By William Sayers
Vernacular Architecture, Volume 41, 2010
Abstract: Walter de Bibbesworth’s treatise on the French vocabulary required to manage a rural estate in late-thirteenth-century England includes the first continuous description in a western European vernacular language of the construction of a simple wooden house. His some thirty Anglo-Norman French terms for the timbers and other parts of the house are matched by fourteen Middle English glosses in the manuscript tradition, giving a unique synchronic perspective on the technical terminology of bi- and tri-lingual medieval England. The construction process he outlines can be followed detail by detail on the Bedford Hours illustration of the construction of Noah’s Ark.