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Med-Lighting-lnks – 4/2/04


A set of web links to information on medieval lighting by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.


NOTE: See also the files: glass-bib, glass-lnks, lighting-msg, flt-wick-lmps-art, lamps-msg, candles-msg, candlesticks-msg, firestarting-msg.





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: Lis <liontamr at ptd.net>

Date: Mon Feb 23, 2004 7:29:31 PM US/Central

To: Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>

Subject: LINKS: Medieval Lighting


Greetings everyone!


This week's Links List is about Medieval Lighting. It's another one of those

searches on the 'net that produces a lot of junk! This week's search

comprised about 5 hours of wading through advertisements for electric and

wrought iron lamps in a "medieval" style. I won't tell you how many hits I

found for retailers that claimed to stock medieval lamps which were, in

fact, little dragon lamps which spout flame out their mouths via a wick and

lamp oil. I lost count after the first hour. Not that I have anything

against dragons, per se, but someone needs to get the word out that dragons

were not...brace yourself...real :), at least in the Middle Ages and

Renaissance! Sadly, I found no evidence that flame-shooting dragon oil lamps

were the rage anywhere in history throughout our period of study.


Below you will find a number of links on the subject of lighting in the REAL

Middle Ages and Renaissance, as opposed to the fairy-tale version.  Feel

free to pass this list along wherever it will find a ready and interested

audience. This Links list is dedicated to my apprentice, Julianna de

Roselaire, who was looking for an indication of size so she could reproduce

a ceramic oil lamp accurately.






Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon




Medieval and Renaissance Lighting: Candlesticks, Candelabras, and



Site is comprised of a list of links that cover the subject, especially

extant examples.


Let There Be Light! Or, How do You See in the Dark Ages (By: Keith R. Doms,

Garth of Wessex as posted in the Winter '99 Plague)


(Site excerpt) There are six types of lighting devices that I will discuss

here. They are; candles, torches, splinters and rush lights, lamps,

lanterns, and fire baskets. Candles were made most commonly with tallow and

less commonly with beeswax. Torches were made from one or more pieces of

resinous woods or treated lengths of rope. Splinters, narrow splits of wood,

were commonly made of Boxwood, Birch, and Pine. Rushlights were stripped and

treated pieces of soft rush. Lamps were made of glass, ceramic, metal, or

stone. Lamps commonly burned a variety of oils but could also house candles.

Sea birds such as the Great Awk and Stormy Petrel were used around the

Shetlands and Hebrides, contain much fat and were used like a lamp by simply

inserting a wick of dried moss down the throat of dead specimen and lit.



Medieval Lighting

A set of guides by Master Bedwyr Danwyn


A great page, though not yet finished. Contains a list of links of an

informative nature, such as:

Where Was Such Lighting Used?

When Were Such Lights Used?

How Were Oil Lamps Used?

How Were Candles Used?

How Were Wicks Made?

What About Candlesticks?

Lighting Bibliography

working with natural oils

working with tallow

working with beeswax

See also: Working with rushlights



A History of Light and Lighting


Though this site contains a lot of information, you'll have to wade through

some non-pertinent stuff as well.


Medieval Lamp (AD 1300, Prag, Czech Republic)


(Site Excerpt) Manufactured mainly in Bohemia (todays Czeck Republic) in the

14th century. This is a Replica of a oil lamp that was found in a garbage

well in Prag, Czeck Republic. The medieval glasslamps was originally used as

oil lamps, which was filled with oil, hanging from the ceiling.


Museum Surplus


Three examples of historic oil lamps are pictured, beginning halfway down

The page.


Candle History Copyright 1997 - 2003 Bob Sherman


(Site Excerpt) Necessity is the mother of invention and early candles

sometimes took rather bizarre forms to utilize available resources. The use

of, and improvements to candles has paralleled mans ascent from the stone

age. There is no historical record of the first candles used by man, however

clay candle holders dating from the fourth century B.C. have been found in

Egypt. Early Chinese and Japanese candles were made with wax derived from

insects and seeds molded in paper tubes. Wax skimmed from boiling cinnamon

was the basis of tapers for temple use in India.


Illuminous Times (Text copyright the National Candle Association)


(Site Excerpt) Like the early Egyptians, the Romans relied on tallow,

gathered from cattle or sheep suet, as the principal ingredient of candles.

It was not until the Middle Ages when beeswax, a substance secreted by honey

bees to make their honeycombs, was introduced. Beeswax candles were a marked

improvement over those made with tallow, for they did not produce a smoky

flame, or emit an acrid odor when burned. Instead, beeswax candles burned

pure and clean. However, they were expensive, and, therefore, only the

wealthy could afford them.


Recommended Library for Lighting Enthusiasts


(Site Excerpt) The following books offer a good start for your lighting

research. Some of the books may be out of print. However, the list includes

books for many interests...General Reference, Candle, Whale

Oil/Kerosene/BurningFluid ,Railroad, Miners, Miniatures, Gas, Electric,

Matchsafes, Miscellaneous


The Evolution of Oil Lamps


(Site Excerpt--brief info.) The true spout is thought to have first appeared

in Greece in the 5th century BC.  The earliest examples have a true closed

spout, but still have an open bowl-like body.  By this time Greece had

superseded Palestine as a major producer of oil lamps, and with the spread

of Hellenistic influence, methods of lamp production rapidly changed.


Oil Lamp from the Iron Age Period


Picture and brief caption


Ancient Oil Lamps


(Site Excerpt--info mostly pre-period) The King James Version of the Bible

translates the word for lamp "candlesticks," but that is not an accurate

translation because in ancient world they did not use candles. Even the

seven branches on the menorah within the Tabernacle and the Temple were

actually lamps that held olive oil and wicks. Ancient lamps were oval

shaped, and flat on top. They actually had small bowls on one end, with the

other end pinched real tight which formed a groove to hold the cotton or

flax wick. One end of the wick would even float in the olive oil. Some of

the lamps had a lid over the bowl. They were usually made of clay, but the

more expensive lamps were made of bronze and sometimes even of gold. Some of

these were very beautiful and would contain very elaborate decorations, many

Roman lamps had images of their gods


HISTORY OF LIGHTING TRACED BY SCIENCE Smithsonian Institute copyright July

9, 1927 By Marjorie MacDill


(Site Excerpt) "The link in the chain of lamps from the Roman period to the

period of enlightened invention is the Italian lucerna , the most beautiful

and graceful lamp ever designed." says Dr. Hough. "The lucerna is made of

bronze, brass, or terra cotta, and consists of a reservoir with from two to

four spouts and an upright stem with a base on which the perforated

reservoir can be raised or lowered. When the reservoir is full there is a

slight cavity head on the oil, not conclusively intentional, but which might

suggest an improvement to an observing mind.


Life in a Medieval Castle


(Site Excerpt--briefly touches on the subject) Lighting was by rushlights or

candles, of wax or tallow (melted animal fat), impaled on vertical spikes or

an iron candlestick with a tripod base...


Books on Early Lighting


A large selection, some do not cover the Medieval/Renaissance period of



<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