I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!



When I was young, I went through a phase of buying old funny books. my mother regularly lectured that I was being foolish, since the seller probably just printed new copies of the vintage books! Now keep in mind that these were not high-ticket items. Reprinting an Action Comics number 1 and selling it for a few million dollars is one thing. Reprinting a coverless copy of Sun Girl and selling it for a buck and half is something else entirely. Duplicating signs of aging paper is not inexpensive…no matter what mama insisted…

This started my wariness about “authentic” old artefacts. After all, there are samples of
With the modern Interweb and with modern technology, it might seem that the fear of buying something that is incorrect is out of control. For the most part that is entirely true, since almost without exception, the reprints are clearly labeled as reprints, different sizes and changed in some vital manner. Easy to determine the invalid modern reproductions…and yet people seem to almost deliriously demand to be hornswoggled!

Today, sixty years later, I no longer buy old funny books. Instead, I have atendency to buy actual extant artefacts of the Viking Age. But what I learned from old funny books remains pertinent. And that is the subject of this post. As is appropriate, let us examine the situation more closely!

Use of Terminology

It is easy to find artefacts purporting to be “authentic.” Ads often use the terms “traditional,” “vintage,” “ancient,” “authentic” and the like are danger signals. An ad which uses such terms without defining them are probably trying to take advantage of you. This does not mean that there are fallacious or useless, just that you need to study the ad more closely. Do not take anything the ad says for granted, and regard it—investigate it—more closely. Ask questions, both about what you see, what you have seen and what the ad says, and carefully regard any answer the seller gives you!


If the price of an artefact is too good to be true the artefact probably isn’t true. This simple truism is valid in so many situations and can hardly be made more qualified or complicated.


Check the background of the seller. Read comments and regard how reliable the seller is, both in matters of reliability of fulfilling orders and in regard how reliable the seller is in its description of an object. There is always a chance that the seller himself might be stacking the deck, but repetition of phrases and such can often be a warning signal in itself.

Composition & Appearance

Coins made out of pewter, artefacts of aluminum, canteens of pleather and the like are all obviously incorrect, and you must carefully regard the artefacts before buying them, always a drawback to ordering over the Interweb. Always make certain that returns are allowed, and get that farb off you hands as soon as you determine it is farb. That includes matters of size—most period pendants are rather small and not WWF medals—and aging. Artefacts that have been aged are very different from what sellers often do to their products. Be certain to compare what is offered for sale with photographs of actual artefacts that have not been cleaned up!

Rarity of Artefacts

Almost every museum has more artefacts than it can display. For the most part—but not always—these are the mean, ordinary and common objects. Any rare or unique artefacts that are offered for sale are probably either illegally obtained or counterfeit. I concentrate on buying the mean and ordinary, by I know there are many who only want glittering and attractive bling and eagerly buy it and might eagerly buy what is offered and think it is a miracle that it is available and not kept out of my hands by an elite museum.

A Note on Replicas

After seeing so many ads for “authentic replicas” with no documentation, not showing the originals and being of dubious accuracy, I find it difficult to buy anything for what I cannot find its original inspiration and am hesitant to buy it when they do not show their inspirations. It is not that I want an exact duplicate of the original—in fact, I am rather repulsed by exact reproductions in a pre-industrial era—but I do not want something that is imagined out of the whole cloth either.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, you have a method to determine the authenticity—and accuracy—of artefacts being offered for sale. Such methods might not have been included above, and I would love to hear what your method(s) are. Please share with your fellow reenactors!


The Psalterium Sancti Ruperti (Salzburg, Archiv von St. Peter, Cod. A I. 0) is the smallest Psalter in the world. With pages measuring only 37 x 31 mm, Psalterium Sancti Ruperti from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg is a gem of bookbinding. Most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France, it resides today in the oldest library in Austria. Additionally, its early medieval binding is unique and consists of an open book spine of the codex, whereby the two trusses with booklet seams and also two headbands are left visible. The psalter was probably created for a royal of some kind.

A special book binding feature is the open book spine of the codex, whereby the two trusses with booklet seams and also two headbands are left visible. Up until now, no other early middle-age codex with the aforementioned presentation has been found—therefore this Psalter is an absolute unique specimen of early middle-age book production.

