Book 2, Chapter 6, The End of the Ninth Century – Anglo Saxon Furniture
When the repast was concluded, and the hands of the guests washed, the tables appear to have been withdrawn from the ball, and the party commenced drinking. From the earliest times, this was the occupation of the after part of the day, when no warlike expedition or pressing business hindered it. The lord and his chief guests sat at the high seat, while the others sat round on benches. An old chronicler speaking of a Saxon dinner party, says, “After dinner they went to their cups, to which the English were very much accustomed.” When the ale or wine was first served, the drinkers pledged each other, with certain phrases of wishing health, but among the Saxons the ceremony was accompanied with a kiss.
We are not to suppose that our Anglo-Saxon forefathers remained at table, merely drinking and listening. On the contrary, the performance of the minstrels appears to have been only introduced at intervals, between which the guests talked, joked, propounded and answered riddles, boasted of their own exploits, disparaged those of others, and, as the liquor took effect, became noisy and quarrelsome.
We have very little information relating to the domestic games and amusements of the Anglo-Saxons. They seem to have consisted, in a great measure, in music and in telling stories. They had games of hazard, but we are not acquainted with their character. Their chief game was named taefel or taefl, which has been explained by dice and by chess, one name of the article played with, “table-stone,” would suit either interpretation, but another, a “table man,” would seem to indicate a game resembling our chess.
Chapter 6, Ancient Towns and Highways
Chapter 6, Internal Fittings of Houses
Chapter 6, Anglo-Saxon Furniture
Chapter 6, Anglo Saxon Hunting and Travelling
Chapter 6, Anglo-Saxon Language
Categories: Book 2