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OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




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  Be Gesceadwisan Gerefan

  "About the Astute Reeve," Corpus Christi College,
  Cambridge MS 383, 11th Century



Directing the reapers, from
Queen Mary Psalter, British Library
Royal 2 B
, England, c. 1315 CE

"Be Gesceadwisa Gerefan," -- "Advice for the Astute Reeve," was written in Britain in the 11th century. It provides a list of seasonal tasks that the manager of a large farm -- a reeve -- would be responsible for overseeing, and concludes with a list of tools and implements that would be useful.

Gesceadwisan gerefan...


....in Maio & Junio & Julio on sumera  fealgian  myxendinegan ut dragan locc  yrdla tilian sceap scyran bytlian botettan tynan tymbrian wudian weodian faldian fiscwer &  mylne macian

The astute reeve will...


...in May and June and July in the summer, break up fallow land, drag out manure to the field, till the ground, shear sheep, build and repair enclosures, erect woodpiles, make wooden folds, fish weirs, and mills.

On hærfeste ripan in Agusto & Septembri & Octobri  mawan was spittan fela tiltha ham gaederian þacian þecgan &  fald weoxian scipena behweorfan &  hlosan eacswa ær to tune to stiþ winter cume & eac yrþe georne forþian

When the harvest ripens in August and September and October, mow, cut wood, gather crops, gather thatch, clean folds, attend to cow stalls, pig sties likewise, before stark winter comes to the farm and each plow land eagerly dispatches.

On wintra  erian & in miclum gefyrstum  timber cleofan orceard ræran &  mænige inweorc wyrcean  þerhsan wudu cleofan hryþeran styllan swyn stygian or odene cylne macian –  ofn &  aste &  fela þinga sceal to tune –  ge eac henna hrost

In winter, plow and with high priority cut timber, prune orchards, work at many indoor jobs -- threshing, cut firewood, stall cattle, sty swine, or make kiln -- furnace and kiln and  many concerns of the farm -- and also hen roost.

On længtene eregian & impian beana sawan wingeard settan dician deorhege  heawan & raðe  æfterðam gif hit mot gewiderian mederan settan linsed sawan wadsæd eacswa wyrtun plantain...

In springtime, harrow and graft, sow beans, set out vines, dike deer hedges, hew and directly after that if it might be fair weather  set out madder plants, sow linen seed, woad seed also, plant a garden...

...findan hwæt he mæig on byrig betan…  oððe hus godian rihtan &  weoxian &  grep hegian dicsceard betan hegas godian weod wyrtwalian betweox husan  bricgian beoddian bencian horsan styllan flor feormian  oððe synnes sum ðing þe to nyte mæge

...find what he may in the settlement to better… or restore a good house and clean hedge furrows, improve ditches, improve hedges, uproot weeds between houses,  causeways, beds, make benches, clean horse stall floors, every thing that may be some benefit.

He sceal fela tola to tune tilian &  fela &lomena to husan habban:  æcse adsan bil byres   awel scafan sage cimbiren tigehoc… næfebor mattuc ippingiren scear culter  & eac gadiren sðe  sicol weodhoc spade scofle wadspitel bærwan besman bytel race geafle hlædre horscamb &  sceara fyrtange wæipundern

He shall [have] many tools to cultivate the farm, have many implements for the household: Axe, adze, pruning knife, chisel, awl, plane, saw, spoke shave, forked shovel… auger, mattock, pry bar, shear, coulter, and also goad, scythe, sickle, weed hook, spade, shovel, woad trowel, barrow, broom, mallet, rake, fork, ladder, curry comb and shears, fire tongs, scale…

Man sceal habban  wængewædu sulhgesidu egeðgetigu ... eac mete awel &  to odene fligel &  andlamena fela: hwer lead cytle hlædel pannan crocca brand iren dixas stelmelas… cyflas… ecodan wilian windlass systras syfa sædleap hriddel hersyfe tæmespilan fanna trogas æscena hyfa hunigbinna… cyste mydercan bearmteage [yeast box?] hlydan… yrsebinne fodderhec… meluhudern ælhyde ofnrace mexcofle

He shall have wagon cover, plow tackle, harrowing tackle ...measures also, awl and flail, small cauldron, lead vessel, large cauldron, ladle, pans, crock, gridiron, dishes ,  scoop…, tub…, pouch, basket, windlass, basket, sieve, seed basket, riddle, hair sieve, sieve stakes, fans, basins, wooden vessels, hives, honey jars…, boxes, chests, yeast box, lids…, iron box, fodder rack…, meal storehouse, eel skins, oven rake, manure shovel…

The astute reeve's  equipment:

  • Adsan - adze

  • Æcse - axe

  • Ælhyde - eel skin

  • Æscena - pails, ash-wood

  • Bærwan - barrow

  • Bearmteage - yeast-boxes

  • Beodas - dishes

  • Beorbydene - barrel

  • Bil - bill

  • Butas - flasks

  • Byrse - awl

  • Bytel - mallet

  • Camb - comb

  • Ceodan - milk pails or bags

  • Crocca - earthenware pot

  • Culter - coulter

  • Cyfa - tubs

  • Cyflas - casks

  • Cyllan - leather bottle

  • Cyrne - churn

  • Cysfæt - cheese-vat

  • Cyste - chest

  • Fanna - winnowing fans

  • Gadiren - goad

  • Geagle - fork

  • Hersyfe - hair-sieve

  • Hlædel - - ladle

  • Hlædre - ladder

  • Hriddel - riddle

  • Hunigbinna - honey-bins

  • Hyfa - hives

  • Lead - leaden vessel

  • Mattock - mattuc

  • Meluhudern - storehouse for meal

  • Mexscofle - shovel, manure

  • Mydercan - coffers

  • Næfebor - auger

  • Race - rake

  • Sædleap - seed basket

  • Scear - share

  • Scofle - shovel

  • Sticfodder - wicker box

  • Sicol - sickle

  • Siðe - scythe

  • Spade - spade

  • Stelmelas - scoop

  • Stolas - chairs

  • Syfa - sieves

  • Systras - basket

  • Tæmespilan - sieve-stand

  • Tigehoc - tie hook

  • Trogas - trough, basin

  • Wadspital - woad trowel

  • Weodhoc - weed hook

  • Wilian - wicker baskets

  • Windlas - baskets

  • Yrsebinne - iron box




Medieval garden tools

I. Preparing

II.  Planting

III.  Cultivation

IV.  Harvest and storage


About the Astute Reeve

Medieval baskets





Medieval garden tools

I. Preparing

II.  Planting

III.  Cultivation

IV.  Harvest and storage


About the Astute Reeve

Medieval baskets







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