A Castle and a Peel?

I was doing some research on castles. Nothing new there 🙂 And I looked up synonyms for “castle”. Well, a lot of the expected stuff was found. You can probably recite a list of them.

The more common ones include fortress, hold, stronghold, tower, palace and manor.  Ok, those are pretty easy.

Then we get to a second level with some that are not as commonly known. I knew them because castles is my thing.  They include an alcazar a safehold, a citadel and a donjon.

Pretty cool and I really love the old fashioned spelling of dungeon. There is writing potential with that word.

But then I ran across one that threw me for a loop. I thought for sure that it didn’t belong in the list of synonyms for castle.  It is the word “peel”. Yup, just like the outside of an orange (noun) or the act of removing the skin from something (verb).

And then , there is a small fortress or fortified tower for residence or for use during an attack. And that is called a peel.

It seems very interesting to me that the word “peel” came to this. I mean what is the derivation of something like this? Does it catch both the noun and the verb versions that we are familiar with? Did a small tower like this have an outer peel of stone and did attackers focus their attention on these outer walls, slowly peeling them away with various siege tools? small-fortress-peel

Ever Get Pelted with something? That word, and it’s meaning is ancient.

If you follow my blog you know I have a love of words. And I particularly love those words that have their roots in something deep from the past. The meaning of which now has changed or been lost altogether.

Well, I have a new word for you. Have you ever been pelted by something?  For us it typically means to get a bunch of small, and irritating things thrown at you.

And it is a good definition that comes to us from ancient warfare. Yes, thousands of years ago is where this word originates.

You see during the times of ALexander the great, they had these soldiers that would skirmish around the battlefield in no particular formation. They would carry a small shield called a Pelte. (Thus the name)

But the unique thing about this type of soldier was that he carried several small spears or maybe even a sling and stones.

And they would go in and out of battle quickly, pelting the enemy with the spears and stones. IT was a harrassment of sorts.

And thus we still use the word, in a very similar fashion. Just without the actual warfare. More for fun . The picture here shows a Peltast.



Review of Witcher 3 Blood and Wine







I have been spending some time playing the newly released Witcher 3 expansion “Blood and Wine”. And All I can say is that I am absolutely astonished.

I am pretty sure I have played every single medieval themed video game. Some are great and some are only so-so. But this whole Witcher 3 game, including the extra releases Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine are absolutely spectacular.

Best game I have ever played. Yes, even better than Skyrim. And that is saying a lot because Skyrim is spectacular.

I absolutely love the game. It is a solid 5 stars.

I won’t really write about the Witcher 3 game in this blog post. I will pretty much give you my thoughts on the expansion Blood and Wine. It has been around for a while and there is lots of stuff written about it.

The company who created it has stated that this is the last of the Witcher Games and they kept this in mind when they created this final piece of the game.

The expansion opens up a whole new game region part of the world called Toussaint which is French. And everything in it is very much like the southern french country side. And it is remarkably beautiful.

And during his adventures Geralt gets a French vineyard, complete with grape vines, an herb garden and a beautiful chateau with a fully stocked wine cellar.








If I were to retire to anywhere in the world it would probably be the South of France. Years ago I even wrote an article about it.  It is a very special place in the world where the pace is slow and the feeling of life is different.

And it is here in this beautiful little piece of the Witcher world that Geralt finishes things up.

Couple of things to Note:

1. The game is absolutely beautiful. They used a newly upgraded game engine and it really shows. The level of detail is amazing and the love they put into everything really shows from the landscape and far off views to the buildings and cobblestones in the cities, towns and villages.

2. The Story – Like you probably do, with most games I generally click through a lot of the dialogue and cut scenes. Not a whole lot of interest in them. But I didn’t do this with this game. I watched every video and listened to every dialogue. I just had to. I didn’t want to miss anything. Everything was so compelling.  There was one point, nearing the end game where I just sat back in my chair and watched in amazement. And the thought came to me that I was watching a really engrossing movie. It was good. No desire to click through it.


Well, it is clear that I loved the game. And I find myself a bit saddened that it is all over. I will keep an eye on CD Projekt Red to see what they come up with next. But I am not hopeful. Something like the Witcher 3  is inspired. And that doesn’t happen a lot.

You can get the base game on amazon here: Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

If you already have the Witcher 3 you can get the Blood and WIne Expansion here






I received an email from a web visitor who owns a shield and doesn’t know much about it. The front has a wonderful lion motif and the back has the name of the owner with a prefix of “Esq.” which means “Esquire”.

Now that is a wonderful word that you don’t hear much any more. Here in the United States it is a title appended to a Lawyers surname. Which is an interesting use. But it has an older and more romantic meaning.

If you look it up this is what you find:

The historical definition:

a young nobleman who, in training for knighthood, acted as an attendant to a knight.
  • an officer in the service of a king or nobleman.
  • a landed proprietor or country squire.

But the most interesting definition comes from the LateMiddle English and it perfectly explains our shield:

from Old French esquier, from Latin scutarius ‘shield-bearer,’ fromscutum ‘shield’;

Now isn’t that kind of neat?

If you can add some information about this shield check out my webpage here: The Unidentified medieval shield




The Words around Barnard Castle

I have a friend who lives in the U.K. (lucky) and he regularly contributes wonderful stuff to my various websites including pictures and articles about any castles that he visits.

