History and education have been my life, especially the use
of objects in order to bring people and places to life again.
Using replicas and reconstructions help one discover
whether something could be done and how it was done.
Historians should be practical people and good quality
living history has a part to play in evaluation the past. So
does the use of statistics and though old documents may
seem “dry” they are also objects, artefacts, and very
important multi-faceted ones too.
So over the years I have researched and written a good deal
with the objects of making discoveries, analyses and
theories available to those who “want to know how the
present came to be what it is”.
Not everyone is happy with this approach, some people think there is nothing more to learn, that
we know everything about the past. I beg to differ and I believe that a good deal of the history
that we have been taught was either mistaken or, at times, even fantasy!
On this website you will find -
1. My publications, research stretching back for half a century
2. Some of my “craftwork and reconstructions”
3. I hope you will read the one and enjoy the other
Matador 2014
Paperback £12.99
Ebook £5.99
If this was a novel, you wouldn’t believe it. It is a fact that in spite
of being translated England’s unique national treasure, Domesday
Book, cannot be read by the experts. Why have they not succeeded
in several hundreds of years of study? That is a very good question.
Often they were led astray. Here, in this volume is the mathematical
and statistical certainty, the method of reading it and so
reconstructing England as it was 900 years ago.
We need such scientific methodology if we are to teach our children the truth about the past, if
we want to help them to build a better future, if they are to survive.
Also try this – for a demonstration
1. Q. is a “hide” the same as a “carucate”?
A. No, D.B. Makes this quite clear in thousands of entries
2. Q. Does the “hide” word have any meaning as a value or a
A. Yes, D.B. specifically tells us it was a measurement of
240 acres of land (and had been so for several hundreds of
years) which was subsequently linked to taxation (of land)
after 991 A.D. The compiles of D.B. used it to measure tax
liability assessed in 240 acre blocks. Sadly not everyone
made an honest tax declaration!
3. Does “wasta” (wasted) mean “burnt to the ground”
A. No, there is no single record of anything “burnt to the ground”. It seems to mean “gone to
waste”, sometimes as a result of reprisals but sometimes as a result of neglect.
4. Q. Does D.B. record stolen or expropriated lands?
A. Yes, very often. Sometimes as a result of rapacity by a Norman lord when taking possession
of forfeited Saxon lands but surprisingly often lands stolen from the Royal Estates (the King) by
barons and bishops – it even records churchmen using forged documents in order to support such
5. Q. Does D.B. say that any women (either Saxon or Norman) held lands?
A. Yes, quite a number are recorded and a significant number of them were English (Saxon)
6. Q. Does D.B. record forced marriages involving Saxon women?
A. No, there is not a single such specific entry.
7. Q. Does D.B. record wholesale rape and pillage?
A. No, there is not a single specific entry of either.
8. Q. Does the greater Domesday record only pigs and no other animals?
A. No, both the greater Domesday and the lesser Domesday record animals of all sorts.
However, the lesser Domesday tells us of places in much greater detail and it includes
information which helps us to apply cross-checks (a deliberately constructed audit trail) when
reading either the lesser or the greater Domesday.
9. Q. Was England still covered with extensive forests in 1086?
A. No, “forest” is, anyway a legal entity. It has nothing to do with trees. “Forests” were hunting
preserves, the King had thousands of acres under “forest”law (some of it farmed) and some
noblemen had private “forests”, though most called these “parks”. King William was very fond
of hunting and venison was a wild food resource ‘on the hoof’, but the majority of England was
not covered with trees.
10. Q. Surely there were large, empty and uncharted areas of wildwood, moors and heaths in
A. No, there was little (if any) ‘wildwood’ and even heaths were limited. The evidence points in
many cases to a planned landscape in which most trees and woods were carefully managed.
Where heath-land existed it was kept for grazing and fuel and because it sat on poor quality
soils, though in the far west and in the north were extensive moorlands with rocky outcrops.
Yet even these were carefully measured and D.B. often records other means of exploiting their
11. Q. Surely there were great improvements and reclamations made in agriculture in later
centuries, so we can expect a much smaller cultivated area in 1086?
A. No, D.B. tells us that the English shire heartlands were often ploughing as much land in
1086 as by circa 1950! Of course yields (probably) increased in more recent times but it seems
that the “agrarian revolution” had definitely been over emphasised in our history books. Now,
for the first time, we have scientific evidence of the tillage and so some indication of output in
12. Q. Was the Domesday Book compiled by clerics, by monks and priests and bishops?
A. No, this story is completely false. Domesday Book was a tax-audit and cadastre devised and
created by royal clerks. The proof of this is that the Churchmen were among the largest and
worst tax-evaders and so they subsequently branded the royal clerk who devised and co-
ordinated this audit as diabolical – and likewise the first King to implement it, who was
William !! “Rufus”.
