Drinking Bowls

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Ben Rodgers
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Drinking Bowls

Postby Ben Rodgers » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:46 pm

Can anyone elaborate on the usage of drinking bowls i know a few people that have them and use them however I see a large majority of people having pottery, I myself have tankard, However i can see the practicallity in a drinking bowl and prefer a drinking bowl over a tankard (unless some form of alcoholic substance is involved) Is there any evidence of them being used at all.


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Postby sally » Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:05 pm

Good question, Gareth makes fab drinking bowls, but he bases his on a practical use of a nice bit of wood rather than any particular source. Isnt that mazer thing that some people claim is the Holy Grail an early drinking cup?
Found this on a quick search
http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/pdf/mazer_history.pdf



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Postby Ben Rodgers » Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:24 pm

I would agree with the practicality i mean especially workers in the field I would have thought that a pottery vessal would be in practical as most tend to break when dropped or thrown about, hence a drinking bowl would make sense as being more versatile.

PS thanks Sally for the article, it is very interesting


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Postby PaulMurphy » Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:25 am

Ben Rodgers wrote:I would agree with the practicality i mean especially workers in the field I would have thought that a pottery vessal would be in practical as most tend to break when dropped or thrown about, hence a drinking bowl would make sense as being more versatile.


Ben,

The archaeological record would suggest that pottery was a disposable item at the lower end of the market. Sure, some of the highly decorated stuff would be made to last years, but basic pots and cups, and especially cooking pots, were broken and/or thrown away in huge quantities.

In some cases, they were essentially packaging - use the contents, bin the pot.

That's one of the reasons why the local museums have started refusing to take in the many boxes of the stuff which get dug up all over the country.

Paul.


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Postby John Waller » Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:30 am

Thing is that treen is probably under represented in the archaeological record. You break a pot and you chuck it on the midden. You break a wooden bowl and you chuck it on the fire.

Check out Robin Wood's website for the best replicas around. http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/


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Postby Lena » Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:37 am

John Waller wrote:Thing is that treen is probably under represented in the archaeological record. You break a pot and you chuck it on the midden. You break a wooden bowl and you chuck it on the fire.


And even if you just throw the treen out in the back yard, wood rots pretty fast, whereas pottery is more or less indestructible (at least in the 500-1000 years sense).



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Postby Alan E » Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:39 am

Whilst pottery may well be 'disposable' at the lower end of the income scale around the household, a broken bowl in the field means you don't get to drink (a replacement not being handy); from this, the fact that broken treen is unlikely to survive, and the fact that treen is less breakable, my guess is that ... it depends :lol: :

If portraying a household, either in situ or on the move, pottery is the way to go. If portraying for example soldiers in camp, wooden bowls are more likely (IMVHO).


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Postby moosiemoosiegander » Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:06 pm

Logially speaking though, would a worker in the fields not have something like a bottle or canteen rather than an open drinking vessel? How would they get the fluid in question out to the fields? Even assuming that there was a stream or similar nearby, water was very seldom drunk.


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Postby Alan E » Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:53 pm

Alan E wrote:a broken bowl in the field means you don't get to drink


moosiemoosiegander wrote:Logially speaking though, would a worker in the fields not have something like a bottle or canteen rather than an open drinking vessel? How would they get the fluid in question out to the fields? Even assuming that there was a stream or similar nearby, water was very seldom drunk.


:shock: :D "in the field" as in away from the settlement
From WorldWideWords
It comes from one of the earliest senses of field, one that is now obsolete. Originally field meant any open, flat stretch of unwooded landscape, not one that was necessarily cultivated. It was also used specifically as the opposite of an urban area, as in town and field. Such open areas were the sort of terrain preferred for the set-piece battles of earlier times, and so it became used in such expressions as field of battle. To be in the field then meant to be away from headquarters on a military campaign. The phrase has more recently shifted to refer to anybody who works away from base, even though they may actually be in an urban area and not out in the countryside at all.
:wink:

not (necessarily) "in the fields" as in those places where agricultural labourers labour ('evidently the latter could also have meant 'in LSD' - a broken bowl in LSD? :? )


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Postby moosiemoosiegander » Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:04 pm

Aah, I was referring to in the fieldS as in agricultural labour, rather than in the field.... :P Apologies for the misunderstanding.

