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

Archive for May, 2023


Working on a new version of the bibliography and sharing it here. These books are recommended—or warned against—by members of the group and other medievalists. Please write with any additions you suggest!


Al-Amin, Nashid. True Myth: Black Vikings of The Middle Ages
Controversial book that many Aryanists will froth over, but he makes quite a few good points that academic have tended to ignore and to overlook.

Alexander, Caroline. Lost Gold of the Dark Ages: War, Treasure, and the Mystery of the Saxons
A table featuring many excellent photographs of items from the Staffordshire Hoard, along with historical background.

Allison, David B. Living History.
Small and informative book on living history at living-history sites and museums.

Almgren, Bertil (editor). The Viking
Large-format and heavily illustrated coffee-table book that tells a lot about Viking culture and how certain things—for example, the loom and the turtle broaches—were accomplished. Expensive and outdated in some areas, but well worth it if you have an interest in things Norse and are willing to check on statements.

Anderson, Gunnar (editor), Vikings: Beyond the Legend
Color photos from te 2014–2015 Viking Exhibit when it appeared in Australia.

Anderson, Jay. Time Machines: The World of Living History
The seminal work about living history in all its aspects. The chapter on the SCA is “Princes Valiant.”

Aries, Philippe and Georges Duby (eds.). A History of Private Life Vol. II
Good book for an understanding of medieval times and people. Good pictures

Aston, Michael. Interpreting the English Village: Landscape and Community at Shapwick, Somerset
A detailed look at a single community through the ages.

Baker, Alan. The Viking
A modern and imaginative interpretation of Viking culture that harkens back to the worst Victorian romanticism. No notes, no real bibliography (just a list of other secondary and tertiary sources). AVOID!

Baldwin, John W. The Scholastic Culture of the Middle Ages, 1000-1300
Deals with the end of Regia’s period. On Stephen Silver’s Medieval Universities Bibliography.

Bjarnason, Egil. How Iceland Changed the World.
A popular history of Iceland, unfortunately with no references.

Boswell, John. The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance
This book is not nearly as grim as the title suggests. The author argues that abandonment usually did not mean death, that children who could not be supported in one family usually found their way into families who wanted and needed them. Extraordinarily well written.

Boswell, John. Same Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
Well-documented, gay-friendly (Boswell was gay and died of AIDS) recounting of hushed-up tolerance of earlier Christianity.

Brehaut, Ernest (Trans.). An Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages
On Stephen Silver’s Medieval Universities Bibliography.

Brink. Stefan. The Viking World (Routledge Worlds)
A fine collection that looks at artifats from and everyday life in Viking-Age Scandinavia.

Brown, Nancy Marie. Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
Innovative book that examines the non-period Snorri Sturlusson, who wrote and probably invented tales of Norse mythology.

Byock, Jesse. Viking Age Iceland
An intensely vibrant and interesting view of Icelandic culture during the Free State

Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization—The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
A look at the Irish preservation of books during the early Middle Ages.

Campbell, Gordon. Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth.
A frustrating look at Norse settlement of the New World. Not recommended at all.

Crawford, Sally. Childhood in Anglo-Saxon England
A recommended book on how children were treated and acted in Anglo-Saxon England.

Grollemood, Larissa, and Bryan Keene. The Fantasy of the Middle Ages.
A publication of the J. Paul Getty Museum dealing with medieval fantasy in popular culture. More concerned with knights and damsels rather than Norse aspects. It does deal with medievalesque LARPs and Rennaissance Fairs.

Crawford, Sally. Daily Life in Anglo-Saxon England
An outstanding book dealing mainly with the physical culture, drawing on the latest research. Great, even if it gives the Regia site as regis.com! One of Greenwood’s excellent “Daily Life Through History” series.

Deary, Terry. Gruesome Guides: York (Horrible Histories).
The Horrible Histories series are written for younger readers but are always informative and fun. This one is a history of the central city of the Danelaw.

Deary, Terry. The Smashing Saxons (Horrible Histories)
The Horrible Histories series are written for younger readers but are always informative and fun. This one covers Anglo-Saxon culture.

