medieval woodsmen

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woodwatcher
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medieval woodsmen

Postby woodwatcher » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:48 pm

Can anyone out there point me in the right direction of images or references for woodsmen in the 14th century with particular attention to the day to day life ie tools, clothes and possible shelter types used whilst working in the forests. tall order i know but i have always loved the woods and would love any help with this subject.



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Darren Mac
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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Darren Mac » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:12 pm

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Costume-Fashion-Herbert-Norris/dp/0486404862
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Costume-England-France-Centuries/dp/0486290603

I have these books, very, very useful in researching soft-kit. The second one has plenty of contemporary line drawings of people from all walks of medieval life. I'm sure they have woodsmen amongst them.


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EnglishArcher
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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby EnglishArcher » Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:09 pm

If you want accurate reproductions I'd avoid Norris. He tended to play rather fast and loose with his 'interpretations' of costume from artwork.

With over 80 years of research into costume since Norris wrote his book, there are better references out there.

I think this review from Amazon says it rather succinctly:
Norris is a good look at how people in the 20's looked at costume history. At one time it was all that was available for the re-creationist and re-enactor. And now, the only reason to have a copy of Norris is for the descriptions of garments no longer in existence. Remember, he was writing prior to WWII. However, with all the great books that have been written in recent decades that include photos of extant pieces and actual portraiture from the period, I would avoid Norris until you need some light costume reading. The illustrations are very "Gibson Girl", silhouettes are all wrong and Norris was not a tailor, so his descriptions are very rudimentary. A good art book will give you better information!


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Ranger Smith
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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Ranger Smith » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:04 am

The question is who do you want to be? Miner, Metal worker, Glass maker, Charcoal Maker, Ashman, Wheelright/Cart maker, Bowyer, fletcher all trades practiced in woodlands in addition to woodsman during the 14C. Many industries were located in or near woodland so as to be near the raw materials. This doesn't take in to concideration the allied trades and jobs for hunting and Forestry.

Most woods if not all belonged to the ruling elite, the only woodland that didnt were those small areas between arable fields. The extraction of Timber, Wood and underwood were strictly controlled by licence. Most people would have extracted timber underwood and wood as needed during the winter months in rural areas and continued to work the land at other times these were just ordanary people rather than proffessional woodsmen. There were professional woodsmen however the kings woodsmen in 1361 were paid 3d per day for work carried out. Woodsmen are recorded as having small holdings and licences to graze animals wthin the woods to help subsidise there living.

They would of worn low status clothes the same as the rural folk around them. The tool of their trade would of been the axe there are a number of finds for the 14C a good example to look at would be figure 51 immage 2 or 4 from Ian H Goodall's Medieval blacksmith and his products. Number 2 is a example from Weoley Castle Birmingham and has been dated to around the time you want to portray.

I hope this helps


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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby woodwatcher » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:20 pm

Thanks for the info. just sounding out a few ideas has anyone seens images of shelters like tarps anywhere or small cooking setups. I am using a variety of axes and billhooks at the moment and have been given a shavehorse by Nanma to use which is great as i have always wanted to use one but just never got round to making one. No excuse now for not getting on with some spoon making or arrow shaft smoothing or handles for tools or even a bit of bow crafting. We shall have to wait and see what the season brings us. I just hope the weather picks up soon.



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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby The Methley Archer » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:43 pm

For Shelter discussions have a look here.

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=14355


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woodwatcher
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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby woodwatcher » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:44 pm

Great link methley archer. Gives food for thought. I have some experience of living rough from a stint with her majesties armed forces. But it wasnt quite the medieval experience.



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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Phil the Grips » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:58 pm

Did the medieval woodsman live rough though?

It seems to be the modern perception that people who worked outdoors lived outdoors all the time instead of going to work every day to and from home, or overnighting in established buildings around their allocated patch, certainly this was mainly the case with Huntsmen and Forresters, as pointed out previously wood was a highly controlled and protected trade conducted at local levels.

I'd be interested to know the answer.


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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:52 pm

What about charcoal burners-would they have had to live rough, although even then I supposes if you're in the same place for a week or so you could make it quite comfortable.


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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby woodwatcher » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:36 pm

I think charcoal burners would have to live rough for a few days at least whilst the process took place to stop fires breaking out and to watch the smoke as the wood was turned to charcoal. I spent a few days with a local burner whilst i did my degree and he didnt think things had changer much for a long time. Not sure how long but then he was a real norfolk boy. My idea is just to portray as much as i can within the bounds of a few weekends and within the sites that we visit.



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Ranger Smith
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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Ranger Smith » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:54 am

As posted earlier for most people working the woods was at best part time (the rest of the time they would of been farmers or agricultural labourers.

Charcoal production is a very long drawn ot process especialy when using earth clamps which would necesitate someone being with the clamp 24 7. I know in the C18 and C19 there are records of Charcoal makers huts which were constructed out of timbers arranged like a tipi and then covered with turves. The door way would of been covered with a porch similarly covered with turves. There would of been two cots in side and they are fairly comfortable to live in at least short term. Charcoal burners would of stayed and worked in one area all year. As woods were managed in rotation in all likely hood they would of had several sites they rotated round as the crop got to a suitable size to harvest.

Both fletching and bowyery were highly regulated trades and production of both would of been carried out in workshops not in the wood. During the medieval period a high persentage of bow wood would of been brought in from overseas. A shave horse is an unsuitable tool for the production of either although there seems to be a fashon for it now especialty with green woodworking/ woodland craft practitioners. I have found very little to no evidence for shave horses this early although I am willing to be pleasantly proved wrong if someone out there can find some.

Even in modern times when woods were still being worked the final product was rearley produced in the wood itself. Some trades had encampments on the edges , genraly though the wood and timber would have to be removed from the wood by a set date. The raw products could then be turned into the final products over the comming months. Something else to concider is even though you may have had the right to the timber the bark being a costly product would of been retained by the land owner and sold for tanning


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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Bulworthy Project » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:14 am

Charcoal burners of old would certainly have to be present 24/7 during a burn. They would also have to stay awake and alert as the burn can collapse at any time during the process and be completely destroyed. We use a steel ring kiln and as charcoal burners still have to be present for the duration of the burn and the cooling period. For anyone who would like to gain some practical experience of charcoal burning, we run courses. For more details see: http://www.bulworthyproject.org.uk/courses.html


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Re: medieval woodsmen

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:55 pm

Ranger Smith wrote:Both fletching and bowyery were highly regulated trades and production of both would of been carried out in workshops not in the wood. During the medieval period a high persentage of bow wood would of been brought in from overseas. A shave horse is an unsuitable tool for the production of either although there seems to be a fashon for it now especialty with green woodworking/ woodland craft practitioners. I have found very little to no evidence for shave horses this early although I am willing to be pleasantly proved wrong if someone out there can find some.


So what is used instead? I thought that a shave horse was important to make successful use of a draw knife and spoke shave (which I thought were in use in the MA), but woodworking isn't my area, so don't really have evidence for anything.

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