Matador 2016
Paperback £11.99
Ebook available
This is a series of essays to take you beyond just “doing
the arithmetic” for the paradigm employed in 1086,
together with the standard training of royal clerks,
resulted in the collection of far more information than
was immediately required for the King’s purpose.
Whether his “civil servants” made use of this extra
information I cannot say, but using modern analytical
methods it is possible to recover even more information,
indirect evidence of such things as industries. In my
previous book I touched on such things, here is an
Frontline Books – 2019
Hardback - £25.00
My latest book, published by “Frontline” (Pen & Sword),
turns to our other unique national treasure from this
period, a 900 year-old embroidery which has also
fascinated historians (and the public) over some 200 years
of study.
What I propose is that up to now historians have only ever
read 2/3rds of this textile, that is the main frieze (of
cartoon characters) and the Latin superscript added after
the embroidery has been completed.
What they have not read are the margins, top and bottomn, for I believe these are a picture-
language, that is a series of captions enlarging on the frieze itself. Reading all three of these
accounts tells us far more than we ever knew before.
Here is a major revision of the way we interpret, the
Bayeux Tapestry. Though it shows a story dictated by
the victors it also comprises a multitude of pictures
devised by English craftsmen – pictures of England.
In spite of the claims made by some historians these
pictures are entirely accurate – demonstrably so, as I
show . But this is not just a cartoon strip account, the
pictures in the margins in their turn give us captions for
the main cartoon, a picture language. Then we have a
Latin superscript, further information in the only
written language that both sides could understand. Of
course, even “illiterates” could “read” the picture
language and so all three narratives together tell us of
things we never guessed before! This is the first
comprehensive analysis of this tapestry-embroidery.
If you read it you will discover major surprises. For
example, it says it shows the “castle” at Bayeux
BUT this is NOT the castle at Bayeux, for that
never had a motte! It is, in fact, a picture of a castle
in England, because the embroiderers were
English. They were also men not women, the
evidence is in plain view.
Applying my earlier research into Domesday Book
I provide the first accurate landscape evidence for
the place where the Norman-Breton-French (et al.)
invaders landed – Pevensey. Yes, that is what the
Tapestry tells us, Pevensey.
Of course the battle wasn’t fought at Hastings and
it wasn’t even fought on Battle Hill. It was fought a
mile further on and knowing that we can not make
a far better analysis of how the battle was won,
using the evidence on the Tapestry.
Scabbard of red leather and silver made for a Wilkinson Sword
Company’s presentation poniard
“Decoding the Bayeux Tapestry”
£25.00 (Hardback)
With lots of illustrations; available
from all good booksellers.
Replica of the only Saxon plane ever
found (at Saare in Kent in 1864). The
original is in the British Museum.
Made of stag horn and bronze with the
wedge and ‘iron’ restored.
Replica of Roman jack and foreplanes of holm
oak and English oak (specimens are known
from several contexts) together with a replica
of a bronze tri-square found at Canterbury. The
maximum straight edge length of the tri-square
was 6 inches PES DRUSIANUS
Interior of my toolbox. In the 18
century cabinet
makers used to advertise their skills by fitting out and
veneering the interior of their large wooden chests. I
have done the same.
When faced with a long day in the hot sun it is advisable to consider comfort. This doublet
follows the pattern of one in the Stibbert Museum, Florence, which dates from the very end
of the 16
century. Other accessories (boots and capotain) are the same as the Nils Sture
outfit shown in other pictures below
Replica costume circa 1565 made from patterns supplied by surviving clothes (from burials or
Hunting doublet circa 1565 worn by Nils Sture (murdered 1567), now in Upsala Cathedral
“A doublet of straw-coloured buckskin worked with black silk and with silver buttons, lined
with Holland and Lockeram”
Venetians (breeches) circa. 1580 from a pair in the Germanisches National museum,
“Venetians of sad blue says (or Kersey) with tavelle of black and brazil, shot with purle”
Tall hat circa 1570 – examples survive in the Germanisches National museum and in the
Museum of London
“Capotain of sad blue says (or Kersey) with tavelle of black and brazil shot with purle, lined
with lady-blush sarcanet and with a neats’-leather band”
“A cotton (or fostat) shirt with crespines and parchment lace”
Riding botts of welted or randed turnshoe construction, with low heels, of ‘light-tan neats’
leather and half lined with cambric, low heels (for jack spurs)
Sword of mid-16th century south German form and belts of red leather and silver, the weapon
itself of brass, iron and steel.
