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Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:46 pm
by Clarenceboy
Seen a few people using these and I like the idea but I wanted to know if anyone had any eveidence for it before I go about knocking some up.
A lot of pictures don't show much of the interior of a tent so this may be a hard image to source but from what I have seen people using it looks to be 2 or 3 wooden shelves with holes drilled in to thread rope through that then hangs from one of the spars. If anyone has seen any pics of this it would be great if you could let me know.

Also on another note it would add credence to the spoked construction to tents alongside or instead of hooped or roped tents

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:34 am
by Rochester
They have shelves made like this in the castle kitchen at Guedelon. I would assume they must have some provenance for them...

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:21 am
by kate/bob
I seem to remember seeing an illustration of the inside of a house with similar shelves, but can't for the life of me remember where. I'd be really interested if anyone does have evidence for these.

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:48 pm
by John Waller
The History Re-Enactment Workshop had some shelves like this in their mock-up of a early C17th tavern at Blasts from the Past. They are usually very good in their research.

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:52 pm
by Fox
So far, not hearing anything that puts them in medieval tents.....

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:05 pm
by gregory23b
Hanging shelves need something to hang from, if a tent, then what from? the spars need to be established as 'they used them' first.

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:52 am
by Clarenceboy
Regarding the spokes/spars thing. I am personally happy with the evidence around for there being tents with spars as well as ones with hoops and other with just crows feet arrangements.
Spent a long time looking at sources before getting my tent and im my opinion there were tents that did use spokes as well as those that didn't.
That said the suspended shelves question is still left hanging (pun intended!)

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:37 am
by gregory23b
Like to see the evidence though, as yet no one has produced any, merely supposed it using 'common sense' and extrapolating from very small images, interesting that no image that is reckoned to be spoked shows the spokes emerging from the roof edge, even on the most detailed image, even more interesting are the various ways this has been catered for, sleeves for staves for example, seems a way of over complicating things. I am not anti-spoke just not satisfied with the basis on which they are promoted and that hardly anyone is using tents without spokes even though we know how they were made, a strange irony.

I know of one hoop reference and that is Henry the VIII, a scale of tent production out of the remit of what we do, that does not exclude the use of hoops for the pelmets, they seem to be shape reinforcers rather than major supports.

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:50 am
by Clarenceboy
Nope your right no images of the interior of tents (with or without spokes) but plenty of evidence, that for me, convinces. Images where some tents are shown with and some without crows feet ropes. An images with a pavillion tent fallen over and the shape of the roof is still intact suggesting internal support. Enough evidence for me to be happy to use spoked tents at least

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:21 am
by gregory23b
" An images with a pavillion tent fallen over and the shape of the roof is still intact suggesting internal support."

I suspect know that image, mid 15thc French, that also shows the men near the tent to be the same size as it, plus the besiegers to be completely out of scale with the city. My question would be why would a MSS painter go to such lengths to show the presence of a tent support when he could not or would not bother with such simple things as scale, or better rendering of the rest of the tableau? My suspicion is that if he actually showed the tent to be collapsing it would merely look like a lump of cloth, so he has simply turned it over to be explicit that the tent has collapsed, in a similar that some castle towers were shown to be 'cracked' open and coming apart in less than realistic ways.

Many MSS images are seen as narratives rather than portrayals of actuality, regardless of actual detail. Time frames, scales, details are all subject to the requirement of the commissioner and the norms of manuscript production, not to be documentary evidence as we know it.

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:31 am
by Clarenceboy
Happy to agree with you that many pics are allergoricial rather than snap shots of whats going on but the image i'm talking about ( ... 3_0024.jpg) isn't a seige and does clearly show the bottom of the falling tent being very rumpled, it has a high display of detailed imagery and though not to scale it does take matters of scale into account.
I'd say there is argument for many types of desighn from upright poles at the edges to spokes to hoops and crows feet. I don't believe that there was only one construction technique being used at the time when there is such a wide variation in the size and shape of tents that were around.
Looking at another image ( ... dream.html) again there is a lot of detail but no evidence of ropes pulling the tent walls out.

anyway it's all been said before here ( and id agree with those findings.

However it is an interesting point that if an image of internal hung shelving could be found it would go along way to proving a spoked structure

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:34 pm
by gregory23b
Froissart. Ah yes, I was merging that one with a siege image I had in mind, but that is the baby.

Note the scale of the people to the tents and the narrative nature of the image.

Also note the crows feet, that arrangement is not compatible with spokes. You either have crows feet like that or if with spokes, much like early reenactment tents you have single ropes with a single spoke as they are pulling and being pulled in same direction, not so with crows feet as the spokes are radiating outwards creating the rigidity and the crows feet pulling together. A simpler way to visualise this to have your hands flat with fingers splayed, one is the spokes the other is the guys touch finger tips together and follow the lines of pull, as if looking from above. Apart from that, the crows feet as shown in that image do the job that the spokes are supposed to, but from the outside. If you then looked at your hands side on with your 'crows feet' tilted at an angle as guys are, you would see that the crows feet are also pulling downwards on the spokes, so why is that any use when the crows feet with guy follows the pitch of the roof and this is self supporting? One or the other, but not both at the same time, that is a waste of materials and adds no advantage.

Why no images of tent spokes emerging from the walls? we have loads in reenactment, they can hardly work without the spokes protruding, so why, with all of these images that are presented as 'evidence' are none visible? What happens is that we are retrofitting a modern idea to what we see in MSS and that is not evidence.

I am truly stunned at the amount of 'research' put into spoked tents and the various forms of 'evidence' that merely back up modern tent making practices or conjectured tent ideas, rather than actually making tents that work the way they seemed to, based on actual evidence, ie existing tents. Believe me when I say I am trying to be objective on this, I do not have a preference, so much as a great wariness of what is presented as supposed self-evident truth based on pictures.

