I’ve been enjoying myself with research this week. I’m starting to gather ideas and images for a historical fantasy novel, based loosely on Anglo-Saxon England (around the 7th or 8th century) so have been reading my way through a big pile of books I bought earlier this year. Things I have learned that are really cool:
* Tolkien didn’t invent ents and orcs. Okay, I figured he didn’t invent elves and dwarves, but had always thought ents and orcs were his. They aren’t; they’re Anglo-Saxon. He totally made up hobbits though: kudos.
* The word “wife” is related via Old English to the word “weave”. Women were weavers, both literally and metaphorically. Their role was to be married, thus unmarried women were the ones who never got past spinning to get to weaving: ie. “spinsters”.
* Interesting Northumbrian woman who became a Mercian saint in the seventh century named Cyneburh: add her name to the Old English word “leah” (meadow) and you get Cyneburh’s Leah, or Kimberley in Norfolk. That’s right, my alter ego does have a touch of the medieval about her.
The next book I have on my pile is a book of Anglo-Saxon recipes. So I may soon be subjecting my family to stodgy germanic treats like “bræde sceapen flæsc” (roasted sheep flesh… doesn’t sound as appetising as “lamb roast” does it?), “mearh smeamete” (sausage casserole), or “bæcen æpplas” with “flete estmete” (baked apples with sour cream custard).
Dang, now I’ve gone and made myself hungry for historical food: hate it when that happens. What’s Old English for “nom nom nom”?