"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Moon People

I have just read the book "The Darkening Glass" by Paul Doherty. It is set in 1312 and includes a number of words which are no longer in general use and which I didn't recognise such as babewyn, hanaper and hobelar (you'll have to wait for those to appear on future postings!) but one phrase I came across left me bemused as I am unable to trace its meaning - Moon people.

The sentence in which it occurs is - "We met other travellers: moon people, gipsies in their gaily coloured wagons, merchants on horseback, trotting south to do business in the wool towns."

If anyone knows what moon people were can they please leave me a note in the comments!


  1. I've never heard the phrase 'moon people' but I was intrigued, and one thing that popped up in my head as I read this was the legend connected to 'the man in the moon' I read about this in 'Curious Myths of the Middle Ages' by Sabine Baring-Gould (orig. published in 1894) but the Wikipedia article pretty much sums it up too.

    Several traditions about the Man in the Moon seem to be based on an Old Testament quote about a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath. Legend (popular interpretation) has it he was sent to the moon as punishment; it seems that in the shadows on the moon people have seen the image of a man carrying a burden of sticks on his back. Some versions also have it that the man in the moon was a thief.

    Just a suggestion, but maybe 'moon people', in connection with gipsies and merchants, may refer to tramps walking the roads carrying burdens on their backs (and not exactly known for keeping either the 'Sabbath' or other commandments).

  2. Thanks Monica - it sounds a most likely explanation.