And so we enter August in our tour of the Anglo-Saxon year. I have a new weapon in my armoury now, having come across a great little guide to Old English in a gift shop on a visit to Avebury. This is the village near Stonehenge which is actually within a much larger (and in my opinion more impressive) stone circle than Stonehenge itself.
But I digress. The Saxons called the eighth month Weodmonath. The ‘weod’ component is obviously linked to the modern word for weeds, but it could also mean herbs – and I suppose to a society that made much more use of the bounty that nature provides than we do, there wasn’t a lot of difference. An awful lot of the stuff that springs up in fields is edible and nutritious – take nettles for example – but we modern folk tend to think only in terms of the very limited and rather arbitrary choice our supermarkets offer us as being ‘proper’ food.
So although the farmers of old would certainly have wanted to protect their crops from ‘weeds’, this was also a time when the same sorts of plants growing elsewhere could be gathered and thrown into the pot or used to make medicines, poultices etc.