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  • Writer's pictureDubravko

What do crossbows and pickled rock samphire have in common?

Nothing much, really.

Well, except that both were used in medieval times and that today, I tried making them both.

Let's start with the weaponry so I look like less of a nerd.

The crossbow I made is a very simple wooden one as seen in Tod Cutler's video titled "Build the simplest crossbow ever". I used a board I found on some building site which was a little bit too dry to work with, so the first version of the crossbow I made on Monday kept breaking into smaller and smaller pieces. I did manage to make it work with a lot of wood glue and a staple gun. The result was somewhat disappointing.

I had much better luck today because of experience from two days ago. I drilled the holes while the board was still in one piece to reduce the breakage, and it did a lot of difference. Unfortunately, I got too excited when things started looking better and I forgot to take photos of the whole process! 😅 But I think it's not really necessary anyway since you can see all the steps in the video.

The only WIP photo I remembered to take.

The weakest part of my version was the bow and string, which I could not make as well as I'd like since I didn't have the materials. I tried making the bow more or less the way I saw it in this video by Kramer Ammons, and it was quite fine although it turned out too small because it also broke once during the making. Considering the quality of the wood, I'm actually pretty satisfied with the result. For the bowstring, I had to use something elastic since the bow wouldn't withstand too much pressure (which in the end did happen, as I became more and more greedy with trying to make it more powerful), so I used a piece of sewing elastic band. Since I was making this solely to learn the process, the result is more than satisfactory (in my opinion). I will try to find some better wood to buy for the next iteration, and definitely find some nice rope for the bowstring, but all in all, this was a very fun and educational experience.

The other daily project was making pickled rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum). I got the idea from a friend that traveled with us to Mljet last weekend, who gave me the recipe as well. We foraged for samphire on some cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea, which was an adventure in itself.

The recipe is very simple, basically just cook the samphire in vinegar diluted with water (1:3), transfer to a jar when it cools down, and leave it like that for two weeks. Rock samphire was mentioned by Dioscorides some 2000 years ago, the fifteenth-century herbal Der Gart der Gesundheit recommends it as a diuretic useful for treating dropsy, it was widely used pickled by sailors to fight off scurvy, and Shakespeare referred to a dangerous practice of cliff-foraging in King Lear ("Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"). It is a very common plant on the Mediterranean coast and we often use it for salads, so it was about time I tried making some on my own.

It was a day filled with sawdust and vinegar smells, and I feel tired but very fulfilled! What cool projects have you been working on? Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get notified of new posts and shop updates! Until next time, stay medieval!



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