Inns and Alehouses – pt 2

Here is part two of the Inns and Alehouses info I promised. I hope you enjoy it. Next week, Cynric’s first meeting with his sister, Ysane.

Alehouses [Part 2]

Last time we looked at the origin of inns in Anglo-Saxon England. Today, alehouses are the subject. These were owned and operated by alewives and were found in (almost) every town or village, no matter how small or poor. The Anglo-Saxons loved their drink and so did the Vikings and the Normans when they came. As usual, trouble would develop when men got to drinking too much, but it was pretty well dealt with by the local sheriff or, if necessary, by the alewife’s husband or sons. However, sometimes fights ended with blood spilled and dead bodies littering the floors.

While it was not common, some alehouses were known to allow traveling customers to stay overnight if no cumen-hus (inn-house) was available, especially if the weather was inclement or the individual got too drunk to be moved. The overriding Anglo-Saxon principal of hospitality to strangers, both by custom and by law required this, but in such a case, because alehouses were not meant to be lodgings, this was allowed at the discretion of the owner and the price was steep. One slept wherever there was a space available, without even pallets to lie upon. For an even higher price, the alewife and her husband might give up their pallets in their private bower, but most folk simply bedded down on the hard-packed clay floor in the main room after the trestle boards (tables) were taken up and stacked against the wall.

At one point in the reign of King Edgar (c. 970 AD), alehouses became so prevalent the king actually passed a law limiting the number of alehouses in a single village and created a “drinking measure” known as a “peg”, which governed how much drink a customer was allowed on any given night.

Then of course, there were those who had too much to drink and might or might not be left where they lay by the owner. Depending on how much the owner liked the customer, or if they were local and a friend or relative might eventually be expected to show up to claim them, the owner might simply throw them out the door to sleep where they landed on the ground.

An alehouse in Anglo-Saxon days was indicated by a sign outside the door on which was seen the image of a bush (indicating the grain by which ale was made; hops were not used to make drink until the 14th c. This new drink was named “beer”, though both the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings had versions of beer and small-beers made without hops. These various drinks, along with cider, mead, water, et al, would also be available for consumption at the inns.
History of the British Empire: Advanced Class-Book, by William Francis Collier
Encyclopaedia of Antiquities and Elements of Archeology, Volume 1, by Thomas Dudley Fosbroke
The Oxford Companion To Beer, by Thomas Dudley Fosbroke

Preorder Now Available – For Love of the Rose!

Preorder is now available on Amazon for the newest Ballads of the Rose story!



A former rebel. A beleaguered widow. A harried peacemaker. A tender-hearted angel. Their paths intersect in this romantic tale of post-Conquest England, For Love of the Rose.



For Love of the Rose

Summer is here, and I hope you are finding it a time of fun and relaxation, whether in or out of the sun!

In celebration of the upcoming release on July 31 of For Love of the Rose, Cynric’s story from Ballads of the Roses (Book Two), I’m sharing the cover again (I think it’s so very beautiful!)

…AND: For Love of the Rose should be available for pre-order any day now (waiting on Amazon!)


Also, I was excited (really!) to learn that in post-Conquest England, inns and alehouses were not the same thing (I thought they were). Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing the difference, since Cynric will be visiting both during his story.

Today inns and next week, alehouses.

Inns [Part 1]

The origin of the Anglo-Saxon alehouse, tavern and inn began during the occupation by the Romans and developed out of the idea of the Roman tabernæ, from which our word ‘tavern’ evolved. But when the Romans pulled out, most of these drinking establishments were destroyed by the incoming Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, and for nearly two hundred years, there were no “public” drinking houses in Britain. Drinking and carousing (considered honorable by Anglo-Saxons) were done in the mead-halls of the thegns (local lords), and guests were welcome.

In Anglo-Saxon hospitality, travelers might also show up at any man’s cottage and ask for shelter for the night. They were offered water to clean their hands and feet, and whatever food was available. For the first two days, these individuals were asked no questions, but on the third, the host would want to know more about them because by law, he became, on that day, responsible for their actions. Few people journeyed alone, because solitary travelers were looked upon in suspicion as possible outlaws.

Monasteries offered bread and water or ale to weary travelers, and depending on the order, made pallets (beds) available for overnight sleeping. Some orders charged for this service, though there were orders whose entire purpose was to freely serve others, though they accepted “donations”.

In the later Anglo-Saxon and early post-Conquest eras, the timeframe of my stories, inns were relatively uncommon (unlike the ubiquitous alehouse), but they could be found if one knew where to look or got lucky while they traveled. Definitely purposed for overnight ‘lodging’, they had stables for horses and carts and private ‘guest bowers’ for wealthy/noble travelers, while everyday folks slept in the ‘common’ room. Both food and entertainment were offered, the latter of which might take the form of the village scop, if the innkeeper was prosperous enough to afford him, or might simply be riddling and story-telling by the travelers themselves.

