The days are getting shorter, the sky is getting greyer, the air is getting colder…
But that means it is woolly hat and scarf weather; it is time to break out the mulled cider and pumpkin soup. It is time to wrap up in a rug with a hot chocolate and some freshly cooked gingerbread; or go kicking through piles of crisp rust-coloured leaves if forced to leave the house.
Autumn is my favourite time of year, with Halloween and Candy and Bonfires and Fireworks.
Just like we have these distinct associations with Autumn, the common Medieval man or woman would have had specific associations with different seasons.
‘Labours of the Month’
The V&A Museum has a set of superb Roundels showing the ‘Labours of the Month’. August, September and October all show the agricultural labour associated with those months and are a wonderful window into medieval everyday life.
August depicts a green-tunicked man on a ladder picking fruit. There is a sack of fruit on the floor and the bright yellow colours show the last lively end of summer. Moving along to September, it shows the wine-harvest and a man cutting grapes from vines in a vineyard to fill a wicker basket.
October is made up of warm autumnal colours. A man in a red tunic and yellow hose is depicted in a field of wheat. He is wearing a capuchon, showing the move to colder weather and his bag is full of seeds, indicating he is sowing wheat.
These roundels are from the 15th century in Norwich and made up of clear and coloured glass. They are found throughout Europe and the occupations depicted are fairly standard, varying only a little depending on local climate. These pieces of art are associated with the landed class and agricultural labourers and, as they were often small and simple, were affordable for many in the medieval period.
It is really inspiring to be able to have these insights into everyday medieval life, look at something so commonplace and feel like we really have connections to people separated by such a gulf of history.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable Autumn season, however you choose to celebrate it.