The Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries

Created by Sylvia M Everitt MBE
 
Eleventh Century Panel

Index
12th century
13th century
14th century
15th century
16th century
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
the map
the map key



Sylvia has used an ancient type way-marker stone to show the County's five old administrative divisions, commonly known nowadays as the Ancient Hundreds. Early settlers were given a hide of land which was sufficient to support a man and his family. There was no exact science involved in the size of the hides as a larger plot would be required to provide for the settlers needs in a bleak upland area than in the fertile valleys. For administrative purposes the hides were bundled into groups of a hundred families. These 'Hundreds' held a regular meeting called a moot where grievances were heard, criminals tried and taxes collected.

Each hundred took its name from some physical object that could easily be identified by strangers to the area. As a 'low' was a burial place, Totmanslow and Offlow were burial grounds; in fact, Offlow may perhaps hold the site of King Offa's barrow or grave. Seisdon was possibly derived from Saxons Hill as the word dun was Anglo-Saxon for hill. Of the five Saxon names only Seisdon and Totmanslow remain in use. Now read on......

The above extract is from the book written by Dianne Mannering about the history of Staffordshire woven into Sylvia Everitt's embroideries. Click here to find out more about the book or to buy a signed copy

 

From Sylvia's library
 
The Celtic Book of Living and Dying by Juliette Wood.
Does exactly what it says on the tin.....the heroes, gods and goddesses, magic and nature worship are all covered in this book, a collective of Celtic wisdom.
Celtic is a difficult adjective to define; the enigmatic Celts seem to have crept into the historical record around the early Iron Age in Central Europe and moved gradually westward over the centuries until eventually reaching Ireland.
There is a lovely mix of whimsy and fact here from fairies, magic monsters and King Arthur to Boudicca and the Druids. The full colour illustrations are gorgeous in typical Celtic/Byzantine style with plenty of intricate Celtic Knotwork. I felt the urge to turn them into embroideries.
The book's chapters on Celtic beliefs and sacred celebrations are interspersed with individual illustrated stories about Saints, magical beings, animals and heroes. There are also several Celtic bardic poems quoted.
The Celts aspired tolive by a druidical three point code - do no evil - worship the gods - and be manly. In battle they were certainly "manly", Roman writers report that they went into combat stark naked except for a neck torc, sword and war trumpet plus, of course, the famous drooping Celtic moustache!
In this book the beautiful artwork alone is worth the purchase price and is also a good source book for Celtic design.
 
A Chronicle of Folk Customs by Brian Day
How do you fancy gurning* on the 24th August? Or how about chasing a cheese down a steep hill in May? This book will tell you where to go, how to get there and much much more.
It is a compendium of "occasions" listed month by month throughout the year. Religious fesivals, folk festivals, mop fairs, well dressing, agricultural festivals you name it - it is here, with a brief description of the goings-on and, in lieu of anything more concrete, a hazarded guess as to why. How about joining in a game of "Keaw Yed" at Westhoughton near Wigan? Any number can play, all you need is a cows head (Keaw Yed) and a Rugby type game follows. Originally, a pie was madefrom the cows head after the game and was enjoyed by all! Yuk!
This is a fascinating book telling of customs and folklore which, in some instances, date back over 1000years or more. Sadly, as told in the book, some of the celebrations have fallen foul of our "elf and safety" rules but,happily, a few still carry on in small out-of-the-way villages, the origins and meaning of the celebrations known only to the inhabitants.
There are some good vintage photographs illustrating some of the traditions, from the style of dress, I would guess they were taken in the 1930s. A delightful plus at the end of the book is several delicious recipes for each month - January Twelfth Cake. April Simnel Cake and Hot Cross Buns, November Soul Cake and St.Clements Tart.
This could be a useful book for planning outings or just to dip in and out of.Useful too, in that should you fancy visiting one of the festivals the book gives you start times, date and road directions.
Go, and enjoy some of Britain's ancient traditions.
*Gurning - putting your head through a horse collar and pulling the ugliest face possible!

Sylvia's review:

The Year 1000 - What Life was like at the turn of the First Millennium. By Robert Lacy and Danny Danziger
For anyone curious to know what was happening in England before the usual cut-off date of 1066 - this book is for you.
Based on the Julius Work Calendar which was written by a monk of Canterbury around 1020, it list the high days and holy days of the Roman Church. Each chapter is headed with a charming little vignette of the agricultural task to be done in that month. Drawn in the typically naive medieval style each time I look at them I feel inspired to translate them into embroidery.
The world of 1000AD is less complicated with religion and women had more equality with men than post-Norman conquest. It presents the Anglo-Saxons as down-to earth, pragmatic and hard-working, although, some of the old English law codes of "Enga-lond" would appear strange to modern eyes, for example, "if a man fondle the breasts of a free woman uninvited, he shall be fined five shillings". The rape of a free woman incurred the penalty of sixty shillings, payable direct to the victim. This was the time of "Wer-geld" when everything and everyone had their price!
And this book is priceless for giving an in depth insight into the world of our highly skilled but often under-rated and ignored Anglo-Saxon forebears.

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