Inns were called in Old English “cumen(a)-hus” (which literally means “the house of comers”, translated as “lodging”). This later became known as ‘public’ or ‘common’ house, which evolved to mean any drinking or lodging house, and later still, as ‘pubs’. The O.E. word “gest-hus” also was used for inns. It was not until 1552 that King Henry VII ordered all innkeepers to obtain a license.

These were distinctively different from alehouses (eala-hus), and wine-houses (win-hus), the purpose of which was only to provide a place to gather to drink (and sometimes eat) and exchange news. All sources agree that those who came to the drinking establishments, drank hard!

The cumen-hus, like the alehouse, was established alongside major roads and in villages. They were heavily used by travelers on pilgrimage and soldiers headed to the Holy Land during the various Crusades. There still exists in Nottinghamshire today an alehouse by the name of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, dating back to 1189 AD. Here, it is said volunteers might have been recruited to follow Richard I, Coeur de Lion, to his crusade in the Middle East.

I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into 1080 England!

The week of August 1, for those of you interested in Cynric’s past, I’ll have a post about how he first meets his half-sister, Ysane, from Rose of Hope.




May Is Here, and How Beautiful It Is!

M a y  I s  H e r e,  A n d  H o w  B e a u t i f u l  It  Is!

Just this morning, I was thinking about how much I’m enjoying spring. My bleeding hearts are especially beautiful this year, and the azaleas are spectacular, while the liburnum, pansies and iris are pure color. The time for the renewing of the earth always refreshes my heart.

Bleeding Heart CloseUp

I want to wish a very special welcome to all my new readers who signed up since last month. Thank you – I’m so happy to have you here.

Also, Happy Mother’s Day to you moms out there!

I’ve got three bits of news for you today.

The first bit? I’m giving you all a sneak peek at the cover to my newest book, For Love of the Rose, Book Two of the Ballads of the Roses, [Cynric’s story] due out this summer. It was created by that designer par excellence, Dar Albert. Hope you like it.


Second note is about the newly released book from Romancing the Eras, my group website: Click here:

We’ve released a book of *excerpts* from some of our novels for your reading enjoyment. Now you can get a glimpse into that great book you’ve been wanting to read from one of our authors. It’s entitled:
Romance Through the Eras: 14 Excerpts – Fall in love one century at a time.

Amazon hasn’t price-matched it yet (it’s free), but will soon. In the meantime, here are the links to the other vendors where you can get this free peek into books by Barbara Bettis, Collette Cameron, Regan Walker, Cate Parke, Beppie Harrison, Lane McFarland—and of course, mói! Click on your choice: Nook Goodreads iBooks Kobo Inktera Scribd Hugendubel Amazon

Third note: don’t miss the Romancing The Eras Facebook event coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s An Online Spring Release Party for Thursday, May 14 at 5:00 pm. Grand prize is a $100.00 Amazon gift certificate. We’d love to see you there! Click here.


Happy May!

M à i r i

Welcome To Spring!


I hope, wherever you live, the first signs are cheering your heart. Here in southeast Virginia, blossoms are tipping branches, the crocus, tulips, daffodils and iris are slowly pushing their way from the ground and the birds and the bees of summer are starting to fill the skies. It’s spring!

I remain in the grip of March Madness/Spring Cleaning; however, I’ve set it all aside to work on bringing to life the story of Cynric of Wulfsinraed. Getting this book going has been a winter of fits and starts, frustration and challenge like no other. Never have I had such a difficult time putting words to paper (and to think I once believed writing was ‘easy’)!

For Love of the Rose (FLR) has taken a confusing number of unexpected turns, but this week, the book took on a surprising – and delightful – aspect! I hope it turns out to be something you also enjoy.

I thought I’d share with you “first look” at the FLR blurb (bear in mind, it’s not the final draft):

He killed her beloved husband.

Or did he?

When former Saxon rebel Cynric of Wulfsinraed meets Norman Ysabeau Maci, the woman of his dreams, his past returns to haunt him.

Two years earlier, in a raid by Saxon rebels, Ysabeau’s husband was killed by a warrior with hate-filled emerald eyes. Cynric’s moss green gaze reminds her of that awful day. As she comes to know him, she cannot resist his gentle smile or the thrill of his touch, but the feelings he arouses are increasingly tinged with fear he may be the green-eyed warrior who destroyed her life.

Their uneasy relationship is further tested when Cynric’s best friend, Brunwulf of Blackbridge, who shares Cynric’s rebel past, flees to him for sanctuary with his betrothed, Heagyth of Jorvick. Hard on their heels is a troop of Norman warriors intent on killing them both.

Ysabeau’s suspicions and Brunwulf’s involvement in the assassination of a powerful Norman bishop force Cynric’s hidden past into the open. The resulting conflict may rip them all apart before they have a chance to build the new lives they crave.

