Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles

Get access Subject: History
Edited by: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth & Maria Hayward
The single volume Encyclopaedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles c. 450-1450 is a unique work that intends to bring together in 582 signed articles the latest research from across the range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of medieval dress and textiles.

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(80 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
The rath is a well-known form of archaeological site in Ireland. Waterlogged conditions at the rath site of Deer Park Farms, Glenarm, Co. Antrim, occupied AD 600 to 1000, preserved organic material including evidence of farm-buildings constructed of wickerwork inside the earthen enclosure. Finds included textile, also flax seeds and woad pods testifying to textile working on the site. Gale R. Owen-Crocker Bibliography Lynn, C. J., ' Deer Park Farms', Current Archaeology 113 (1989), 193-8.


(477 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The English term derives from Old French roie, raie and Anglo-French rai, rei. There are references  going back to c. 1418-19, in an early set of Suffolk accounts, as in a mention of a red garment with stripes of gold -- in these cases it is impossible to know whether the stripes are woven in or applied in some way (' Willelmo Barnham, pro 2 capis de rubeo cerico, cum rayys de auro'). The second meaning, that of a striped cloth, has related words such as rai(e)fin, striped cloth of high quality. This cloth was important enough to be mentioned several times in legislation, with re…


(1,021 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth R. Johnson
Reconstruction may be considered as the making of replicas or copies of items which are known or speculated to have existed in a particular time and place. Reconstruction of tools, processes, textiles, garments, and accessories is increasingly valued as a research technique. Researchers may undertake reconstruction for a number of reasons: weaving a length of cloth may help to establish the amount of labour required, in support of economic analysis; reproducing and then using a suite of leather-…


(908 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Garments and other textiles feature in wills from the Anglo-Saxon and later medieval periods, demonstrating that items of cloth were highly prized and ensuring they were passed on to be used by someone or some institution chosen by the testator. Garments of precious textile, especially silk, and gold trimmings from garments, were sometimes given or bequeathed to the Church, thus re-using luxurious items for sacred purposes and ensuring spiritual credit for the donor. Monastic establishments aimed to provide new clothing for their inhabitants at regular intervals, giv…


(4,206 words)

Author(s): Christina Petty
Historic Re-enactment or Living History is a world wide movement sparked by increased interest in the understanding of the past. This interest expresses itself in the organization of groups of people who spend a great deal of personal time and resources researching and recreating specific historic periods from the Bronze Age Celts through to the soldiers of the Vietnam War. Often spending hundreds of hours and as much in personal funds, re-enactors research clothing and armour from appropriate d…

Relics of St Cuthbert

(2,786 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
History St Cuthbert was born c. 635 in Northumbria. In 651 he decided (as the result of a vision) to become a monk, and entered the monastery of Melrose in what is now Scotland. In the 650s he briefly transferred to the monastery of Ripon (later refounded by St Wilfrid), but returned to Melrose, where he eventually became Prior. His reputation brought him to royal attention; and he was also on the side of the Roman method of dating Easter favoured by the King of Northumbria (decided at the synod of Whitby in 664). Shortly after, he was transferred to the monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland, where, although active in monastic affairs, he also showed a preference for the rigorous and isolated life of a hermit on one of the associated outer islands (Farne). Nevertheless he became Bishop of Northumbria, and active in preaching and administering to his far-flung flock, while maintaining his links with the royal family, though returning to his isolated hermitage on Farne as often as possible. In fact he died on Farne in 687 and wanted to be buried there, but the monks, aware already of his popular status as a saint, buried him in the monastic chur…