Even so, does the same argument not still apply, that the fluid would be contained in a sealed container for personal use, potable drinking stuff not necessarily always being available? I appreciate that they may have had a personal drinking vessel, but also perhaps a container of sorts also?


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Postby Ben Rodgers » Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:09 pm

My image is one of those big water jugs that so many people use stuff that Jim the Pot makes. being the vessel and the wooden bowl being the lid use the bowl then reeplace it for the lid. That my opinion unfortunatly i have no evidence for it


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Postby Alan E » Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:31 pm

moosiemoosiegander wrote:Aah, I was referring to in the fieldS as in agricultural labour, rather than in the field.... :P Apologies for the misunderstanding.

Even so, does the same argument not still apply, that the fluid would be contained in a sealed container for personal use, potable drinking stuff not necessarily always being available? I appreciate that they may have had a personal drinking vessel, but also perhaps a container of sorts also?

No apology necessary, that's what discussion is about - clarification :D

'In the field' ... an army needs to carry supplies. There appears to be little evidence of each soldier carrying a costrel (I can think of one image of a soldier giving another a drink from something like that). Note that this is plagurised from other's research, not my own (I have a living to earn).

So, wagons (probably) with barrels of beverages. Important persons with assigned storage in wagons,probably sufficient to provide a reasonable service at board. What would the common soldier eat and drink out of?

Distinct Lack Of Evidence rears its head.

Surmise: He (probably) wouldn't have a great deal of space in the wagon; although (probably) enough to carry his heavy gear (note that some illustrations show soldiers marching in kit but without noticable baggage). Maybe he carried a minimum of gear in a wagon (as part of a group). Maybe those who served out drink (and food?) provided it in vessels which were returned after use. Either are possible. In any case, if the vessels were breakable, they wouldn't be easily replaced on campaign. Maybe they just carried a lot of spares (in wagons, with competition for space). As a member of such an army, would you ensure you had your own bowl (just in case)? I would (but that's just me being finicky) ... maybe some did 'back then', or maybe not.


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Postby temporary guy » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:15 am

The soldier buys his meat and drink with his cash at the places en route or where he is billeted etc.

Didn't most campaign trails go through civilisation?


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Postby Vicky » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:58 am

In the Howard Household Accounts, there is detailed information for supplying the kit to one of Howard's own ships - this includes treen drinking dishes as well as other dishes bought at the same time. There are other references to the purchasing of them but there are fewer details than the references for the ship.

There are also lots of find of pottery drinking dishes, particularly in Europe - the Archaeology Museum in Bruges has stacks of them - literally!



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Postby robin wood » Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:40 pm

sorry to resurect such an old subject but I have only recently joined the forum and may be able to add a little here.

Pre conquest we find small globular drinking vessels made in wood and rarely glass. These die out overnight with the conquest to be replaced by drinking bowls...a Norman tradition and anyone who travels in France will know people often still drink from bowls today particularly morning cafe au lait or cider in Normandy.

Pot drinking vessels along with bowls and plates are very rare finds pre 1400. Every site yields heaps of pot which archaeologists currently categorise somewhat misleadingly as either "cook pot/storage jar" or "tableware" and the split typically would be in the region of 60/40. I say the categorisation is misleading as 99% of the "tableware" is serving jugs and probably never went near a table, if you didn't know you would probably read "tableware" as something different.

Virtually every medieval manuscript illustration that shows drinking shows drinking bowls from the bayeux tapestry and the lutteral psalter right through to Breugel (harvest). many show serving from jugs (either earthenware or stave built wooden) into wooden bowls eg famous one from Brit Linrary of "jolly cellerar" and another from a 15th C stained glass panel from liecester both reproduced in my book "the wooden bowl"

In the 15th C we start to see the stoneware drinking vessels imported from europe and through 16th the tradition of drinking bowls declines the last major collection being from the Mary Rose.

