Hedgehogs, Urchins and Igls

Here’s a good piece about how hedgehogs got their name and how they wereilluminated page with hedgehog (2) viewed in Anglo Saxon days.   It’s on the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog of the British Library.

We learn that  the word comes from the hedge where the little animal lives and its hoglike snout, but this name can only be traced back to the mid 15th century.   The Normans used the term “urchin”, and this is still used in some places, but before 1066 the Anglo Saxons called it by the Germanic name “igl”.

hedgehogs collecting fruit on quills (2)The website has a great story about how hedgehogs were said to creep into vineyards when the grapes were ripe, climb the vines and shake the fruit down to the ground.  They didn’t eat it, though;  they turned on their backs and rolled around, impaling the grapes with their sharp quills.  Then they carried the grapes on their spines back to their burrows as a meal for their young. 

Here’s the link to the article.


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