Fascinating by the psalter, I decided to make a copy—not an exact duplicate but a version inspired by the original and one that was much simpler because o my skill and abilities. And almost immediately understood that my effort would be somewhat less than thoroughly a complete and faithful copy. I just did not have the ability t do everything exactingly, though I would try to be as close as my physical abilities would allow, and I decided to

I downloaded a version of the psalter in the vulgate and made those changes, such as punctuation, that I tend to make for such efforts. I put the edited Vulgate in the dummy. For my purposes, I put a hard return at the end of each page and then rendered the last words or phrase as redline. I chose Beowulf 8 point, with 14 pt gutters on all sides in four columns and five rows

The original had 234 pages. I made a dummy specifying the page number, and I placed each page from the dummy on the appropriate page. I chose 20 pages for each signature. I cut the pages, collating the pages and folding them double into signatures. Make certain that the unnumbered pages are in the proper order. I used small rubber bands to secure them and keep them in the proper order. Be very careful: they are small and very slippery! A page from the dummy may be marked to be 5 cm long, and marks for four.

Place this folded dummy into the folded signature, and—using an awl—pierce the signature at the marks. To sew these signatures, use thread—linen or hemp. I use the Coptic binding method I use on Cuthbert Gospel style bindings. These signatures are then compressed for two or three days. I cut front and back covers into of approximately 5.75 x 7 cm rectangles of 3 centimeters thick of poplar, though oak or another hard wood would also be valid. Keep in mind in the age before mass production, most things were manually made and some minor variations are expected.

I made one using thicker cord; it sucked. With the later ones, I used 5ply waxed linen to connect the covers. Not entirely stable, and I stayed away from the trusses at the current time, but I came up with an acceptable variation which pleases me if not anyone wanting an exact duplicate.


For beginning reenactors, the most necessary items of kit required to participate will be personal apparel. We have dealt with expounded on requirements before. Briefly put, the bare basic requirements are:
• A dress (for women)
• A tunic (for men)
Trousers and footware are often useful, as are fabric sashes used as belts.

However, as participation increases, one will often pieces of kit that you will want. A few examples follow:


Coming as wraps, as sewn bag types and naalbound socks (such as the famous sock displayed in York), generally made of wool or linen (flax, hemp or nettle).

Leather Belt and Buckle

Especially required for men. Samples of extant buckles (and slides and strap ends as well) are easy to find, and seem to have been made of cast metal (especially brass) or carved bone. The leather straps should be half an inch or so

A Pendant

Most often religious pendants such as a cross of a Mjollnir. They are both available in many different styles, often dependant on the age and location, so do research and decide what style you prefer!

A Knife

Everyone, even slaves, had a utility seax of some sort. Small and simple knives are the most preferred, though larger and more complex blades were worn depending on wealth of the wearer. Keep in mind a more expensive and sophisticated knife should be worn only with higher-class, richer clothing.

A Pouch

Various accurate types are available. They were apparently not publicly displayed but were hidden beneath the wearer’s clothing. A script or the such was displayed.

A Comb

Essential, not merely to keep neat but to comb out nits and fleas; most seemed to have ben made from antler, though they also were apparently made out of bone or wood. Runes—usually they seem to be a reminder of possession’ “Sven’s comb”—were often carved on the comb. Many combs came in a case that helped kep it safe during transit.

Flint and Strike-a-Light

Strike-a-lights have been used for a long time, and the styles often did not change with time. Strike-a-lights from the eighteenth century were often little different from those of the Viking age. Be certain to make certain the strike-a-light you choose is based on one from the time you are reenacting. Flint is great to have, and while tinder can be made, having tinder with you of some sort is always convenient. Tinder fungus, tow and shavings of easily flammable wood are good; there is a controversy that char cloth was not used.


Actually not omnipresent, but teaching MoPs what coins of the time looked like is very good. A piece or few of slash silver would also be great, and a balance and weights is a good addition an necessary if you are doing a trader impression.


There has been a lot of talk lately about immersion events. What is an immersive (or immersion) event? Let’s take a look.

“An immersion event is like a street theater and is done to recreate a specific historical event, for example, a wedding or a trail that happened. These events are always acted.” and “Creating an immersive event starts with stripping everything back. To create a truly immersive event, you need to get the foundations right. What story are you trying to tell? How can you tell it in an engaging, relevant way? How can you make people feel something

There are two thoughts. One is that an immersive event is something that is being done for an audience. The reenactors make certain that everything is accurate and are actors, usually but not always recreating a wedding, a battle or some other specific event. I find it difficult to think of this as an immersion event for the simple reason that for any serious reenactor, this is no different from any other event except for the use of rebated steel weapons.

