Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Wharram Percy
Take a tour of this lost medieval village, read about the homes, and view drawings of living quarters.

Regia Anglorum
This site includes several articles on houses and home life in the Middle Ages.

Homes of the Wealthy
The homes of the rich were more elaborate than the peasants' homes. Their floors were paved, as opposed to being strewn with rushes and herbs, and sometimes decorated with tiles. Tapestries were hung on the walls, providing not only decoration but also an extra layer of warmth. Fenestral windows, with lattice frames that were covered in a fabric soaked in resin and tallow, allowed in light, kept out drafts, and could be removed in good weather. Only the wealthy could afford panes of glass; sometimes only churches and royal residences had glass windows.

The Kitchen
In simpler homes where there were no chimneys, the medieval kitchen consisted of a stone hearth in the center of the room. This was not only where the cooking took place, but also the source of central heating. In peasant families, the wife did the cooking and baking. The peasant diet consisted of breads, vegetables from their own gardens, dairy products from their own sheep, goats, and cows, and pork from their own livestock. Often the true taste of their meat, salted and used throughout the year, was masked by the addition of herbs, leftover breads, and vegetables. Some vegetables, such as cabbages, leeks, and onions became known as "pot-herbs." This pottage was a staple of the peasant diet.

The kitchens of manor houses and castles had big fireplaces where meat, even large oxen, could be roasted on spits. These kitchens were usually in separate buildings, to minimize the threat of fire. Pantries were hung with birds and beasts, including swans, blackbirds, ducks, pigeons, rabbits, mutton, venison, and wild boar. Many of these animals were caught on hunts.

Garbage and Disposal
Current archaeological studies of sewage and rubbish pits contribute to our understanding of what medieval people ate. One of the most informative pits was found in Southampton, England. This pit belonged to a prominent merchant. It contained the remains of berries, fruits, and nuts, as well as pottery, glass, and fabrics, including silk, from Europe and the Near East. It also contained the remains of a Barbary ape. Documents found at the site describe the family's consumption of meat, use of pewter utensils, and love of music. Evidence that butchery took place during this time was also found in these documents.

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The Middle Ages is inspired by programs from The Western Tradition.


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