World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Æcerbot (Old English "Field-Remedy") is an Anglo-Saxon charm recorded in the 11th century, intended to remedy fields that yielded poorly.[1] The charm consists of a partially Christianized prayer and a day-long ritual that began at night with four sods taken from the field, to the root-mats of which a poultice was applied in the form of yeast, honey, oil and milk mixed with parts of all the good herbs that grew, save buckwheat and woody plants. In Christian times the sods were taken to mass and returned to the field before nightfall, each with a small cross planted in it. This was the extent to which the ritual was Christianized. Once more in the field, the healer faced the east, where the sun would rise, turning three times clockwise and calling upon the "holy guardian of the heavenly kingdom" to "fill the earth", that the crops would grow. A plough was then anointed with a "hallowed" mix of oil, paste, frankincense, salt and fennel, of which the imported frankincense lent a Christian element; a chant was then sung, beginning Erce, erce, erce eorþan modor, mother of earth".[2] The field was then ploughed with a chant hailing "earth, mother of mortals".

The significance of erce has been the subject of scholarly commentary and speculation. Grimm connected Old High German erchan "genuine, true" [3]

Kathleen Herbert observes that in the first mention of the Angli, Tacitus in his Germania, remarks that "the noteworthy characteristic of the English, to foreign eyes, was that they were goddess-worshippers; they looked on the earth as their mother." Herbert links Tacitus' mention of the Angli to the later English Æcerbot. Herbert comments that while Æcerbot is referred to as a charm, it is in fact a "full-scale ritual" that would take an entire day to perform, plus additional time for collecting and preparing the materials necessary.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Grigsby (2005:96f, 246).
  2. ^ Gordon (1962:88-90).
  3. ^ Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (1935), trans. Stallybrass (1888), chapter 13: Goddesses "Can there lie disguised in erce a proper name Erce gen. Ercan, connected with the OHG. adj. ërchan, simplex, genuinus, germanus? it would surely be more correct to write Eorce? ought it to suggest the lady Erche, Herkja, Herche, Helche renowned in our heroic legend?"
  4. ^ Herbert (2007:13).


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.