Medieval herb garden

Monastic Houses all had herb gardens for

  • · Dying
  • · Strewing (scattering sweet smelling herbs)
  • · Culinary use
  • · Medicinal purposes

The present garden at Norton Priory was made as part of the BBC’s ‘Hidden Gardens’ programme. Many of the herbs were chosen according to their use in the middle ages to treat common diseases. From analysis of the skeletons in the museum's collections we known many of these diseases afflicted the people who lived at Norton Priory and included: 

Tuberculosis (Symptoms: Coughing blood, fever, sweats, large lymph nodes, boils, scabs).
Leprosy (Symptoms: Blindness, scabs, swollen feet, clawed hands, gangrene)
Paget’s Disease (Symptoms: Pain, soft bones, fractures, swollen skull)
Rickets (Symptoms: Nonfatal bone pain and teeth defects).

The garden was planted using plans from other monastic sites. There is room between each bed for one canon to kneel and another to walk behind.

Some of the Herbs in each bed are:

Culinary Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, coriander, fennel, sage, parsley

Dye Plants: Woad (for blue), Madder (for red), Weld (for yellow)

Strewing Plants: Mugwort, woodruff, lavender, mint, lemon balm

Signature Plants (for specific diseases): Lungwort (for lungs), lesser celadine (for piles), herb robert (for head wounds)

Pagets: Fennel, mint, clary sage

Tuberculosis: Coriander, garlic, lovage, elecampane

Rickets: Comfrey, valerien, vervain, rue, anise

Leprosy: Juniper, sage, lemon balm, hyssop, marshmallow

Halton Castle Enjoy England Halton Borough Council Lottery Funded Cheshire's Gardens of Distinction

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