Simple Shelters?

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The Methley Archer
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Postby The Methley Archer » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:00 pm

As the season is upon rushing upon us and the weather this week has been grand....shelter MKII has sufaced from winter storage for its first veiwing.

Its 4m X 3m and can also double up as the awning for my burgundian (thats how i sold it wifey :D ).

Looking forward to my first outing on my own.
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Postby Clarenceboy » Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:04 pm

Perhaps you'd do well to bring extra blankets just in case Warwick is the same as last year ;-)



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Postby jelayemprins » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:36 pm

Fox wrote:I hear a lot from re-enactors about men sleeping in their cloaks.....

But unless something has changed radically in our biology over the last 500 years I can tell you that some attempt at something more substantial must have been attempted if you were "on campaign" anytime other than in summer, otherwise you'd have huge chunks of your army dead from exposure.


I reckon it had changed within 50 years from the 1470s to the 1520s'

Reason?

Go on, you hardy 15th cent types, hazard a guess... I'll post an answer later but if you guess it I'll be vewwy inpressed!!

Bon chance!


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Postby JC Milwr » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:56 pm

Fox wrote:I hear a lot from re-enactors about men sleeping in their cloaks.....

But unless something has changed radically in our biology over the last 500 years I can tell you that some attempt at something more substantial must have been attempted if you were "on campaign" anytime other than in summer, otherwise you'd have huge chunks of your army dead from exposure.



Most campaigns were in the summer though.. not many battles happened in the winter, too muddy!


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Postby craig1459 » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:26 am

jelayemprins wrote:Reason?

Go on, you hardy 15th cent types, hazard a guess... I'll post an answer later but if you guess it I'll be vewwy inpressed!!

Bon chance!

In true Hitchhikers style I'm not entirely sure of the question, but I'd hazard a guess at the boom in the wool trade under Henry Tudor improved greatly the quantity and quality of wool fabric available to the common levy

failing that, the discovery of America allowed the armies to recquisition RVs :wink:


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Postby Phil the Grips » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:27 am

Might be more to do with the mini-Ice Age that hit great Britain around then


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Postby The Methley Archer » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:37 am

Jack,

At Warwick it will be used as the awning, as the big tents coming with enough funrnishings for a 3 bed house, including extra blankets :D .


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Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:35 pm

jelayemprins wrote:I reckon it had changed within 50 years from the 1470s to the 1520s'

Reason?

Go on, you hardy 15th cent types, hazard a guess... I'll post an answer later but if you guess it I'll be vewwy inpressed!!

Bon chance!


I'm going with Phil on the weather front. (no pun intended :roll: ). IIRC, the 15th C was pretty warm, excpect for a cold dip in the early 80's, then after 1500, the tempreture dropped to the point where the Thames froze during Elizabeth's reign so thickly that they could light fires on the ice!


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Postby Fox » Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:22 pm

jelayemprins wrote:
Fox wrote:...But unless something has changed radically in our biology over the last 500 years...


I reckon it had changed within 50 years from the 1470s to the 1520s'

You think our biology changed radically in those 50 years? Quick, someone get Darwin!

I'm guessing you're suggesting something relevant to the statement, but not our biology, changed.

Even so, I doubt it makes enough of a difference.

JC Milwr wrote:Most campaigns were in the summer though.. not many battles happened in the winter, too muddy!

Really?
Even if you're generous about the length of summer (May - Sept inclusive) only about half the major battles of the WotR happened in that time frame.
A number happened in the coldest part of winter, most of the 1460/1461 campaign for instance: Wakefield, Mortimor's Cross, 2nd St. Albans...
And our climate is unpredictable enough that I nearly died of exposure when caught out one April when the temperature plummeted to -7˚C. Towton, snow and all, was as late as the end of March.
Last edited by Fox on Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:33 pm

Is it because the number of heathens, heretics and witches being burnt meant that the overall temperature was kept at a friendly level?


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Postby Ghost » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:48 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Is it because the number of heathens, heretics and witches being burnt meant that the overall temperature was kept at a friendly level?


A hah........the real cause of global waming !


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:32 pm

No that was down to Facist/Communist book burning events in the 1930's.


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Postby Sophia » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:33 pm

Basically our ancestors ate wherever possible a diet high in saturated fats and carbohydrates which their bodies processed efficiently to keep them warm.

Then there is the matter of clothing. My recent research and that of other costume geeks I know suggests that many more garments were lined with wool. Also you would not find our ancestors complaining about wearing the "correct" clothing, i.e. several layers.

I have noticed that at Kentwell where I live in a tent for 3 weeks and do a sedentary job in an unheated space that I am totally unworried by multiple layers of wool, linen even in the sun unless I try and do something very strenuous. I also seem to eat more and still lose weight -this is known as the Kentwell diet.

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Postby Ghost » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:25 am

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:No that was down to Facist/Communist book burning events in the 1930's.