So to sum up I would say that wooden drinking bowls are one of the defining characteristics of the material culture of the period 110-1500



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Postby zauberdachs » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:21 pm

Mr Wood, just finished your book and it's a great read.


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Postby guthrie » Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:59 pm

I think we need a batch of wooden drinking mugs then....



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Postby gregory23b » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:08 pm

I have a turned drinking bowl an d it is awesome, it is quite thin, but does the job.


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Postby sally » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:13 pm

I'm a great fan of drinking bowls, I have a (non authenti) cinnamon wood one that is gorgeous for wine.


mmm, wine...



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Drinking Bowls

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:55 pm

Just a small cry from the back of the class,

All the 12th century illustrations I have seen show drinking bowls or (at least in the early part of the century) drinking horns. Monastic sites seem to have used bowls exclusively, most likely of wood. I am not aware of any archaeological evidence for pottery drinking bowls at this time, but they may have existed.

A beautiful wooden mazer of this kind survives from the 1170s and was allegedly used by Becket - it formed part of an exhibition at Canterbury Cathedral a few years ago. It was a little unusual in that a cabachon, supposedly taken from his shoe, was mounted in silver in the bottom of the bowl (don't try this at home, children).


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Drinking Bowls

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:31 am

Just found a photo of the Becket mazer, it is made of maple and has a silver band covering the rim - I suspect this was a common practice, as I know people today are wary about the "splinter in mouth" syndrome when drinking from wooden containers.

[img]
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Postby robin wood » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:43 am

The "Becket" is a very nice mazer, it's still on display at Canterbury in "the treasury" in the crypt of the cathedral. I visited a few years ago to photograph it and was a bit embarased when they turfed all the members of public out and locked us in before de alarming and getting the mazer out. Canterbury has the finest collection of mazers on display in the country another 9 are in the muceum of canterbury. I also think its rather impressive that these mazers are still in the owneship of the trustees of the hospitals of St Nicholas and st johns, continuous ownership for 800 years.

The picture incidentaly is of a copy (a pretty good one) not the original. Becket was not meant to have drunk from it, the unsubstantiated but plausible story goes that the amber was on Becket's shoe buckle, the shoe was kept and visited by pilgrims untill the leather finally gave way and the amber was set in the mazer.

I have so far studied about half the known surviving mazers (there are about 60 altogether) and have been working recently with a sheffield silversmith making replicas..its not been easy but a very interesting project.



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Drinking bowls

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:36 am

Thanks for the clarification, Robin

I was a bit dubious when the cathedral "oik" at the exhibition stated that the bowl had been used by Becket, as it would then have been classed as a secondary relic and therefore subject to destruction by Henry VIII's thugs in 1538.

I knew there was a problem when this official guide knew less about Becket's murder than I did (such as why the early depictions on reliquary chests and so on only ever show three knights at the murder, not four).


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Re: Drinking bowls

Postby Chris, yclept John Barber » Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:39 pm

Brother Ranulf wrote:...why the early depictions on reliquary chests and so on only ever show three knights at the murder, not four.


Bit of a Cuba, but... why?


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Drinking Bowls

Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Oct 05, 2007 3:16 pm

As you say, a bit off the point but interesting for all that.


Edward Grim, a clerk from Cambridge, was visiting Canterbury on the day of the murder. He was standing next to Becket when the first sword cut was delivered - it almost severed Grim's arm as he attempted to protect the archbishop. He later wrote an eye-witness account of the murder which many people consider to be the most accurate (There are many different accounts and they all differ in detail).

Grim says; "The fourth knight (Hugh de Morville) prevented any from interfering so the others might freely murder the Archbishop."

The implication is that Morville (a Mandeville with a different spelling) was standing guard at the doorway to prevent the good people of Canterbury from assisting the archbishop and did not take part in the murder. This version seems to have been followed very closely in the earliest pictures of the murder - they show three knights and sometimes the clerk who accompanied them, Hugh of Horsea. It is only later pictures which show four knights, the firsthand account of Edward Grim having been forgotten.

The image shows one of the Becket reliquaries made during the 20 years after the murder - on the left of the altar are three knights and Becket himself, on the right are two Cathedral clerks (click on the picture to get a larger version).
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