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measures-msg – 2/3/08


Period measures and cautions for recipes.


NOTE: See also the files: commerce-msg, p-menus-msg, beverages-msg, measures-art, Sandglass-art, clocks-msg, calendars-msg, coins-msg.


KEYWORDS: measures measurements conversions units





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: perkins at msupa.pa.msu.EDU ("corpusculorum velocium perexiguorum

Date: 1 Oct 91 15:46:39 GMT


Jeremy de Merstone greets the Rialto and comments (at length--sorry) on

Duke Sir Cariadoc's interpretation of the Hippocras recipe from Le Menagier

de Paris (as found in the 1928 translation of the 1830s collation):


> To make powdered hippocras, take a quarter of very fine cinnamon

> selected by tasting it, and half a quarter of fine flour of cinnamon,

> an ounce of selected string ginger, fine and white, and an ounce of

> grain of Paradise, a sixth of nutmegs and galingale together, and

> bray them all together.  And when you would make your hippocras, take

> a good half ounce of this powder and two quarters of sugar and mix

> them with a quart of wine, by Paris measure.  And note that the

> powder and the sugar mixed together is the Duke's powder.


> (this is the end of the period recipe; the rest is how we do it)


> 4 oz stick cinnamon     1 oz of ginger

> 2 oz powdered cinnamon  1 oz of grains of paradise

> RA sixthS (probably of a poundQ2 2/3 ounces) of nutmegs and galingale

> together


> Grind them all together. To make hippocras add 1/2 ounce of the

> powder and 1/2 lb (1 cup) of sugar to a quart of boiling wine. Strain

> through a sleeve of Hippocrates (a tube of cloth, closed at one end).

> We generally use somewhat less of both sugar and powder than the

> recipe calls for.


This last remark started me wondering what the units of measure in use in

Paris in 1393 were -- so I looked them up:


The standard "pound" in use in that time and place for food items was the

"livre poids de marc" or "livre de Paris" established by King John II (the

Good) in the 1350s (replacing for all but a few commodities the old "livre"

analogous to [but not quite equal in size to] the Troy pound used in

England).  The "livre de Paris" continued in use for quite some time (up to

the Revolution, and metricization), virtually unchanged, so we know it to

be equal to 0.489506 kg (1.0792 US pounds) (at least to the precision of

the available weighing devices).  It was divided into 16 "onces", so the

recipe is fine in that respect (this is not just a trivial matter -- the

pre-1350 "livre" was divided into 12 "onces", not 16, and even in 1393,

there were special "livres" used for certain goods (e.g., wool) which were

divided into 15 "onces").


The standard "quarte" used in Paris for wine held 1.863 liters (1.969 US

liquid quarts).  The "quartes" used for other commodities varied widely,

and were usually much much larger, analogous to the British "quarter"

rather than to the "quart".  The "by Paris measure" part is also rather

important, in that there was not a lot of uniformity in measurements from

place to place -- the fact that the Goodman follows the recipe His Grace

has quoted with a variant of it, mentioning "quarts of xxx" (where xxx was

a list of other regions) is evidence that this lack of regularity could

even affect ordinary household matters.  The "Paris" standards were

considered as a sort of French national standard, but it was not required

that people elsewhere use them -- just that any measure claimed to be "of

Paris" had to conform to the standard.


The fact that His Grace finds that using "somewhat less of both sugar and

powder than the recipe calls for" gives more satisfactory results is

probably confirmation that modern tastes are *not* too different from the

Goodman's, whose "pound" is only 8% larger than ours, but whose "quart" was

97% larger.  To reach the same sugar+powder concentration the Goodman found

most palatable, we should put only 55% of the expected quantity of our

measured-out-with-modern-equipment sugar+powder mixture into our

measured-out-with-modern-equipment wine (or else use measuring implements

calibrated to 1393 Parisian weights and measures standards -- I probably

should NOT assume that His Grace DOESN'T do this, but based on his

"generally use somewhat less" remark, I think it safe to so assume, I hope,

fingers crossed).




Provincial_and_Local_Units_, Ronald Edward Zupko, Indiana Univ. Press,

Bloomington & London, 1978 (LC Classification QC89.F8 Z86, Dewey Decimal

389.10944,  LC Cat Card # 78-3249,  ISBN 0-253-32480-7)



Jeremy de Merstone       George J Perkins    perkins at msupa.pa.msu.edu

North Woods, MidRealm    East Lansing, MI    perkins at msupa (Bitnet)




Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: cav at bnr.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Subject: Re: How sweet were medieval wines?

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

Date: Tue, 29 Jun 93 18:09:30 GMT


In article <20pv22$qp at agate.berkeley.edu>, dgreen at athena (David Greenebaum) writes:

|> Greetings from Bjalfi!


|> In sweetened- and mulled-wine recipes, I seem to recall a posting a long

|> time back, I think it was from Duke Cariadoc? showing research which

|> indicated that the term "quart" actually signified a larger measure

|> than the modern U.S. quart.  Thus, making a recipe using modern quarts

|> of liquid in place of the medieval/renaissance quarts would yield a

|> stronger/sweeter recipe than the one actually enjoyed by the creators

|> of the recipe.  (Though I don't think this ccan explain away ALL the

|> difference...)  Milord Cariadoc, if it was indeed you who posted this

|> information, is this accurate?


|> ---------------------  Bjalfi Thordharson/College of St. Katherine/Province of

|>  |\  | |\  |\  |// |       the Mists/Principality of the Mists/West Kingdom

|>  | > | |\\ | \ |/  |   David Greenebaum/University of California/Berkeley, CA

|>  |<  | | \ |   |   |   dgreen at athena.berkeley.edu, dgreen at garnet.berkeley.edu

|>  | > | |   |   |   |

|>  |/  | |   |   |   |   "I make mistakes, but I am on the side of good -- by

|> ---------------------  accident and happenchance." -- the Golux


Depends on the recipe.  If it specifies 'X quarts honey to Y quarts

water', then it hardly matters whether quarts are thimbles or barrels

(as far as strength/sweetness is concerned).  Some of Digby's recipes

go no further than parts honey vs parts water (yes I know it's OOP).  

Where it *does* make

a difference is in cases where the measures are different (ie. X quarts

honey to Y barrels water) or where other ingredients (eg.spices) are


Of course, I don't know much about medieval recipes.  My favourite example

of obscure units in a medieval recipe comes up in a recipe for cheverel

(a type of oil tanned leather) wherein you find the phrase:

'Take as much oil as you would use to warm a bowl of soup'

Cheers, Balderik



From: perkins at MSUPA.PA.MSU.EDU

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: How sweet were medieval wines?

Date: 30 Jun 1993 00:02:08 GMT

Organization: MSU Dept. of Physics & Astronomy


Angharad [jtn at nutter.cs.vt.edu (Terry Nutter)] writes in response to Bjalfi:


>>In sweetened- and mulled-wine recipes, I seem to recall a posting a long

>>time back, I think it was from Duke Cariadoc? showing research which

>>indicated that the term "quart" actually signified a larger measure

>>than the modern U.S. quart.  Thus, making a recipe using modern quarts

>>of liquid in place of the medieval/renaissance quarts would yield a

>>stronger/sweeter recipe than the one actually enjoyed by the creators

>>of the recipe.  


>I'm confused.  If all the ingredients are specified in quarts, surely

>the diffence in the size of the quart will not affect the ratio of

>water to sweet ingredients, and so will not change anything but absolute

>amounts.  If some of the ingredients are specified, say, in pints, and

>others in quarts, then again, surely the important issue is the number

>of quarts to pints in each system (are their pints _also_ commensurately

>larger), etc.  With honey, the amounts are frequently specified in pounds

>-- and I've found that different varieties of honey measure out to different

>volumes to the pound anyhow, almost surely within the level of variation

>suggested here for the volume measures themselves.


The particular circumstance which Bjalfi recalls was a posting back in

September or October of 1991 by Duke Cariadoc of a translation/interpretation

of the Hippocras recipe in _Le_Menagier_de_Paris_.  It had some measurements

expressed in terms of volume (mainly the liquids) and some in terms of weight

(mainly the solids, such as the added sugar and spices).


He mentioned that he himself generally made the recipe with less sugar and

spicing than it appeared was called for, as the result tasted better.


