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

Archive for December, 2022


Here are a few other matters you should consider and look for (or hope to avoid, though you should ignore it.)

• Learn code words used in articles that give you facts that you should not trust. An examples are “a new discovery that changes history” and “what has been ignored until this discovery.”

• Do not even believe an artefact that has a single meaning, since archaeologists will often be guessing themselves.

• If something is just too pat—such as the “baby with the bath water myth”—it is undoubtedly false.

• Never assume that only one piece of information is needed to be trusted. Two is better, but at least three may well be trusted as long as one piece of information is not based on another that you are using as one fact.

• How does your source of information source that information. How are they determining the validity of their statements or interpretations. But remember that they—and you—must state the sources used!

• Is the attribution as clear and detailed as possible? Does attribution provide clear enough information, or is more needed?

• Even accounts from the time cannot always be trusted, since sometimes they are written by political or religious adversaries. Always be on an outlook for biases!

This only deals with the beginning of what you need for a valid source, but it should not ignored, and altered. What sources do you use? What do you suggest as additional concerns?


And now Happy Old Year on your trek into the Past!


It is not necessary for a reenactor to provide provenance for something he says. It seems to be a requirement only if you care about facts. And many reenactors, looking for the easy way to their beliefs, it is not required. It could be made by a reenactor who is considered so infallible that their word is the only thing needed.

I cannot count the times that a reenactor makes statement that goes against what I have uncovered and, when I ask them about provenance, they simply do not answer or repeat their statement, far louder and more adamant but with no more provenance than before. In fact, many will seem irritated or offended that you should question the veracity of their statements. They do not say that above paraphrase of Owen Winster’s “When you call me that, smile” out loud, but it is one of those times when you can almost read their thoughts.

Ask for provenance. No, demand it! Sometimes it works, and you learn something that you had not known. But if the speaker refuses to supply provenance, let it drop. Just never repeat or believe the tripe he spouts unless you find provenance from another source (which is sometimes you always try to attain in these cases. Getting the provenance from him or another is only the easy way to do things!). If the theory is interesting, you might even resort to saying that the reenactor says this, but you have doubts about the veracity.

Do not think that they are evil entities just because their interpretation of what is a fact is totally wrong. After all, it is a proven fact—I am being ironic here, of course—that when you are doing something that is delightful to you and you are smiling and enjoying yourself, and you discover something being said that you think is really really neat and contributes to that feeling even if it is not true that can be easily ignored. After all, having to find facts that are true can sometimes be very disappointing and discouragingly sad to you. After all, it might go against what you happily believe. Therefore, many “researchers” will just announce a “fact” whether it is provable or not, and just go from there.

It is far easier to find something being said or written that you agree with and use that as your provenance instead of coming up with something that you dislike, that does not support your thesis and that is usually much more difficult to find. It is easier to find something that agrees with your politics or religion or something else you agree with and that goes against something you disagree with than to seek out something that goes against what you think. Research is not always easy personally as well to find.



I looked at the scraps of parchment. And felt unhappy.

So much great parchment, just too small for proper use.

Then I thought, “Why…”

I cut the scraps into sheets and put the pages together using my standard recipe. Five sheets sewn into folios.

The resulting folios fanned out. I sewed them together, with wooden covers. I clamped them together to help flatten them. It didn’t help even after a few days.

I asked my wife whether she’d prefer a buckled band or a tied band. She looked at it and barked, “You should not do this. Use the parchment for something else.”

I tore it apart and sewed it back together, making folios o two sheers. Still refused to compress, though the results were better. I pressed the resulting book again, They still fanned, but my dander was up. I decided to make a band that tied. When I cut the leather for the cover, I made certain it would contain the strap. I tied it, and it actually looked good.

Keeping it pressed. Dunno if it will work, but at least I like the result!


Gordon Campbell. Norse America. Oxford University Press; 2021. $25.95

An earlier book of the same title, was an infuriating collection of prejudices in which the author examined a great number of suppositions and followed them with a jaw-dropping sincerity. Except for the account of L’Anse aux Meadows, which he cheerfully denigrated and called an ignorant group of prejudices. Knowing this, I was a little wary of this volume, especially when I found it was written by a renaissance scholar. This at least indicated he had no pro-Scandinavian prejudices, so I approached it with a wary caution.

When I started reading the book, I quickly realized that Campbell had more of interest in racial matters than anything else. Though he noted Nazi and other racist thoughts, he tried to be the other side of matters, He loved to announce decisions without provided very much documentation. He knew what he believe, and the reader should believe him as well. His use of the word “fantasy” for referring to Washington Irving the Vinland Sagas is a good example of his approach to the subject.

From the very start, Campbell talks about other claimants to being the first European (or African or Asian) man in America. Magog, Brenda, Prince Henry and more, all without any physical evidence. The Norse adventurers are thrown into that group, even though physical evidence has been discovered. He loves to make snide snarks about anything, classifying a saga—admittedly somewhat exaggerated but not to the extent he claims—with the Skaholt map. It is hard to approve of an author who goes to such extremes to sound superior and witty.

He loves to note that persons from the earlier part of the history probably did not exist and that he only believes later instances although he dos not really believe them either. He loves to talk about “fantasy history,” though the term seems to grow largely from his prejudices rather than from any proof.

There is, of course, real fantasy history and cases of fraud, and Campbell hangs a lot of his prejudices on this fact. However, his reluctance to accept any theory but his own and to humiliate anyone who disagrees with him is irritating. The list of people he does believe is long and includes not merely the saga poets but Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and, of course, Washington Irving. Unlike the earlier Norse America, Campbell does not totally dismiss L’Anse au Meadows, though he does attempt to minimize its importance. It is worth noting that the chapter devoted to L’Anse aux Meadows consists of far less pages that other chapters which he can more easily denigrate and humiliate. Campbell, though he protests that he is not neglecting the importance. Most of what he says has been said many times before, and what he writes is of minimal interest and not worth buying and reading the whole book.

Campbell writes, “This reservation is not intended to suggest that L’Anse aux Meadows is unimportant….The ultimate prize from the perspective of Canadians and Americans of Northern European descents, would be the discovery of the settlement or settlements on the mainland.” Throughout the book, Campbell tries to set up things so that he is the authority, he can quote “facts” that prove how correct he is and can ignore anything he does not want to discus or, more importantly, for readers to ignore. He loves to expound at boring length on matters that have been discredited while never mentioning at all what people now believe.

To a great extent, the book reminds me of William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire, an aggravating and often incorrect view of the renaissance era. Manchester had an agenda and was able to twist the facts to fit his concept, and Campbell seems to have done the same thing. Not recommended at all!


The Psalterium Sancti Ruperti (Salzburg, Archiv von St. Peter, Cod. A I. 0) is the smallest Psalter in the medieval 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.