Knights Templar

Salving the sheep at Cowley and Horspath in 1308

On Wattpad you can find the ingredients for the sheep’s salve used on the Templars’ sheep at Cowley and Horspath in Oxfordshire in spring 1308: white grease, quicksilver (the metal mercury) and verdigris. The mercury and verdigris would have acted as strong antibiotics, while the grease held the chemicals together and made them stick to the sheep. But the mixture can’t have been kind to the sheep’s hide — or to the hands of the humans who rubbed it on!

Elsewhere the sheep-rub was a little kinder: at Swanton in Bedfordshire in the period 3 December 1308 –18 June 1309 grease and tar were bought for the sheep (E 358/18 rot. 24) and at Chelsing in Hertfordshire between 9 February and 18 July 1308 grease and ‘tarpitch’ were used (E 358/18 rot. 24 dorse).

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