Night and Day: How Time was Marked in the Dark Ages

When the clocks go back at this time year in Britain, we are pleased to get an extra hour in bed at the weekend. However, the clocks confuse us and confuse the cat at feeding time, so not so good. Then we get all het up about whether it ‘really’ is later or earlier than we think.

And we have all the science to help us keep track. How did the people in the Dark Ages cope?

Early Anglo-Saxon sundials show only four evenly spaced marks for telling time during daylight. These four divisions of daylight are paralleled by four at night.

They are:

úht (3 am to 6 am)

morgen (6 am to 9 am)

undern (9 am to noon)

middæg (noon to 3 pm)​

gelotendæg (3 pm to 6 pm) ​

æfen (6 pm to 9 pm)​

niht (9 pm to midnight)

midniht (midnight to 3 am)

Modern usage of the words ‘morning’ and ‘evening’ originated from this period. However, we can recognise a few other terms such as ‘midnight’ and ‘midday’, too, from their Germanic roots.

So there you go. Goodnight.

(c) 2015 A.J. Sefton  http://www.ajsefton.com

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Night and Day: How Time was Marked in the Dark Ages

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s