


trust me next year we'll all have 1970 carpets in the tents. sheepskins everybody?



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Postby Malvoisin » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:41 pm

the real lord duvet wrote:trust me next year we'll all have 1970 carpets in the tents. sheepskins everybody?


Can I have a tiger skin? :lol:

Back to Sheep again: Sheep belong to your Lord and him alone. If he chose to allow you the luxury of a sheeps skin and fleece (both a highly profitable cash crop) then all well and good. To Quote Brother Ranulf :
From the early rectitudines singularum personarum: "About the shepherd. A shepherd's due is that he should have 12 night's dung at Christmas and 1 lamb from the year's young ones, 1 sheepskin and the milk...

So otherwise why would you have a sheep/ deer/ boar skin unless you received it in payment? To be honest I'd rather have the money thanks.

Also I've never seen a sheep skin on the floor, on a fold up Argos camping chair yes, but never on the floor. Which brings me to the question: What did thy use?
Common sense says to me that any thing available to keep you and your belongings dry. The need for this of course depends on the weather. Even digging a shallow trench around your tent stops the rain water from flowing through it.


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Postby KezT » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:18 pm

Even digging a shallow trench around your tent stops the rain water from flowing through it.


Not sure what EH would say about THAT idea :twisted:

Which sums up one of the many problems of re-enacting authentically!



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Postby Aginoth » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:31 pm

Guilty as charged....we put sheepskin/fleece on our tent floor, but ...

1. our tent is closed
2. we only use four or five manky old short clipped part skins that are no good for anything else, except maybe scabbard lining or shoe padding (I have cut off strips for this purpose :))
3. the main reason I use them is that I have arthritis and Plaque Psoriasis, and the fleeces allow me to kneel with a modicum less pain on the floor of our tent, when necessary, also means I don't agravate my arthritis by walking on cold or hard floors, and assist in allowing me to not have to resort to plastic camping.


I like my fleeces and i'm keeping them

and as pointed out already in our group as in many others we only have a few open tents of the dozen or so we erect, the others if the pulic ask would be full of soldiers or stabling the expensive horses of our lords and knights (there are primary source pictures of stabling in tents)

<Tongue firmly in Cheek>
but to throw in a side about true authenticity, if this was the 14th Century i'd have died at about 6 months old of a febrile convulsion, and since then on at least 8 other occasions, so to be authentic should I pretend to be a corpse? My skin conditions would alow me to play a reasonably authentic leper :)
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Postby Handbag » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:50 pm

Aginoth wrote:Guilty as charged....we put sheepskin/fleece on our tent floor, but ...

1. our tent is closed



See now thats ok!! i like my sheepskins and they get put on the floor for our tent lodger to sleep on. but during the day they will stay firmly away from floor.


Aginoth wrote:so to be authentic should I pretend to be a corpse?


hmmm this isnt a ploy to get out of paying your taxes or being picked on in the court scenes now is it agi!??

thinking about when we used to have sheepskins on the floor. i was constantly picking them up to avoid rain seeping and soaking them or cuz they were getting grassy bits stuck in them(making it a little itchy to sleep on) so practically speaking for me sheepskins as a floor covering did not work.

however i know another re-enactor who had sheepskins as floor coverings and after a few hours in the sun there was one that radiated heat for hours like a hot water bottle. strange!! (but really nice) [/quote]



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Postby Fox » Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:58 am

Aginoth wrote:Guilty as charged....we put sheepskin/fleece on our tent floor, but ...

1. our tent is closed


Then it's not part of your display, so it's not inauthentic (in terms of re-enactment).

I sleep on an airbed, but my tent is closed too. When the public are gone I eat modern food, with a fork! :shock:



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Postby DeviantShrub » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:23 am

Fox wrote:I sleep on an airbed, but my tent is closed too. When the public are gone I eat modern food, with a fork! :shock:


More shocking than that, I put sheepskins on an airbed!



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Postby Aginoth » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:11 am

Handbag wrote:hmmm this isnt a ploy to get out of paying your taxes or being picked on in the court scenes now is it agi!??



Now that sounds like a plan, "Sorry m'lord, I'm dead this year for Tax purposes"

Very Douglas Adams :)


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