NOTE: I did not make the sword blade, the silver buttons or the ensigne (hat badge)
Model of a timber built Norman castle (donjon) on and in a motte, made to demonstrate the
possible construction of castles such as Bayeux which are shown on the Bayeux Tapestry and so
often claimed to be pure fictions. Made of oak with leaded and shingled cupola using spire-mast
construction on a sheerleg platform. The line illustration shows the drawing used to realise the
Renaissance dress-dagger in various
materials, early 16
Sword belt, check-strap and hanger
made of red leather with silver
buckles and fittings. #the buckles
are not cast but hand forged. Used in
the Nils Sture illustrations (above) to
carry the South-German sword.
Renaissance dress-dagger in various
materials, early 16
Replica of the earliest piece of
European furniture, the stool found
in a Bronze Age grave at Goldhoj,
Denmark. It was made of ash with
bronze pivots and mortice and tenon
joints, thus representing cabinet (not
greenwood) work. My tools were of
modern tool steel but the original
may have been made with flint tools
as bronze would not be adequate to
work seasoned ash
Scale model of an early Iron-Age roundhouse, made to
illustrate archaeological remains. The opposite side was
left open to show its construction and the 1/30th scale
figures were specially made. Over the years I have made
a number of models of huses, castles, forts and
landscapes for museums and exhibitions
Outfit circa 1560 for a girl of 12, a scaled down apttern of
the dress in which Eleanora of Toledo was buried in 1562.
The sleeves are detachable and the fitting adjustable on
laces at the back, on either side.
‘A dress of roy or tawny mockardo trimmed with a galloon
inkle of purle and goose-turd green’.
Medieval trestle table (“board”) of oak and elm for use with living history
presentations. This dismantles in five pieces to assist transportation. It is seven feet
A pen and ink drawing for an illustration of a 16
century Essex cheese-press in use,
drawn for my book “Cantles of Tart and Pungete, A History of Essex Cheese” published
by Mobile Museum, in 2004. This was the first published work ever to attempt a history of
this little known delicacy and as far as I know only one Essex cheese-press survives, at
Chelmsford Museum
Prehistoric lathe. We have lathe-turned objects
from at least the Bronze-Age but no fragments
of lathes: the challenge was to make a pole-
lathe with no metal parts. Using wedges, side-
axe and adze I converted part of a 2 ton oak
tree (using stag-horn centres) on which I
turned objects with modern tools.
Then I mounted flint scrapers on sticks to
demonstrate that lathes could have been used
in the Stone Age! (greenwood technology)
Replica of a hunting crossbow circa 1500 showing the
box-lock and ‘nut’ with various inlays, below which is
the finial of the ‘key’ (trigger bar) in the form of a lion
couchant grasping a shield. The blued steel ‘key’ is
damascened with copper and brass (like the box-lock)
and the figure has been chiselled from solid steel, a
technique quite common on high quality weapons of the
‘Spangenhelm’ form of
Helmet of 10th-11th century
of iron and bronze.
Roman table let in oak, modelled
from surviving shale originals in
order to demonstrate that
hardwood types could be made
in England where oak was
Monopodium table of revived neo-Medieval style in oak, marquetry and marbling. The top
shows a king with his witan of six counsellors, their eyes in faux-tortoiseshell. This was sold to
a discerning gentleman who had to have it though his 16
century timber framed house was
actually filled with Georgian furniture! It is a pleasure to make someone happy.
Replicas of Saxon silver work in the British Museum: the cloak pin (9 1/2” L.) found at
Trewhiddle (Cornwall in 1774) and the fork found at Sevington (Wiltshire) in 1834, both
before c.850 A.D.
Medieval ‘lovers’ greeting cards from original illuminated manuscripts by me. Covers bound in
leather, silk or fancy papers. Little books like this were made in the 15
and 16
centuries as
sweet-heart presents and these specimens contain 16
century love poems in English or French.
Two late Medieval patrons or quivers for crossbow bolts, the one on the left (resembling an
owl) is of deer-fur and taken from “The Hunts of the Emperor Maximillian’ and the one on
the right is modelled in relief in leather over a wooden carcase and given tooled decoration
Shotgun restocked in black American walnut (juglans nigra), the whole fitted, shaped,
chequered, oiled and finally polished.
if you should encounter problems ordering my books (out of print)
contact me on
and I will see what I can do