.......and possibly accelerated by bra burning in the 1960's ?


"Tell your masters that Englishmen do not surrender" - Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset to French Herald; Valmont, 1416.

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Postby Ghost » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:27 am

.....and I suppose we could add US Flag burning in 1990's


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:18 pm

And the hot air being pumped out by enviromentalists and car manufacturers on T.V. debates.

I'm hoping that Ian is going to come back to us and educate us (or at least meself now) as to what the answer is to be.


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Postby Fox » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:32 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I'm hoping that Ian is going to come back to us and educate us (or at least meself now) as to what the answer is to be.


Me too. And also how it relates for need for something more substantial than a cloak to sleep out in winter.

BTB. Nice stelter, MA.



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Postby jelayemprins » Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:10 pm

I forgot I posted this....

Here goes. This is taken from a 16th century source.

"And yet see the change- for when our houses were builded of willow, then we had oaken men; but now that our houses are come to be made of oak, our men are not onlie become willow, but a great manie through Persian delicacie crept in among us, altogether of straw, which is a sore alteration.

Now have we many chimnies, and yet out tenderlings complaine of rheumes, catarhs and poses. Then had we nonne but reredosses, and our heads did never ake. For as the smoke in those daies waqs supposed to be a sufficient hardning for the timbers of the house, so it was reputed a far better medicine to keep the goodman and his familie from the quack or pose, wherewith as then very few were oft acquainted."

I would sumise that 'persian delicacie' is the introduction of carpets?



Now onto camping.

The making of crude huts among the common soldiery was typical, here as decribed by welsh soldier Elis Gruffyddin 1523.
" And yet they had no reason to complain except of their own sluggishness and slovenliness. For there was no lack of food or drink or wood for fire or making huts, and plenty of straw to roof them, and to lie on if only they had fetched it; but there was many a man weak in body who preferred from sheer laziness to lie under the hedge than take the trouble to make a snug, warm hut...

So my simple deduction is as follows.

There was a change in the hardiness of men almost within living memory from the 15th to 16th century.

more later.


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Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:24 am

"I can remember when all this was fields."

"They don't make 'em like they used to."

"We used to live in a cardboard box in't middle of the road."

I'd suggest that your first quote is just another version of the comments above, an older man bemoaning the decline of the manliness of "man".

Considering we've been building in oak since at least the 11th century (Greenstead Church, Essex) I can't see that having (or even being sensibly attributed as having) any real effect on the hardiness of the people!

The second quote (Elis Gruffyddin) is very similar to accounts from British soldiers in the peninsular wars, some made good, stout huts from what they could find, others just couldn't be bothered!

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Postby Fox » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:06 am

Wot Jon said; how "hardy" people are doesn't effect the basic biology anyway.

And the clothes worn, which were very warm and comparible to the best materials today, still doesn't make you invulnerable to the cold.



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Postby jelayemprins » Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:07 pm

I disagree, but will leave it there, based on the simple premise that we 21st century desk-jockey, centrally heated types are a lot softer than our ancestors.


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Postby Vermin » Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:19 pm

Just my 2p - Not period sources but :

I believe that troops in the Peninsular war were not issued tents for the first 2 years they were there - (though they did have winter Quarters for the 'Off' Season)

I read an account of Napoleons retreat from Moscow which described Veterans on the retreat meeting up with reinforcements from France, and in the same place sleeping in the snow. The Veterans would survive, and the Conscripts fresh from the cities would freeze to death - despite having the same kit

A friend of mine who is a Guardsman and Alpine mountaineer classes a sleeping bag as an optional extra, for when he has space, all year round.

I don't think it's about evolutionary change, more what you are used to, and as a desk worker I can't compare my resilience with a professional Soldier - then or now

(turns up the heating)



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Postby X » Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:42 pm

It's sometimes not so much what equipment you have as how you use it. Layering clothes and so forth. Picking a good, sheltered spot. If there's snow, use it as insulation. And also, working together.

In my earlier years as a re-enactor, only one member of the group had such a luxury item as a sleeping bag (wuss). The rest of us rolled up in our cloaks - although I admit that we did have a tent. Most of the time (I have done the rolled-up-in-a-cloak sleeping-under-the-stars thing, as parking oneself in the tent with friend and friend's girlfriend is just rude). However, the best way of keeping warm was to all squash up together and share body heat.

It's not about a fundamental difference in 'hardiness' - it's about knowing how best to use the resources available to you, whether that's a posh four-seasons sleeping-bag, or a nice warm friend.

Of course, nowadays, one doesn't leave home for an event without one's oak-framed double bed with duvet and pillows.... :)



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:03 pm

How are we softer?
Unless evolution has moved at an amazing rate we are still essentially the same build, height and mass as our ancesters were.
I can't get my head around that notion.
Does that mean that someone in the 15th century would turn down a nice warm bed if shown one?
Most 15th century "soldiers" would have much less experience of sleeping rough and "camping out" then we do. Where did they learn how to make rough shelters and so on when most of them were artisans, skivies about the castle, courtiers and the like?
Please explain further.


