Page 1 of 1

Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:12 am
by Brother Ranulf
I have been looking forward to the latest offering from the Victorian/Edwardian Farm team, despite the fact that the production company is again the very dubious Lion TV. Behind-the-scenes rumours suggest that Ruth Goodman is less than happy with the finished series, but her concerns have not been elaborated upon.

My own view is that in general the first episode was a reasonable look at generic 13th century life, while ignoring the politics and military situation in England and France at that time. It seemed slightly odd to me that people living in a one-roomed "hovel" would be able to afford fashionable yellow-dyed dresses and up-to-the minute headgear in the form of barbette and filet.

The floor covering of bundled rushes is possible I suppose, especially somewhere foreign like France, but the English verb was streuen, which has the sense of sprinkle or scatter, not laying things in bundles. In English texts we read of floors being swept of the old covering to make way for fresh strewing materials, so bundles don't fit.

I would like to have seen more of the period tools used in masonry work and allied trades - there were no axes for shaping the stones, which was definetly a French (and probably English) technique seen on a carving of a mason from Poitiers. There were no fully-finished and finely polished stones such as would be used in a high-status building, first using a claw chisel and then abrading with a sleekstone or luche to give a smooth finish. The mixing of the mortar appeared to be done with metal shovels, which seems anachronistic to me. Shovels in England and France were made with oak blades and ashwood handles from the 12th to the 14th centuries.

Ruth's language became a bit unexpected when describing the contrast between her hovel and the castle; "funking great thing" seems beneath her usual command of words. Perhaps she was hoping for a second take.

I shall continue to watch with interest.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:39 pm
by guthrie
Yes, it's not a bad start, but if I were involved I would be unhappy somewhat. I actually didn't mind some of the anachronistic stuff you pointed out; some of that will be from the Guedelon people themselves, and some of it I didn't notice.
What I felt hampered the program was not just that they didn't wear their nice 1late 13th century clothes to do the actual work in, which rather spoilt the real feeling of it, but that it seemed to have been cut together in a loose manner. Several times, especially when discussing the clothing, they only explained half of it. We got to see him putting his pants on, tying the single leg hose on, nothing about the tunic. Same with Ruth. No mention of the extremely important bigger picture behind the cloth or who would have made it if you were a labourer on a building site. Maybe they filmed them saying that but cut it out.
Yes, a little more on the tools would have been good. Not too much more, but again it felt truncated. I appreciate that they are trying to make something that ordinary members of the public can watch and understand, but as with the previous 1500 monastery farm series, a little more depth would help bring it home to said ordinary members of the public exactly what is going on.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:36 pm
by Biro
To be honest, I expected it to be more anachronistic - especially in terms of modern safety requirements for working on a building site. It did seem odd though that there was a mix of period footwear/legwear and modern steel-toecaps/trousers on site with no mention/explanation of it.

Definitely enjoyed it though.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:48 pm
by John Waller
Mostly enjoyed it as a bit of edutainment. Difficult one for the producers in finding the right level to pitch the series at. This is clearly aimed at the broadest market and not an academic niche. Nice to get them away from plowing fields for a change. I'm pretty sure you could never get away with building a castle with those methods and lack of PPE in the UK.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:58 pm
by guthrie
John Waller wrote: I'm pretty sure you could never get away with building a castle with those methods and lack of PPE in the UK.

You could easily. As long as it's not a workplace and people aren't being paid, most HSE stuff doesn't count. IIRC there's still a general duty of care thing, but again, volunteers and as long as no money is involved, you'd probably get by most problems. Unless of course someone does get injured and starts trying to sue people, then it would probably get messy.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:45 pm
by EnglishArcher
An article on the construction of the clothing for the show:

http://hibernaatio.blogspot.fi/2014/11/ ... es-to.html

(Note: it's in Finnish AND English)

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:16 pm
by nest
Excellent, thanks for the link.

nest

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:49 pm
by Merlon.
Brother Ranulf, you get a brief glimpse of the masonry axes in this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7bE--NVBGY

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 7:12 am
by Brother Ranulf
Thanks Merlon, that's an interesting little video.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 10:52 am
by Simon Atford
Ruth Goodman seemed to have more to do in terms of preparing the hovel for habitation etc. whilst the two chaps seemed to spend watching the craftsman working on the castle and only occasionally being allowed to do things themselves. Understandable really as they don't have the skills and experience but they come over more like TV presenters as opposed the experimental archeologists they were in the various Farm programmes.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:59 pm
by guthrie
As usual, I think it's a good showing of how getting enthusiastic experts or at least people who have done their homework to talk about stuff and be shown doing something.

Oh dear, this one is about castles in war stuff, but they start off by saying that they were about defence and being safe etc. Oddly enough the last few decades of castles studies have shown this is an impoverished view indeed.
"Unlike lime produced commercially it will take centuries to set" You mean unlike modern concrete, which is not the same as medieval mortar.
The smith had modern double action bellows, I've not seen any evidence for them before at least the 17th century.

Did they use sheeps wool in gambesons? I've not heard that before.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:41 pm
by guthrie
Nooooo, the voiceover just repeated the old saw about clothes being hung in the garderobe!!! I, and others I have asked, have never seen any evidence for this practise at all.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:38 am
by Lord Byron
Based on tonights episode, I designed a t-shirt just for Ruth :twisted: :

http://postimg.org/image/qo5rlyoa5/

Image

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:43 am
by Brother Ranulf
:D

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:14 am
by Brother Ranulf
Guthrie, the evidence for clothes in garderobes is mainly based on linguistics, but it is confusing.

