The fire table is a classic in the literature of medievalists .

The fire table is a classical research for reenactors. We know only one , it’s on the tapestry of Bayeux.

Our challenge was launched: reproduce this fire table.

But we still did not  know that we were going to discover other familiar objects of our modern kitchens.

1 Step  : Retrieving a clean image of the Bayeux Tapestry

tapisserie de Bayeux

Few questions settle ?

For the table :

  • Why the feet arent the same color  ?
  •  What are the objects above the table ?
  • The representation is at the right scale, is it strong enough, can it support the heat of a fire ?
  • Is it foldable ?

At the right of the table, another object makes us curious…

  • why do we see 3 feet, while we see only two on the fire table ?
  • What represent those stratas of colors inside inside this object : red, brown, black, brown then red?
  • What are those thin horizontal lignes in the middle?
  • Why does the character hold a big curved fork ?
  • Why is there two fires on the ground ?
  • What purpose serve the animals on each side ?
  • What does the food on it ?

2gd step :Put the image at the right scale.

We based our work on the character on the left  as a gold standard .

We begin our hypothese by saying this character measure 1,60 meter high.

3rd step : Drawing.

We have began by drawing on 2 dimension the fire table situated between the two characters in black caring the the fire pot holder, and also the object wich looks like a scare box with two fires under it situated more on the right of the image.

tapisserie de Bayeux

4th step: Extraction!!

We have extracted the characters and objets , for finally keep only the essential of the matters wich is the food and the kitchens tools.

tapisserie de Bayeux

5th step : The 3D modelisation makes appear new possibilities for the answers we were looking for.

tapisserie de Bayeux
tapisserie de Bayeux

6th step: the result

The fire table match perfectly with the drawing and different tables realised by some reenactors.

For the table :

Why are the feet not the same color ?

We think that the worker on the broidrey wanted to show the inside of the feet.It is for that reason that the left foot is green with a red stipe and the right foot is green with an orange stripe.

What represent the objects above the fire table on a shelter ?

It most certainly is an brochettes holder .

The scale representation is it strong enough, can it hold fire  ?

The table is 75 cm high and 85 cm x 85cm large,wich seems coherent for cooking a pot in suspension. If the table was higher the chef couldnt see inside the pots. it’s also very strong with feets 6cm thick.We also talked a lot with reenactors who cook on this kind of table, and a lot of them use only 10cm of soil inside their fire table, and again it matche with the broidry and the drawing at the right scale so 10 cm of soil. We have considered that the bottom of the table can be chang in case of the fire would dommage it.

Is it foldable ?

Well we dont know.While war time there were so many people working for the armies and nobles , we easely can imagine that for gaining room , the fire tables were foldable so that few workers could fold it before the chef began his preparations.

On the contrary, we can imagine the the chef must hurry to cook in time and maybe they did not have time to mount the fire table so they discharge it from the charriots and start the fire

For the other cooking device :

Why do we see 3 feet and only two for the fire table ?

The Embroiderers wanted maybe to broid with perspective ! As we can see the brochette holder wich is above the fire table but wich should more situated behind this one.

This form with 3 feet is probably a scare support. It has been turned of a quart so that the  cooking device can posed on it wich is also perfectly stable , the weight does the rest.

What represent those stratas of colors inside inside this object :

red, brown, black, brown then red? We have passed a lot of time trying to understand, but the fact that there is fires on the ground and the characters aside hold a big fork , made us think to considerate that there is depth and that the food, inside and on the device, is  in a cooking process. 

We started our hypothese on :

the red represent heat, the brown evoke food like on the big fork and the black is the bottom ( metal plate).

What are those thin horizontal lignes in the middle?

If the brown is food, so it has to cooked above embers. We have suppose that it is put on grills.

Why does the character hold a big curved fork ?

To avoid burn himself while putting food inside an oven.

Why is there two fires on the ground ?

The hypothese of two fire under one oven seems highly revealent.

Why put two fire while only one would be sufficient ?

Segondly the fire on the right would burn the wooden part of the device. So, we have considerate that there was two oven, one behind another, with one fire for each one of them.

What are the purpose of the rings on each side ?

Certaily for transportation, we started from the postulate that these oven couldnt be foldable, so , heavy to carry. The rings serve at putting poles in it for the lifting.

Wht does the food on the superior part of the device ? We have supposed that the heat could damage the upper part and so that one must be in metal like a plancha. The food could be or cooked or keep warm on it while waiting to be served.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 /12/ 2015, we keep track of the table and the oven , here are our latest finds

For the firing table, Psalter Fécamp , Normandy, 1180 AD

tapisserie de Bayeux

To the furnace, we found images of the fork

Of course, we are not historians and we express here that assumptions .

This is mainly to describe you one of our research methods subsequently devise coherent plans and as accurate as possible with what had to be the old furniture missing . We hope to have brought a new vision on the art of cooking in the eleventh century .

Above all, we hope that historians, researchers, owners of private collections will make available their knowledge to enable us to enrich the basic plans that we make available to medievalists lovers.