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Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:40 pm

I would definately agree that we are generally softer people than we once were.

Central heating, double glazing, electricity, available medicines and sugery, cheaper materials, health and safety, the welfare state, the legal system, political correctness, mass production, rubber soles, viaducts..............the list goes on.

Granted, not all of these affect every one of us the same way, but they were all introduced to make our lives easier. Over time we've come to rely on these and other things without even thinking about it.

Now, that doesn't mean we're all shandy drinking softies but I do think that must make us weaker than our ancestors who just got on with things.

No-one in their right mind would turn down a warm, soft bed if offered, the question is wether they would consider it a luxury or just take it for granted.

As for soldiers having less experience of sleeing rough, possibly- but on the other hand they'd have NO experience of sleeping in a double glazed, centrally heated and carpeted house- something we do seem to miss when we go camping!

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Postby X » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:21 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:How are we softer?
Unless evolution has moved at an amazing rate we are still essentially the same build, height and mass as our ancesters were.
I can't get my head around that notion.
Does that mean that someone in the 15th century would turn down a nice warm bed if shown one?
Most 15th century "soldiers" would have much less experience of sleeping rough and "camping out" then we do. Where did they learn how to make rough shelters and so on when most of them were artisans, skivies about the castle, courtiers and the like?
Please explain further.


Actually, we are on average several inches taller than we were in the fifteenth century, due to better nutrition etc, rather than evolution.

Living without central heating and double glazing can be an experience all its own. Today, we have our own bed (even our own bedroom), heating we can control at the flick of a switch, and we can travel hundreds of miles in a day. We only need to camp out if we want to, rather than having to if we're travelling more than about thirty miles and can't afford a bed at an inn.

In the fifteenth century, in a winter with no central heating in your house, you'd learn about layering your clothes as part of life. Sharing beds with people you weren't planning to have...er... 'criminal conversation' with, was also socially acceptable, so the concept of sharing body heat with someone you'd never swapped spit with was not a strange one. Edward IV and the Duke of Somerset shared a bed on at least one occasion - it was hospitality, not homosexuality.

Regarding building shelters, I don't know how good or how bad fifteenth century people were. However, it is likely that most of them would have been more familiar with working with their hands than people are today. To some people (naming no names) a hammer is a dangerously complex piece of machinery. I've heard people say "I don't even know how to sew a button on". Five hundred years ago, make-do-and-mend was part of life.



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:53 pm

Most of the books i have read lead me to beleive that it is a myth that people in the middle ages were shorter than we are-that was something that took place later in the 18th/19th centuries. The diets that people ate were balanced and nutritional some point towards an intake of 3000 claries a day for soldiers/sailors and use this as a benchmark for what they normal work a day merchant and yeoman would have consumed-the lack of obesity was down to hard work-my father worked for much of his life in a factory panel beating-he had no need of a gym. They also had very veg/meat based meals high in fibre and protein-why would they be small?
Most "soldiers" lived in houses not in ditches they had warm beds to sleep in just like we do. We may feel the cold in a way they might not have (though why that should be the case I have no idea) because we may have a different acceptence of what is cold (and may not-i am highly unconvinced by the thought) and what is not. This does not turn them into survival experts. And it still doesn't go anywere towards explaining the suggestion that men from 1450-1500 were hard as nails and the men after (and presumebly before them) were nothing but a bunch of pansies.
It's illogical to me.


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:59 pm

My wife is also very skilled with her hands-she makes most of my soft kit-I know Skev is very skilled at making his armour. But my wife wouldn't know diddly squat about where to place a shelter or how to make a bivvie-she hasn't had the training or the need to do that.
A "soldier" might be very skilled at leatherworking, scrivening, smithing, brewing or whatever "handy" skill kept him feed and watered in his normal civvie life how is that going to help him build a lean to or cope with life on campaign? I'm struggling with understanding how being a good cooper would automatically turn you into Ray Mears.


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Postby Lin » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:15 pm

I think you're underestimating people's general adaptability. Years ago, when I had to cope with some quite challenging situations camping (sleeping out) in a remote part of Africa, with no one to help except my useless boyfriend (OK, it just seemed that way at the time, sorry Dave) I learned very quickly. And I was never a Girl Guide or anything like that. I'm sure that people deal very adequately with these things when they have to.



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Postby craig1459 » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:51 am

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I'm struggling with understanding how being a good cooper would automatically turn you into Ray Mears.
Lives were dictated by the environment rather than society - especially in rural areas where you wouldn't always have ready access to skilled practitioners in every job that needed to be done. I'd expect I would have to know the basic jobs that need to be done to keep my community going.


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