Bringing the Late Iron Age to Life



This morning’s activities included gathering up my saved fire ashes, so that I could make my washing liquid to clean Eidiard’s, his apprentices, and my clothing – that needed actual washing. Of course, after cleaning the hearth (and before actually making the washing liquid) I had to lay another fire, so that I could make some food for us all to eat.

After getting the fire all set, with a pot of porridge simmering in some of the heaped embers, I went to make the washing liquid. This was done simply by pouring collected rainwater over the ashes to let it seep through and collecting the liquid (through a straw filter) in another bucket. I had already set the clothes to be washed to soak in the larger tub so that everything was  wet through. To this I added the washing liquid, carefully, and started to agitate the wet clothing. Once done, I laid them out to dry in the sun.

I’m just glad that the weather has been so mild, so far, although it does make me wonder what our winter will be like.

Oh, I almost forgot. A few days ago, Eidiard had been given some pig in exchange for some of his metal work. Well, yesterday, Eidiard decided that he was going to smoke the parts he was given. (This was after I had salt cured all of it.) The smell, as it wafted into our home, was absolutely wonderful. Woodsy, with a hint of apples. We ate (and enjoyed!) some of it last night, after it was done. It was great with the vegetables.

Research: The “washing liquid” made by running the water through the wood ash, is basically a weak lye. Since my persona is not trying to make soap with this lye, keeping the solution fairly weak would (theoretically) keep the dangers of lye burns to a minimum. There are tests that can be done to test the strength of the lye solution – floating an egg in the liquid, or inserting a feather to see if it dissolves. If the egg floats on top, the lye is too strong, if it sinks – the lye is too weak. If it floats about half-way, then the lye solution is just right (for making soap). If the feather starts to dissolve on submersion/contact, the lye solution is perfect for soapmaking.

And yes, this is something I want to test for myself – using a “washing liquid” only for cleaning cloth. I don’t think I’m brave enough (yet) to try it on actual clothes, but I have a few “sacrificial” dish towels I’d be willing to try this on.


Woke up this morning, slightly before sunrise. The cow and sheep were making more than their usual amount of noise in the byre… the only thing I can think of, is that a strange dog or cat must have disturbed them. I’m not too worried about the possibility of a strange cat, since it was problably hunting some voles. Useful, as there have been a few incursions by voles into the grain bin for the animals.

After checking on the animals, and seeing if the geese had laid any new eggs, I returned to my hearth to stir up the fire, and get some breakfast. I added a few berries that I managed to forage the other day into my cooking pot, to add some sweetness to my barley pottage. As it warms up gently, beside the fire, I puttered around, straightening things up a bit from last night that I missed in the darkness.

Today I will be checking on how the grain plantings are doing. We’re getting close to harvest time, and I don’t want to lose too much of the planting to the ever present wind, in case there’s a late storm. With all the heat we’ve been having, I think the barley and spelt will be ripening quicker and hope to the Gods that we can get it in before any early fall/winter storms hit. After that, I’ll make sure that the pasture i’ve planned for the sheep to move into is good to go… meaning, making sure that the sheep won’t be able to get through the border walls. Of course, this is an ongoing problem, since a few of the ewes are apparently excape artists. I still have plenty of wool to finish spinning, and need to grab another spindle, so I can take it with me. I’ll never get all the yarn made I need for Eidiard’s new cloak, if I don’t get it all spun soon.

Well, smells like my breakfast is ready. Have to go… more later.

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.)