Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

Moderator: Moderators

Posts: 216
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:00 pm


Postby FionaDowson » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:23 pm ... ffers.aspx

Does anyone know if flax and hemp were used for candle wicks? Is it stretching authenticity too far to make dip candles with your own hand spun wicks?

User avatar
Post Knight
Posts: 1806
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:31 pm
Location: Sunny Wales

Re: Candles

Postby sally » Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:09 pm

any particular dateline? Flax definately though, linen wicks are still very nice to use today. Not sure about hemp wicks offhand, but wouldn't surprise me

User avatar
Brother Ranulf
Post Centurion
Posts: 963
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:46 pm
Location: Canterbury

Re: Candles

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:40 am

It is widely thought that flax was the usual material for both beeswax and tallow candles, but there is a shortage of definitive evidence throughout the medieval period. Church candles for both parish and monastic churches were definitely to be of beeswax, since bees were regarded as living ordered, model and chaste lives that ‘produce prosperity, rejoice in offspring, yet retain their virginity'. Residues of candles in holders discovered at Fountains Abbey have been shown to be predominantly of beeswax, but there is no trace of the wicks.

One Middle English word (so after about 1150) for a candlewick is lumilin, literally light-flax. Anglo-Norman texts refer to wicks made of lin, meaning flax.

In pre-Conquest England there may have been a wider use of other materials, since Old English mentions the candel-wyrt (mullein, the candle plant or hedge taper) being used for the wicks of lamps. The Old English word candel is not so specific as the modern equivalent - it more often means a lamp or bowl of tallow with a floating wick (one quote refers to the sun as "God's bright candle").

Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

Return to “General History”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests