Graham J. Darling: Medieval Science and Technology

Graham J. Darling / Doctor Carus of Burn Abbey is a historical reenactor who writes articles, builds projects and performs demonstrations about medieval science & technology.

The “Cabinets of Curiosities” or “Wonder-Rooms” (Wunderkammer) of 16th-17th C Europe were private collections on display that were early precursors to the modern public “museum”.

Welcome to The Cabinet of Doctor Carus.


  • Asleep at the Spinning Wheel” — nothing like a stiff dose of scholarship to perk right up again.
    • First published in North Wind, 2012 June, n° 348, p 8-9.
  • Oh, a Christmas Tree” — when the world threatens to turn inside-out, Doctor Carus is there to research and reassure.
    • First published in North Wind, 2013 Dec, n° 354, p 8-9.
  • The Perils of Mistletoe” — everything you always wanted to know about Viscum album, but were afraid to ask.
    • First published in North Wind, 2012 Nov-Dec, n° 350, p 7-9.
  • Was Alchemy Heresy?” — as both a pious monk and a studious alchemist, Doctor Carus rather hopes not.
    • First published in North Wind, 2012 Aug-Sept, n° 349, p 7-8.

A Life Out of the Past

Dr Carus explains pine tar production at Avacal-Tir Righ War, June 2009; photo by Lisa ‘Safiye’ Kelly, used by permission.

Doctor Carus of Burn Abbey is a Benedictine monk and scholar of the year 1300, with a special interest in the natural sciences, including Alchemy — not just “lead into gold”, but all transformations of substances, including fat into soap, and ore into metal… what we now call Chemistry. Modernly, he is a persona through which scientist and fiction writer Graham J. Darling teaches, demonstrates and reenacts aspects of medieval science and technology with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), which has accorded him these honours:

  • From the Kingdom of An Tir (western Canada & northwestern USA):
    • Order of the Jambe de Lion, Aug 2011
    • Grant of Arms, Aug 2011
    • Award of Arms, July 2009
  • From the Principality of Tir Righ (British Columbia and northern Washington):
    • Order of l’Étoile d’Argent, July 2011
  • From the Barony of Lions Gate (Vancouver BC and area):
    • Baroness’s Sciences Inspiration, May-Nov 2015
    • Baronness’s Arts & Sciences Inspiration, Aug-Nov 2013
    • Order of the Lion’s Claw, Aug 2013
    • Baroness’s Sciences Champion, May-Nov 2008
  • From the Shire of Lionsdale: (Chilliwack BC and area)
    • Champion of Arts & Sciences, Feb 2009 to Jan 2010

Since Issue n° 333 (May 2010), he has contributed the tech column “Ask Doctor Carus” to The North Wind, newsletter of the Barony of Lions Gate.

The header image is from Pietro Longhi The Alchemists, 1757.