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A-Lapidary-art - 3/31/99


"A Lapidary" translated by Agnes deLanvallei. Period descriptions and virtues of

various gemstones.


NOTE: See also the files: gem-sources-msg, pearls-msg, jewelry-msg, lapidary-msg, ivory-msg, glues-msg, beadwork-msg, beads-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


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Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



A Lapidary

Translated into the Language of the People of Calontir

in the Reign of Their Royal Majesties Eringlin & Alethea

Revised for the Calon Scrolls in the reign of Luther and Lenore

This work is presented that all might know the uses and virtues of stones and gems as told by the Ancients.

Freely translated and arranged by Agnes deLanvallei

of Mag Mor in northern Calontir


        This book of stones was dedicated for King Eringlin and Queen Alethea of Calontir, may Heaven ever protect Them, and is rededicatd to King Luther and Queen Lenore, may Their reign be joyous. From this work all may know the virtues of the stones of the earth:  how the learned would chose a stone, the virtues thereof & how it should be worn.


        Herein are but writ anew, now in the modern tongue, the wisdom of the Ancients, for they knew well the virtues of stones. And should any doubt that there is virtue and power in stones, that person be surely a fool.


These are the stones


Aetites, the eagle-stone. - This stone eagles fetch from far lands and bring to their nests to defend & keep their bodies safe.  It is round and found in the Great Sea. The stone has another stone within it.  It is good for a woman with child that she not lose the child.  The people who bear it on their left are kept healthy in age, in good means and rich estate. It makes one well-beloved; & causes a good wit.  It eases the gnawings of gout.


Amethyst -  is purple in color & shining.  It is most often found in India.  It comforts body and soul.  If a wild beast comes into the place, whoever wears the amethyst shall not fear.  It comforts sorrows and holds one strong in faith.  It comforts shipmen.  It helps those that are drunken.  It is to be set in gold and silver.


Agate - is found in the East in the River Agate.  It is many things. One is black, girded with white lines.  It tempers thirst, comforts the aged, & he that holds it close in his fist shall be invisible. Another agate smells like myrrh. Another is of the color of wax. All these agates are good against venom & the bites of adders.  They warn of harm & give good council. Agates make one speak well & be beloved by God and man.


Allectories - grow inside the chicken until it is 6 or 7 years old. Then the stone is strong, but no bigger than a bean, and it is like troubled crystal or clear as crystal & water. If held in the mouth it staunches thrist.  Those who bear allectories shall have victory from their enemies. Many kings have won their battles by the help of this stone.   It makes enemies friends.  It makes one well spoken & well loved.  It is of much worth to a woman who would conceive and bear a child.  It helps a woman that would be loved of her lord; and a man who would be loved of his wife.  He that would prove this stoneŐs virtue must put it in his mouth.


Ambra,  or cymbria, - is a stone that comes of a fish in the sea; this stone is white and dry as chalk. Whoever bears this stone shall be merry and laxative & shall never take great cold in water or on land. Whoever bears this stone in his mouth, no storm in water or land shall do him harm.


Balas Ruby known as baleyes, - comes from an island between the seas called Counche.  It is like the ruby in color. It cools the heat of lechery.  Whoever bears balas, it shall put from them idle thoughts & sorrow. He who shows it to his enemy,  shall soon be accord with him; & who bears it amongst his enemies shall go safe from them. If a man touches the four corners of his chamber or of his hall or of his garden with this stone, no worm or storm shall do harm.  This stone is to be set in gold.


Beryl  - is somewhat like crystal & it comes from India.  It is round and casts a fair color against the sun.  It nourishes love between a man and woman.  The water that the stone is washed in is good for sore eyes, & being drunk, it does away with heaviness of heart .  It helps all manner of evils of the liver, & is is good for fevers. Whoever bears it shall be much worshipped.  The great books say that beryl should not be shaped, but rather plain & polished.  When the sun shines on it, it takes fervent heat, which signifies the first preachers of the holy church that preached the words of Ihesu Christus.


Carnelian  - is like unto a lump of flesh.  It soon reduces a manŐs wrath   It strengthens the limbs of those who bleed.  It comforts men or woman despite their sickness and disease & helps them to recover soon.  Therefore we ought to love it;  it procures love and is pleasing to all.


Chalcedony  - is in the womb and maw of a sparrow.  It is not full & fair but has much beauty in itself.  It has two manners and two colors, the one blue, the other red.  It is good for men if they be lunatics, & for men and women languishing and diseased. Whoever bears it will be full wise in speech and well beloved.  It must be borne in a linen cloth upon the left side. It helps to complete the work that was begun.  It helps greatly against menacing and threatening people, against the wrath of the king, lords and ladies.  This stone washed in water, the water will help the eyes & ease a fever.  It strenghtens and opens the humors in a manŐs body.  It should be wound in a linen cloth that is dyed green.  He who shows it to his adversaries will win them to his cause. If a man be surrounded by wrong, it keeps him to the right.  Whoever bears sardonyx, onyx and chacedony  shall be well provided with goods and good qualities, but if they are lost, it is a great sin to bear.