He just recently visited a castle called “Barnard Castle” and of course he sent me lots of pics, and wrote a great essay about it. You can check that out right here.

When I create a webpage like this for something that someone sent me I usually do a little research so I can understand better what I have and how I can best transmit that to my web visitors. Maybe I can add a little something to it.

Well… for Barnard castle one of the first things I did was crank up google maps. And of course the castle is there.

I started looking around the castle and the various little towns nearby and what did I find? I felt like I was dropped directly into middle earth! Yes. It is because of the wonderful names of things in just a few square kilometers around it.

I got to share some of my discoveries with you.

There is a bakery called “The Moody Baker” and an Inn called The “Ancient Unicorn Inn”


A restaurant called “Fryer Tuck Restaurant” A patisserie called “Bramble Pie”.
How about the Taj Mahal Takeaway, the Three Horseshoes and the Coach and Horses Inn.And while I have a head of steam going here lets take a look at some of the areas and roads.

There is:

Evenwood, Butterknowle, Wackerfield and Dickens Road!
Huderthwaite, Romaldkirk, Langleydale and Mickleton!
Churchill Road, Eggleston, Thringarth and Bowbank!

With a yarn mouse a deerbolt and a White Swan  all along the Deepdale Beck!

All of this makes me think of Tolkien and the wonderfully rich language he created and used in his writing. He was a philologist wasn’t he? And it is easy to see his inspiration. There are just so many wonderful names, words, and places in the United Kingdom. These words are just a joy to read and say! And I believe this is one of the most important things about Tolkiens work – the simple joy of language.

Well… let me end off this whole thing with a take out restaurant near the castle called “Jennifers”.

Aww…. Jennifer! Seems to me you let everybody down. “Jennifers” is just too plain and modern. You should get on the same sheet of music as everybody else. How about you rename the place to “Lady Jennifers” That might work.












“Undermining” – Another Medieval Idiom

Ok Ok! I promise I won’t hit you with too many idioms but this one I can’t resist.  It is one of my favorites. It is “Undermining”. Did you ever wonder where that term came from?

It came from the sieging of castles. Yup. When an attacking force is sieging a castle one of the things that they would do was to dig a tunnel or mine underneath it. (They would dig a mine under it). Now here is where the real brilliance of the term comes into play.

We often think that they would dig a secret tunnel under a castle so they could sneak into the castle. But that really isn’t the case. The real point of these tunnels was to get under a wall or under a corner of the castle then collapse the mine. Therefore collapsing the wall or the corner of the castle wall. You see? So, digging the mine would cause the castle to collapse under it’s own weight.  Kind of brilliant.








How did they do it without having the tunnel collapse on them as they were digging it? Well, they would build wooden supports just like we picture in a regular mine. And when they were ready they would evacuate the mine and light it on fire.

And just like any good arms race our castle residents had a way to combat this undermining. How do you think they did it? With a moat! Yup. The moat around a castle was the perfect defense for this because the attacking army couldn’t dig a mine. It would simply flood before they could get close to underneath the castle.


Cut down to Size

I love idiomsrapier. They often have very wonderful beginnings that we are not aware of.

The idiom “Cut down to size” is exactly one of those idioms.

And it refers to the length of a rapier. Or more accurately a rapier that is too long!

In 16th and 17th century London rapiers were very popular. And men would wear them on the streets. But they got to the point where they were getting too long and they were a danger to passers by and visitors.

So, when entering London, men wielding swords would either have to turn them in or have them “cut down to size”.





Walking the Dogs and Finding a polearm!

Well! Got an email from a web visitor. (Chris) who was walking his dogs when he stumbled upon this weapon. It was a long polearm but the pole was broken in half and the other half was rotted. So, it must have been there for quite some time! My guess though is that it was there for a few years, not a few hundred! The cut and shape of it lead me to believe it is relatively modern. But…. if you have some experience with polearms and can shed light on this weapon please message me!!

And this was found in Ireland in the Cork/Waterford area. Nearby is a town called called Youghal.  And people have been speculating that this could be from the Cromwell era because he occupied this town for many years.

Chris will be sending along a better pic of the markings on it.









Had a wonderful spring day setting up a beehive

It was a beautiful spring day and I got a call from a friend. The shipment of bees had come in and she went and picked them up! Yay! So, today we set up the new beehive.









Let me tell you a little bit about setting up a beehive. It is an easy thing. And if you want to learn more about it I have a tutorial on my website right here. How to set up a beehive.

It all starts out by buying three pounds of bees and a queen! Yup, that’s how it is typically done. You buy it from a company and at some time in the spring they will contact you to let you know your bees are ready for pickup! The exact days will vary based on the bees, the queen and the weather.  This thing you get with the bees and the queen is called a  Nuc.

That screened box is the Nuc.









Inside that is a smaller cage with the queen locked in. That is to protect her and to allow the bees to get used to her. You take a cork out of that cage to allow them access to her.







So, Now you have free bees and soon to be free queen. You put these in your hive and put it all together. Voila! You have a beehive. There is a bit more to do, but not a whole lot. The bees do most everything for you.









Having some fun with a secret project

This is a fairly ambitious project and it is going to be an important part of my youtube channel. ANd I am having a whole lot of fun with it.  It is a Wizard’s Lair video studio that I am building in my house. We have most of the major work done and now we are working on the furnishings.  Here are a few pics of the progress.


IMG_0250 wizards-lair-5