ADVICE TO BEGINNING VIKING-AGE REENACTORS 3
Wear Broad-Rimmed Hats
There is every indication that broad-brimmed, especially straw hats were used in earlier times, but the first medieval illustration of someone in such a hat comes in the twelfth century, probably a century or two after the Viking Age ended. If you look at people in the sun in the Julius or Tiberius work calendars, hats are not used. Even the head coverings generally worn in the time are caps without brims. Hoods were used and, and persons wanting to shield their eyes from the sun are encouraged to use hoods!
Eat Obviously Inaccurate Foods in Camp
At shows, there is sometimes a tendency to buy what food is available, and that usually means that the food is not accurate. Whenever possible, a wic should be set up to prepare accurate foods, but let’s face it, that is not always possible. But modern foods should be consumed in a private, farb area.
Eat from Non-Period Plates
When foods purchased is not modern or at least not obviously modern, it may be consumed behind your ropeline, but care should be taken that it is not consumed on non-period plates using non-period utensils. Styrofoam or plastic plates should be avoided. Plastic spoons and forks—and forks of any kind–should be avoided. Transfer the foods onto period tableware—bowls, trenchers, etc.—outside of the area or bring them into your camp disguised in a bag or box and transfer it onto a piece of period tableware. Back in the public area, eating using your knife, your period spoon or even your fingers.
Be careful not to use a paper napkin when cleaning up. You don’t necessarily need a hound upon whom you can wipe your hand, and you need not wipe your hands on your clothing. However, fabric napkins are period and easily made!
Mix Too Many Cultures and Periods
There are many indications that people during the Viking Age had objects that came from other cultures and that they used objects from their history if they were still practical. See the Buddha in Sweden, pre-historic “thunderstones” found in Norse graves, revered stone-age relics and ancient coins. However, these were probably exceptions and such combinations should not be regularly done. In addition, from a modern reenacting perspective, having too many objects of this sort in your camp gives an inaccurate impression of everyday life of the time!
Be Ignorant of Time and Culture
Do not concentrate on a certain aspect of reenactment and have it be adrift inside questions and interest. Although knowing the ruling monarchy is the source of much boredom in historical education, it is part of the larger picture. Be able to fit your impression within the culture, to answer MoPs’ questions and, if necessary, say that you do not know the answer but know with whom they should speak. Many groups will write down questions they cannot answer, specifically research them and be able to answer with confidence the next time they come up.
Commonplace books, containing such trivia and information, is not part of our period. They were first found in the fourteenth century in Italy (reportedly with the development of paper), and also known as the “hodgepodge book” contained trivia and bits of information of interest to the writer, Wikipedia notes that the term is “a translation of the Latin term locus communis…which means “a theme or argument of general application”, such as a statement of proverbial wisdom.” Commonplace books were greatly used by English school children in the eighteenth century and have retained their popularity to this very day, though modern technology has certainly changed the way they are presented and preserved! Our group has several hundred pages, bound in a period style and never to be read by a MoP, but which contains scads of vital information that can be read by and used by members!
A history and notes on creating a commonplace book may be found on line, including this source. However, despite its use and practicality, they should never be referred to as commonplace books when speaking with the MoPs. That is totally wrong!
Feature Inappropriate Activities at Your Events
There is a tendency by some to approach serious Viking reenactment as just another renaissance fair, and this means that many Viking events features activities and entertainments that are inaccurate to the max! Do not feature such inaccurate activities at any “Viking” event you sponsor, including the game of Kubb (dating from the 1960s), belly dancing, inappropriate music and dancing. You are miseducating the MoPs, who will go away knowing that Vikings went to their mead halls and spent the evening casting runes for fortune telling, watching hoochy-koochy dancers and singing songs that were only written down in the eighteenth century!
If your group or society is participating in a more lax fair, keep this in mind and try to remain accurate in your corner of the fair!