The second thought is the immersive events must be kept totally private. Having persons around in modern dress—even if they are not properly part of the event—detracts from the central theme of the immersive event. In fact, there are those who say that kit must be broufgr into the event ara on participants backs or on the back of a pack animal or via cart. To a great extent, the immersion event becomes experimental archaeology.

Whichever method you choose, your activities should be governed by the tech that is available. This means that your garments should be period in cut and, of course, composition. But there are other matters you should carefully regard:

  • No automobiles or any other mechanical conveyances of any kind.
  • No eyeglasses, telescopes or binoculars of any sort. (since this is experimentl archaeology, contacts should be avoided too)
  • No visible tattoos or piercings (except for some ear piercings on Norse women)
  • No electricity should be available.
  • Do not bring any historical kit, such as a candle lantern, that cannot be documented for this period.
  • Do not bring any electric or butane lanmps or lanterns.
  • Do not bring any matches or a modern lighter. Bring a strike-a-light, flint an tinder.
  • Do not bring any tobacco. (You can bring marijuana if its use and possession is legal)
  • Do not bring a phone or other camera, as well as any photographs.
  • Do not bring any firearms.
  • Do not bring any pre-recorded music (and of course video) and anything to play it on.
  • Do not bring any paperbacks or, in fact, any books in moderen English.
  • Do not bring any modern paper or cardboard.
  • Period books should be on parchment.
  • Do not bring any modern pens or pencils.
  • Do not bring any umbrellas.
  • In conversation, do not refer to anything post-period.

There are no period recipes, but we do know of foods that were and were not available. Avoid anything that was not available.

Can you think of anything else you should avoid?

An emergency packet—with phone, matches and other forbidden items—should be available but should not be opened unless absolutely needed!


When I was younger, I was inoculated with the popular myths about the Middle Ages. You know, they drank beer and no water. They never took baths. They wore a lot of fur. And more, all of which have been proven to be wrong but is still being taught.

But today, I want to talk about one of the most irritating myths that everyone knows. Succinctly put, that is that every drunk, dirty and furry person never went more than seven miles from home. Sometimes, we are told ten miles, but I have found the basic information in books that I find myself trusting on other matters.

Of course they traveled. For a variety of reasons. While they might have stayed close to home most of the time, but that is mostly true today for most people. They were not averse to traveling. They were not averse to trading for items that were not from their culture or, even, from their time. For example, look at the Helgö Buddha, which came to Sweden from India. Or jewelry that was made with objected recycled from ancient Rome. Or silver coins from the Middle East, which were found all over Britain and Scandinavia. These are not the things you obtain from Farmer Sven the next farm over.

People of the time:

• Travel to do business (see the Mästermyr tool chest)
• Travel for trade (and raiding; see the Vikings)
• Traveling to explore and to colonize (see Jorvik, Dublin and other sites)
• Travel to fairs and markets (generally but not always close)
• Traveling on Pilgrimage (more popular in later times but still done earlier)

In fact, so many Englisc went on pilgrimage to Rome, a “ community existed in Rome where these pilgrims would stay called the Schola Anglorum or Schola Saxonum. It was a small district located on Vatican hill that held militias and was visited by kings and merchants, those on ecclesiastical business and pilgrims to the shrines of the saints.” And “As unlikely scenarios go, the one that saw a band of English exiles fleeing William the Conqueror and setting up a colony on the shore of the Black Sea takes some beating.” It was known as Nova Anglia or as Nīwe Englaland. In other words, New England.

After we agree that the people of the time—both the Englisc and the Norse—traveled further than was commonly thought by people a millennium later, things open up greatly to more possibilities. For example, the list of what was carried—in chests or in pouches becomes much expanded. You can find articles listing what was found in the pouches in graves that will give a good idea of what the wearer would carry with him. This list gives a good idea of what the traveler might want to carry with him on his travels.

So, when you are writing your impression biography—which I recommend—don’t be afraid that you are just writing another pulp fantasy story if you have traveled more than eleven miles from home. Chances are that you did…and then you spent a lot of time gathered about the fire in winter!


There is a tendency for fantasy history afficionados to focus on the richer, more glamorous, noble, royal, more unique aspects of history. You learn about the wealthiest people of an era. You want to see the beautiful gold objects that archaeologists have found (silver is only a poor runner-up). You learn about the people who ruled the era. You want to hear the stories of the Offa penny, of Æthelmær’s glider and of the Helgö Buddha.

This is kind of understandable. It is romantic and self-aggrandizing to trace your ancestry back to Edmund the Confessor. The Funen gold cross is so shineh. And can’t you imagine finding a pair of medieval glider wings in your backyard?

