[Sca-cooks] Viking Dining Light

Pixel, Goddess and Queen pixel at hundred-acre-wood.com
Wed Apr 1 12:32:17 PDT 2009

On Wed, 1 Apr 2009, Sharon Gordon wrote:

> As a series of facts in a book about Vikings the author notes that Vikings
> lit their homes with torches of  bundles of marsh grass called lyssiv (light
> straw).  It has a central core of wicklike white pith.
> Does anyone know if this was from an edible grain such as barley or flax?
> I'd also be interested in whether the pith was used like a wick in oil or
> fat or whether it was used to soak up oil in a more sponge like way and then
> lit if anyone is familiar with this.
> Sharon
It would have been used for fats that are less solid than say, beeswax, or 
liquid oils. Look up "rushlight" for an idea of what they're talking 
about, and also "cresset" which is an oil lamp made of soapstone or other 

Rushlights are also period for much of Europe--there's a wrought-iron 
rushlight holder in the Medieval Household book from the Museum of London 
that looks for all the world like the rushlight holders that were used in 
colonial times in the US.

Margaret FitzWilliam

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