[Ansteorra] Can someone confirm/deny for me?

Richard Culver rbculver at sbcglobal.net
Wed Aug 18 20:40:18 PDT 2010

Actually Dark Ages is a bit of a historian bigotry, particularly when
matters shift away from Roman and/or Greek tradition.  The fact of the
matter is there was significant amount of writing and learning going on in
the so-called Dark Ages; it just was in places like Merovingian France,
Northumbria in English, Utrecht in the Netherlands, and other such places.

As to whether they would have written them or not, it does not seem to be
the case in a number of texts we have from the period.  Indeed many stories
copied into manuscript show narratives where the narrator left out details
under the understanding his target audience already knew the reference.  It
would be similar to me telling you a story in which I mention a child sang
the Alphabet Song.  If I knew you had kids or a similar experience with
young children, I could culturally assume, for the most part, that the tune
you would think is the one which follows, roughly,  the same melody of
Twinkly, Twinkle, Little Star.  Back to period, a writer might mention a
character used a weather charm, but because the audience of farmers, many
superstitious and likely using said charm at one point or another, knew it,
there was no reason for the author to sell out the charm.

Though laws were written, in many Germanic lands they were still written in
alliterative verse style, which is a remnant of the oral tradition of
lawgivers who used the poetic tool to memorize them.  This certainly was the
case in Iceland where I believe the Law-Speaker was required to recite a
third of the law each year for three (if I remember that correctly).  So
even with writing systems around, some traditions were established so well
as to keep them oral.


In response to both:
> I understand the importance of the oral tradition that we use in the 
> SCA. In period that is how it is done, but if rely only on the passing 
> down in oral tradition now we stand the chance of losing some of the 
> greatest songs and stories in the SCA.
> If they would have known how to write them down, I am sure they would
> Lord Devin


I think my point was lost. I know that people have been writing since long 
ago...but they do not call them the Dark Ages for nothing. A lot of things
lost and I believe that even during the time period we study that most
did not know how to read or write, and if they did, then it was few and only

those who could afford to learn. True?

Lord Devin

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list