Let there be light! – Historical lighting on events

02.11.2016 by Rotschopf in Equipment, Material culture, Reconstructions, Research and literature

Enough is enough! Throw your iron Toilet-paper-roll-burner (yes, that totally is a thing), your lamp oil covered torches and your stupid Visby lanterns out the window! This is not your allday Hollywood-dungeon, we are recreating the civilisation of late medieval times!

Here we will show you some of the numerous possibilities to light your medieval house, tent or road in a historical way.


Since we have written articles about most of the presented reconstructions already (or other people have), please be sure to follow the links for more information!


1. Lanterns:

The sources:

The reconstruction:

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The windows should be made from thin horn plates!


2. Tallowlamps:

The sources:

The reconstruction:


They are filled with beef-tallow, as a wick we found that rolled linnenfabric is working best.


3. Candles and candleholders:

The sources:

The reconstruction:

kerze_ecke uebersicht

By the way there are a lot of hybrids of candleholder and tallowlamps, as f.e. here in Korneuburg.


4. Kindlings:

The sources:

  • Here or here you can see possibilities for kindling/rushlight-holders. Finds are unfortunately not common in middle- and southern Europe. Many candleholders can also hold kindlings.
  • Kindlings are thin pieces of resinous wood (pine f.e.), that burn bright and fast. Finds and literary references are bound to middle Europe though (even one find in Nürnberg from the 15th century).
  • Here you can see miners working in the light of Kindlings

The reconstruction:

(A hybrid holder for candles, rushlights and kindlings, after finds from York)


5. Rush lights:

Kindlings can be found where resinous trees grow, in England, these are rare, so the rushlight was much mor popular. They even have their own holders, often hybrids of candleholder and rushlightholder. For middle Europe, this is only speculation at the moment. They are basically rushes dipped in grease or wax, they light up short and smell a lot, but for short periods, this is a good alternative that saves resources and money.


If you still don’t have enough: Here and here and here there are some more finds and information.

Ready for some impressions of historical lighting in action?

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