For gardeners with a sense of history

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




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Wyrtig - In early sources

Aneti, or dill. Many thanks to the British Library for providing this image from the Tractatus de Herbus, c. 1300,  MS Egerton 747, f. 4v.


In Early Sources...



Anethum graveolens




Growing dill in your garden

Medieval Names


Anetum, dile

Capitulare de Villis


Herbarium Apuleii

Aentum... dile, dyle


Dile, diles, dyles


Dile, diles

St. Gall

In English, there is a verb, dill, which means to assuage, calm, sooth, lull to sleep. This verb may be derived from the medicinal uses of dill that appear in the earliest herbals, as seen in the sampling below.

Gif mon bi on wter lfadle onne beo him a handnglas wonne 7 a eagan tearige 7 wile locian nier .



Do him is to lcedome .

eoforrote . cassuc . fone niooweard .

eowberge . elehtre . eolone . merscmealwan crop . fen minte . dile . lilie . attorlae . polleie . marubie . docce . ellen . fel terre . wermod . streawbergean leaf . consolde .


ofgeot mid eala . do hligwter to

sing is gealdor ofer riwa .

Ic benne awrat   betest beado wrda
swa benne

ne burnon        ne burston

ne fundian       ne feologan .

ne hoppettan   ne wund wacosian .

ne dolh diopian .

ac him self healde   hale wge .

ne ace e on ma

e eoran on eare ace .

Sing is manegum sium .

 Eore e onbere    eallum hire

 mihtum 7 mgenum .


as galdor mon mg singan on wunde .

Lcbok III.lxiii

If a man has the wet pox then are his fingernails dark  & his eyes teary and will look downwards .


Give him this as

treatment .

Carline thistle . reed . iris root .

yew berry . lupin . elecampane . marshmallow tops .

spearmint . dill . lily . fumitory . pennyroyal . horehound . dock . elder . centaury . wormwood . strawberry leaves . comfrey .

Soak with ale . add holy water

sing this prayer three times .


I have wrapped round    best warrior band

so the wound

neither burn    nor burst

nor strive    nor fester .

nor throb   nor wound weep .

nor scar deepen .

but himself hold   healthy way .

nor hurt you more than

earth an ear of grain hurts .


Sing also this many times .

   Earth destroy that    with all her

   might & main .


This prayer one may sing over a wound.

Leechbook III.lxiii

is is seo aeeleste eahsealf wi eahwyrce 7 wid miste 7 wi wenne 7 wi weormum 7 wi gican 7 wi tyrendum eagan 7 wi aelcum uncuum geswelle genim feferfugian blosman 7 unorclefran blosman 7 dyles blosman 7 hamorwyrte blosman 7 twegra cynna wyrmod 7 pollegian 7 neoowearde lilian 7 haewene hnydelan 7 lufestice 7 dolhrunan 7 geporta a wyrta tosomne 7 awyll on heortes mearge oe on his smerwe 7 menge do onne on tela micel in a eagan 7 smere utan 7 wyrm to fyre 7 eos sealf deah wid aeghwylcum geswelle to dicganne 7 to smergenne / on swa hwylcum lime swa hit on bi

Lacnunga II

This is the noblest eye salve against eye disease & against cataract & against impetigo & against worms & against itching & against watery eyes & against odd swelling take feverfew blossoms & ajuga blossoms & dill blossoms & hellebore flowers & two kinds of wormwood & pennyroyal & the lower part of lily & cowslip & lovage & pellitory & pound the plants together & boil them in deer marrow or grease & mix then put a large amount into the eyes & smear outside, & warm at the fire; & this salve is good for every swelling, to swallow & to smear with, on whatever limb it is.

Lacnunga II

Wi hwostan nim huniges tear 7 merces sd 7 diles sd cnuca aet sd smale maeng icge wi one tear 7 pipers e nim dry sticcan fulle on nihstig

Lacnunga III

For a cough take a drop of honey  &  celery seed & dill seed pound that seed small mingle it
with the honey
 &  pepper take three spoons full
at night

Lacnunga III

Image courtesy of the British Library
Royal MS 12 C XIX, f. 45v, c. 1200

Arestolobius waes haten an cing he waes wis 7 1aececraeftig he a gesette foron godne morgen draenc wi ealIum untrumnessum e mannes lichoman iond styria innan oe utan ...

onne draenc of yssum wyrtum

nim merces sd drige 7 finoles sd 7 petersylian sd 7 feldmoran sd 7 felterran sd aet is eorgeallan diles sd 7 rudan sd cawel sd 7 cyllendran sd 7 feferfuigan sd 7 twa mintan t is tun minte 7 hors minte 7 betonican sd 7 luuestices sd 7 alexandrian sd 7 saluian sd 7 slarian sd 7 wermodes sd 7 sperian sd 7 biscopwyrte sd 7 horselenan sd 7 beolonan sd aet is haennebelle acrimonian sd aet is garcliue 7 stancroppes sd marubian sd aet is harehune 7 neptan sd 7 wuduhrofan sd 7 wudumerces sd eoforprotan sd do ealra pyssa wyrta efenfela.



onne yssa wyrta aelcre anre swa micel swa ara ora twa aet is cymen 7 cost 7 piper 7 gingifra 7 hwit cuda.


Wyrc as wyrta ealle to swie smalan duste 7 do is dustes godne cucelere fulne on ane scaence cuppan fulle cealdes wines 7 syle drincan on niht nyhstig nytta ys draences onne e earf sy

Lacnunga CLXX

Arestolobius was known as a king he was wise & skilled in healing . He set forth a good morning drink against all illness which stirs throughout someone's body within or without ...



Make then a drink of these plants ...


Take march seed dry & fennel seed &
parsley seed
& parsnip seed &
felterre seed that is centaury dill
& rue seed & colewort seed & celandine
& feverfew seed & the two mints that
is garden mint
& horsemint & betony seed &
lovage seed
& alexanders seed &
sage seed,
& clary seed & wormwood
& savory seed & bishopwort seed &
elecampane seed
& beolone seed that is
& agrimony seed that is
& stonecrop seed marubian seed
that is horehound
& catnip seed
woodruff seed
& wild celery seed
carline thistle seed take of all these plants


Take then of these plants that follow
as much as two of the others that is cumin
& pepper & ginger & resin


Work all these plants strongly to very fine
& put of this dust a good spoonful
in a small drinking cup full of cold wine
you shall give to drink at night fasting use
this drink when you have need.

 Lacnunga CLXX

Wi heafod ece genim diles blostman seo on ele smire a uwangan mid.

Lcbok II.8

Against headache take dill blossoms simmer in oil smear the temples with it

Leechbook II.8

Eft dile gebrned gemeng with ahsan hunig wyrc to sealfe aweah onne 7 begee tha wunda rest mid hate wtere fter on mid werme ele ge smire on tham e wre wir gesoden lege one a sealfe on.

Lcbok XXIX.2

Again, take burnt dill mix the ashes with honey

work into a salve wash then & bathe the
wounds first with hot water after then with
warm oil
& fat in which myrtle has been simmered lay then the salve on.

Leechbook 29.2

Wi lungen adle 7 breost wraece genim merces sd 7 diles sd gnid wyl 7 gemaeng wi huniges tearer do sumne dael pipores 7 do him ete reo snda on niht nyhstig

Lacnunga XCIX

Against lung disease & short-windedness take smallage seed & dill seed grind well & mingle

with a drop of honey add some parts of pepper & make the person eat three slices at night fasting

Lacnunga 59

Please note: Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- or her- self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.


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