I was curious about this comment, as well as by the phrasing of one of the

measurements ("by Paris measure", I believe), so I checked a reference on

the details of the measurement system in use in the Paris of the late 14th

Century.  It turned out that the "pound" ("livre de Paris") used for the

dry measures in the recipe was only a little heavier than our modern

American pound, while the "quarte" used in the recipe's liquid measure was

almost twice as large as the modern American quart. Hence, a blind

translation would yield a result more than 80% higher in sugar and spice

concentration than the original recipe writer intended.  I posted this

information and pointed out that His Grace's reduction of the "blind

translation" amounts for taste's sake was supporting evidence that medieval

taste was not terribly out of line for our own (or, to be more accurate,

for the experienced-in-medieval-cookery palate, such as His Grace's), as it

went in the direction of restoring the true original recipe.


Obviously, had there not been the nearly-factor-of-two difference in the

solid/liquid measuring system ratio, it would have been harder to

distinguish the "blind" translation from the original. Or, if Le Menagier

had stuck to weights only or volumes only in the recipe, there would have

been no problem to begin with.



Jeremy de Merstone       George J Perkins    perkins at msupa.pa.msu.edu

North Woods, MidRealm    East Lansing, MI    perkins at msupa (Bitnet)



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Subject: Re: How sweet were medieval wines?

Organization: University of Chicago

Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1993 06:27:10 GMT


Bjalfi asks about medieval quarts. What he is remembering is probably

not a posting by me but a posting politely pointing out an error I

had made; I have forgotten who posted it.


My error involved the ratio of spices and sugar to wine in Le

Menagier's Hippocras recipe. Spices and sugar are given by weight,

wine by quarts of Paris measure. The poster, whose name I have

forgotten, pointed out that the quart of Paris measure c. 1392 was

almost twice the modern quart, whereas the units of weight used were

close to the modern unit, making the ratio of spice and sugar to wine

about half what my careless reading of the recipe (taking quarts as

modern quarts) implied. This was particularly interesting because it

meant that in modifying the recipe to my own taste (cutting the spice

and sugar in half) I had inadvertently corrected my error--thus

providing evidence, through a blind experiment, that medieval tastes

in spicing were similar to modern tastes (or at least my taste).


Note that units of volume varied from time to time and place to

place, so you should not conclude from this that all medieval quarts

were bigger than modern quarts.





From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Rosary/Paternoster

Date: 11 Jul 1994 03:34:22 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


In article <9406097738.AA773807543 at inet.sagepub.com>,



>          Incidentally -- has anyone ever actually timed a Latin Ave

>          or Pater to see how long it takes to say them? I'd know a

>          lot better how long to stir things in medieval recipes.


A Pater Noster is 20 seconds.  I say three when blanching

almonds, to know when to take 'em out of the boiling water.  An

Ave is about 13 seconds.  This is recited at a good speed, but

not dropping any syllables for Titivillus to pick up.


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin          Dorothy J. Heydt

Mists/Mists/West                       UC Berkeley

Argent, a cross forme'e sable            djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu




From: IMC at vax2.utulsa.edu (I. Marc Carlson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: PEDANTRY: Measurement (Was: Army Times)

Date: 13 Oct 1994 14:13:29 -0500

Organization: UTexas Mail-to-News Gateway


U.J|rgen \hman (bubba at adolf.ludd.luth.se) wrote:

: Could someone by the way tell me where the yard, mile, pound and gallon comes

: from and how/if they are related to each other.


Inch English.  From the Latin "Uncia" (or a twelfth part), an

     inch is 1/12 Foot. A measure of length.

     In French, the unit of 1/12 a "foot" is the Pounce.  In

     Spanish, Pulgadas.  nb. A 12th of a Pounce is a Ligne, and a

     12th of a Pulgadas is a Lignas.  English inches are

     traditionally divided into eighths.


Foot The length of a Man's Foot. A measure of length. From town

     to town, country to Country, this measurement could differ,

     but as a rule a French Pied was equal to 12.8 English

     inches, while a Spanish Pie was 10.96 English inches


Yard A unit of linear measure equal to equal to 3 feet or 36

     inches.  Also the corresponding measure of area (square yard

     = 9 square feet) or of solidity (cubic yard = 27 cubic

     feet).  Aka Verge.  NOT to be confused with:


Yard A unit of linear measure equal to 16 1/2 feet or 5 1/2 yards

     (but varying locally); AKA rod, pole, or perch. Sometimes

     distinguished as land-yard.


Ell  English. From the Latin "Ulna". A unit of linear measure

     equal to 45 inches.  The word ell seems to have been

     variously taken to represent the distance from the elbow or

     from the shoulder to the wrist or to the finger-tips, while

     in some cases a "double ell" has superseded the original

     measure, and has taken its name.

          English ell = 45 in.

          Scots       = 37.2 in.

          Flemish     = 27 in.


Nail A measure of weight for wool, beef, etc., usually equal to

     eight pounds = clove

     A measure of land.

     A measure of length for cloth; 2.14 inches, or the 1/16th

     part of a yard.

     "The precise origin of this sense is not clear. The use of

     the nail in early examples suggests that one sixteenth from

     the end of the yard-stick may have been marked by a nail."




     English.  From the Latin "Uncia" (or a twelfth part), an

     ounce is 1/12 Pound (or was originally, and is still in

     "troy" weight).  A measurement of weight.



     A measure of weight and mass derived from the ancient Roman

     libra (which is equal to 327.25 grams), but this ancient

     standard has been modified variously over the course of

     time, and in different countries.

     The pound consisted originally of 12 ounces, corresponding

     more or less to that of troy weight. This is still used by

     goldsmiths and jewellers in stating the weight of gold,

     silver, and precious stones; but as early as the thirteenth

     or fourteenth century a pound of sixteen ounces was used for

     more bulky commodities. This was made a standard for general

     purposes of trade by Edward III, and known as the pound

     aveir de peis, i.e. of merchandise of weight, now called

     avoirdupois, q.v.

     At other times the pound has varied locally from 12 to 27

     ounces, according to the commodity, pounds of different

     weight being often used in the same place for different

     articles, as bread, butter, cheese, meat, malt, hay, wool,


          Scotch pound of 16 ounces of Troy or Dutch Weight

          consisted of 7608.9496 grains

          the Tron pound kept at Edinburgh = 9622.67 grains.

          Italy between 300 and 350 grams

          Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and some German

          states between 459 and 469 grams (Ie., those lands

          ruled by Charles V?)

          In other German states, Denmark, etc. between 477 and

          510.22 grams. But the standard German pfund is now 500



Mark A denomination of weight formerly employed (chiefly for gold

     and silver) throughout western Europe; its actual weight

     varied considerably, but it was usually regarded as

     equivalent to 8 ounces (= either 23 or 12 of a pound,

     according to the meaning given to the latter term).


Mile Originally, the Roman lineal measure of 1,000 paces (mille

     passus or passuum), computed to have been about 1,618 yards.

     Hence, the unit of measure derived from this, used in the

     British Isles and in other English-speaking countries. Its

     length has varied considerably at different periods and in

     different localities, chiefly owing to the influence of the

     agricultural system of measures with which the mile has been

     brought into relation (see furlong). The legal mile in

     Britain and the U.S. is now 1,760 yards (5280 feet). The

     Irish mile of 2,240 yards is still in rustic use. The

     obsolete Scottish mile was longer than the English, and

     probably varied according to time and place; one of the

     values given for it is 1,976 yards.



     Originally the distance an Ox could pull a plow before

     needing to rest, ie., "a furrow long".  As early as the 9th

     c. it was regarded as the equivalent of the Roman stadium,

     which was 18 of a Roman mile; and hence furlong has always

     been used as a name for the eighth part of an English mile,

     whether this coincided with the agricultural measure so

     called or not. The present statute furlong is 220 yards, and

     is equal both to the eighth part of a statute mile, and to

     the side of a square of 10 statute acres.



     An itinerary measure of distance, varying in different

     countries, but usually estimated roughly at about 3 miles;

     app. never in regular use in England, but often occurring in

     poetical or rhetorical statements of distance.

     Although the league appears never to have been an English

     measure, leuca occurs somewhat frequently in Anglo-Latin

     law-books (Bracton, Fleta, etc.); it is disputed whether in

     these works it means one mile or two.