A 13th century gloss translates the Latin repositariis as garderobe, where the Latin word is certainly a repository or store-room for linen and clothing.

In "Ancient Petitions Relating to Northumberland" (13th - 15th centuries) there is:
une novele Chambre paramont la posterne de double Ostage pur la garderobe des robes
meaning "a new room above the postern gate with two stories for the wardrobe of clothes".

The same word was also applied to a privy, but the connection between the two things is not clear. Maybe it was an early version of the Americanism "bathroom", which does not mean a room with a bath - simply a coy way of saying toilet without actually mentioning it. This idea is supported by another Anglo-Norman term for the same thing: longaigne literally means "something far away", again avoiding the use of a more direct word.

My own view is that the word correctly applies to a specific room for storing clothes and linen, but it was also a kind of euphemism for the latrine. This dual use has confused modern writers into thinking that clothes were hung in the loo "to benefit from the ammonia", which seems unlikely since the ammonia effluent would all be outside on the ground or in a pit or moat below.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:46 am
by guthrie
Yes, precisely brother, that makes sense. Even as they explained it, I was wondering why when the effluent all ended up on the ground outside.

Other reaosns it can't be the case include there not being any room to move in the place if you had clothes hanging up in it. And actual specific written advice on clothes storage doesn't mention it.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:40 pm
by Biro
Brother Ranulf wrote: Maybe it was an early version of the Americanism "bathroom", which does not mean a room with a bath - simply a coy way of saying toilet without actually mentioning it..


I'd heard that Toilet was a Euphemism itself - from the French 'toilette' meaning dressing room, or somesuch.

If what I hear is true and toilette comes from 'toile' - meaning cloth - then it all seems to link in somewhat to garderobe..

Perhaps there isn't a real name for it and they are all just euphemisms that became the name which spawned the need for new euphemisms.... ad infinitum (Did I just speak Latin to Brother Ranulf? :rock: )

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:46 am
by bilbobaglin
Brother Ranulf wrote:
The same word was also applied to a privy, but the connection between the two things is not clear. Maybe it was an early version of the Americanism "bathroom", which does not mean a room with a bath - simply a coy way of saying toilet without actually mentioning it.


Or indeed Water Closet (WC), the Smallest Room, the Throne, Loo or the Welsh Tŷ Bach (Little House) and my personal favourite Lle Chwech or the Place of Six (I don't know the origin of this but I suspect it is an onomatopoeic name based on the sound of the word chweeeeeech.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:35 am
by 40/- freeholder
I'm only just catching up with this on a friend's iplayer. I was stunned by the meat to feed the work force supposedly being pork! There was a side mention of the stores needed for the garrison but no mention of dead garnisture or hung beef. The surrender monkeys over the channel may have eaten pork, but I doubt it very much. For England & Wales, both the archaeology and the surviving castle account rolls indicate that beef, fresh and hung, bacon and mutton were the staples. In all the vignettes of livestock, I've yet to see an ox. The carts are horse drawn rather than ox drawn. There's been no mention that carting wood, stone etc was part of the customary dues exacted from the tenantry.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:04 pm
by guthrie
Tonight's episode was alright, although they could have worn shirts...
However it always irritates me the way archaeometallurgy things are explained, never very well. The iron certainly does't melt in a bloomery furnace, and it definitely won't melt if you are after anything like steel.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:06 pm
by 40/- freeholder
Just seen the mill, a topic I have recently been researching. Oh dear, the lantern gear hadn't enough slots, the miller's horse feeding the grain into the eye of the stones was just plain wrong. I'm sure Ruth can bake a loaf without burning it, we were screaming at the screen at that point.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 11:49 pm
by guthrie
40/- freeholder wrote:Just seen the mill, a topic I have recently been researching. Oh dear, the lantern gear hadn't enough slots, the miller's horse feeding the grain into the eye of the stones was just plain wrong. I'm sure Ruth can bake a loaf without burning it, we were screaming at the screen at that point.

Some of that won't be their fault, they didn't design the water mill, and I've heard that Ruth is a know it all but not actually proficient at all the things she pretend to be (Case in point was the great wheel in the Tudor Monastery farm, she got it wrong according to the experts I know)

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:57 am
by Merlon.
I know that Swedish, German and Italian mining pumps although using the same technology and principles, were not implemented exactly the same manner in each country.
There could be a variance in milling technology between England and France.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:14 pm
by 40/- freeholder
Yes, I agree there could be variance in mills. There was not the opportunity for them to mention that of the 5000+ water mills in Domesday book, a lot in the north would have been horizontal rather than vertical wheels. As to querns, it was a treasured privilege of the Newcastle upon Tyne burgesses to have a hand quern and opt out of using the lord's (King's) watermill. One burgess took the mickey somewhat when he erected two windmills!
The site itself is amazing, would love to visit, especially as it's in Burgundy.

Re: Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:20 pm
by Merlon.
In case anyone is interested, the French documentary that was made at the same time has now been released on YouTube.
The English presenters have been reduced to occasional silent walk-on parts.
Actually found it quite interesting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbiVEY2l9cw&feature=share