If all goes well, For Love of the Rose will be available this summer.

I’m also working on Book Three of the Ballads of the Roses, entitled Storm Rose. ’Tis the story of Evarette, first-born daughter of Ysane and Fallard. She’s got a new love in her life by the name of Javain d’ Olgeanc and he is giving her fits!

In other news, my debut novel, To Dream of Langston, remains on sale for $2.99. Not for much longer though, so if this is a story you’ve been wanting to read, now is the time to check it out.

I also hope, later this year, to release a new Colonial novel, Lanterns in the Mist, set in Norfolk, Virginia several years before the start of the American Revolution. It’s the love story between a Scottish shoemaker and a London bookseller’s daughter who arrives in the Colonies on a “bride ship”.

That’s all for now, so Happy Spring, and to those of you who celebrate the holiday, I also wish you a Happy Easter!

Warmest Regards,

M à i r i

Embedded Links

Hey folks, I think I figured it out, lol! If you like, let me know if the links work for you. [Sorry for the multiple posts on this one – I’ve made a “note to self” so I don’t forget how to work it next time.]


amz   bnn


Thanks for your patience.


Buy Links For To Dream of Langston

Good morning!

I just checked and it appears my efforts to embed the buy links for To Dream of Langston into my newsletter were unsuccessful! [Sigh.]

Until I figure out what I did wrong, we’ll do this the old fashioned way. Here are the links for you:





February Newsletter

♥ ♥  F e b r u a r y N e w s!  ♥ ♥

It’s a rainy, cold February morning, but I’m sending a warm winter hello to all of you and even warmer felicitations because you helped make my first year as a published author a true success!

No, I haven’t made the NYT Bestseller list (maybe someday), but my sales have been much better than I anticipated, and I can’t thank you enough for your support.

I also wish you success with your New Year’s Resolutions. The only one I made (to slow down my hectic life a little), I’m sticking to, so far!

There’s just a bit of news to update.

F i r s t , with February being the romance month, I’ve decided to place my very first book, To Dream of Langston, on sale for $2.99 [from $6.99] for the duration of this month. Not only is To Dream of Langston my personal favorite of my published works, it’s the “book of my heart”. I wrote it during a period of deep grief and it was the work that decided my course toward the new career of writing.

To Dream of Langston is a New Adult Historical Romance, set in the mid-Victorian years in North Yorkshire, England and post-Civil War Kentucky, America. My heroine, Katherine Fairbanks, is a physician’s daughter caught up, as happens to us all, in the everyday dramas of life. It’s rather different in style than my other stories, more like a Regency than the Viking and post-Conquest tales. I offer it in hopes that those who read it will find some part of their own life portrayed therein, and rejoice in the power of love and hope.

TDoL Final Book Cover

amz   bnn

S e c o n d , the next book in the Ballads of the Roses series is well begun. For Love of the Rose, the story of Cynric (half-brother to Ysane from Rose of Hope) and his lady, Ysabeau will take you back to the world of England in 1080, to the shire of Essex. Cynric has settled in as the under-steward of Romleygh Hall, the position granted him by King William. He believes his life has finally achieved the peace for which he has so long yearned. Then he meets Ysabeau….

I hope to have For Love of the Rose ready for your reading enjoyment in the spring.

Again, much appreciation to you all for helping to make my first year as an author one to remember. I’m looking forward to this coming year.

I’d love to hear from you. Contact me on Facebook or Twitter or send me an email:


M à i r i  N o r r i s

First Post!

Welcome everyone, to Romantic Ages – Historical Romance From Viking to Edwardian! As many of you know, my first and original website as an up-and-coming new author was – and still is – Romancing The Eras. But RTE has grown now to include six other wonderful authors – all of whom have quickly become friends – so I can say I’m truly excited about having my own personal website. Carrie at Solutions Website Design did such a lovely job with the site, and I am particularly enamored of my beautiful banner.

I chose the Knight In Shining Armor motif, holding the rose, because it was for me the epitome of every hero in every book I have written or hope to write. Whether my heroes are Vikings, Victorian ship’s captains, a Colonial boy next door, an early twentieth century bodyguard or an honest to goodness knight, they are still, to the woman who loves them (and to me), a “knight in shining armor”. The rose, of course, symbolizes the knight’s tender love for his lady.

Although I’ve been published for over a year, with four books to my name, this is a new venture for me. I owe much of what I know about it (I’m still learning) to my colleagues at Romancing The Eras, Beppie Harrison and Lane McFarland, and my many friends at Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. I would not be where I am without them, and my thanks go out to them all.

But most of all, I owe much to my readers, for where would I be without you? Very lonely, I assure you, lol! You are the reason I am here, the purpose behind all I do as a writer. I look forward to a (hopefully) long association with you all.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year!

Màiri Norris