     An English measure of capacity. The imperial gallon contains

     27714 cubic inches: the winegallon of 231 cubic inches is

     the standard in the United States.


     An English measure of capacity, one-fourth of a gallon, or

     two pints.


Pint A measure of capacity for liquids (also for corn and other

     dry substances of powdery or granular nature), equal to 1/2

     a quart or 1/8 of a gallon; of varying content at different

     times and places.


Ton  Tun. A unit used in measuring the carrying capacity or

     burden of a ship, the amount of cargo, freight, etc.

     Originally, the space occupied by a tun cask of wine. Now,

     for the purposes of registered tonnage, the space of 100

     cubic feet. For purposes of freight, usually the space of 40

     cubic feet, unless that bulk would weigh more than 20 cwt.,

     in which case freight is charged by weight. But the

     expression "ton of cargo" is also used with regard to

     special packages which are conventionally assumed as going

     so many packages to the ton.


A simple scholar,


      Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn

      Shire of Northkeep, Kingdom of Ansteorra

      (I. Marc Carlson/IMC at vax2.utulsa.edu)



From: asewpo1 at peabody.sct.ucarb.COM (Steve Weaver)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Furlongs

Date: 14 Oct 1994 12:12:23 -0400

Organization: the internet


According to my inforation:

1 furlong = 660 feet

          = 0.125 miles

          = 40 rods/poles

          = 440 cubits


(Now re-entering lurking mode)  ;-)



From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: pound of gold, pound of feathers

Date: 17 Oct 1994 14:10:00 -0400

Organization: the internet



>Worth remembering next time someone asks which weighs more -- a pound

>of gold or a pound of feathers...


Actually, a pound is a pound is a pound.


However...one pound of non-precious metal goods is 16 avoirdupois

ounces (French for "goods of weight").  One pound of gold is divided

into 12 troy (from Troyes) ounces, so the individual ounces weigh

more.  Thus, 1 ounce of gold is heavier than 1 ounce of feathers.

Each ounce was subdivided into 20 smaller weights, whose names I will

withhold pending a surprise.


Notice the ratio: 1:12:20.  The pre-decimal British currency was so

divided: 1 pound = 12 shillings, and 1 shilling = 20 pence.  Thus it

should be no surprise that the smallest weight is a "pennyweight".

Originally a pound of _silver_ (equal in value to an ounce of gold)

was divided into 12 ounces (from the Latin _uncia_), and each ounce

could be minted into 20 silver pennies.  Depending on the time in

England, pay on the order of shillings per year put you in the middle



(An ounce of silver has a volume of about 2.5 cubic centimeters, or

a coin about the size and thickness of a quarter, if you're wondering

how big the coins were)


William the Alchymist



Organization: Penn State University

Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 15:24:11 EDT

From: Chris West <CKW101 at psuvm.psu.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: pound of gold, pound of feathers


In article <199410171806.OAA06196 at math.bu.edu>, jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)



>Actually, a pound is a pound is a pound.


>However...one pound of non-precious metal goods is 16 avoirdupois

>ounces (French for "goods of weight").  One pound of gold is divided

>into 12 troy (from Troyes) ounces, so the individual ounces weigh

>more.  Thus, 1 ounce of gold is heavier than 1 ounce of feathers.

>Each ounce was subdivided into 20 smaller weights, whose names I will

>withhold pending a surprise.




>William the Alchymist


A pound is not a pound. It is true that a pound avoirdupois is 16 ounces

avoirdupois. It is also true that a pound troy is 12 ounces troy. It is

NOT TRUE that a pound avoirdupois is a pound troy. Why? an ounce troy is

about 32 grams, an ounce av. is about 29 grams. Thus, a #av is about 465

grams, and a #t is more like 390 g. (probably these numbers are not exact,

if so, flame me and I'll post truth when I can look it up).


Therefore a pound of feathers is significantly heavier than a pound of gold.

On the other hand, a pound of lead is _exactly the same_ as a pound of



--Raul de Paz



From: WJMICHALSKI <wjmichalski at delphi.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: pound of gold, pound of feathers

Date: Mon, 17 Oct 94 19:37:50 -0500

Organization: Delphi (info at delphi.com email, 800-695-4005 voice)


Jeff Suzuki <jeffs at math.bu.EDU> writes:

>Actually, a pound is a pound is a pound.

Not quite.  See below.

>However...one pound of non-precious metal goods is 16 avoirdupois

>ounces (French for "goods of weight").  One pound of gold is divided

>into 12 troy (from Troyes) ounces, so the individual ounces weigh

>more.  Thus, 1 ounce of gold is heavier than 1 ounce of feathers.

>Each ounce was subdivided into 20 smaller weights, whose names I will

>withhold pending a surprise.

The actual smallest measurement is the grain, of which 24 grains = one

pennyweight (dwt) of gold.  20 dwt do indeed make one ounce troy, which is

480 grains.

With avoirdupois weight, 27,343 grains one dram, and 16 drams make one

ounce av.  Total being 417 grains per ounce.  So yes, an ounce of gold is

heavier than an ounce of feathers.


One pound troy = 12 oz. = 5760 grains.

One pound av. = 16 oz. = 6679 grains.

A pound of feathers is heavier than a pound of gold.




From: Erika.Sarah at launchpad.unc.edu (Erika Sarah)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: English measurements

Date: 26 Oct 1994 07:54:24 GMT

Organization: University of North Carolina Extended Bulletin Board Service


*This story is slightly off topic, and not really period, but it's really

funny and pretty short, so I'm going to post it anyway*


An American laboratory sent some data to an English lab using the

Metric notation grams per cubic centimeter.  The English lab sent back the

data with the comment "This is an English laboratory. WE do not use the

METRIC system.  Please send the data back to us in English measurements."


The American laboratory sent back the data in stones per royal firkin.


-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Launchpad is an experimental internet BBS. The views of its users do not

necessarily represent those of UNC-Chapel Hill, OIT, or the SysOps.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --



From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: mile yard etc.

Date: 22 Oct 1994 01:37:27 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


[Hal posting from Dorothy's account...]

In article <199410191612.MAA24581 at math.bu.edu>,

Jeff Suzuki <jeffs at math.bu.EDU> wrote:

>1 knot = 1 nautical

>mile/hour = .01 degrees/hour.  


The "1 naut. mile per hour" is correct, but the nautical mile was

originally 1 minute of longitude at 45 degrees North latitude.

It's now defined in metric units and varies by country.


>Mark twain is two fathoms....


Yes, but...  The reference is to both the depth (two fathoms) *and*

that that particular depth is has a visual and tactile indicator

on the lead line.  All depths with such attachments are "marks".

All others are "deeps."  A leadsman measuring 12 feet of water

calls "by the mark two (or twain)."  If the depth on the lead is

36 feet (6 fathoms) he would call "by the deep six!"  Per

Bowditch _The American Practical Navigator_ (1931 edition, but

this stuff doesn't change very fast), the marks are: 2, 3, 5, 7,

10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, etc. fathoms.  Note the

concentration with depths of use and interest to sailing and

other early ships.  


Samuel Clemens chose that particular _nom de plume_ because, as a

riverboat skipper on the Mississippi, when the water was 12 feet

deep, it was safe sailing for those boats.


      --Hal Ravn

       (Hal Heydt)



From: phefner at aol.com (PHefner)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: How much is an ell? (Was: Baggy pants)

Date: 23 Dec 1994 00:15:45 -0500

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


In Paris, in 1400, an ell was the length equal to the distance between the

extended middle finger and the elbow. Christine de Pisan refers to a gown

made for a lady by a contemporary Parisian dressmaker thus: "...which

required five ells of wide Brussels material trailing three-quarters on

the ground, replete with bombard sleeves hanging to the feet". Gosh, could

five ells have been adequate for such a huge houppelande? ---Isabelle de




From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: ell

Date: 29 Dec 1994 10:57:10 -0500

Organization: The Internet


>PMJI: How much is an ell?


>Rosalyn MacGregor of Glen Orchy


I don't know what PMJI stands for, but there are several answers to

the question.  The right answer is, "It depends".  (Oddly enough, this

question just came up a few days ago, when my lady needed to know the

answer for a sewing project, whose lengths were measured in ells)


The three ells we could find were: Flemish (27 inches), French (45

inches), and English (54 inches).  


