The oldest known surviving english mead recipe

Tractatus de Magnetate et Operationibus eius“, the thirteenth-century letter on the magnet by Petrus Peregrinus. A university handbook on the theory of numbers, proportions and harmony. Included is one of the oldest known surviving English mead recipe (folio 20r).The manuscript, written on vellum in brown ink with red chapter headings and red and blue initials, has 35 leaves and measures approximately 14.5 cm by 11 cm. Much of the text is in Latin, however the recipes are mostly in english.


Tractatus de Magnetate et Operationibus eius
folio 20r

C. Tidmarsh Major performed the original transcription, which was later revised by Peter Murray Jones in 2001. Original spellings have been maintained; no corrections or improvements have been made.

Transcriber’s note: “Thorn has been rendered þ, yogh has been rendered as a g. Words within curly brackets represent the symbols for drachma and ounce. Capitalisation and punctuation follow the manuscript, with a period representing punctus elevatus, a double slash representing a paraph mark, a single slash as found in the manuscript. Bold lettering represents rubricated words. Line divisions follow the manuscript.”

//ffor to make mede. Tak .i. galoun of fyne hony and to
þat .4. galouns of water and hete þat water til it be as
lengh þanne dissolue þe hony in þe water. thanne set hem
ouer þe fier & let hem boyle and ever scomme it as longe as
any filthe rysith þer on. and þanne tak it doun of þe fier
and let it kole in oþer vesselle til it be as kold as melk
whan it komith from þe koow. than tak drestis
of þe fynest ale or elles berme and kast in to þe water
& þe hony. and stere al wel to gedre but ferst loke er
þu put þy berme in. that þe water with þe hony be put
in a fayr stonde & þanne put in þy berme or elles þi
drestis for þat is best & stere wel to gedre/ and ley straw
or elles clothis a bowte þe vessel & a boue gif þe wedir
be kolde and so let it stande .3. dayes & .3. nygthis gif
þe wedir be kold And gif it be hoot wedir .i. day and
.1. nyght is a nogh at þe fulle But ever after .i. hour or
.2. at þe moste a say þer of and gif þu wilt have it swete
tak it þe sonere from þe drestis & gif þu wilt have it scharpe
let it stand þe lenger þer with. Thanne draw it from
þe drestis as cler as þu may in to an oþer vessel clene & let
it stonde .1. nyght or .2. & þanne draw it in to an
oþer clene vessel & serve it forth // And gif þu wilt
make mede eglyn. tak sauge .ysope. rosmaryne. Egre-
moyne./ saxefrage. betayne./ centorye. lunarie/ hert-
is tonge./ Tyme./ marubium album. herbe jon./ of eche of
an handful gif þu make .12. galouns and gif þu mak lesse
tak þe less of herbis. and to .4. galouns of þi mater .i. galoun of
drestis.

Tractatus de magnete et operationibus eius” is saved at UAB – Reynolds Historical Library, Birmingham, USA.

Disclaimer: The formulas (recipes) for mead in this article was commonly consumed in historic times. The recipes and instructions for these meads are for historical and educational purposes only. The author do not recommend the making or use of these meads by the reader. The author shall be held blameless for any injury to the reader that may occur from the ingestion of any of these recipes.