I Love Time Team, But Sometimes….

I’m watching an old episode of the UK Time Team. They are excavating a joint convent, with houses of Gilbertine nuns and canons. One of the archeologists is set up to do living history by dressing up in a nun outfit and trying to live nun life.

The “experts” explain that having your hair cut short or shaved, and wearing an outfit that is identical to all the others in your community, is all about stripping away your individuality, sexuality, and humanity. You’re not supposed to be a person anymore, ever.

They say this on a military base.

With men and women enlisted and officers helping at the dig, in uniform.

You also have her eating a fair-sized bowl of barley pottage, a fair amount of small beer, and a piece of hard dark bread for lunch. That’s a very nice, filling lunch that could keep you going for a whole day, but the expert describes it as “holy anorexia.” They don’t mention what the men ate, which would have been the same thing!!

(Also, the archeologist does not do the obvious thing, and soak part of the bread in the soup or the beer, and use the rest to clean the bowl.)

They have her listening to a reading while eating in the refectory, which is compared unfavorably to conversing with your co-workers. Nobody compares it to audiobooks, or BBC audio dramas and book readings — even though many kids traditionally listen to stories over the radio at teatime or lunch.

(You can find the episode online and on Amazon Prime. Chicksands is the place, and “The Naughty Monastery” is the title.)


Filed under History

3 responses to “I Love Time Team, But Sometimes….

  1. *chuckles*

    The blind spots are kinda fun, aren’t they?

    Makes me wonder where mine are, and if they’re howlers on that level.

  2. It did turn out that the archeologist did get very hungry by morning. But that was because she had spent the previous day, and most of her career, doing hard manual labor and digging trenches, which a contemplative nun would not have done. Her metabolism must have been running hot.

  3. Michael

    Greetings from the USA!

    This wonderful blog was just recently discovered by me and is right up my alley! Regarding the so called “experts” opinions about losing your individuality in a monastery I must disagree. Sure, there are strict formalities that must be adhered to, but individual/creative variations and attitudes do arise. When someone is imposed with strict limits the mind goes about searching for possibilities within those limits. A good analogy is the 12 tone temperament in classical music which gives the music a framework to build within. Monks and nuns go about their vocations and vows within the framework of monastic rules the same way violin players play within a tone temperament; and without those rules/limits a cacophony is sure to erupt!


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