William the Alchymist



From: s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (Sharon Krossa)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Length of a Scottish 'ell' (was: Great Kilt)

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 02:42:43 +0000

Organization: Phuture PhuDs


In article <3259CC85.5674 at dimensional.com>,

Archer <archer at dimensional.com> wrote on 8 Oct 1996:


>Matthew Pius wrote:


>> Archer <archer at dimensional.com> writes:

>> >My understanding of an ell is that it is a measurement from the tip of

>> >your elbow to the tip of your middle finger, which on myself is about

>> >30" or so...

>> >this being the case, 16 ells of cloth would be a little over 13

>> >yards...egads, that's a lotta cloth...:)


>>         Well, I'm certainly not going to comment on the length of

>> Archer's arms, but I WOULD be somewhat surprised if they measured 30

>> inches from the elbow to fingertip (unless you mean the elbow of one arm

>> to the tip of middle finger on the opposite hand :) )  I don't have a

>> ruler with me at the moment, but as a guess, I'd say that the described

>> measurement on me (tip of elbow to tip of middle finger) is round about

>> 18 inches, which makes 16 ells VERY roughly equivalent to 8 yards.  This,

>> of course assumes that an ell is the measurement from tip of elbow to tip

>> of middle finger, something for which I can not vouch one way or the other.


>As I said in another post, 30" was a typo.  The actual measurment is

>20", which would make 16 ells just short of 9 yards.  I got the

>description of ell out of my trusty, rusty Bookshelf '96 CD, so I don't

>know how accurate it is, but it's the only dictionary I've got.  BTW,

>the elbow to fingertip measure was listed as the "ancient" usage, with

>the modern being a set 45".  Don't know why 45" would be a good

>standardization, but hey, it's not my word...


The answer is, Bookshelf is not very accurate. Have fun someday, and

compare the encyclopedia entries in Bookshelf to those in Encarta for the

same subjects... and then check out some proper books and discover that

often neither answer is right ;-)


As regarding the Scottish ell, it was defined by Act of Parliament in the

reign of David I as being 37 inches, where an inch was defined based on a

medium-sized man's thumb. James I re-stated this definition in 1426. Notice

that this definition had nothing to do with elbows, arms, etc, but with

thumbs (37 of them). In _Changing Values in Medieval Scotland_, Gemmill &

Mayhew say "There does not seem to have been any particular change in the

[Scottish] ell over time, but there is explicit reference in the records to

the ell of Scottish measure. TA II.234 (treasurer, purchase in Flanders,

1504): 24 Flemish ells of grey damask ('gray dames') equivalent to 18 Scots

ells, so the Flemish ell was only three-quarters of the size of the Scots

ell in this instance."


Assuming a medieval Scottish inch is the same as a modern inch would be a

very rash thing to do, so I will refrain from calculating the length of 16

ells in modern units.


Effrick neyn kenyeoch vik harrald

mka Sharon Krossa, finding Mayhew & Gemmill useful once again

skrossa at svpal.org (permanent) -or- s.krossa at abdn.ac.uk (until Nov 1996)

Medieval Scotland Web Page (including information on names & clothing):




From: david_key at vnet.ibm.com (Dave Key)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Length of an ell, was Re: Length of a Scottish 'ell'

Date: 18 Oct 1996 08:15:12 GMT

Organization: IBM UK Laboratories Ltd.


In <AE8C9F2396681138E at annex-p7.abdn.ac.uk>, s.krossa at aberdeen.ac.uk (Sharon Krossa) writes:

>As regarding the Scottish ell, it was defined by Act of Parliament in the

>reign of David I as being 37 inches, where an inch was defined based on a

>medium-sized man's thumb. James I re-stated this definition in 1426. Notice

>that this definition had nothing to do with elbows, arms, etc, but with

>thumbs (37 of them). In _Changing Values in Medieval Scotland_, Gemmill &

>Mayhew say "There does not seem to have been any particular change in the

>[Scottish] ell over time, but there is explicit reference in the records to

>the ell of Scottish measure. TA II.234 (treasurer, purchase in Flanders,

>1504): 24 Flemish ells of grey damask ('gray dames') equivalent to 18 Scots

>ells, so the Flemish ell was only three-quarters of the size of the Scots

>ell in this instance."


Very interesting post ... I'm still waiting for the library to deliver a copy of the Acts of Parliament for Scotland ... however to add a bit extra ...

In C15th England the Ell was defined as 45" (5/4 of a yard ... which was 36"

unless you were measuring cloth in which case it was 37"!) This was a change

from the older ... and still 'relatively' standard measure on the continent

of 27" ... which is the 3/4 of an English yard or (as described above) Scottish



However these measurements varied from Country to Country & town to town

'a Flemish ell' varied between regions & was different to the Paris ell.


I'm not sure of the origin of the change ... but, from memory, the length

of the ell in England changed for tax reasons ... both at the Conquest &

later ... the version I recall goers something like ... you make cloth 1 ell

wide or I fine you ... so you make a loom to make cloth that size ... then

the ell becomes longer ... your cloth is now under assize ... you get fined !

Seems a bit simplistic to me but you never know !


I have a suspicion that the ell WAS originally 18" ... elbow to fist ... but where I got that from I haven't the foggiest ... some Norse thing or other ... so be VERY careful on the last 2 paragraphs!!!


Hope this was helpful/of interest





From: Fideli <jfideli at suffolk.lib.ny.us>

To: Mark Harris

Date: Tue, 7 Jan 1997 20:49:30 -0500 (EST)

Subject: shorts, for fill in




1 nip     = .25 pint

1 small   = .5 pint

1 large   = 1 pint

1 flagon  = 1 quart

1 anker   = 10 gallons

1 firkin  = 9.8 gallons

1 barrel  = 31.5 gallons

1 hogshead= 2 barrels = 63 gallons

1 butt    = 2 hogsheads = 126 gallons

1 tun     = 2 butts = 252 gallons


     Found by Lord Xaviar the Eccentric


                          WINE MEASURES



10 gallons     = 1 anker

1 hogshead     = 1 pipe

2 hogshead     = 1 tun

1 puncheon     = 84 gallons

1 butt         = 126 gallons


                        WINE BOTTLE SIZE


Minature  = 100 ml

Small     = 187 ml (split)

Medium    = 375 ml

Regular   = 750 ml

Large     = 1 Liter

Magnum    = 1.5 L

Extra Large= 3 L


                     CHAMPAGNE BOTTLE SIZES


Split          =    .25 bottle

Pint           =    .5 bottle

Bottle         =    .75 liters = 26 fl oz

Magnum         =    1.5 l = 2 bottles

Jeroboam       =    3 l = 4 bottles

Rehoboam       =    4.5 l = 6 bottles

Methuselah     =    6 l = 8 bottles

Salmanazar     =    9 l = 12 bottles

Balthazar      =    12 l = 16 bottles

Nebuchadnezzar =    15 l = 20 bottles


     Transcribed by Josef Barleycorn head brewer for

     Lord Xaviar the Eccentric.    



From: manth at ozemail.com.au (Aramanth Dawe)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Conversions

Date: Fri, 24 Jan 1997 06:45:01 GMT

Organization: OzEmail Ltd - Australia


Norvell Molex <gandolph at bds1.kode.net> wrote:


>There are many excellant recipes at on the online section of Cariadocs

>& Elizabeth's recipes however some of the measurement are given in

>metrics. Being new to the cooking business I am not well versed in the

>conversions. Also some of the recipes seem to rotate between fluid and

>solid. Could someone, anyone please help a gentleman out of a jam.


>Norvell Molex

>Aka: Brian MacQuarrey


Metric conversion is not too hard to manage - although Australian

cookbooks have been metric for a couple of decades now, I have also

successfully used recipes form my mothers and grandmother's books.

There are about 28g to the oz, but I find (for ease of mental

arithmetic) that consitant use of 30g (or 2 measuring tablespoons)

works well.  For fluid measurements - 250ml is equivalent to 1

standard 8oz measuring cup.  I hope this helps.  


I haven't tried out any of the recipes you're talking about - but now

that I know they're there, I'll certainly give them a try.