Chrysoberyl - is called also belloculyis, which isÓbeautiful eyeÓ.  This is like a beryl that has within is a pirell of clearness and about that is a shining circle like yellow gold. Whoever that carries this shall never be dead in battle.  


Chyrsophase - comes from India & has a color like a fruit of a green apple, & from it, as it were, shine green stars.  The man who bears it on him shall be full of grace and right well beloved of all that know him, be they man or woman. Whoever bears it, men shall be glad and joyful of their coming. The Book of the Apocalyse says this stone & its color signify the Lord lying in travail.


Citrine - is a kind of hyacinth and has the same virtues.


Coral - grows in the sea as a grass & when it is out of the sea it is red and like a branch.  It is no longer or greater than half a foot. Old masters and authors do write that it defends and keeps one safe from lightning, thunder and from the fury of the storm.  It is good to put it in a vineyard or garden, for it will protect it from tempests.  It makes the fruit increase.  It protects one from faintness.  It gives the traveler a good beginning and good ending to the journey on which he takes it.


Crisolite - is like the water of the sea & has in it, of its own kind. sparkles like unto gold. Whoever bears it on him shall do no sin or evil, nor be accused in any land , but shall be beloved of all people.  If it has a hole through it, put a thread of silk through it, & wear it & it shall drive away all evils and fiends both early and late, for the stone comes from Ethiopia.  It should be set in gold and borne on the left side.


Crystal - is clear and white & keeps away thirst.  Make a powder of crystal and give it to a woman to drink to greatly multiply her milk. Touch the crystal unto a stone that has lost virtue through the sin of him who bears it,  & so it will amend the sin:  it shall return his strength through the virtue of the crystal.


Diamond, - also called Adamant,  comes from India and from Arabia; that from India is male, from Arabia, female.  The male is brown upon light shining on it, the female white & beautiful of color like crystal.  If a man wears diamond, it strenghtens him & keeps him from dreaming in his sleep, from faintness and from poison, from wrath and chiding.  It sends & helps acquire great wealth.  It defends a man from his enemies and keeps him in good estate. There is no stone so good for charms as this. If a man will prove that his wife or lover is true and loves him, lay this stone under her head and if she be true she shall turn toward him, if not she shall stir as a beast and make as though she fell, & cry as if she feared an ungodly sight.  Though one falls from a cart or wagon or horse or other beast, he shall not break any bones if the diamond be on him.  It does away with the all the fears that come in the night.  It destroys hatred and wrath and lechery.  Aid a witless man by having him look upon a diamond. It is good for dropsy.  It defends against enemies, if the one who bears it loves God. It gives grace to man and woman and gives good council, & it helps a man to great power and strength.  And if it is put in wine & afterward puts it in the mouth it  helps soothe heartburn forever.  And it keeps seed of a manŐs body within a womanŐs body, so that the limbs of the children shall not be crooked.  It must be set in steel and worn on the left side.


Emerald - is green and comes from the Stream of Paradise, and from Syria. Those of Syria are the best. This stone multiplies a manŐs goods. Whoever bears it on him & keeps it clean, it makes wise of word and fortune.  Emerald is good for the gnawing gout. Emerald heals the sight when looked upon and calms great storms.  It voids lechery, for God gave it such virtue. Whoever keeps it, his body and members should be ever clean and without evil. & St. John says that griffons keep emerald in Paradise. It must be set in the best gold and borne on the right side.


Heliotrope - surpasses many stones for virtue, for God gave it such strength. It comes from Ethiopia and Africa.  It is of color like an emerald and has drops of blood.  If it be put in a vessel of water against the sun, it seems that the water is all red.  Whoever bears it shall be a great purchaser and happy to get goods.  It keeps the body in health, virtue and power.  It staunches blood and it is good against venomous wounds.

Hyacinth - is red and gentle and of great virtue.  It makes a man glad and honest and true to himself.  Put in the mouth, it will kill thirst. A man may go far into countries without fear of beasts and other things if he carries hyacinth, & that which he goes for shall soon be found and will not hidden from him that carries hyacinth.  And he shall have no dread or doubt of his host, wheresoever he may be, by land and water.  Hyacinth is to be set in fine gold.


Yellow Jacinth, - called ligure, helps jaundice.  It is good against many types of gouts, and cleans away all sorrows of the stomach.  Ligure pleases a man who is angry and gladdens him. It staunches bleeding wounds and the blood of women. The book tells us that this stone is full good for ladies, for the more they shall be pleasing and loving.  This stone cools great heat if put in the mouth & whoever touches it to the eyes will dry away grievance and blood of the eyes.


