For my novel: Ancient stables & torches - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 8 Old 01-28-2012, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Illinois
Posts: 24
• Horses: 0
For my novel: Ancient stables & torches

Hi all:

I'm a novelist with some experience riding, but not a lot. I'm writing a novel that takes place in 5th century ancient Gaul (France) think the movie King Arthur with Clive Owen.

I have a scene where two lovers meet at night in a stable. I was told from a friend that there would never be a torch used for light at night in a stable because of fire. I should set the meeting to moonlight streaming in through the boards. I have some romance in this scene and I posted a low burning torch nearby so they can see each other. I need some expert advice.

I was wondering, does anyone know what they were using before kerosene lamps and electricity in barns or stables at night to see? What if one wanted to work in the stable or barn at night?

cinzia8 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 8 Old 01-28-2012, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington State
Posts: 1,761
• Horses: 2
They may have used lamps. (Not kerosene, but one where you just put a candle in it.) Open flames certainly don't sound like a good idea, but who really knows.
Eolith is offline  
post #3 of 8 Old 01-28-2012, 10:16 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 40,745
• Horses: 2
They may have used whale oil lamps. or seal oil or even olive oil, though not sure about that. Most lighting in those times was with "rushes" or torches where you had branches tied together and dipped in tar or pitch.

I think that stables of a richer person might be built of stone, so less of a fire worry.
People jsut had to put up with that worry and a lot of stables burned down before electricity. But also, when it was dark, most people went to bed or gathered around a fire place. they didnt' go out at night much. Dangerous.
tinyliny is online now  
post #4 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,779
• Horses: 2
Candles were well known.

For a secret meeting, the lovers wouldn't want anyone else to see the light (which would draw attention) so they would put a candle into a holder made of metal with holes punched out.

Think of a metal box with a floor and a peaked roof on it, with a ring above that to hold it. The sides have holes punched into it. One side would be hinged like a door. You put the lit candle into the box and close the door. The light of the candle would shine out though the punched holes in the metal sides. You would hide the lantern in the shelter of your cloak, letting a bit of the light spill out on the ground where you are going, at the same time sheltering most of the light with your cloak.

Sometimes I wrestle with my demons. Sometimes we just snuggle.
Red Gate Farm is offline  
post #5 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Posts: 9,532
• Horses: 4
Folks faced many of the same dangers using candles in their homes, but they did so all the time. I'm sure they kept water buckets near by, and put any torches or candles over a dirt or stone 'floor'.

But if someone screwed up, Chicago could burn:
"The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration that burned from Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about 4 square miles (10 km2) in Chicago, Illinois."

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
bsms is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Illinois
Posts: 24
• Horses: 0
Thanks everyone. I'm going to check into oil lamps in stables (these are still Roman times) and I like the idea of perhaps a metal case that holds a candle (they used both oil lamps and candles in the 5th century). The mention of a stone floor and wall could also handle some light with a better safety factor. I don't want the barn to burn down around them. The heat is between them. <g> If I find out anything exact, I'll post it as well. I really appreciate the input. Cinzia
cinzia8 is offline  
post #7 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington State
Posts: 1,761
• Horses: 2
Honestly, I think this detail is minute enough that you shouldn't have to worry too terribly much about it. Go for some extra stunning character development, and people won't notice what source of light is illuminating their passion. ^_^
Eolith is offline  
post #8 of 8 Old 01-30-2012, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Illinois
Posts: 24
• Horses: 0
LOL Eolith. You're probably right. In the historical genre world there are critics over everything. I have a well-known writer friend who writes historical novels who was actually called out for putting a black squirrel in a part of England where supposedly none live. So, I'm a bit cautious. However, as you mentioned, great characterization or romance will most likely make the technical aspect of lighting seem irrelevant.
cinzia8 is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Cleaning an Ancient Bridle LoveTheSaddlebreds Horse Tack and Equipment 6 11-27-2011 02:18 AM
stables :) ilovemyhorsies Barn Maintenance 9 07-31-2010 03:07 PM
? tax on stables embee Horse Talk 0 11-26-2009 05:05 PM
Ancient Vs. Modern Olympics Moxie General Off Topic Discussion 4 10-03-2008 10:34 AM
Ancient saddle - can anyone identify? 3neighs Horse Tack and Equipment 13 08-30-2008 03:51 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome