Book 2, Chapter 6, The End of the Ninth Century – Anglo Saxon Hunting and Travelling
Travelling to any distance must have been uncomfortable, especially when passing through wild districts where there were no inns. The word inn is itself Saxon, and signified lodging, but it appears to have been more usually applied to houses of this kind in towns. A tavern was also called a gest-hus or gest-bur, a house or chamber for guests, and cumena-hus, a house of comers. Guest houses, like caravanserais in the East, appear to have been established in different parts of Saxon England, near the high roads, for the reception of travellers. The deficiency of such comforts for travellers in Anglo Saxon times was compensated by the extensive practice of hospitality, a virtue which was effectually inculcated by the customs of the people as well as by the civil and ecclesiastical laws.
When a stranger presented himself at a Saxon door, and asked for board and lodging, the man who refused was looked upon with contempt by his countrymen. The first act of hospitality was the washing of the stranger’s feet and hands. He was then offered refreshment, and was allowed to remain two nights without being questioned, after which time the host became answerable for his character. The ecclesiastical laws limited the hospitality to be shown to a priest to one night, because if he remained longer it was a proof that he was neglecting his duties. Taverns of an ordinary description seem to have been common enough, and there is too much reason for believing that people spent a great deal of time in them, even the clergy frequented them so often as to demand frequent censure.
Chapter 6, Ancient Towns and Highways
Chapter 6, Internal Fittings of Houses
Chapter 6, Anglo-Saxon Furniture
Chapter 6, Anglo Saxon Hunting and Travelling
Travelling and Inns
Chapter 6, Anglo-Saxon Language
Categories: Book 2