However, if you are attempting to do an honest living-history portrayal, that information is secondary. Perhaps even tertiary. To give an accurate portrayal of the culture and not be a fantasy LARP is important to some people. And if you publicly say that accurate living history is your goal, you have an obligation to present the truth and not just pump up your ego by proudly claiming it and ignoring that obligation.

The basic of ordinary living history can be summed up in the answer to this question: What did the Danish or Norman conquest of England mean to the ordinary Englishman in the field? The answer is this: Absolutely nothing. The rear end of the ox he is following during ploughing looks exactly the way it did before the conquest! A true reenactor should be able to create an impression that could be seen in a period setting by period folks and not be seen as a science-fiction portrayal (or whatever they would call the portrayal since sf since the term was not even created until a century after the genre even was created!).

This will never happen, of course, because there are some Viking Age reenactors who cannot agree with any interpretation they did not create. The average everyday reenactor is not the member of a fantasy LARP where everyone is a noble or exceptional in any manner. The reenactor is an average and ordinary person, not exceptional and who would have been lost in the culture of the time. Good general rules are that a correct impression should contain:

No Spectacles, Wrist Watches, Marvel Universe Jewelry or Other Obviously Farby Items
If you are uncertain of the farbiness of these items, take them back to the fantasy LARP.
No Visible Tattoos
Despite ibn Fadlan’s assertions, there have been no tattoos found on people of the era.
No Demonstrations of Ostentatious Wealth
An ordinary person would display wealth, of course, but the wealth displayed is not often exorbitant in cost or in quantity.
No Clothing of a Status You Cannot Justify
Remember that interpretations of details can vary.
No Rich Colors
Color Matters since all colors were work- and cost intensive.
No Cotton or Synthetic or Farby Fabric
If you have to ask why, head back to the fantasy LARP! Leather was very infrequently used.
No Machine Seams
At least if they show.
No Modern or Out-of-Period Footwear
This perhaps the most easily researched item that is so obvious but ignored by reenactors.
No Non-Period Instrument or Tool
Unless there is an extant physical item from an earlier era.
Avoid items from earlier eras and avoid items from later eras. If from an earlier era, only one should be used. Statuses should not be mixed in any great number.

What does not matter:

Skin Color
Despite what some people swear, there were many many ethnicities in medieval England.
If necessary, they can be concealed behind hoods, wimples, caps and other headgear.
Though Old English, Old Norse, Latin and any other language of the time would be great, knowledge and legibility really handicaps this!


Actually, not really a project for the Pandemic until I ordered a new moneying stamp.

Most stamps I had were just straight rods. Then Alpha Officium started offering demonstration stamps, which are more according to what was employed at the time. Before I ordered, I made certain it was acceptable for the accuracy standards of Regia Anglorum. Having cleared that hurdle, I then spoke with James Coffman of Alpha Officium for how large it should be, the design and anything else that was important or that escaped my notice.

The stamp was a custom job. Waiting for it to be produced, I found myself thinking over the manner in which I made the penny.

In their generally laudable book, The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, authors Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger give a probably incorrect method for producing coinage which involves striking each side of the coin separately. From research and practical experience, here is the way I have learned to do it.

You will need two stamps, carved with the design of the coin, a moneying anvil that will hold the bottom stamp and a hammer of about eight pounds (though the weight of the hammer needs only to be heavy enough to make an impression and should be comfortable for the user).

The moneying anvil is the stand that holds the lower stamp. It is generally, perhaps exclusively a durable, hard wood, with a metal bolster that helps provide resistence to the minting process. The two most common types of anvil are the stump and the stand. I prefer the stand, since the moneying is often done in different places, and the stand and be more easily carried from place to place. The exact method of construction often differs.

A hole and bolster are placed into the anvil to hold the bottom stamp known as the anvil die. This is known as the reverse and will have a design carved into it, often a cross motif which is a good guide for cutting the coin into change (the later Spanish pieces of eight is a good example). This is also known as the tail of the coin.

A disk of pewter or aluminum (or actual silver) is placed on the stamp. It is generally smaller in diameter than the stamp itself, so there is so variation in coins.

The top die. Known as the hammer die, is placed upon the coin. The obverse stamp is also engraved, often with the head of the authorizing king or other authority. This is also known, of course, as the tail.

To be most accurate, either you or a volunteer must hold the two dies together. Since this can be dangerous, I use a sleeve that holds them together.