Jasper - which is called also Iaspes, is a stone of 9 types and many colors.  The best is green as an emerald.  It may have red drops.  It protects against dropsy.  It helps a woman in bearing children, that the sooner she shall be delivered. It keeps a man from fits.  It does away with phantoms and fevers. It stops bleeding.  It is good against all manner of worms; & heals all manner of poison.  Jasper keeps a man from his adversaries. Whoever bears it shall lead a clean life, therefore it signifies the virtues that should be in every good man.  It should be set in silver rather than gold or any other metal.


Jet  or Gagetes - is a proud gem. It comes from Linche & greatly resembles the diamond.  Another type comes chiefly from Britain.  It is a black, shining, light & plain stone.  It burns in water and is quenched with oil.  It is good for phlegm that is between the flesh and the skin.  The powder of this in a little water cleans a manŐs teeth and makes him fast.   If a woman be naked in a bath, put powder of jet in the bath:  if she be a maid she shall not move far, if she be none she shall stand up in great haste and depart all naked, for shame.  It asuages gout if the afflicted burns it & smells the odor thereof.  As soon as adders smell burning jet they flee.  It forbids witchcraft and charms.  It is good against evil spirits. The woman in travail with child that drinks water where this stone has lain in but four draughts: forthwith she shall be delivered.


Magnes or Magnet - is a stone colored like iron & it  draws to itself iron. This stone is found in the sea of India.  Delder the Enchanter used it much, for he knew well that it helped greatly with enchantments, & after him the marvelous enchantress Circe used it much.  This stone makes love between man and woman & gives a man grace to speak sweetly.  If a man drink of it in oil it shall purge him of dropsy.  A man who bears this stone shall never be filled with anger at his wife, nor the wife with the husband.   Whoever has a felon, that is a wart or boil, if he drinks the powder of this stone, shall be healed. If a woman drinks the powder of this stone, she shall be barren; and if a man drinks it four times he shall lose his genitals.  The might and virtue of this stone is so great, that if it be set under a vessel of gold or of brass, if iron is set thereupon, by moving the stone that is beneath, so shall the iron move above. It is right good to be set in an azure ring.


Malachites -  is a green stone & it is like to emeralds, but a more boisterous green than the emerald.  & so it is named after the color of mallows, as Isidore wrote.  It is found in Arabia.  It  protects children from evils and accidents.  Whoever bears it on his left side, shall not be grieved by wicked things.


Obsidian - is a stone that  if a man bears it, there shall never be harm to him, nor shall any no man shall speak harm to him, so long as the stone is upon him.  No one who bears obsidian upon their person shall have an evil death.


Onyx - which is Onicle, comes from India and Arabia. Any onyx makes the bearer bold, hardy, strong & brave if it be borne on finger or neck.  It engenders good. As the books tell us, if a man would speak with his dead  friend, lay onyx under his head and he shall converse with him in his sleep.  And if he fails to meet in the night, then the dead friend is suffering and in travail. Whoever that bears onyx shall have many graces.  It should be set in gold.


Prase - is a green stone that comes out of Macedonia. It is good for womankind, for it makes light the labor of women, & is good for a woman who conceives.  It is good for helping the father and the mother & is good for anger.  Isidore wrote that this stone will never be hot with fire.


Pyrite -  is a stone that whoever draws him forth, it will not abide with him. Its name is pyre, that is to say, fire.  This stone is to be touched lightly, & be held softly in the hand.  If it is held strongly in the hand, it will burn the hand, or if it is rubbed on a finger, the finger shall burn. Pyrite is red, like to the quality of the eggs, & much fire is in it and springs often out.  Hang this stone around the neck, & it helps arthritis.


Ruby, also called carbuncle, - is red like a burning coal. It surpasses all the marvelous stones in beauty.  It has the virtue of 12 stones. It is said this stone is the flame of paradise.  Whoever bears it, the people shall have joy of his coming.  If the sick beast drinks water in which this stone was wetted, it will help the sickness. Whoever views this stone shall be comforted.  It drives away illness. It makes a man forget his contrariness. It must be set in gold.


Sapphire - comes frrom the River Jordan & is found in gravel there.  It is good for kings, queens and great lords; it shines like the sun, & in it stand golden stars.  The best sapphire comes from the Red Sea. When a man holds the sapphire he shall have in thought and heart bliss. It comforts the heart and limbs & protects against poisons.  It helps him out of prison if he is imprisoned:  if he touch his bonds with the stone, the irons of prison shall break.  It is good for accord between people.  It heals boils and swellings. & the man who gazes much on the sapphire shall be chaste.  It destroys witch-craft.  It ought to be set in gold and borne on the right side.