Aramanth de Warrene

(mka Aramanth Dawe)



From: "Philip W. Troy" <troy at asan.com>

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 19:38:21 -0400

Subject: Re: sca-cooks - subtleties


Mark Schuldenfrei wrote:

>   > So, as I alluded to in earlier posts, half the fun is figuring out what to

>   > do.  What do you think the original says? I'll repeat it here.


>   That and how long a Whalme is!!


> Context, please?  This is ringing a bell.


> I think what I liked best, was the translation in Caterina's German work, of

> timing something "A League and Back".  The end result was to find out how

> much distance a league was in that time and place, use US Government figures

> for average walking pace, and time the cooking that way...


>         Tibor (For me, a paternoster takes no time at all!)


Would you folks be referring to a walm? That is an unspecified time; the

modern equivalent instruction to letting something boil for one walm (or

presumably a whalme) is to bring it to a boil once. Using a heat source

far less easily controlled than what we generally use today, cooking

times were often measured by letting food come to a boil, drawing the

pot away from the fire to cool a bit, then bringing it back to a boil.

This process is repeated for the specified number of times. This is very

common in later-period recipes such as you find in Elinor Fettiplace or

Gervase Markham.





Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 20:34:43 -0400 (EDT)

From: Fideli <jfideli at suffolk.lib.ny.us>

To: Chroniclers --mark_harris at quickmail

Subject: Greetings...just some small tidbits for you...


A Clove by any other name?


     Clove, a weight used in England of six and one-half, seven, or

eight pounds (2948, 3.175, or 3.629 kilograms) for cheese, wool,

metals, and other agricultural and nonagricultural goods. Commonly

called a half-stone, it was ultimately derived etymologically from

the Latin clavus (nail).  One of the most frequently used weights

in mediebal England, the clobe appeared in the documents with such

variant spellings as claw, clawe, clou, cloue, claue, clavbe,

cleaue, and cleave.

                       Ronald Edward Zupko


     Strayer, Joseph R; Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Vols

1,3,5,10,13. Charles Scribners sons, NY. 1982.



Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 10:14:25 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Plum Pudding


>My deepest thanks...one question....how large is a penny loaf?



I believe the penny loaf is about 1 lb.  I don't have my English Bread

and Yeast Cookery to hand or I would check.


With a pint of milk and eight eggs to 1 lb of flour, 1 lb of bread

crumbs sounds about right.  The amounts are in Imperial measures, so

they will be slightly different from U.S. measures.





Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 21:16:28 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Plum Pudding


To get back on subject, the penny loaf was the price of a loaf of bread

under the Assize of Bread established in 1266.  There were three

qualities of flour listed and three different weights of loaf.  In terms

of 17th and 18th century recipes, what is usually meant is the penny

white loaf (a manchet) which weighed between 6 and 8 ounces.  A wheat or

brown loaf would weigh 12 to 16 ounces.  


Elizabeth David recommends using 81 to 85 percent extraction wheat meal

with a small proportion of unbleached white flour enriched with milk and

eggs to approximate Jacobean or Georgian manchets.  


So, my guess at a 1 lb. loaf is half off.





Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 13:18:51 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #460


>"A pint's a pound, the world around". That's a pound as a measure of weight,

>not a currency unit ;^D.




Tain't necessarily so.  A dry pint = 1/64 bushel.  A U.S. bushel =

2150.4 Cu. inches.  An Imperial bushel = 2219.4 cu. inches.  Weight in

either case would depend on the density of the material being wieghed.


As a point of interest, the U.S. uses the Winchester bushel which

equates to about 54 lbs of wheat and Great Britian uses the London

bushel which equates to about 60 lbs of wheat.  Both measures were in

use in medieval England, causing some interesting problems.


Both the U.S. and Great Britain use a 16 oz lb which are approximately



The U.S. gallon is a wine gallon of 231 cu. inches or approximately 8

lbs.  The Imperial gallon is based on 10 lbs of pure water at 62 degrees

F equaling 277.42 cu. inches.


The liquid pint = 1/8 of a gallon = 16 oz. U.S. (1 lb.) = 20 oz.

Imperial (1.25 lb).


So a pint's a pound only if you're measuring a liquid with the density

of water in a U.S. 1 pint measuring cup.




P.S.  The pound as a measure of currency is a measure of weight with

variable value.  Dats da nature of economics.



Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 22:06:44 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #460


At 11:58 AM -0800 12/4/97, kat wrote:

>Bear writes:

>> P.S.  The pound as a measure of currency is a measure of weight with

>> variable value...


>...and is primarily dependent on where you're located. For example, a

>pound, in London, is currently worth about $1.68; but a pound in Beirut is

>only worth about six-hundredths of a penny...


>       - kat (who wishes she didn't have to know all this stuff, really...)


The pound started out meaning a pound of silver pennies (the Carolingian

monetary reform). It's been downhill from there.






Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 00:42:17 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #460


At 10:27 AM +1100 12/9/97, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

>Assuming we are thinking of GBP Pounds Sterling (so-called) I think a

>pound of silver pennies has appreciated a bit.



The pound sterling is one of the descendants of the pound defined by the

Carolingian monetary reform--which, incidentally, was a unit of account,

not an actual coin. Initially, 240 pennies weighed a pound. When the penny

was debased over time, instead of defining a pound as "the number of

pennies that weighs a pound, however much that is" they defined a pound as

240 pennies.


For the long version, see Carlo Cippola, _Money, Prices and Civilization in

the Mediterranean World_. A good book.


David Friedman

Professor of Law

Santa Clara University

ddfr at best.com




Date: Sun, 5 Apr 1998 11:02:17 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Middle East-Help needed


At 10:34 AM -0400 4/5/98, LrdRas wrote:

>An observation on the Andalusian translation in the Miscellany> The transaltor

>seems to equate 1 uqiya with 1 once.


The uqiya/ratl system, like the troy system and unlike the avoirdupois, has

twelve ounces to the pound.





Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 14:47:31 -0400

From: Nick Sasso <Njs at mccalla.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Rarity of Fermantation recipes (was Fermented Beverage


Even wonder what they used for timing and

thermometers in the brewing; afterall, yeast is VERY temperature



niccolo difrancesco



My friend Geoffrey is doing some research into period brewing.

Admittedly, most of his documentation is late period, it is still pretty cool.

He was wondering himself how they dealt with temperature. ........  I am

going to forward this to him and see if he will write something about this

if you are interested.




- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I will greatly appreciate any information you would proffer on this.  What

I am familiar with is pretty remarkable.  Recipes refer to quantities of

boiling water (hard boil) mixed with room temp water to get a certain

'ideal' for mashing stages or pitching, or whatever.  We marvelled and

said 'these poor, technologically deprived boobs....don't they wish they

had thermometers and watches?'.


Well, the crow was mighty tasty that night as we mixed the amounts

listed and came within 2-4 degreesF of the temps listed in our high

falooting brewing guides.  I suppose they were the Masters after all!

After a time, you get to know by touch.  I can tell the proper temperature

to pitch yeast in a carboy (70 F or less) by touch. Primarily because I've

felt the warmth so many times before pitching the yeast and it being

TOO WARM!  Reputedly, a brewer would run his finger through the top

of a pot of water as it heated to determine proper temp. The number of

times he could do so wouild tell him if hot enough.


As for time, one reference we found has directions to boil something for

a 'furlong' or some such.  We had to really look and cogitate to figure out

that that was the time it took to walk a 'furlong' and back.  Pretty

ingenious.  Or another that told of three tuns of time......a tun is a vessel

used to hold water.....time to fill it at the stream three times.  Brilliant

people compared to our electronic dependent lives.


pax et bonum,

niccolo difrancesco



Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 18:52:42 EDT

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - thriddendele-more readable


In a message dated 9/21/98 5:34:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time,

mfgunter at fnc.fujitsu.com writes:


<< http://pleth.Princeton.EDU/cgi-bin/OED/oed-id?id=493538280 >>


Cindy, the info you sent was fascinating. Hope you don't mind that I',m

reposting it in a more readable form. :-)


OED Entry Search

- ------------------------------------------------------------------------




'thirdendeal. Obs. Forms: 1 priddan dl; 4 pridden-, 4-5 thridden-, 5

threden-, thredden-, thryden-, thyrdyn-, 6 thirdin-, thyrden-, (thirding-, 7

thurron-), 6-8 thirden-; 4-5 -del, 5-7 -dele, 6 -deale, deall, 7 -dell, 7-8

- -deal; 4-6 (9 dial.) -dale. OE. (pone) priddan dl, accus. case of (se) pridda

dl the third part (see thirdel, deal sb.1, dale2). Cf. halfendeal,



1. The third part of anything; a third.


C. 1000 Sax. Leechd. I. 98 Seope on wtere to priddan dle;


C. 1000 Sax. Leechd. II. 120 Bewyl op priddan dl;


13.. Guy Warw. (A.) 7306 + st. 65 Thriddendel his lond haue he schold.


