Early Wheat Recipes

I recently wrote about what ancient Greeks and Romans used to eat. But how about earlier people? If your fantasy takes place in a neolithic or even paleolithic setting, then you can spice it up (pun intended) with these early wheat recipes, courtesy of Alice Twain of...

The Real Robinson Crusoe

Everyone has heard of Robinson Crusoe. But how many know the real-life inspiration behind the character? As Alex Turner explains on Quora, this would be Alexander Selkirk: Selkirk was a Scottish sailor, born in 1676. He was a rather hotheaded man, who tended to look...

A Wizard’s Hat

Have you ever wondered where the pointy wizard hat stereotype stems from? Someone on Quora did and Wendy Carolan had the answer. Where Does the Idea of the Wizard’s Hat Come from? As you can well imagine, the question here refers to the stereotypical pointy blue...

Are There Any Primitive Languages?

Once again, Quora has a great answer on linguistics — and the emergence of language in particular. As Thomas Wier points out, the faculty of language is far, far older than our own species. And that, surprisingly, explains why there is no primitive language. Early...

Old Anglo-Saxon Character Names

As someone who knows how hard it can be to choose a character name for your fantasy novel, I came across some interesting discussions on Quora (here and here). They concerned the letter Æ and the evolution of old Anglo-Saxon names. I hope you find it as interesting as...

Where Are All the Missing Socks?

I had a good laugh when I read on Quora this brilliant answer by Jay Cashen, and just had to share! The question, of course, being what happens to all our missing socks… What happens to all our missing socks? Washers spin clothes at high revs. That generates...

Typography: What Is That Called?

Have you ever wondered why some parts of letters are called tails and stems, and what are other parts besides them called? As David Maier explains, a lot of the terminology seems to come from human and animal counterparts with roughly the same shape or position (eye,...

Bizarre Weapons: the Lantern Shield

Robert Arthurs reports on Quora first seeing this wonder of medieval over-specialization on display in Vienna, Austria: Doesn’t it look awesome? Well, looks can be deceiving. You see that small hole in the top region of the shield? That is where a soldier would...

Ancient Travels

I came across an interesting question on Quora the other day: What was the approximate travel time between London and Rome in the 13th century? As Frank Melling, author of “A Sixpence in the Settee,” points out, this is not a simple question to answer, as...

Unknown Medieval Weapons

Everyone’s heard of swords and spears. But how about the Goedendag, the Ahlspiess, or the Hussite flail? If you write historical fiction, you may appreciate this opportunity to spice up your weapons, courtesy of Quora. The Goedendag Essentially, the Goedendag...