Access to water or drinks while travelling?


Ad Honorem
May 2016
Actually during the entire Medieval period, very few people would ever travel more than a dozen miles from their place of birth during an entire lifetime.
Although that is generic true, we can’t forget that the Medieval man was also a pilgrim. Pilgrimages to the Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela (just to speak in the 3 most important sites) filled the roads and the pockets of tavern keepers, road robbers and the clergy.

But take pilgrimages to the holy land for example. Were there made taverns across the route? I suspect the region there is quite dry and natural water resources are considered rare.
If I recall well, there were hospitals in Jerusalem for the pilgrims and stations on the route from the Mediterranean ports until the “holy City”. Were there were lots pilgrims there were people to help them or to make money with them. And Palestine was not only a sand or rocky desert.

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
As I mentioned earlier, before you set out you would plan your journey. So whichever town, country or continent you set out from, you would always be within reach of water/food/supplies. If you just set off into the wilderness with no idea what lay ahead, you would likely soon meet an untimely end.


Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
A medieval hostel is featured in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

"In Southwark, at the Tabard, as I lay
Ready to go on pilgrimage and start
To Canterbury, full devout at heart,
There came at nightfall to that hostelry
Some nine and twenty in a company
Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all
That toward Canterbury town would ride.
The rooms and stables spacious were and wide,
And well we there were eased, and of the best.
And briefly, when the sun had gone to rest,
So had I spoken with them, every one,
That I was of their fellowship anon,
And made agreement that we'd early rise
To take the road, as I will to you apprise."


Forum Staff
May 2013
Albuquerque, NM
Thanks for supplying the quote from Canterbury Tales, Scaeva. Chaucer's story gives us a wonderful window into English society, customs and life during the 15th century, the High Medieval period. Travel in England at the was still arduous, but not so difficult as through the forests and wilds that still existed across much of the Continent. Even so, it is one of the best sources I know for the time and the importance of Pilgrimages. The distances were relatively short, and the constant stream of Pilgrims to Canterbury made taverns and Inns profitable enterprises along the small number of routes to the shrine. On the Continent there were surely similar conditions for some shrines, but travel to the Orient for a Crusade was another matter entirely. Misunderstanding the difficulties and distances across hostile territory is one of the causes for the disasterous Children's Crusade.

Your scholarship is excellent, Scaeva, and I always look forward to your comments and corrections to my often awkward posts.