There is other more tangible evidence for tent construction:
There is a 16th/17c tailors book complete with two cutting guides for making tents, that would appear to be a pavillion, one with a steeper roof, the other slightly less so, you can calulate exactly how much cloth you need for a tent with a given number of panels.

Basle Tent.

I found a reference to Hen VII and possible tent hoops, if I, who might be seen to be in opposition to the spoked or other contrivance, can come up with historical information, why can't those who support the spoked idea look at the other side as well? Point being, looking at MSS is simply not enough, if anything, it is misleading. Ironically, when a picture shows a method of supporting a tent that actually ticks the boxes, eg Simone Martini or the Bettini, both of which are pretty clear, the latter showing erection stage by stage, a genuine narrative of a process, rather than a story, they are treated as unusual, they may be in the sense of numbers, but in terms of potential accuracy also.

It is of course one of our proverbial old chestnuts and long may we roast it. ;-)

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:04 pm
by Clarenceboy
From my experience of a crows footed tent (I have one of the few that I know of in re-enactment) they seem to work fine with both the ropes and spokes in place. I have been wanting to try the set up with only using the crows feet but two things have stopped me so far.
One is the amount of room you need. The distance you have to take the ropes our far enough to get the angle on the roof right is massive. My tent is 5 meters in diameter, I'd estimate that would have to increase to 9 or 10 meters to be able to get the right angle on the roof. I admit that in the period that may not be nearly the issue it is now at events.
The other factor is the weight of the material, whereas a spoke arrangement pushes the material out and puts the stress of the weight of the canvas onto the spoke and then onto the centre pole a crows foot arrangement pulls the canvas out and places the weight of the material on to the point where the ropes tie through the roof section.
As I say I have a linen crows footed tent and even with spokes to help you can see that the holes that the crows foot ropes go through have stretched due to the pull of the rope on the knot thats securs it to the tent. Without the support of the spokes I think that all the weight of the walls and roof going through the small hoes would damage and eventually rip the tent material. Perhaps there was some interal help in that the ropes tied to bars or something to spread the force but again there is a huge level of supposition there.

As I have said before I believe a lot of tents were just held out with ropes not spokes because as you say that makes a lot more scense regarding transport, but with some of the larger tents you see in images I think the size of them and therefor the weight would mean there has to be something helping internally or the structure would fall or tear from the forces involved.

Just my thoughts.

P.S. if your at bosworth this weekend pop along the the Clarence camp and I'll show you what I mean about the combined feet and spoke arrangement

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:05 pm
by gregory23b
Hi, sadly I wont be able to attend Bos, no events on the table for me this year, but appreciate the invite.

For larger tents, have a look at the Cloth of Gold, amazing structures, some effectively circus marquees, with layers of ropes, in some cases spurred tent sections, presumably for living quarters etc. For the Henry's level of expense and from what we know, as you say, it would take some other measures to keep the tents up, in addition to what we know.

Re the inside for supporting the crows feet, if the Bettinni pic is right, ie the walls hang off, as in the Basel tent, is there not a reinforcing panel for just for that purpose?

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:34 am
by Immortalis
After reading and being here for sometime now how people love to use paintings to illustrate their point but will state how little can be taken from paintings when it does support their claim/ideas. Why would this be do we think? After all saying he hasnt got the scale right so why goto the length of getting the tent right, have you seen any other painters most arent known for their realism. They try to get across what they want after all you cant be saying that these people were the medieval camera, he probably wasnt even there let alone painting as the seige/battle took place.

i think the use of paintings to prove points is over used after all we cant even prove the painting is accurate as it would have taken a long time to finish but you will only take pictures from the date in question.

Militant B@stard

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:10 pm
by gregory23b
It is the easiest immediate way someone can get an impression, yet images are notoriously biased, as you say, they are not documentary, but at the same time can convey some realism. Craig Harbison sums up Flemish realism as a 'realism of particulars" ie a collection of realistically painted items, that are not necessarily in a realistic setting, in a similar vein so can many MSS or paintings be viewed. On the one hand we have painters who seem to be able to portray items that are plausible and others who do not. The tent argument is a classic for that, Martini and Bettini show accurate portrayals of tents, inasmuch as the expected detail of execution is there, angles of ropes, space needed for the layout of tents, yet others, will cram all the images into a small space, notably a few cm across and will omit or include detail as space or the job allows.

People will often use the Misprounounski Bible as a source for armour for the 12/13th c, fine, because people accept that the mail portrayed on the figures is not to scale, for if it were, the links would be as big as saucers, likewise the stitching on the gambesons, big stitches. It is accepted because people 'know what the image is getting at', yet when such an image takes equal liberties with tents, no guys, or guys at odd angles, the same level of understanding is not offered. People know what real mail looks like, so can make that leap, but few people have seen a medieval tent, other than in other MSS or paintings, hence the argument. The latter is also saddled with modern interpretations of tents, that by chance happen to allow tents without guys to stand up, to me that is *rse backwards thinking.

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:19 pm
by Fox
[buzz] ...what he said...

Re: Suspended shelving in tents

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:02 am
by petepewter
John Waller wrote:The History Re-Enactment Workshop had some shelves like this in their mock-up of a early C17th tavern at Blasts from the Past. They are usually very good in their research.
Thank you for your praise on our research, but I'd afraid you've mis-remembered. We haven't had any shelves in our Inn. Also, in this case we would not be a good source to quote if we had. You are looking to produce a shelf in a tent as part of a field camp. We are pretending that our tent is in fact a building, so our research would be based on shelves in buildings. A bit more belief suspension required when we're at a field event. Cheers. Pete - HRW