Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fantasy fiction and fact: research is fun.

One thing I work hard at with my fiction, is making my worlds believable. And one way to do that is to think hard about how it all fits together. Practical research helps - looking at the reality of pre-industrial societies, for example, and finding little snippets of information in odd paces.
The other day we went to St Fagan's National Park, which is just a couple of miles down the road. It's an open-air museum, which includes a working farm, a manor house (above, basically a 16th century home that was inhabited and refurbished over the years, well into the 20th century), and numerous buildings moved from their previous sites and re-erected in the grounds. Many thanks to Cheryl Morgan for suggesting this destination. We had a lovely day poking about.


Note the pinkish building above - odd sort of colour for a farmhouse. Apparently, it was a mark of wealth to be able to afford to add colour to the whitewash, so this was one way a farming family could tell everyone how prosperous they were. Nowadays you'd upgrade your digital bling or your car...?

6 comments:

Jo said...

Once again, nice pix. They somewhat remind me of the plantations in the Charleston area, especially with the sheep grazing in the fields. Never knew about the pink whitewash, I will look out for that in your future books LOL

Tropical Dragon said...

If you want to do some really good research on how a tinworks worked, go to Aberdulais Falls - not far from Cardiff at all, just above Swansea in fact.

The National Trust is slowly rejuvenating it and the buildings are slowly being rebuilt and recovered from the bush, but the one thing they got going first was the waterwheel and they are now fully self-sufficient with electricity.

I was there in July last year and it was magic.

Jo said...

That would be absolutely fascinating I should think.

Gillian said...

Lovely pictures :).

The coloured outside walls is often a regional thing and not necessarily a sign of wealth. It depends when and where and what colouring agent is used.

Imagine me said...

Fascinating stuff.

Jo said...

I've read that the pink colour used to be made by mixing pig or ox blood into the whitewash. Apparently this added useful qualities to the paint, but I'm not sure exactly what. It could definitely be considered a sign of wealth, though, as a poor family might rather use the blood for black pudding or something else they could eat instead of wasting it on the walls.