The Wake

By Paul Kingsnorth

A post-apocalyptic novel set in 1066

Thursday, 22 November 2012


This is the book's glossary, which explains some of the more obscure vocabulary. I hope that you find it tantalising enough to want to read on!


A partial glossary


ABBODRICE – monastery

AC – oak

ALOR – alder

BLOTMONTH – November (lit. ‘blood month’, when livestock were killed for winter)

BLUD EARN – (lit. ‘blood eagle.’) Mythical Viking sacrifice in which the victim’s lungs were cut from his body and pulled up through his back to look like the wings of an eagle. Historians still argue about whether it was ever used outside the sagas.

CARUCATE – measurement of land; 8 oxgangs make up a carucate

CEAP – market

CENEP – moustache

CICEL – cake

CISERAEPPEL – dried fig

COTTAR – free tenant farmer owing obligation to a thegn. At least one step below a sokeman on the social ladder

CROCC - cauldron

DANELAUGH – Danelaw; area of northern and eastern England under Danish settlement and law from the 9th to 11th century

EA – river

EARN – eagle

ECED – vinegar

ELE – oil

ENT – giant

EOSTURMONTH – April (Easter month)

ESOL – ass

FLOTA – fleet

FNAERETTAN – snoring

FORHEAWAN – cut down

FUGOL – bird

FYRD – conscript army

GAR – lance

GEBUR – landless peasant farmer who owed labour services to a thegn or sokeman

GEREFA – local official, later known as a reeve, representing the king or thegn at village level

GLAIF – three-pronged fishing tool used in the fens

GLEOMAN – travelling storyteller, poet and news-bringer

GREOTAN – crying

HARA – hare

HAFOC – hawk

HEAFODPANNE – skull (lit. ‘headpan’)

HRAGA – heron


HRIFTEUNG – stomach ache

HUSCARL – royal bodyguard and elite fighting force

INGENGA – foreigner

LEA – meadow, open field

LEAC - onion

LESCH – reeds

LITHA – May and June

MELU – flour

MICEL – much

NEBB – face

NIGHTGENGA – demon of the night (lit. ‘night-traveller’)

NITHING – nothing, outcast, villain

OXGANG – measurement of land, equivalent to around 20 acres, said to be the amount a single ox could plough in a season

PETERSILIE – parsley


SCEOMU – shame

SCRAMASAX – dagger

SCUCCA – demon

SENEP – mustard

SIGE - victory

SIGIL – brooch

SLEGE - slaughter

SOCMAN – free tenant farmer. Sokemen were found only in the eastern counties of the Danelaw. They owed alliegance to the king rather than the thegn, owned their land, and seem to have been a high class of independent landed farmer

SOLMONTH – January

STOCC – trunk

STRAEL – arrow

STUNT – stupid or stubborn

SWAMM – mushroom

SWEALWE – swallow

THEGN – lord, squire

THRALL – slave

THRIMILCI –April (when cows were milked three times)

TREEN – woodenware

WAPENTAC – Wapentake, the Danelaw’s equivalent of a shire court, the basis of local justice in England

WEALSC – the Old English word for both foreigner and slave was applied to the pre-English (‘Bryttisc’) population. It became the modern word ‘Welsh’

WELIG – willow

WEODMONTH – July (month of weeds)

WERGILD – blood price. A monetary measure of a life, the wergild was a price put on someone’s head. If you killed them, you had to pay it. A king cost a lot more than a cottar

WEROD – war band

WIHT – living being, creature, animal

WITAN – gathering of the highest men in the land – earls, powerful thegns and bishops. Before the Normans introduced hereditary monarchy, English kings were elected by the Witan

WITHIG – wreath

WYRD – fate, destiny

WYRMFLEAGE – dragonfly

WYRT – herb

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