Saturday, December 14, 2013

Timey-Wimey Stuff

Thomas More's clock
With Winter Solstice exactly one week away, the Shire of Rokeclif was kind enough to let me pack them into the TARDIS for a look at time in period.  A "day" in Kudrun's time was the time between sunrise and sunset, which was divided into twelve hours. Though there was no period way of measuring the minutes, each hour today was about 45 minutes long. (If I were really in Scotland, each hour would be 35 minutes.)

We read calendars from books of hours, and tracked the names of the days of the week and the months.  We looked at fourteen different dates when "Happy New Year" was an appropriate expression, and decided that May 1 was our favorite.
It was a challenge to describe period timekeeping without resorting to the conventions we're used to -- the 60-minute hour and the 60-second minute. What was it like in period to switch to thinking of time "of the clock"?  (Check Chaucer's Parson's tale prologue for the intersection of two ways of time-telling.)
At least we didn't have to try to reconcile the solar and lunar years, which was a challenge for Julius Caesar, Roger Bacon, and Pope Gregory. And no, we didn't attempt to calculate the date of Easter.
(We did learn that my cursor was as good as a laser pointer for entertaining the cat.)