14.. E.E. Misc. (Warton Cl.) 72 With the thyrdyndele of gume, and twyse so

mych of water.


A. 1500 in Arnolde Chron. (1811) 147 Euery Sonday a soule out of purgatory

and the thredden dele of al synnes releced.


1558 Warde tr. Alexis' Secr. i. i. (1580) 37 b, Drinke thereof two

thirdendales of a glassefull.


1581 J. Bell Haddon's Answ. Osor. 459 b, A thyrdendeale of the Crowne of

Thornes is shewed at Paris in the Holy Chappell there.


2. A third of a tun; = tertian B. 2.


1423 Rolls of Parlt. IV. 256/1 Thredendels and hoggeshedes so aftur lesse



14.. MS. Cantab. Ff. 5. 48, lf. 55 b (Hartshorne Anc. Metr. T. (1829) 54),

Hit holdis a gode thrydendele Ful of wyne euery mele.


3. (See quots.)


1571 in Shaks. Jahrbuch (1896) 142 The hooped pot commonly called a

thirdindeale and a half thirdindeale.


1590 [Tarlton] News Purgat. (1844) 114 When Tapsters..Fill thirdingdeall pots

till the drinke run ouer.

1620 Melton Astrolog. 32 Many of them dare not goe to bed without a

Thurrondell Pot of six shillings Beere.


1678 Phillips (ed. 4), Thirdendeal, a Liquid Measure used in Salisbury

containing three Pints.


1721 in Bailey.





Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 11:01:52 EDT

From: THLRenata at aol.com

Subject: SC - Re:  How Much Juice?


Angeline asks:

>>How much juice do you get out of the average lemon and the average



According to the equivalents chart in the BH&G Cookbook


1 medium lemon = 3T juice, 2 t. shredded peel

1 medium orange = 1/3 to 1/4 cup juice, 4 T shredded peel



Barony of Altavia

Kingdom of Caid

Los Angeles, CA



Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 22:40:17 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Verzusum


phlip at bright.net writes:


<< First, what sort of ounce is he saying- volume, or weight? >>


When cooking from Platina I have always used the 2 tablspoons = 1 ounce rule of

thumb. It has always produced satisfactory results so far. Try 1 tablspoon of

cinnamon which wouldn't be over much for a half cup of sugar plus the other






Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 17:58:18 -0500

From: "Pat LaPointe" <alisoun at bcn.net>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: RE: Measurements


Styrbjorn Ulfhamr asked:

... if there were different measurements for ale?


According to Stuart Peachey, in Measures and Dates 1580-1660, Bristol:

Stuart Press, 1997, "Measures often differed with commodity so that a gallon

of beer was different in size from one of ale and also from one of wine."

Some liquid measurements from Peachey's book are found on page 8:


Measuring Wine




Liquid                      Litre


Gallon       8 pints    4.55 Varied with comodity 35 beer gals=42 wine gals

Wine Gallon                       3.74 1 gal wine =231 cubic inches.

Pottle       4 pints      2.27

Quart              2 pints      1.14

Pint                 1 pint            .568

Gill or Quadron .25 pint         .142 [Randle Holme: Academy of Armory


Spoonfull           .031[1/32]pint .018


Firkin  Quarter of a barrel [Websters New International Dictionary 1927)

Ale Firkin      8 gallons [Websters]

Beer firkin 9 gallons [Websters]

Runnlet Variable aprox 15 gallons [Websters]

Barrel  36 gallons depending on comodity [36 Beer, 32 Ale]

Hogshead        52.5 gallons [variable with comodity and region] [Websters]

Puncheon        2 barrels 72 gallons [Websters)

Pipe          2 hogsheads [Websters]

Butt          2 hogsheads [Websters]


Awme    poss french ell Aune

        poss dutch/german volume 30-35 gallons-136-159 liters


Wine Oil or Honey

Tun            2 butts

Butt or Pipe 2 hogsheads

Hogshead         2 barrels

Tierce   1.5 barrels

Barrel   1.75 Rundlet

Barrel   2 kilderkin

Wine Barrel     31.5 Gallons

Ale Barrel      32 Gallons

Beer Barrel     36 Gallons

Rundlet 18 gallons

Aqua Vitae Barrel       10 gallons [Scottish Import Regulations 1611]

Gallon  2 pottles

Wine Gallon     8 pound tory weight


Stock fish and Herring 10,000 to the last which is 12 ale barrels

Salmond and Eels Some measure them by ale measures.[Randle Holme: Academy of

Armory 1682 3/260]


Looking up the terms in the OED would give a start date for their usage.

That wasn't Peachey's intent in providing the list of terms.  His intent was

to provide modern definitions for mesures encountered in Elizabethan and

Stuart documents.




Mistress Alisoun Fortescue of Maplehurst in the Barony of Bergental,

East Kingdom, 1585

Pat LaPointe in Western Massachusetts, 1998



Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 23:50:53 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Measurements


<styrbjorn at juno.com (Skip Wilder)>

>The measurements Marc gave are certainly quite helpful.  Here are

>some I ran across in an old newsletter.  I have no way of

>verifying these and do not know the original source. Perhaps

>someone out there has more info.  These are supposed to be

>traditional wine measurements, but I wonder if they are Medieval

>and if there were different measurements for ale? Also does

>anyone know what a 'flagon' is and how much it measures?  (My

>dictionary says that it is a pottery vessel with a lid and spout

>holding about two quarts.)


Let me check my _Historical Measures, Weights, Calendars, & Money

of all Nations_ (I don't have any of the other sources with me)...



>Traditional Wine Measures:

>10 gallons         =1 anker

>1 hogshead    =1 pipe

>2 hogsheads   =1 tun

>1 puncheon    =84 gallons

>1 butt        =126 gallons


Hogshead of Claret.....................46 gallons

Butt of Sherry........................103 "

Pipe of Port or Masden................115 "

Pipe of Madeira or Cape................92 "

Pipe of Teneriffe.....................100 "

Pipe of Lisbon or Bucellas............117 "

Butt of Tent, Malaga, or Mountain.....105 "

Aum of Hock, Moselle, or other German Wines..30 "

Pipe of Marsala or Bronti..............93 "

Puncheon of Scotch Wiskey.............110-130 "

Puncheon of Brandy....................110-120 "

Hogshead of Brandy.....................55-60 "

Puncheon of Rum........................90-100 "


A hogshead is 1/2 a Pipe, Butt or Puncheon

A quartercask is 1/4 of "

An Octave is 1/8 of "


English Wine and Spirit measure

4 gills = 1 pint

2 pints = 1 quart

4 quarts = 1 gallon

36 gallons = 1 tierce

54 gallons = 1 1/2 tierces = 1 hogshead

108 gallons = 2 hogsheads = 1 pipe, butt, or puncheon.


Ale, Beer or Porter measurements

4 gills = 1 pint

2 pints = 1 quart

4 quarts = 1 gallon

9 gallons = 1 firkin

2 firkins = 18 gallons = 1 kilderkin

2 kilderkins = 36 gallons = 1 barrel

3 kilderkins = 54 gallons = 1 hogshead

2 hogsheads = 108 gallons = 1 butt

2 butts = 216 gallons = 216 gallons


Before 1824

The Wine gallon = 231 cubic inches

The Corn Gallon = 268.8 cubic inches

The Ale gallon = 282 cubic inches

(The post-1824 Imperial Gallon = 277.274 cubic inches)






Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 16:41:10 -0500

From: Maggie Allen <maggiea at empireone.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Melanie's Measurements


There is a Complete Anachronist entitle Period Metrology: A  Study of Measurement, Volumes 81 and 82 (it didn't all fit in one) by Master Grant Graeme de Menteith that is very well put together and as seems as complete as something like this can get.  It's far more complicated than  I want to think about at any one time but it does make a wonderful reference.  I haven't used it very much but every now and then I come across something in my reading that I have to look up to figure out how much it equals in some term that I can imagine (the book includes conversion info too).  Let's just say to the mathematically inept it is a godsend.