Sard - is a precious stone,  of a red color, as it were red earth.  It was first found in Sardis, as Isidore says.  Many count this stone the least worthy of the precious stones, for they say its only virtue is that onyx will not bring grief in its presence, for onyx has some evil tendencies but they will not be shown when sard is there. Sard makes men glad & to dwell in youth & truth & forsake contariness.  It makes a man bold and hardy.  Sard that is all red keeps the bearer from enchantments and witchcraft. And protects from the sting of worms and wild beasts. Whoever bears sard may pass safely across perilous water.


Sardonyx - has the name of the two stones, sard and onyx.  It is of three colors: black is the lowest, & white is the middle & the red as vermillion is the highest.  That which has the most colors is the best.  It is found in Arabia and India. It tempers wrath; it makes a man rest well by night without much dreaming & keeps him from vices. It makes a man chaste and gracious.   It makes a woman of good complection and chaste.


Selenite - is a stone of green color & is called a holy stone. It is from Persia. It grows with the crescent moon and diminishes with the waining moon.  It keeps love between man and  woman.  It helps men if they are languishing or diseased; it aids men if they are outlawed or wrongfully indicted.  


Topaz - comes from the flames of the East and there are two kinds, they are like the gold in the sea but one is clearer than the other. Topaz follows the moon:  when the moon is full and troubled, so is the stone troubled; and when the moon is fair and clear, so is topaz fair and clear.  He that bears this stone shall want to be ever more chaste, & seek ever a more heavenly way.  It keeps a man from sin and keeps him chaste in evil company. Kings should behold topazes, to remember the Royal Life of Heaven that shall never fail.   It must be set in gold.


By these, the words of the Great, you that read them shall know what stone you should bear, should your need be great speech or safe passage in strange lands or healing.




English Medieval Lapidaries. J. Evans. and M. S. Sergeantson.  1933. London: Early English Text Society. Humphrey Milford Oxford Univ. Press.  (#190)

From it I used:

Manuscript A. Eleventh Century: B.M. Cotton Thiberius A. III The earliest English Lapidary

Manuscript B. The London Lapidary of King Philip a translation of a French lapidary from the 2nd 1/4 of the 14th C, and the French was itself a translation of a Latin original.  The translator made lots of errors and substitutions (there are many versions of the French to compare), some innocuous, some with much changed meaning.  I use this bad translation as the inspiration for my very free translation to modern English.

Manuscript F. Petersborough Lapidary, from the Petersborough Cathedral ms 33. the most complete compilation, Late 15th century; and

Manuscript G. B.M. Sloane ms. 2628.  16th century.


Dana, E.S. and W.E. Ford. 1932.A textbook of mineralogy. John Wiley and Sons, New York.


Friedman, D. and E. Cook. 1992. Cariadoc and Elizabeth. A Miscellany. 6th edition.self-published. see website.


OŐDonoghue, M.1991. An illustrated guide to rocks and minerals. Smithmark Publishers, New York.


Schumann, W. 1976. Gemstones of the world. translated by E. Stern. Sterling Publishing Co, New York.




        I thank Mistress Therasia von Tux, Shire of Windy Meade, Cynagua, West Kingdom (Catherine Helm) and James Keeler for their help identifying the stones


        Modern minerology is very different from Medieval lapidary, particularly because stones that could not separated in the Middle Ages can now be distinguished by their chemical composition. In addition, we distinguish fossils from minerals, and they did not.



aetites - limonite concretion or limonite-coated geode with a detached core inside; another source said aetites meant bog-iron.

allectories are presumably gall stones.

amber, (ambra)  so beloved today, was not much valued in the lapidaries (Italy, France, England  1200-1600).

garnet  and ruby  were not distinguished in the Middle Ages:  carbuncle and ruby can be used interchangeably for ruby or garnet.

jade  and turquoise  do not appear in the lapidaries.


The contents are freely ŇtranslatedÓ by me, combining the 4 lapidaries, possibly adding errors of interpretation.  This is consistent with the work of the Medieval translators (especially Manucript B above), whose translation of French or Latin works into English was in places very badly done.  


The use of ŇheÓ as the pronoun occurs throughout the originals.  While I have toned it down, it was impossible to use only generic pronouns without extensive losses to the sense of the text.  Nor is it always clear that the authors meant the effects to apply equally to men or women.


The later lapidaries (e.g. manuscripts F and G above) put the stones in loosely alphabetical order.


Isidore is St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, who in the early 7th century wrote an important lapidary.


I undertook this to find out how to choose a stone for a ring since birth stones are a recent invention: it surely provides some suggestions!



Permission granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the

author is credited.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<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