Bringing the Early Iron Age to Life

Late Iron Age

Bannocks, Barley, & Oats (& Spelt)

So had a fair trade the other day, with some folks from somewhere south. They were fair strange in their speech, but not so that you couldn’t understand them. They brought some grain they called “spelt” and said that it could be used much like we use our oats and barley. So, I decided to put it to the test by making bannocks to go with our meal. The spelt had a different flavor from the oats, a bit more of a nut-like flavor. It was a distinctive flavor, and stronger than the oats, but definitely not bad. It was a good addition to the barley and the two went well together. Eidiard was quite happy with them and I think I’m going to have to trade for some more spelt to go in the bannocks.


This morning I woke up before the sun because the animals were making more than their usual levels of noise. The only thing I can think of, is that a wild cat or strange dog got to close to their shelter. After checking on them and finding no dead or injured animals, I went about my usual morning routine. I let the animals out onto their pasture land, relieved myself, then stoked up the fire from last night, so that I could heat up my pottage… while it was heating up, I went outside to see if there were any fruit still on the bushes to add to my pottage for a bit of different flavor. Later I will move the cow to a different field, and the sheep will hopefully let me move them up to the upper field that needs clearing.

What type of enclosure would the cows and sheep be kept in overnight? If I live in a roundhouse, is it made strictly of wattle and daub, or could the walls have incorporated in them, stone?

Update: The home I would live in, would be made of stone since by this time period (Late Iron Age) there were no trees other than scrub. The reason for this is due to the salt-laden winds which are quite prevalent across Orkney. Fresh water would have been drawn from the well that was dug and stone-lined, within the enclosure for the settlement/village.

What kind of cows would I have? What poultry would I be raising, and were there any pigs? The sheep I’m pretty sure would be Soay, as they are indigenous to Northern Scotland…

Update: While it is possible that I would have raised only Soay sheep, there is some evidence that there was trade with the Norse people (based on archaeological evidence of trade goods in the 5th century) and that means that there could have been sheep brought over with them (Spaelsau, Villsau or Gammelnorsk) that then cross-bred with the Soay – giving rise to the Orkney breed of sheep.

What would my pottage be made of? Update: Don’t know that I would have made/eaten pottage, but the porridge would have consisted of barley and oat grains.

A day in the life…. hopefully for at least a year

So, I’ve been thinking about writing up blog posts in the first person for my persona. After chatting with Mistress Melisande about it, I decided to do this online so that perhaps others will join in the conversation. With this journaling, I expect it to generate new research questions for me (and anyone who’s interested in this project).

So, with luck, time and perseverance, I hope to have a two-part posting as Finche (pronounced fin-ka) when I post. The first part being in first person, the second being either research notes or questions to be researched further. In this manner, I hope to flesh out my persona into a living, breathing being, as it were. This may not happen every day, but hopefully, there will be enough that I can get a better idea of what life may have been like, in either Orkney, or the Kingdom of Cait in the 4th-7th centuries. The time and place bracketing is due to how little we actually know about these places, and time period.

(Cross posting this first entry to my Facebook timeline.)