Margarita Kofinopoia (called Maggie Basketmaker)



Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 21:01:27 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - An introduction and hopefully a quick query


At 8:39 AM +0800 12/7/98, Matthew Legge wrote:

> I was browsing the recipes of the cookbooks and was

>trying to convert the measurements to metric when I found that there are

>two different sets (at least) of pound weights and matching volume measures

>in use today. Which one should I use? The one where 2.2 pounds = 1kg or the

>other one?


In the US, weights are almost always avoirdupois; troy is used for precious

metals and not much else. So a kg is 2.2 lbs, and there are 16 ounces to

the pound. A gallon contains four quarts, each of two pints, and a pint of

water weighs about a pound.


If you happen to be working with medieval Islamic recipes, it is worth

knowing that "ratl" and "uqiya," sometimes translated "pound" and "ounce,"

are from a system with 12 ounces to a pound, which I think is also true of

the troy system.






Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 10:22:55 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - An introduction and hopefully a quick query


> << If you happen to be working with medieval Islamic recipes, it is worth

>  knowing that "ratl" and "uqiya," sometimes translated "pound" and "ounce,"

>  are from a system with 12 ounces to a pound, which I think is also true

>  of the troy system.


>  David/Cariadoc >>


> So is the ounce bigger or is  it the same ounce? What I mean is that if the

> ratl is 12 oz. = 1 1/2 cp liquid then is the uqiya still 1 oz=2 tblsps liquid?

> This is how I have been doing it and have had consistently successful

> results.


> Ras


I believe you will find that the Troy or apothecary measures are strictly

weight based.  Troy and avoirdupois measures are based a standard grain of

64 milligrams.


A Troy oz is 480 grains.  A Troy pound is 12 Troy oz or 5,760 grains.


An avoirdupois ounce is 437.5 grains.  An avoirdupois pound is 16 oz or

7,000 grains.


The variation is less than 10 per cent, which means it has minimal effect

given the innaccuracies of volume measure.





Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 17:01:52 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - An introduction and hopefully a quick query


At 10:40 AM -0500 12/7/98, LrdRas at aol.com wrote:

> ddfr at best.com writes:


><< If you happen to be working with medieval Islamic recipes, it is worth

> knowing that "ratl" and "uqiya," sometimes translated "pound" and "ounce,"

> are from a system with 12 ounces to a pound, which I think is also true of

> the troy system.


> David/Cariadoc >>


>So is the ounce bigger or is  it the same ounce? What I mean is that if the

>ratl is 12 oz. = 1 1/2 cp liquid then is the uqiya still 1 oz=2 tblsps liquid?

>This is how I have been doing it and have had consistently successful results.


From the notes at the end of Charles Perry's translation of the Andalusian



1 ratl (< the Greek litra < the Roman libra)=12 qiyas; in 13th century

Andalusia, 1 ratl=468.75 g, about a pound

1 qiya (< the Roman uncia)=10 dirham; in 13th century Andalusia, 1

qiya=39 g, about 1 1/3 ounces or 7 teaspoons


Presumably the exact quantities might have been different in other times

and places.





Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 10:48:58 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: RE: Stride measure by leg length? [SCA]


<Gwen Morse <goldmoon at northeast.net>>

>...form (say...ankle to ankle), not the complete stride on the ground. This

>is to compute tolerances for tunic/gown fullness.


Something to consider, as a rule of thumb, while we keep looking for you...


The "Pace" (say, left-right-left) is 5 feet (60").  Half that, or one step,

would be 30", which is what the Army always taught me was the correct length

of stride when marching.   From that, a thousand paces would be 1 (Roman)

mile (from Mile "a thousand") or 5000 feet.





Date: Sun, 14 Feb 1999 15:31:29 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - PECK


peck [1] (noun)


[Middle English pek, from Middle French]


First appeared 13th Century


1 : either of two units of dry capacity equal to 1/4 bushel:


   a : a U.S. unit equivalent to 537.605 cubic inches


   b : a British imperial unit equivalent to 554.84 cubic inches


2 : a large quantity or number



bush*el [1] (noun)


[Middle English busshel, from Old French boissel, from (assumed) Old  French

boisse one sixth of a bushel, of Celtic origin; akin to Middle Irish  boss

breadth of the hand]


First appeared 14th Century


1 : any of various units of dry capacity as


   a : a unit of dry capacity used in the United States equal to 2150.42




   b : a British imperial unit of dry and liquid capacity equal to 2219.36

cubic inches or 8 imperial gallons


2 : a container holding a bushel


3 : a large quantity : LOTS <makes ~s of money>





Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 8:51:26 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: RE: 40-60 acres Land Holding


<Andrea Bain <the_green_eyed_cat at yahoo.com>>

>> I'm sorry, why are you saying the Medieval acre was smaller than the

>> modern one?  That would really have to do with where you were from and

>> the local standards for units of measurement like the foot (which were

>> often larger than the modern foot).

>Didn't you just say about the foot, exactly what was said about the



No, I didn't.  Her comment states unequivocally that at some earlier time

the Acre was smaller than it is now.  Begining with the reign of Edw I, the

acre has been defined as a furlong x 32 furrows, or the amount of land an

ox could plow in one day.  This was eventually regularized to 40x4 poles,

or 4840 sq yards.  Before 5 Edw I, the acre referred to land of about that

size, but without any solid definiton.  It was never smaller than a furlong

x 32 furrows.


On the other hand, the measurement of a Foot, not being based on something

generally unchangeable, and having no set standard, varied quite a bit

in size.  In France, for example, the Pied (or "foot") is said to have

equaled 12.08 English inches, but really this only refers to the Parisian

foot, since every other district and region had its own standards for what

contituted a foot, a pound (livre) or gallon (the French development of the

Metric system had a real *reason*).  In England things weren't quite that

bad, and the variation between inches really only varied a little.  But if

you are measureing your "acres" by the foot, a variation of an inch per foot

could alter the outcome by as much as... Well, my bad a math skills tell me

that doing so would make a yard 171,610 square (standard) yards, which

sounds way off, but it would be a considerable amount.





Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 20:41:36 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Saffron


> The Pepperer's Guild lists it for $$6.00/dwt. I don't know what a dwt is.


> ~Maedb


dwt or pwt = pennyweight = 1/20 Troy ounce = approx. 1.555 grams





Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 11:20:17 -0400

From: snowfire at mail.snet.net

Subject: RE: SC - Saffron


- -Poster: Jean Holtom <Snowfire at mail.snet.net>


>> The Pepperer's Guild lists it for $$6.00/dwt. I don't know what a dwt is.


>> Hope this helps

>> ~Maedb


>dwt or pwt = pennyweight = 1/20 Troy ounce = approx. 1.555 grams


Because d is the way we used to denote pennies in the old pre-decimal British

currency - Four shillings and three pence (or "threpence" as it was

pronounced) would be written 4s 3d (or 4/3 "four and three").


Bring back the old money!





Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 21:29:29 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - A weird conversion.....Now OT


> >That shouldn't be difficult.  The US measures are taken from the pre-1825

> >British measures.


> News to me!  Do you have any more on this please?


> Elysant


U.S. liquid measures are based on the British wine gallon of 231 cubic

inches and 128 ounces.  This was the standard British measure until 1825

when Great Britain fixed the gallon as 10 pounds of water at 62 degrees F

and introduced Imperial measures.


The U.S. bushel is based on the Winchester bushel of 60 pounds.


U.S. measures are essentially based on standards used in medieval England,

which were replaced by the Imperial measures.  Of course there are some

problems with the standardness of the old standards.





Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:05:28 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - Mead recipes from the Danish cookbook


Ras wrote:

>You're going to keep us in the dark about lispunds aren't you? "-)


Nope, only those of you unfamiliar with the metric system. If you follow the

asterisk trail, you will see that I explained a lispund is around 8 kilos

(something like 17 lbs). The term comes from Low German lispunt and means

originally "Livonian pound".


