What is really strange is that the meaning of the word ‘æstel’ is not understood as it isn’t a word attested elsewhere. It is glossed as Latin ‘indicatorium’ but that doesn’t seem to crop up anywhere either. It is guessed that both words refer to this useful stick for monks to follow the text of a manuscript as they were reading. But did such a useful reading aid actually exist in Anglo-Saxon monasteries? If so, where is the evidence? Finally, the Alfred Jewel is surmised to be the decorative top of this æstel, indicatorium or useful stick. And therefore all the other similar archaeological artefacts which have been dug up around the country are now also æstels, indicatoria or useful sticks used as reading aids.
Only one further comment: there is what seems to be an Old Cornish-Latin version of Ælfric’s glossary, the Vocabularium Cornicum, including many of the same sequences of words as in Ælfric. But just at the point where Ælfric gives æstel – indicatorium there is no corresponding entry. So may one presume that the Old Cornishman had no idea what an æstel was, nor an indicatorium, so he was unable to give the Old Cornish equivalent? ‘When in doubt, leave it out’, as the saying goes.
This is all too much, and it strays some way from Somerset. So here it must be left in order to return to Athelney. And time for The Cakes.