The hammer must be smartly swung onto the hammer anvil. Make certain the face of the hammer strikes the die flat on. It should not be slanted or uneven when it lands. The hammer may be swung with a single or both hands but must be swung with enough power to make a firm and solid incision. Improperly struck coins occasionally happen, and period coins often show that this is not merely a modern occurrence

We shall not deal here with making either coins or the dies, but there are many who can do this for you or teach you how to do it. That is a topic for another day!


Leornere: As a novice to reenactment, I beg you, Master, to teach what I need to do and how to act to make a good start in the reconstruction of the culture of the Viking Age..
Mægester: What do you wish to talk about?
Leornere: I am newly come to reenacting and have need of instruction in many things.
Mægester: What do you need to be told?
Leornere: First of all, do I call what I wear a garb, a costume or clothing.
Mægester: The word “costume” is preferred by many, but just as many find it degrading and smacking of All Hallows, so it is recommended that you refer to it as clothing or, if needed, historical clothing.
Leornere: What is needed?
Mægester: Until you are more experienced, do not become bogged down in details. You should buy clothes that are generic and then refine them as you choose a more specific impression and culture and class. You will want to appear as an everyday person of the time, so take pains that the clothes are of the most ordinary. The most ordinary were made of wool, for that was the most common and least expensive. If you are allergic to wool—and often, you are allergic not to the wool but to the method preparation, so always check—then underclothing of linen is allowed. The linen, made of flax, hemp or nettle, is more expensive and higher class than wool. Any seam that is seen should be done by hand. Mechanical sewing of unseen seams are allowed but not required.
Leornere: What sorts of clothes should I buy or make?
Mægester: Going to head to feet, you need a hood, an undergarment, a tunic or gown, trousers for men, socks or stocking and shoes. A simple leather or cloth belt is useful, especially if you are active.
Leornere: What about caps and cloaks and winnings and the such?
Mægester: They should not be bought until you know they are useful and appropriate for your impression. Even in the clothes you obtain, you should research them and make certain they are appropriate.
Leornere: What sorts of shoes or boots are recommended?
Mægester: They should be turn shoes, not rising above the ankles.
Leornere: Should any modern clothing be worn?
Mægester: Modern underwear is allowed if they are not seen and do not affect your outer appearance.
Leornere: What about weapons and armor?
Mægester: Until you know more, feel free to borrow weapon. Armor is not needed for most societies. You should probably have a small, simple seax that you will find that useful. Even slaves had such small seaxes.
Leornere: What about jewelry?
Mægester: Until you have chosen and refined your impression, stay away from all jewelry and beads.
Leornere: What kind of eyeglasses, watches and the like is recommended?
Mægester: As long as you are doing an accurate impression and not a LARP persona, nothing is recommended. Some societies find it offensive to be entirely accurate, and even proudly announce the creativity of their society, but these are not historical societies.
Leornere: What kind of possessions other than clothing is recommended?
Mægester: We have already spoke of the small seax. Having a bow, a spoon (wooden or horn) and a cup might be advantageous if you are planning to do any eating. Do not have any horn cups—no provenance—or full horn vegetables—fancy and for feasts—that you use as vessels.
Leornere: Should I speak as a person of the time?
Mægester: Only if you speak fluent Latin, Old English o Old Norse. Otherwise, it becomes acting and not reenacting. Remember there are three forms of impression. First person is when you speak as if you were a person of the time, and it is mainly acting as well. Third person is when you speak and modern person. The second, or ghost impression is when you are mostly speaking as a person of the time but if necessary can break character. Remember that if you choose a first-person impression, you know nothing of history after the time of your impression.
Leornere: Should I accept advice and recommendations from more experienced reenactors.
Mægester: Only if they can provide provenance o proof. Any deviation should be for matters of safety, such as blunted—rebated—weapons. If you have any questions about the appropriateness or acceptance of anything, contact an Authenticity Office of your society.
Leornere: How should I act in general?
Mægester: Politely. Always politely! Your Mægester exhorts you to be obedient to the rules of your society, and to behave yourselves decorously wherever you may be. Speak plainly, taking care not to demean the thoughts and word of the spectator but try not to let him leave with incorrect thoughts. Be as polite with the spectator as you are a cousin reenactor. Answer his questions as best you can, but admit your ignorance and find a fellow traveler who can. Engage and entertain the spectator, but take care that you are not unseemly to please the spectator or to play the fool for the same reason. Humor often engages the spectator but should be unseemly and foolhardy just to entertain the spectator.


Or coin purse.