I'm not sure how large the barrels in question should be (I think it might

be something like 136 liters).





Date: Tue, 02 Nov 1999 09:03:39 -0500

From: Richard Keith <keith.78 at osu.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - measurements


There is a book about Italian weights and measure that details by area, town

how big a cup is etc in that area.  I will look through my notes from last

Pennsic to see if I can find it.





From: "Brian Songy" <bsongy at louisiana.edu>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 09:38:45 -0600

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Following a recipe...


THL Stefan li Rous, Archivist Non Pareil, asked:

        But presumeably the folks for whom these recipes were written

        would be familar with these. We have briefly talked about these

        sorts of timings before, but I can't remember if someone gave

        us non-Catholics some numbers to use instead.


        So, in your opinion, what would be a reasonable range in time

        for each of these? In other words, when spoken at a normal

        speed and if one was reciting a well-known, memorized set of

        verses? Although I suspect that if this was used as a timing

        piece that it would have been said about the same each time and

        not rushed.


Well Stefan, this is what I managed to put together:


Timing of Common Catholic Prayers



In Latin                                In English



time: 13 seconds +/- 2 seconds



Gloria Patri,                   Glory, to the Father,

et Filio,                       and the Son, and the

et Spiritui Sancto.             Holy Spirit.

Sicut erat in principio,        As it was in

et nunc, et semper,             the beginning, is now, and

et in saecula saeculorum.       ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.                           Amen.



Shorter Version of the Ave Maria

time: 13 seconds        +/- 2 seconds

(taken from Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42)


Ave Maria gratia plena          Hail Mary, full of Grace,

Dominus tecum.                  the Lord is with you.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus      Blessed are you amoung women,

et benedictus fructus           And blessed is the fruit of

ventris tui, Jesus. Amen.       your womb Jesus. Amen.



Longer version of Ave Maria

time: 21 seconds +/- 2 seconds

http://www.unidial.com/~martinus/thesaurus/Basics/AveMaria.html Dominus


AVE Maria, gratia plena,        Hail Mary, full of Grace,

tecum.                          the Lord is with you.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus,     Blessed are you amoung women,

et benedictus fructus           and blessed is the fruit of

ventris tui, Iesus.             your womb, Jesus.


Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,        Holy Mary, mother of God,

ora pro nobis peccatoribus,     pray for us sinners, now and

nunc, et in hora mortis         at the hour of our death.

nostrae. Amen.                  Amen.



Pater Noster (taken from Matthew 6: 9-13)


PATER noster,                   Our Father,

qui es in caelis,               Who art in heaven,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.       hallowed be thy name.

Adveniat regnum tuum.           Thy kingdom come.

Fiat voluntas tua,              Thy will be done,

sicut in caelo et in terra.     on earth as it is in heaven.

Panem nostrum quotidianum       Give us this day our daily

da nobis hodie,                 bread, and forgive us our

et dimitte nobis debita         trepasses, as we forgive

nostra sicut et nos             those who trepass against

dimittimus debitoribus          us.  And lead us not into

nostris. Et ne nos inducas      temptation but deliver us

in tentationem, sed libera      from evil.  Amen.

nos a malo. Amen


(Five Decade) Rosary

consists of some introductory prayers, and then five

"decades", with each decade cconsisting of a pater noster,

ten Ave Maria's, and one Gloria.


time: ~20 minutes - I had difficulty with making accurate


Full (Fifteen Decade) Rosary

consist of some introductory prayers, and then fifteen

"decades", with each decade cconsisting of a pater noster,

ten Ave Maria's, and one Gloria.


time: 1 Hour - I had difficulty with making accurate prayers, and then


The times were generated by timing myself saying the latin form of the

prayer three times and taking the median measurement


Note that I converted to Catholicism three years ago; I'm not particularly

skilled at saying these prayers quickly.


A collection of Latin resources, including common Catholic prayers, can be

found at: http://www.unidial.com/~martinus/Thesaurus.html


Also, this web page references the stability of the prayers in latin, vice

other languages: http://www.unidial.com/~martinus/thesaurus/Introductio.html


Brian Songy

Manager, Computer Services

UL Lafayette-NIRC



Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 12:57:13 -0700

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.om>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Andalusian measurements

To: mirhaxa at morktorn.com, Cooks within the SCA

      <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Is there a lst somewhere (Cariadoc's maybe?) which translates the

> measurements from Andalusian recipes, ratl and dirham and uqiya?


> Mirhaxa


It's included in the Perry translation webbed on my site. The

information on measurements is at:









Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 10:46:35 -0400

From: jah at twcny.rr.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Andalusian measurements

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


The Corning Glass museum a year or so ago

  had original weights that were kind of a green

  glass, and one was a "ratl"!

  It was very enlighting to see.





Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 02:26:08 -0800 (PST)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Mrs. Penn's Apple Beer...

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Stefan enquired:

> What is the volume of a hogshead?


A hogshead is a unit of volume for alcoholic

beverages in the imperial system. A hogshead of

wine is 63 gallons. A hoghead of beer or ale is

54 gallons.





Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 17:11:14 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Hogshead was Mrs. Penn's Apple Beer...

To: "Cooks withinthe SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


A hogshead is a measure of volume for liquids.  It was equivalent to 48

gallon of ale, 54 gallons of beer, 60 gallons of cider, 63 gallons of oil,

honey or wine, or 100 gallons of molasses.  These are not Imperial gallons,

but the traditional British gallon which is equivalent to the U.S. gallon.

The U.S. currently defines the hogshead as 2 barrels or 63 gallons.  the

U.S. hogshead measures 14553 cubic inches or about 8.422 cubic feet (238.48

liters).  In Imperial measure it is 1/2 butt or 52.5 Imperial gallons, being

8.429 cubic inches (238.67 liters).  The modern US and Imperoal hogsheads

are functionally equivalent.


Mrs. Penn's hogshead is probably 54 gallons.




> Awk! My first thought was that I've seen 15th and 16th Century recipes

> which were more understandable. But after re-reading it a couple of times

> it is clearer. "put it upon the malt" must mean pour it through malted

> grain. Lots of figuring out still to do, like "worke it like other bere".

> What is the volume of a hogshead?


> Stefan



Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2005 22:38:10 -0600

From: "margaret" <m.p.decker at att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Dimensions

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> I'm reading "On Divers Arts" and looking at the forge in the third book,

> chapter 3. Can anyone tell me how they're measuring here?


> Many of the measurements are in "fingers". Are we talking length or width?

> I know the measurement, "hands" was started, for horses, as the width of the

> palm, and has been standardized to 4 inches by equestrians, but I'm not sure

> about fingers.


> Also does anyone know, had they standardized "feet" by then? The book

> itself is believed to be 12th century, more German than anything else.


> Saint Phlip,


A finger (length) is 2 nails or about 4.5 inches.  A nail is 1/20 of an



A finger (width) is roughly 3/4 of an inch.  A thumb (width) is roughly 1



The Roman foot is roughl 11.7 inches.  A competing measure, the natural

foot is 9.8 inches.  The modern foot of about 12 inches began to be used in

England some time after the Conquest and has roughly remained the same since

1300.  However, since the book is using fingers and ands, it is likely that

the foot mentioned is the manual foot, a Northern European measure

determined by two hands on a shaft, thumbs extended and touching, estimated

at 13.1 inches.


In the German states, the foot varied.  The Viennese foot is about 124

inches, the Rhine foot is about 12.36 inches and the Bavarian foot is about

11.6 inches.





Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2007 07:50:49 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Period Peeps?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Spanish and Portuguese libra were a 16 onca pound ranging between 1.011 and

1.016 percent of the period English pound (avoirdupois, close to the modern

U.S. pound), so roughly 460 grams.




> Okay, some stupid questions that probably aren't issues, but might

> be. Is a pound sixteen modern ounces in this case? Again, what kind

> of sugar did you use? Ideally, you should be allowing each increment

> of added sugar to dissolve in the egg whites (eventually, it's

> probably icing rather than egg whites) before adding more.


> Adamantius



Date: Thu, 3 May 2007 19:07:38 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Not bagels, pretzels

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


The Italian 'libra" was virtually equivalent to the Roman "libra pondo."  It

is a pound of 12 ounces weighing about .722 of the avoirdupois pound.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org