Medieval adventures

Box From a Log

I was inspired to build a multipurpose box after watching a BBC special called “Secrets of the Castle” with historian Ruth Goodman. In one episode a carpenter came to the cottage to make her a grain arch. He explained, while effortlessly working on the boards to be used, that the planks would be split from a log because running wood through the mill would be costly and time-consuming. I was hooked! I had to make a simple box starting with a log. I decided to do it for my White Wolf Fian Challenge, a living medieval history group we belong to has a number of groups and guilds, the WWF being one of them. So, I asked myself, how hard can it be? The carpenter made an entire grain ark from oak in less than one episode.

Research began over the winter months while it was too cold to be in the workshop. Using examples from different sources found on the internet such as the Osberg ship box,, and the Mastermyr chest Luckily I also found a plethora of woodworking history buffs who had great websites explaining the purpose and workmanship of these chests. I liked the joinery in both chests mentioned and made some size adaptations to suit my purpose. I wanted the box to be tall enough for me to use as a bench. It also needed to have a flat top so that I could use it as a table and it had to be deep enough to store my crafting tools and various other bits for camping and events. I also referred to the Dennis Riley collection of books to help me understand the tools required, specifically; “The Medieval Workshop,” Anglo-Saxon household Ironwork 600-1100AD,” and “Anglo Saxon Tools.” With the newly gained information, I began designing a wooden box suitable for my persona.

It was an interesting project. I am thankful for the experience and I would like to make more boxes trying out different types of wood.