NEWSFLASH: THE ELEVENTH YEAR OF MARRIAGE ISN’T STEEL—IT’S POTTAGE!
Tor took me to a working medieval village for our anniversary, where we drank fermented cider and ate vegetable mash with trenchers.
We also saw sheep.
And watched an archer teach kids how to shoot arrows from a bow.
It’s true: few things are more romantic than a day in the Middle Ages.
Camlann Village is a living history museum portraying rural England in 1376.
And, lucky for us, it’s only a half hour away from Kirkland.
It‘s a fun place to spend the day.
And see things like—
A minstrel doing a rope trick and bantering with a boy from the crowd in the “authentic language of the day”.
Minstrel: “Tell me, boy. What be this that I am holding?”
Boy: “A piece-eth of rope-eth.”
Minstrel: “How long do you surmise it to be?”
Boy: “I don’t-eth know-eth.”
Throughout the village, the local “folk” did an admirable job of staying in 1300’s character. There were, of course, the inevitable moments when the “thee’s and thou’s” would awkwardly peter out, proving: nobody doth achieveth perfection.
We found an artisan in the lanes—a pyrographer—who made deer hide bags decorated with hand-burnt designs.
We bought one to commemorate our visit to 1376. Perfect for storing jewelry, or a nerdy horde of twenty-sided D&D dice.
“Peckish?” Tor asked, as we looped back toward the village center.
So, we headed to the Bors Hede Inn.
One of the best parts of Camlann Village is seeing the costumes. Visitors and staff, alike, come to the village to immerse themselves in another era. And as far as period dress goes—they dive right in.
A family entered the inn after us, dressed to the medieval nines, their two little girls sashaying around in layers of skirts.
“We have come to dine in your fine establishment,” the mother declared, somehow managing to curtsy in her dress with its complex bodice; its profusion of straps and laces.
Her husband looked like some sort of time-traveling Visigoth biker in his Utilikilt, leather cuffs, and motocross tee.
Watching them made me wonder, if I were to dress for the era—what clothes would I choose?
Anyways, back to the present—or, presently, as it were, the past.
The inn’s host ushered us into the dining hall, and seated us at a wooden table next to a giant fireplace.
The building was made in the half-timbered style of the age, abundant with dark woodwork and lanterns hung from thick beams. A truly medieval ambience. Almost everything appeared as if it really could have been from the 1300’s, except for the odd Gatorade bottle, digital camera, or family of five hunched around a feasting table, scrolling through their phones.
Sadly, I have no photos of our medieval meal. When I tried to take a picture of the boar’s head (or should I say bors hede?) above the fireplace, I was politely rebuked by the host.
“No photos, m’lady.”
I frowned. What did he mean, “no photos”? How was I supposed to prove to my friends that we had had lunch in 1376?
Our server, a kind and goodly woman in a sage kirtle and white cap, reminded us that the inn was a cash-only establishment, and presented us with napkins, or as she explained:
“Linen for thy face and hands.”
For lunch, we ate pottage—a stewy, vegetable mash—out of a wooden bowl, drank fermented cider from heavy, metal tankards, and water from shallow, ceramic mugs.
We were given trenchers—slabs of coarse, flat bread—accompanied by slices of apple, pear, and chunks of Darby and herb cheese. The trenchers worked two-fold, as “plates” for our fruit and cheese, and “mops” for the pottage.
Afterwards, there was a sweet dish—a bread pudding-like concoction layered with cinnamon, honey, and berries.
It was a simple but flavorful meal. And surprise! Pottage ain’t half bad.
When we finished, our server returned. “Are you ready for your final accounting?”
Indeed, we were.
“Thank you, travelers!” She said, as she pocketed our money and bustled off.
We exchanged a starry-eyed look. We were travelers! Just like in medieval times! Or Skyrim!
We strolled further down the lane and stopped by a cottage where we fantasized about living in simpler, earthier times.
Then, quickly realized that we would fare very poorly without hot showers, heating, or plumbing.
We look forward to returning to Camlann, and upgrading our next dining experience to a $45 nobleman’s feast! The All Hallows menu, alone, is reason enough for a return visit. (We’ve been dying to find a place that still serves the “Ruination of Men” and “Orange Omlette for Ruffians and Harlots”.) And besides, as sustaining a fare as it is, man cannot live on pottage, alone.
The inn, with its wooden beams, leaded windows, and stone fireplace will be a cozy place for dinner in the colder months, when the sun wanes and days grow short. And all the warmth of the earth is cupped in dawn’s elusive palm! Then, and only then, shall our shadows fall—like guillotines—across the hearty transom of the Bors Hede Inn ...