Wyrtig

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

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Roses. Many thanks to the British Library for providing this image from  Egerton 747 f. 11, c.1300 CE.

 In Early Sources...

 


Apothecary Rose

 Rosa gallica officinalis

 

Growing roses in your garden

 

Medieval Names for the Rose

Ęlfric

Rosam, rosan; rosa, rose; rosae, rosęs; rosetis, rosbeddum [rose bed]; roseos, rosreade [red rose], rosenum; rumicide, heopbrēbel [hip bramble]; buturnus, heope [hip]

Capitulare de Villis

Rosas

Herbarium Apuleii

Rosan, rosa, bremel

 Lacnunga

Rosenan ele [rose oil]; [hip bramble, R. canina], rosa

Leechbook

Bremel, brethel, heopbremle [hip bramble], rosa, wudurosan [wood or wild rose]

St. Gall

Rosas

Walafrid Strabo

Rosa

 

Our word rose comes from the Greek word rhodon, red; mythology says that the first rose sprang from the blood of Adonis. Many of the Old English names for the plant refer to it as a bramble: bremel, brethel, heopbremel (bramble with hips).

Pliny says that the Romans called England Alba because of the white roses (Rosa alba) that bloomed so prolifically there. The rosa gallica (of Gaul) was also common in the British Isles from early times; it is this rose -- Rosa gallicus officinalis -- that came to be known as the "Apothecary rose."

Rosa eglantina, also known as Rosa rubiginosa, is also native to the British Isles. Its name, eglantine, comes to us from the Latin, aculeus--sharp or prickly-- by way of Old French, aiglent.

In medieval herbals...

...of Že gardyne roses, foloweŽ here. Že rose naŽales may nat helpe vs only Žorogh her sauour, neiŽer Žorgh here beute, but she is goode in many diuerse medicyns. She is dreie and colde in Že first gre.

 Macer, Rose

 

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...of the garden roses, it is as follows here. The rose no less may help us, not only through her scent, nor only through her beauty, but she is good in many different medicines. She is dry and cold in the first degree.

Macer, Rose

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Fragrant red roses have been cultivated for millennia for "physic and delight." Rose petals and hips were used medicinally, as well as for cosmetics and perfumes. Petals were gathered in the cool of the early morning on sunny days, or during the day if it was cloudy.

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To make oil of roses...

Sundry men sundirliche make Žis oile, but Že grete clerk Pallidius writiŽ of hit Žus: take of Žat Žat is rede of Že rose flour an vnce and Žer-to a pounde of oile de oliue and putte alle Žise in a glas and stoppe it faste and sevene dayes allone hange it in Že sunne. Some bokes seyn it shulde be hangid at Že fire or at Že sunne XL:ti dayes, and aftirward streyne hit Žorough a clene cloŽ and kepe hit to diuers medicyns.

 Macer, Rose


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Many men variously make this oil, but the great clerk Palladius writes of it thus: Take of that that is red of the rose flower, one ounce, and thereto add a pound of olive oil and put all this in a glass and seal it tightly and seven days; only hang it in the sun. Some books say it should be hung above the fire, or in the sun forty days, and afterward strain it through a clean cloth and keep it for various medicines.

Macer, Rose

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For Že hede-ache. Medle Že ius of rue wiŽ Že oile of roses and vynegre and Žis oynement wole cese Že hede-ache.

Macer, Rue

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For the headache. Mix the juice of rue with the oil of roses and vinegar, and this ointment will end the headache.

Macer, Rue

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For toothache take distilled water of red roses, a small portion of beeswax, and a little fresh butter, equal amounts of each. Mix these in a dish warm upon the embers. Then dip a linen cloth therein and hold this on the affected jaw as hot as it can be borne.

Myddvai, 7

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Things that harm the brain

For the brain the following things are harmful -- gluttony, inebriation, eating late, sleeping after eating, bad air, anger, depression, standing about bare-headed, eating too much or too fast, too much warmth and too much watching, too much cold, curds, all kinds of nuts, too much bathing, onions and garlic, yawning, smelling the white rose, lust, too much music or singing or reading, strong drink before going to rest, insomnia, too much fasting, having wet feet.

Myddvai, 362

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Duretike erbis ben Žo Žat han kynde to open pores in a mannes bodi Žat ben y-stoppid. ...Anoint him on his body wiŽ poplar bud ointment and oil of roses and of violet mixed togeŽer. and put a little vinegar into Že beaten whites of eggs. and make him a plaster of roses and of water lilies, or Že powder of Žree sandlewood trees, and barley meal, and little calcine powder mixed wiŽ Že juice of bittersweet, and a little vinegar warmed, and oil of roses.

Gilbertus Anglicus, f. 198

 

 

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Diuretic herbs exist that by their nature open the pores in one's body that are blocked. ...Anoint one on the body with poplar bud ointment and oil of roses and of violet mixed together. And put a little vinegar into beaten egg whites, and make of them a plaster of roses and water lilies, or of powder of the three sandalwood trees, and barley meal, and a little calcine powder mixed with the juice of bittersweet, and a little warm vinegar, and oil of roses.

Gilbert the Englishman, f. 198

 

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In early times, the image of a rose was carved above the gate to the herb garden to guard against evil. The potency as well as the beauty of the rose is celebrated again and again in medieval literary as well as herbal writing:

Leuedi, flour of alle Žing,

   Rosa sine spina,

Žu bere Iesu, heuene-king,

   Gratia diuina.

Medieval lyric, Egerton 613
 

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Lady, flower of all things,

   Rose without thorn,

You bore Jesus, heaven's king,

   Grace divine.

 Medieval lyric, Egerton 613

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Hire rode as ase rose

that red is on ris...

Poem, "Annot and Iohon"

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Her face is like the rose

that red is on stem...

Poem, "Annot and Iohon"

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She had na pu'd a double rose,

A rose but only twa,

Till up then started young Tam Lin,

Says, Lady, thou's pu nę mę.

Ballad of Tam Lin


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She had not pulled a double rose,

A rose but only two,

When up then started young Tom Lin,

Saying, Lady, you'll pull no more.

Ballad of Tam Lin

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Trifoil window at York Minster
Over the doorway to the ancient Chapter House of York Cathedral is written,


Sic rosa ut flos florum,
Sic est domus ista domorus.


As the rose is the flower of flowers,
This is the house of houses.

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Lady holding roses in her lapPurpura sum terrę,

pulchro perfusa colore;

Sęptaque, ne violer,

telis defendor acutis.

O felix, longo si possim

vivere fato!

 Symphosius,
Riddle XLV

 

 

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I am the earth's purple,

suffused with lovely color,

and surrounded, not violated,

by sharp darts defended.

O joy, if to live longer

is my fate!

Answer: Rose
Symphosius, Riddle XLV  

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All night by the rose, rose,

All night by the rose I lay;

Darf ich nought the rose stele,

and yet ich bar the flour away.

Medieval lyric, Bodleian 13679

 

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All night by the rose, rose,

All night by the rose I lay;

Dare I not the rose to steal

and yet I bore the flower away.

Medieval lyric, Bodleian 13679

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Please note: Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-) self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.

 

 

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