Medieval Monday: Bring on the sun June’s the month for wheat harvest, sheep shearing

Welcome back to Medieval Monday. In a slightly revised format, we authors of medieval stories will spotlight not only our books and those of our colleagues, we’ll offer a variety of other topics related to our writing and the medieval era.

Sheep Shearing, Duke du BerryBooks of Hours (c. 1410)

Today I want to talk about the weather. I know–the weather?? But in my part of the country, we’ve had more rain than usual for this late spring season. If this were, say, 800 years ago–1222–our famers would be facing a real problem. Of course, in those years, most of England was rural and if farm crops were damaged by too much rain or not enough rain or a multitude of other weather-related problems, the threat of not having enough food was very real.

In the month of June, medieval farmers (peasants or tenants working their lord’s ground along with their own) were harvesting wheat. That crop was utterly essential for bread, one of the primary staples of life then. Rain at the wrong time could damage or even ruin that year’s supply.

Also on the medieval farming calendar for the month of June–sheep shearing. Not only was English wool exported then, but many folks treated wool, spun it into thread, wove the threat into cloth from which their garments were made. Of course, every family didn’t do all these things. Many rural villages were attached to a castle or manor, where the lady or the lord’s staff oversaw much of that process.

Old fashioned sheep shears. You’ll notice the man shearing the sheep in the first image is using something that looks like this.

Villages and towns not associated in such a way might, if they were large enough, have shops that sold the woven fabric. Fabric for clothing was so dear, many non-affluent people had only one new set of clothes a year. And those clothes usually were made from rough-spun fabric.

Upper class folks, of course, were different. While those who lived in the countryside still oversaw the shearing, carding, spinning, weaving, and sewing of garments, they could afford–and were expected to wear–clothing of much finer fabric. Linen perhaps or finely woven delicately dyed wool.

Oh, and a note: This summary is very general and as the medieval era progressed, the process of obtaining fabric and garments changed as well. But not the farming season’s calendar. June equaled wheat harvest and sheep shearing.

Here are a couple of images depicting medieval life in the month of June. The sheep shearing looks idyllic, but you know it wasn’t! It was messy and smelly and sometimes dangerous trying to persuade the sheep to assume all sorts of positions to have their coats removed!

NOTE: Be sure to visit my fellow Medieval Monday Roses (The Wild Rose Press) Mary Morgan and Anastasia Abboud. They always have something interesting planned. You can find them here:



5 thoughts on “Medieval Monday: Bring on the sun June’s the month for wheat harvest, sheep shearing”

  1. Thanks for sharing your Medieval Monday thoughts, Barbara. It’s so true how the crops could be so affected by rain, therefore affecting the entire food supply. Most interesting!

  2. Happy Medieval Monday, Barb! Oh, thank you. I love this post. When I think of medieval life, it’s always about rural life, with close attention to the seasons, necessarily living close to the land and according to nature’s dictates. It took me a long time to realize that those living in cities did not necessarily follow the same patterns. And as an avid gardener, I can relate to how very important weather is and how it can cause problems. Of course, the effects on my garden, while important to me, are on a much smaller and less urgent scale. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Happy Medieval Monday! Fascinating post, Barbara. Once, I had an opportunity to watch sheep being sheared at a medieval faire. You had to move swiftly and be strong.

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