A Medieval Cycle of Life

Medieval hat and costumeThis extensive cycle of medieval stories was first collected together for a February half-term week at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (when the grey, wet and gloomy season certainly lent itself to huddling indoors for Storytelling)

This event also gave visitors a hint of the restrictions that the seasons imposed before the industrial age – and how we are all at least still subject to light levels, temperature and environment…

Stories concern all aspects of human nature but are grouped principally around births, marriages and deaths:

Medieval WoodcutThe midwife is sometimes an equivocal figure in medieval society (who might just know too much for everyone’s good) and when the sins of the parents are visited on their child stories about infants and new life don’t necessarily always bring a cosy glow…

Romance and marriage can be made in heaven – but unions are just as likely to be sealed in the account book; blighted by spells and broken promises or through pride and vanity not take place at all!

Medieval woodcutSome people seek all their life to prevent the inevitable or to know the manner of their passing and thus neglect to live from day to day the life they have.

Not necessarily as sombre as it sounds, given an injection of levity! On the other hand, this can also fit rather well with Hallowe’en or All Souls…

As well as the milestones of human life I highlight seasonal themes to link with both the winter and the following Spring, Summer and harvest in order to offer reassurance that eventually renewal and warmth will come!

w&d storytelling
While this presentation originally took late winter as a starting point the cyclical nature of the material has also allowed me to start from themes of harvest, ripeness and plenty at the opposite side of the year.


Little Woodcut