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pilgrimage from Southampton to Canterbury

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:17 pm
by The Peddler
Hi all, Peddler here.

I am looking to embark on a project this winter. In short, I want to walk the ancient pilgrimage route from Southampton, via Bishops Waltham, to Canterbury, but in medieval kit.
I am aiming to get to Canterbury Cathedral on Christmas day.
This is in preparation for a bigger project next year.

My question is this........I am going to need some pretty robust gear as I will potentially be sleeping out the whole way a la 14th century.
I am looking for advice on gear and manufacturers for things like boots, cloaks, backpack, walking stick, hat, hood etc.
I have walked many a long distance path in my time, but never in medieval kit, so the sorts of things that would help would be thoughts on things like:
Boots vs shoes?
Oiled leather cloak vs waxed woollen cloak?
Clogs vs pattens?
Hat vs Hood?
Wicker backpack vs oiled canvas shoulder bag?
Plus any good resources you've come across on pilgrimages, pilgrims and especially their equipment.

The stuff I walk in will have to be authentic as there's a chance that Canterbury will want it after I'm done for a permanent display, with details of manufacturer, supplier etc.
Thanks for any help.......

Re: pilgrimage from Southampton to Canterbury

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:31 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Pilgrims were not any different to any other travellers of the time - the two main features that marked them out were a bourdon and scrip (a staff and shoulder bag). Staffs came in various forms, including a shoulder-high ash stick with a knob carved at the top (if a bag was then slung over the stick on the shoulder, the knob would prevent it from sliding off); another type consisted of three hazel sticks bound together with a spiral wrapping of thin bark or rawhide; some pilgrims carried a standard walking-stick of the time, often with a T-shaped handle. Any of these might be shod with a metal ferrule.

The scrip would be of linen or leather (deerskin scrips were sold to pilgrims at Compostella), with a large flap covering the front - this was sometimes the area for attaching pilgrim badges. I am not aware that backpacks were used, but I have not looked too deeply at 14th century pilgrims. The point is that almost nothing was carried - the pilgrim relied on charity for food and lodging. A bowl, spoon and knife, maybe some cash and a change of shirt might be the only things carried.

Some pilgrims went the entire way barefoot (not recommended) or barefoot just for the final mile. Footwear was whatever they had, but stout boots make sense. Some carried spare footwear, or had repairs done along the way.

Headgear was again whatever they had - the cloak would often incorporate a hood, but a hat or cap would be worn as well.

Cloaks were neither waxed nor oiled, since they were of very coarse wool which naturally sheds water. This feature is shown in manuscripts as a "shaggy" texture.
Bear in mind that medieval roads and paths were not paving stones, concrete or tarmac; modern routes need a different mind-set. You will also be without the benefit of monastic guest-houses, which fed, watered and bedded down pilgrims for a couple of nights without charge (you will not get that in a Travel Lodge).

Buy a copy of Jonathan Sumption's "The Age of Pilgrimage", which does cover clothing and equipment. The religious aspect was obviously crucial - before setting out, the local priest would present a pilgrim with bourdon, scrip and cloak and bless each of them; it was almost like a man being knighted or taking Holy orders.

Good luck with your journey.

Edit: This is a pilgrim from the Luttrell Psalter, showing a staff and bag (with pilgrim badge), a hat and no shoes . . .
Luttrell Psalter  pilgrim.jpg

Re: pilgrimage from Southampton to Canterbury

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 7:12 pm
by Colin Middleton
I'm surprised about hooded cloaks Brother Ranulf. All the cloaks evidence that I'm aware of have separate hoods.

As for footwear, authentic boots leak, so I can't see a big advantage for them over shoes, but I don't know. Either way, get them well made and remember that these cheap Indian ones with the stick down sole aren't Medieval at all. Wear woolen hosen to keep your feet warm and some pattens to stop your shoes wearing out ( I don't think that they had clogs in the 14th C).

Like Brother R said, your cloak shoul be waterproofed with lanolin, not wax. Line it with wool as well to keep you warmer.


Re: pilgrimage from Southampton to Canterbury

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:50 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Colin is right, of course, it was separate hoods in the 14th century.

I am used to 12th century styles, such as this pilgrim (actually one of the Disciples dressed as a pilgrim on the road to Emmaus) in the Winchester Psalter of about 1150. He wears a brimmed (possibly straw?) hat, tunic and hose and no shoes. His esclavine (coarse woollen cloak) has an integral hood and the shaggy texture is clearly seen. His staff is the three hazel stick type, here bound in an unusual pattern.
WP pilgrim.jpg
In the 14th century it would have been possible to plan a route from Southampton to Canterbury which allowed an overnight stop at monasteries or privately-run pilgrim hospitals every single day. Sleeping outdoors in December would not have been considered safe or sensible - hypothermia is no fun.

Re: pilgrimage from Southampton to Canterbury

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:58 am
by The Peddler
I have seen cloaks with integral hoods from the 14th century, there are examples in Germany and at an exhibition in Poland, so am not too worried about that.
I agree that most would have bedded down in monasteries etc, I will be doing that in any pre-15th century hostels I can find along the route, otherwise it's a night in the woods.
Some re-enactors who live along the route in very old buildings have offered me a place for the night, which is nice as they don't know me from Adam!
Boots and pattens I have, most of the walking will be along the Pilgrims Trail, the Itchen foot path, the St Swithuns way and the North Downs way so will be on turf rather than roads.....the original pilgrims path is now mainly the A31 so probably not a good idea.
I am getting a very well known maker of walking sticks in Arundel to make me a staff, along the lines of one from a pIcture from a 14th century manuscript, so no problems there.
Script bags / shoulder bags seem common, but there are also European examples of wicker backpacks so that's a decision still to be taken based on how much I need to carry...I suspect I will need a backpack as I will be sleeping out more often than would have been common in the 14th Century....mainly because so many Monasteries and way houses are no longer there.

Re: pilgrimage from Southampton to Canterbury

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 9:27 am
by Colin Middleton
I'd appreciate if you could share details of the German and Polish ones, as all the pictures that I've seen proved on closer inspection to be either separate hoods or a gardercorpse being miss understood.