Glossary

Index: CEKILMNR – S.


Castellum

(Pixabay/Frank Magdelyns1)

Latin term for ‘fort’. Used for the smaller forts of the Roman Empire. The diminutive form of castrum. The frontiers of the Roman Empire had many castella as a line of defense. One of them is Levefanum near Wijk bij Duurstede, the Netherlands. This is in the same location as the early medieval trade town of Dorestad. For more information: livius.org.

A castellum aquae was a water reservoir in Roman times, where water would be distributed to fountains, public baths and houses. A wonderful site for more information is: romanaqueducts.info.

Related Entry: Dorestad


Cist

(Wikipedia)

From old Greek kistē which means ‘a box’. It is still used in Afrikaans and Dutch for a box. Used in Middle English as cist or kist meaning ‘chest’. See Oxford Dictionaries

In archaeology the term is used for a stone or wooden chamber that served as a coffin or burial place (Britannica). These can date back to the Bronze Age (NOSAS). The Viking Age chess pieces in Uig, isle of Lewis, are said to have been discovered in a stone cist.

Related Entry: The Lewis Chess Pieces: 1. Legends


Clergy

(Project Gutenberg)

Derived from the Latin term ‘clericus’ (clergyman). It is a collective noun for those people who are ordained to perform religious duties. Individuals are called clerics. See also: Oxford Dictionaries for clergy and clerics.

For example, Saxo Grammaticus was a clergyman.

Related Entry: Gesta Danorum


Crowdfunding

(The Viking Archive)

English term from the 21st century. OxfordDictionaries. To realise a project, one has to find a loan, or a few big investors. Nowadays, the alternative exists to ask the public. And many small sums go a long way. Typically, a web site like Kickstarter or Crowdfunder, will have information on the project and its goals and offer payment options.

Projects can range from a new video game such as the Banner Saga 3, to organizing a Viking Festival, or even fund an archaeological excavation!

Related Entry: Lindisfarne Island


Emporium

(EarlyMedieval.Archeurope)

Latin term for ‘a place of trade’ and more specifically a staple place for a particular commodity. See also: Oxford Dictionaries.

For example, Dorestad was a staple place for wine and glass from the Rhineland.

Related Entry: Dorestad


Entre-Fenetre

(Unsplash/Jules Marchioni)

French term from ‘entre’ meaning ‘in between’ and ‘fenêtre’ meaning ‘window’. CNRTL.

An entre-fenetre in French (and English) means an artwork, usually a tapestry long and small, hung on the wall between two windows.

Related Entries: Viking Age Tapestries: 5. Modern Day Tapestries, Embroideries.

 


Ingot

(Wikipedia)

Late Middle English term for ‘to pour or cast in’. Specifically, it refers to the casting of metal into a mould (See: Oxford Dictionary and Merriam Webster).

The result was a metal, often oblong piece that could be used as currency. Silver ingots have been found in many Viking hoards across Europe (See: J. Graham-Campbell and G. Williams Silver Economy in the Viking Age (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016)).

 


Kesi

(Artquill)

Chinese term for ‘cut or carved silk’. Also written as k’o-ssu. The term refers to the pattern of cut threads in the weave. It is not real, but an illusion created by the design and use of colours.

For further information, read: Brittanica.com, Art Quill Studio blog.

Related Entry: Viking Age Tapestries: 3. Fabrication

 


Late Antiquity

(Wikipedia)

Very roughly speaking, Late Antiquity is the period between start of the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Middle Ages. Yet, time periods never have very precise cut off dates. In general, therefore Late Antiquity runs from about 250 to 750 CE. It is best described as a time of major transitions in culture, politics and religion in Europe.

See the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity or for more information. 

Related Entries: Bribirska GlavicaViking Age Tapestries: 1. Introduction


Limes

(Wikipedia)

Latin term for ‘border’. Particularly used for the border of the Roman Empire. It could be a wall (like Hadrian’s wall) or river (like the Rhine and Donau).

For more information, have a look at this web site: romanfrontier.eu.

Related Entry: Dorestad


Mint

(Wikipedia)

Old English term ‘mynet’ meaning ‘coin’ originally derives from Germanic. A mint is a place where coins are made. See Oxford Dictionaries.

Trade was very important during the Viking Age and many authorities established their own mint to keep track of trade, especially imported goods and privileges.

Read more on the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Related Entry: The Battle of Maldon


Numismatics

(Wikipedia).

In general, the study of coins, banknotes, and medals (See: Oxford Dictionaries).

In the Viking Age, banknotes did not exist. Instead silver ingots or hacksilver were more common as currency in addition to regular minted coins (See: J. Graham-Campbell and G. Williams Silver Economy in the Viking Age (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016)).

Related Entry: The Battle of Maldon


Romanesque

Flickr / Doc Searls.

A medieval art style in Europe between 900–1200. Romanesque art reaches its peak in central and northern France. Which is why the English start calling it ‘Norman Art’ instead (See: Oxford Dictionaries).

Romanesque art evolves from art styles in the Roman and Byzantine empires with large buildings with round arches massive vaults, columns with plant decorations often seen in Scandinavian and Islamic art, and small windows (See: Oxford Dictionaries andVictoria & Albert Museum).

Related Entry: Lewis Chess Pieces: 2. Origins


Scribe

(Wikipedia)

The Oxford Dictionaries describe a scribe as someone who copies documents. In the Middle Ages, copying manuscripts was indeed part of a day’s work. It would mean that the person who wrote the original was the author.

Yet, a scribe could also be an author. To add to the confusion, most often authors and scribes were anonymous, so we never know when the manuscript is the original by an author or a copy by a scribe, until we have more copies available to us to determine which one was likely to be the original.

Furthermore, many use the term scribe interchangeably with the term author nowadays. To read more about the work of a scribe, read this post on the blog of the British Library, or this post on Medievalists.net.

Related Entry: Gesta Danorum


Sericulture

(Wikipedia)

English term deriving from French/Latin meaning ‘silk cultivation’. Oxforddictionary. For the production of silk one needs the insect Bombyx mori. It is a caterpillar better known as the silk worm. It is native to China and prefers to eat the leaves from the mulberry tree. The ancient Chinese were the first to figure out sericulture, and produce silk textiles by using the silk threads from the silk worm’s cocoon.

The process is painstakingly long and the devil is in the detail. To get the silk worms to produce these cocoons certain timing and temperatures are required. Sericulture remained an industrial secret, and China held its monopoly until the seventh century after which it spread via Asia to Byzantium. For more information, see the web sites: Insects, A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, Britannica.

Related Entries: Viking Age Tapestries: 2. A Tiny HistoryViking Age Tapestries: 3. Fabrication


Skræling

(Wikipedia)

From *Skræling(j)ar*, the Old Norse word for the indigenous people of Canada. The literal meaning of the word has still not been defined. In Norwegian it means ‘weakling, wretch’ and in modern Icelandic ‘barbarian’ (See Germanic Language Studies – Scandinavian Loanwords in English).

The term does not point toward one particular group, it may refer to the Dorset or Thule, and perhaps even the Beothuk people. There is a lot to say and to study about the way the native people are depicted in the Vínland sagas. The bottom line seems to be that communication between the Greenland settlers and native people was difficult, hostilities took place but trade exchanges too (See: A New Introduction to Old Norse: Part II, page 117, 282, 301).

Related Entries:  Lost Viking Settlements: 2. The Western Frontier (Part 1).


 

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