Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Resource Review: London Excavations

Politics: 0
Society: 1
Daily Life: 3
Scholarly: 5
Overall: -Individually rated-
Time: 1150-1450 (England)
(Rating explanation here.)

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These are the expensive books that I was bemoaning the price of several weeks ago. I requested five on inter-library loan, and here are my brief opinions on them. They range from about $25-$36 on Amazon, sometimes in strange ways (the longest book is cheaper than the shortest one).

Textiles and Clothing - 223 pages * *
This title leans more scholarly than novel-useful. It shows some techniques for creating textiles, and the weaves of textiles--but I have little use for this, especially the latter! If you have a character who works to create clothing, this may be of use, but if you have one that only WEARS clothing (like mine), you’re not likely to find much of use. There are SOME line drawings of whole clothing ensembles near the back, but not that many. There are cheaper alternatives.

Knives and Scabbards - 168 pages * *
I thought I would like this one more than I do. Really, it’s a bunch of...knives. And scabbards. Go figure. Perhaps the weapons-lover would enjoy looking through this, but I don’t find it has a whole lot of practical use for the novelist. It’s probably worth flipping through if you can get a hand on it, but I’m not tempted to buy it.

Shoes and Pattens - 145 pages * * * *
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This one is, honestly, my favorite. This may because I have a strange fascination with shoes that I have not yet discovered, but nonetheless. It’s the smallest one of the set that I’ve looked at, and it has a handy chart for the kinds of shoes from 1100-1450 (according to excavations, of course), LOTS of line drawings and pictures of the shoes themselves, what they were made out of, how they were made. It’s a bit hard to find books on medieval shoes and I rather like this one. I am tempted to buy it.

The Medieval Household - 342 pages * * *
I find this book to be a kind of catch-all. I rank it first or second in usefulness, with Shoes and Patterns taking the other slot. It is more practical for novelist use than Textiles and Clothing or Knives and Scabbards. I suggest trying to get a hold of a library copy and flipping through.
An example of the artifacts discussed:
Keys (quite lengthy)
Lighting equipment
Weighting apparatus
Fixtures and fittings

Dress Accessories - 410 pages * * *
This is the largest of the five I requested. I would rate it third in usefulness to the novelist. It leans more girly (we’re more likely to accessorize our dress), but not exclusively. Some of what it discusses:
Mounts (very lengthy)
Hair accessories
Finger rings

In general this series seems to be worth a look, with some more helpful to the novelist than others. Some worth buying, if the pocketbook allows. I wouldn’t buy ANY without looking at them first.

P.S. Yes, two reviews in a row. Please don't die. All of my more creative juices are focused on college apps, a necessary evil. I have several ideas in my head for meatier posts, but they have to wait. Probably after September 30th I'll get more time for such things.


Yorrick said...


"Shoes and Pattens," actually, just like the cover. Not "Patterns." I thought 'twas but a mistype, as well, but my OED defines "patten" as:

"A name applied at different periods to various kinds of foot-gear, either to such as the feet were slipped into without fastening, to wooden shoes or clogs, or to the thick-soled shoes, ‘chopins’, or ‘corks’, formerly worn by women to heighten their stature."

Medieval Latin origins; first recorded usage, 1390.

There's one for your historical vocabulary . . . though perhaps not your novel.


Nairam said...

Um, wow. I apparently put an invisible "r" into that title EVERY time I looked at it. O.o That makes more sense though, then what I thought the title was!

Godsgirl said...

I'm so glad you got to get them and look through them Nai! I was hoping to get to see what you thought of them :)

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