History for Fantasy Writers: On Tree-Wrights and Others

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Carpentry probably doesn’t sound like a subject with much potential for writing fantasy, and I’ll admit the scope is restricted. But sometimes authors want a modest touch for effect, to add depth to the great epic they’ve undertaken. Five types of woodworking industries can be named, from the late Middle Ages: sawyers, carvers, turners, carpenters, and joiners. Sawyers converted raw logs into planks in their sawmills (powered by wind or water or even by animals) and stockpiled them in lumber yards. It was the sawyers who were the main importers of wood into a city. Carvers made a wide variety of objects, from wooden utensils to decorative work. Turners made whatever required lathe-work: chairs, tables, stools. Carpenters performed “roughing”; that is, framing, floors, foundations, walls. There’s not room here to cover all these, so I offer two: carpenters and joiners. Carpenters This word has an interesting background. The English comes from the French, carpentier, which really means someone who makes wagons and carts. Even our word “car” comes from the same root. The older English word for working with wood generically is “tree-wright” which is a great term I sort of wish was still used. Continue reading History for Fantasy Writers: On Tree-Wrights and Others at Mythic Scribes.
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