Some Hair Care

A woman combing her hair.
Paris, circa 1400, from a pen and ink drawing in the Staatliche Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin. 

I’ve been experimenting with some of the recipes in the Trotula for a while now. The Trotula is a manuscript on women’s medicine that originates from the 12th century, but was copied and used during the whole middle-ages. It contains recipes for make-up, anointments and other fun things concerning the female body and looks. One of my favourites is this one below (I think it was Cathrin that brought it to my attention):

When she combs her hair, let her have this powder. Take some dried roses, clove, nutmeg, watercress, and galangal. Let all these, powdered, be mixed with rose water. With this water let her sprinkle her hair and comb it with a comb dipped in this same water so that [her hair] will smell better. And let her make furrows in her hair and sprinkle on the above-mentioned powder, and it will smell marvelously.
– The Trotula

The spices can be found quite easily in Swedish stores, except for the galangal which I had to buy from a webshop. The watercress was the hardest thing to get a hold of – I actually had to buy seeds and grow it myself on my balcony. The watercress I have in my powder I grew last year, but I also have some growing right now for future use.

Part of my not so very well-kept watercress plant

The spices were already ground down to a fine powder when I bought them, but I had to dry and grind the roses and watercress myself. That didn’t turn out perfectly – they didn’t grind down to that fine powder I had wished for. I probably didn’t dry the leaves enough before grinding them. It still works fine when I use it in my hair, but the small bits of watercress and roses can be seen if you looks closely.

I use it as you would use a modern day dry-shampoo that isn’t in a spray bottle, parting the hair and sprinkling some of the powder, and then repeating the process in different parts. Then I massage the powder into the hair, and then sprinkling rose water all over the hair – both at the roots and over the lenghts. After this I comb through the hair and then it’s ready to be made into beautiful and/or funny hairstyles.

It’s not often I get the compliment that I smell nice during events, but when I’ve used this powder it’s a reoccurring comment. 😉

Doing Annette’s hair at my workshop at Battle of Wisby
When I got back to Sweden after visiting Middelaldercentret I felt very inspired and made my own rose water. As far as I’ve understood, actual rose water is derived from distilling rose petals, whereas mine was made by pouring boiling water over the petals and letting it sit for 24 hours and then straining it. It turned out fine, with a lovely colour and scent.

My own rose water 

To end this short post – here is a way to get smooth and soft hair.

If, needed, you wish to have hair soft and smooth and fine, wash it often with hot water in which there is powder of natron and vetch.”
– The Trotula

Green, M. H. (Ed.). (2001). The Trotula: a medieval compendium of women’s medicine. University of Pennsylvania Press

Workshop at Battle of Wisby: 14th Century Hair Styles and Hair Care

Hösten har varit en hektisk period för mig med mycket att göra i skolan där vi bland annat åkt på några riktigt roliga exkursioner i Sverige och Norge. Det har inneburit att jag inte haft någon tid eller energi för annat än skolan, men nu sista veckan har jag åtminstone gått igenom en del av mina bilder från Battle of Wisby. Första delen av mina foton därifrån att publiceras är mina workshopfoton.

It’s been a hectic period with lots of things to do at school, including some really nice excursions to places in Sweden and Norway. That has meant that I haven’t got neither time nor energy for other things than school, but this last week I’ve actually got around to at least sort through some of my photos from Battle of Wisby. The first batch to be published is my workshop photos. 


Under Battle of Wisby höll jag en workshop om frisyrer och hårvård på 1300-talet. Hela veckan var oerhört blåsig och dagen för min workshop var verkligen inget undantag. Istället för att ha workshopen under ett skärmtak i blåsten drog vi oss tillbaka till ett av Carnis stora tält, som väldigt vänligt lånades ut till oss av Martin och Martina.

During the Battle of Wisby I held a workshop about 14th century hairstyles and hair care. All of the week was very windy, and the day of my workshop was no difference. Instead of having the workshop under a sunroof all exposed to the wind we retreated into one of Carnis big tent, which very kindly was leant to us by Martin and Martina.


Deltagarna var duktiga och verkade ha roligt (det hade jag med). Fina frisyrer gjordes och vi delade tankar och en hel del skratt. Tack vare Elke har jag även foton från tillfället då hon lånade min kamera och fångade lite av trevligheterna.

The workshop was fun and all the attendants did great – some nice hairstyles was recreated, and we shared some thoughts and laughs. Thanks to Elke I got some photos from the workshop too – she was kind enough to take some photos with my camera. 

Och här är bilderna! De är hyfsat många, men jag har så svårt att välja vilka jag ska lägga upp vilket oftar slutar i att jag tar med alla.

And here they are! It’s a lot, but it’s so hard to choose which to put in the post which means I take them all. Enjoy!