Extra Content

Step back in time and explore Karen’s research.

Medieval Life

Carcer An ecclesiastical prison, where monks and priests were imprisoned in solitary confinement by their superiors for misdeeds ranging from breaches of church or monastic rule to criminal offences. Often confinement would just be for a few days, thou …

Read more

Law & Disorder

Caltrop Iron spikes scattered on the ground to lame horses and people. There were many different designs, but the basic model consisted of four spikes which, however they landed, meant that three spikes would sit firmly on the ground while the fourth p …

Read more

Animal Lore

Bear People believed that bears gave birth to a shapeless lump of flesh and spent the first few months licking it into the form of a cub, which gives rise to the saying ‘licking into shape.’ They also believed a child who rode on the back of a bear wou …

Read more

Plant Lore

Brambles We may not think of blackberry brambles as a medicinal herb, but they did in medieval times. One of the stranger beliefs was that being drawn backwards through an arch of brambles would cure blackheads, acne and whooping cough. Medieval herbal …

Read more

Myth & Legend

Bishop Eaten Alive by Mice In The Gallows Curse, the servant girl, Elena is terrified by her strange dreams. In the Middle Ages people believed that when the person was dreaming the soul left the body, in the form of a mouse. In the tenth century there …

Read more

Medieval Magic

Bid The old name for a ‘familiar’, that is an animal or bird with magical powers kept to do the bidding of its owner. The owner was said to suckle the creature, not just with their nipples but also through warts or other growths or marks. Women who own …

Read more

Lost Words

Bub An old Lincolnshire and East Anglian dialect word for an unfledged bird or an inexperienced person. Daul Dialect word meaning to weary, to wear out or to exhaust. ‘Dauled’ means worn out, tired and limp. Drindle East Anglian dialect word for a tric …

Read more

Medieval Recipes

Blaunche porre This pottage was originally made with small wild song birds such as blackbirds. Birds would have been added on flesh-days, the rest of the year it would have been a vegetarian dish. Today we can substitute chicken instead of song-birds b …

Read more

Beggar or Boy Bishop (Medieval Career Choices)

Averer Avering was a medieval con-trick performed by beggars to obtain money. Some beggars would strip themselves, hide their clothes and pretend to have been robbed. Others would fake illnesses by sticking on boils made of wax, or tumours made from ra …

Read more


Sign up to receive occasional updates, information about my new books and details of events.

The data controller is Headline Publishing Group Limited. Read about how we'll protect and use data in our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe at any time via the link in any email we send you.