When found, the original wallet was crumpled up and confusing, so it involved interpretation from the beginning. It is filled with interpretation and extrapolation; if you want to change any of the details, feel free.

The wallet dates from between the ninth and the eleventh centuries, and the wallet was discovered in 1879 in grave bj750 from Birka. “This type of bag is a folded wallet of goat leather with multiple compartments on the inside. They were decorated with strips of gold plated leather, which was woven through the leather to form a checker board pattern. Along the edges were gold plated loops, 0.7cm long and 0.5cm wide.” // // I did not even attempt to duplicate any of these ornamentations, but that was merely my choice.

A Birka wallet consists of five pieces of leather, cut into rectangles of various sizes. They should be aligned at the bottom and then stitched together so that the bottom is five layers deep, while the top is only two. In the second layer, the leather is cut so that there is a rectangular slit, and the leather itself forms a pocket. Sone people duplicate it with interior stitching and the leather turned inside out when sewn, but I sewed the layers with a locking stitch. Some prefer to use two needles at the same time, though I find sewing each side in succession. I punch holes for the sewing using an awl.

Cut the thread into a length that is twice as long as you need. Loop it at the end, and then bring the needles into the holes pierced, first on one side and then at the other, and knot it at the other end (in the diagram, the same strand has two colors merely to distinguish the difference).

The first time I tried to make a wallet, I used slightly thicker leather. The end result was more or less unuseable. I tried to use lighter leather the next couple years and was finally satisfied with leather about 2–3 ounces thick.

The wallets seem to have been concealed under robes or tunics. They were neither worn nor displayed on the outside. After acknowledging this, it occurred to me that I needed to stuff the wallet with what was commonly found in them. So…

Clockwise from top left: A) Small utility seax; B) the Birka wallet; C) A couple beads and a Mjollnir from Repton; D) a Cross; E) a Fenris cross/Mjollnir (what I call the Hedge Your Bets Cross); F) a souvenir stone; G) a strike-a-light; H) a whetstone (jasper); and I) a coin purse with a few coins. Everything a Viking needed when he was on a raid!


Mankind has been fascinated by the flight of birds for Millennia. The possibility and attraction of human flight dates from at least the legend of Icarus in 60 bce. However, it was seen only as a legend, perhaps myth, until the tenth or eleventh century.

Eilmer of Malmesbury (who was also known as Elmer, Æthelmær and, because of a scribal error, Oliver) was a Benedictine monk from England. It has been suggested that he was born about 980 ce and that his attempt at flight took place sometime between 995 and 1010 ce. In his youth, he had read and believed the Greek myth of Dædalus, and he attempted to make and wear his own glider wings.

William of Malmesbury in the Gesta Regnum Anglorum of the early twelfth century noted that “He was a man learned for those times, of ripe old age, and in his early youth had hazarded a deed of remarkable boldness. He had by some means, I scarcely know what, fastened wings to his hands and feet so that, mistaking fable for truth, he might fly like Dædalus, and, collecting the breeze upon the summit of a tower [of Malmesbury Abbey], flew for more than a furlong. But agitated by the violence of the wind and the swirling of air, as well as by the awareness of his rash attempt, he fell, broke both his legs and was lame ever after. He used to relate as the cause of his failure, his forgetting to provide himself a tail.” It has been conjectured that his flight that the flight was only about 15 seconds. (In 1903, the Wright’s first non-glider flight was about 59 seconds.)

Modern calculations by Paul Chapman confirm the feasibility of the flight. “Launching into the southwest wind his initial descent would enable him to gain sufficient speed so that he could ride the air currents off the hillside. Lack of a tail would make continuing to head into the wind difficult and he would have been blown sideways to land where legend suggests—Oliver’s Lane.” Despite his injuries, “Eilmer set about rectifying this shortcoming, and was making plans for a second flight when his abbot placed an embargo on any further attempts, and that was that. For more than half a century after these events, the limping Eilmer was a familiar sight around the community of Malmesbury, where he became a distinguished scholar.”

Were there other and later (or even earlier) attempts at human flight before Leonard da Vinci’s drawing of a glider in the fifteenth century, though his physical attempts, if any, are unknown.

The unsuccessful attempt by Eilmer is fascinating but little known, and one can relate the story to MoPs at an event, accentuating the mechanics of the attempt, the attempt itself or how a near-sighted abbot’s attempts to keep his flock safe retarded the discover of aeronautics for a few hundred years. I would love to see the reconstruction of the wings at an event, although at the risk of sounding like that abbot, I might not want to see a physical attempt at the event!