Here at the Wessex Distillery, we’re busy exploring the diverse flavours of the fruits, berries and plants known to be available in Wessex in the Middle Ages and using them to add something a bit different to our gins and fruity spirits. We know which plants were around at the time from a set of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts called the Herbarium. This old English text focusses on herbal remedies and catalogues over a hundred plants, their healing purported properties and how to use them e.g. watercress, if put up the nose, prevented hair loss; camomile, if picked before sunrise, was used to ease eye pain; hibiscus, pounded with lard and laid on the painful spot healed gout; luke warm blackberry juice dripped into the ear lessened the pain of earache and a smearing of the pounded leaves treated snakebites; liquorice, if drunk, cured fever; sweet marjoram arrested the onset of dropsy and, if applied to the skin, healed carbuncles or scorpion stings; cumin when mixed with vinegar stopped nose-bleeds; periwinkle, however, had much further-reaching powers, ensuring happiness and contentment by simply being carried around. No doubt the Anglo-Saxon added a hefty dose of religion or magic to help things along.