Scott made his Saxons drink ‘ale’, not ‘beer’. In doing so he was following the Saxons’ own usage: the word ‘beer’ was “rare, except in poetry, and it seems to have become common only in the 16th century” (OED). So you are looking for this piece of dialogue:
“Thou art an ass,” replied one of the thieves; “three quarts of double ale had rendered thee as free ...
TL;DR: It was rare for laity to be able to read and write; everyone carried a knife but generally only nobility and soldiers carried weapons; Scott mentions the writing materials in chapter V because they will be used in chapter VI; the writing materials included parchment, quills and ink.
Was it rare to be able to write?
It depended on which section of ...
‘Clown’ does not always mean a jester-type character, it can also and more prevalent in historical texts, mean (per the
A countryman, rustic, or peasant
1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. 610 ‘The Somersetshire clowns, with their scythes..faced the royal horse like old soldiers.’
As Leicestershire is the home of the pork pie, I would assume that the ...