Before giving my talk on medieval medicine at Abbeystowe last weekend, I was able to get away for a bit of a ramble through the various encampments and merchant stalls at the festival.
I enjoyed every one of them, learning about the history of so many different people groups, cultures, and countries, getting to see firsthand how they lived in medieval times.
One of my favorite spots was the medieval gypsy camp, especially because most of the gypsies were elsewhere dancing in their stunningly beautiful costumes and I could wander at my leisure.
I was delighted by the brilliant color everywhere, from the thick carpets underfoot to the flags dancing in the breeze and richly hued tassels dangling from tent poles and tree trunks.
And I could happily sit around that campfire for hours, chatting with dear friends or just gazing contentedly into the flames.
The tents made me feel like a little girl again when I used to build blanket forts with every afghan, scarf, and throw I could find. It was so lovely to hide away in there, my own little world.
I loved the jewelry, the headdresses, the ropes of necklaces and layer upon layer of garments perfect for twirling. It’s the sort of garb that makes every woman look and feel dazzlingly beautiful.
I was most intrigued by the details: the richly embroidered cushions, gorgeous ceramic drums, and cheery flower pots overflowing with blooms.
I was particularly charmed by the children’s toys that hung around the camp within easy reach of little fingers: a leather camel with orange tasseled saddle, a basket of tiny rag dolls, and a beautiful bear dressed in her very own gypsy dress. I would’ve loved such things as a girl.
The encampment was a marvelous escape, a place of fairytale dwellings and fanciful garb and very pleasant daydreaming.
What is your favorite part of the medieval gypsy camp?