swanrād

swanrād

swanrād, ?.n: ‘swan-road’, a kenning for the sea.

Image: British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 41v

From The Medieval Bestiary website: ‘The swan has a harmonious voice, with which it pours out a sweet song. In the Hyperborean regions swans are attracted by the sound of a zither or harp and sing along when one is played. The long neck of the swan makes its song more pleasant. The song it sings before it dies is the sweetest of all. Sailors consider the sighting of a swan to be auspicious.’

gongelwæfre

gongelwæfre

gongelwæfre, f.n: a spider (lit. walking-weaver). One of my favourite words.

Image: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 130r. The below information about spiders in the medieval bestiary is from The Medieval Bestiary, a fascinating website with images and descriptions of animals, real and mythical, in medieval texts.

The spider is industrious, never ceasing to build its net from a long thread drawn from its body. It is an aerial worm that takes its nourishment from the air. Its web is fragile. It is said that if a spider tastes the saliva of a fasting man, it dies. The spider is not often illustrated in medieval manuscripts. Here it has only 6 legs and is spinning a web. Its face is rather human.