Part II: Hearth Cooking, Camlann Medieval Village

This is Part II in a two part series of our two trips to Camlann Medieval Village. {Part I is here}.

This living history museum is set in a village in the South of England in the year 1376. While experiencing the village, the interpreters stay in character wearing similar garb and using Middle English to speak to the students getting a glimpse of life in a village.

I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Camlann Medieval Village for the second time this week. It just so happened there were opening for the Hearth Cooking Class yesterday. One of the other homeschool mothers on our field trip last week asked about being added, as did I, and we were granted admittance to the learning event.

It was absolutely wonderful!


Image Credit: Bikurgurl

The weather today was more traditional Pacific Northwest November: drizzling rain, overcast, but not so chilly. A balmy mid-50 degrees welcomed us as we entered the Village {the image above was from our homeschool field trip I briefly outlined yesterday in Part I of the Camlann Medieval Village series}.

Image Credit: Bikurgurl, Heart Fire at Camlann Medieval Village Inn
Hearth cooking is just what you might imagine: We cooked our meal in a large indoor fireplace. There was room for a fire, coals, and also spits to turn food.

Image Credit: Bikurgurl, threaded fruit and almonds for the Trayne Roste

After being given handouts of history, background to hearth cooking, glossary, and bibliography, we were able to get in the kitchen and start cooking the recipes. I chose to make the Trayne Roste – essentially, a fruited bread cooked on a spit. I misheard and thought it was called “Train Wreck”. I didn’t thread it correctly in the beginning, and the pots weren’t put on the fire in the best places, so my creation got put on a little late.

Image Credit: Bikurgurl, Hearth Fire @Camlann with Whole Chicken and Trayne Roste
These little hiccups, and my not being able to bread the fruit because of the smoke billowing into my eyes {it did get completed, thanks to another attendee!}, the bread didn’t quite get done. However, it was fantastic!

Also featured was also Gingerbrede, Egredouce, and Dragone. I knew dairy wasn’t consumed regularly as a drink, but what I didn’t know is that when milk is called for in a recipe of the Middle Ages, particuarly in Europe, the milk is that of almonds! I drink almond milk today! While I don’t always {very infrequently these days!} make my own, but we did today.

The whole meal: the community of learning and cooking together, learning about the tools and methods, not to mention the spices available to those of nobility {for which this dinner was designed around}, was exceptional. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.

Learning, seeing, doing, knowing.


16 thoughts on “Part II: Hearth Cooking, Camlann Medieval Village

  1. What a wonderful experience, to be able to cook in a Medieval kitchen! I am currently reading (in bits and pieces) “Food in Medieval Times” by Adamson (the most authoritative book on the topic I could afford) and just read the bit about milk a few days ago. Her research shows that infants and the elderly drank animal milk (mostly cow but also goat and sheep) and so did the poor (along with buttermilk, whey, and curds), but it was uncommon for the wealthy. “Animal milk was sometimes used for cooking in noble households but many recipes call for almond milk … It had several advantages over animal milk; for instance, it could be produced quickly as the need arose, and it could be used for cooking on fast days when animal milk was not allowed.”

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    1. All of the recipes call for almond milk๐Ÿ˜‰ I was surprised, but depending on what time and location you’re looking at in medieval society will better determine specifics of daily life–even the differences between villages and cities are enormous. I’ll be posting my source lists soon, as well as those recommended in our classes ๐Ÿ˜Š

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      1. Yes good point – there’s no such thing as one universal “Medieval Europe cooking”! This book does talk about some variation, but of course we’re always limited by which sources we have available, and there are far more cookbooks from noble households and so little on how the poor lived. I’d never realized about the almond milk though; that was new to me, so it was funny that I read it in this book and then bang, read it on your blog so soon afterward!

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      2. Yay! I was surprised too — thinking that almonds surely were difficult for the common folk to come by, but as it turns out, they were used! Milk was much more valuable (and could obviously be preserved longer) as butter or cheese ๐Ÿ˜‰ So happy to hear you’re doing some medieval research too! Feel free to post in the comments here if you write about what you’ve learned — I’d love to take a look!

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      3. Ha! I had no idea! Wonderful — and to be honest, I thought about writing about the lives of fictional historical characters in the Living History Village where we’re taking workshop classes, but of course fantasy books make total sense! I haven’t watched Game of Thrones and the like, but understand this show roughly is set in Medieval Times. My biggest surprise are the differences, but overwhelming similarities, between life then and now. I look forward to discussing this more ๐Ÿ™‚

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      4. Yes, “roughly” is a good way to put it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Like a lot of fantasy books, GoT takes what it likes and ignores the rest, but since that probably makes for better reading (and watching), I don’t complain. At least GoT uses some of the ickier aspects of the Medieval type world, like sanitation and health problems and, frankly, casual violence and terrible treatment of women. I get so annoyed when I read a Medieval fantasy where the princesses are all feminist and enlightened and free to roam wherever they choose and marry whomever they like.

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      5. I watched a wonderful series on the BBC {but can’t seem to find it on their site now} called ‘Medieval Birth, Marriage, and Death’. It bases it’s knowledge on one family’s letters through time, focused on the mid-late 15th century England…but the lives of bonded families didn’t change much, even with the Renaissance, as life in villages was much different than the lives of nobles, royalty, or the lives of people who lived in big cities. With regard to marriages and the church, couples in the villages may have been pressured by family and friends, even clergy, but the right to marry whom they chose — and the relative equality of women {because they also bore significant parts of the labor} is not well known. They lived their emotional lives not too dissimilarly from ours – without all the modern conveniences ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      6. That’s consistent with what I’ve read too, that there was more gender equality and freedom for women among the peasants than the nobility. One of my favorite books from back when I was a family sociologist is Lawrence Stone’s “The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500-1800.” Dense stuff, but I’m an academic: I can take it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      7. I see they have an abridged version of the Lawrence Stone book on Amazon for pretty cheap. I can’t vouch for that one – I have the honking huge hardcover version — but I’m guessing the abridged is good if you can’t find the big one at the library.

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  2. These kinds of ‘workshops’ are terrific for learning how things were compared to the modern day.
    Crafts, trade and cooking ‘the olde ways’ reminds me of my great grandparents and a pot on a hook over an open fire. I had a problem using an Aga!

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    1. So true! Not my grandparents, but my great grandparents, lived in the mountains of southeast USA….and thinking of the leaps and bounds we’ve made in technology is mind boggling!

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      1. It was years before i felt confident to use a microwave, and my Mum sat on a stool in her kitchen the first time she used her automatic washing machine because she thought she had to manually put it on spin.

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      2. Nodding – I remember our first use of the microwave – then freaking out about having stood in front of it so many times then learning about negative ‘radiation’ from doing so … and then that turned out to be not as true as well….


        The first world problems of technology ๐Ÿ–ค

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