Lighting & Candles

cropped-img_0322_edited1.jpgEvery habitation, whether it was a hut, hall, shed, lean-to or bothy, was dark and smoky inside.

To avoid the trouble of relighting it and for light and cooking, wood or peat fires were kept burning continually. A cauldron could be suspended from the roof beams above the central hearth.

No smoke hole or chimney overhead meant that the fish and meat hung among the roof beams were preserved by the chemicals in the smoke, giving the food a rich, tangy taste. Some smoke would eventually dissipate and seep through the thatch.

Early clay oil lamps were imported from Gaul, usually with no handle and the wicks made from pith of rushes.

Among the “barbarian” tribes of the colder climates of the North, beyond the reach of the legions, candles were made of tallow and animal fat due the scarcity of olive oil.

The tallow was rendered down in the cauldron over the hearth and then poured into shaped bronze moulds.

With the decline of the Roman Empire and the consequent disruptions to trade, luxuries like olive oil became scarce and tallow candles became increasingly widespread.





Author: serkeen

I am Irish, currently living in West Australia. I have a degree in Old & Middle English, Lang & Lit and, despite having worked in Kuwait, Italy, Malaysia, USA, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong over the last 40 years, I have a strong interest in Ireland’s ancient pre-history and the heroes of its Celtic past as recorded in the 12th and late 14th century collection of manuscripts, collectively known as The Ulster Cycle. I enjoy writing historical novels, firmly grounded in a well-researched background, providing a fresh and exciting look into times long gone. I have an empathy with the historical period and I draw upon my experiences of that area and the original documents. I hope, by providing enough historical “realia” to hook you into a hitherto unknown – or barely glimpsed - historical period.

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