Deary, Terry. The Vicious Vikings (Horrible Histories)
The Horrible Histories series are written for younger readers but are always informative and fun. This one deals with Norse culture.

Du Chaillu, Paul. The Viking Age (2 volumes)
Early but profusely illustrated overview of Norse culture that is pertinent still today.

Dyer, Christopher, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain 850-1520
A good book on everyday life, but it unfortunately covers such a wide period of time that it is often cursory. Nevertheless, a good place to start.

Erdoes, Richard, A.D. 1000: Living on the Brink of Apocalypse
At first glance, yet another book about the turn of the First Millennium, but actually written some twelve years before and brought back into print for the Y2K scare. The subtitle pretty much describes the theme of the book.


Working on a new version of the bibliography and sharing it here. These books are recommended—or warned against—by members of the group and other medievalists. Please write with any additions you suggest!


Grewe, Rudolf (trans.) Libellus De Arte Coquinaria: An Early Northern Cookery Book
Four versions of the earliest cookbook since Classical times, not necessarily period for Regia, but probably from the twelfth century and closer to foods of the Viking Age than any other. Recipes are translated, not redacted.

Hagen, Anne. Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink
Irreplaceable volume dealing with foods known to be consumed by Anglo-Saxons prior to the Conquest, with notes on availability, uses and cooking methods. Invaluable.

Serra, Danzel, and Hanna Tunberg (editors). An Early Meal?: A Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Guide
If you are in photography of food, an excellent collection of photographs, but only a mediocre collection of recipes and essays.

Tannahill, Reay. Food in History
An overview of culinary history. No recipes but plenty of information Often this can’t provide adequate coverage because there’s simply too much to cover.

Wilson, C. Anne. Food & Drink in Britain
If you want to know when and how ingredients or foods were first used, Wilson is the first place to look. Probably the most valuable reference book in English cooker.


Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion
A good overview of historical costuming, handicapped by its scope but containing a wealth of primary illustrations.

Brooks, Iris. Various titles

Burnham, D. Cut My Cote

Crowfoot et al. Textiles and Clothing
For serious costume nuts.

Cunnington, Cecil Willett and Phillis. Handbook of English Medieval Costume
According to some historivcal costumers, Cunnington is the single most valuable source for costumery.

Ewing, Þor. Viking Costume
Overview of aspects of Norse clothing, drawing from earlier sources, archaeological investigation and the author’s own conclusions.

Gæsel, Nille. Viking.
A book dealing with garments of the Viking Age by a well-known expert with plenty of diagrams, patterns and illustrations. She designed costumes for the film, “The Northman.”

Norris, Herbert. Church Vestments: Their Origin and Development
Specialized look at ecclesiastical costume. A standard work with many patterns and illustrations. Because illustrations are redrawn from primary sources, care should be taken when using the book.

Norris, Herbert. Costume and Fashion: v 2—Senlac to Bosworth
Deals with the very end of the period covered by Regia. A standard work with many patterns and illustrations. Because illustrations are redrawn from primary sources, care should be taken when using the book.

Norris, Herbert. Costume and Fashion: v 1—Through the Earlier Ages
A standard work with many patterns and illustrations. Because illustrations are redrawn from primary sources, care should be taken when using the book.

Nurman, Britta, Carl Schulze and Torsten Verhulsdonk. The Vikings Recreated in Colour Photographs. Europa Militaria #16
Color photographs of Viking reenactors, a delightful hybrid of fact and supposition.

Rabiega, Kamil. Viking Dress Code.
Book on costuming using recent discoveries and plenty of illustrations.

Stergård, Else. Woven into the Earth: Textiles from Norse Greenland
Dealing with archaeological finds from Greenland, including the famed 14th-century gowns, it has a minimal direct association with Regia’s period but is incredibly fascinating nonetheless.

Owen-Crocker, Gail. Dress in Anglo-Saxon England, Second Edition
Excellent source on the details of Anglo-Saxon costume. Minimally useful as practical guide as most of the information is aimed at researching the entire kit. Highly recommended!

Volken, Marquita. Archaeological Footware.
Fairly complete look at footware of Europe. With timelines, photographs of extant shoes, patterns and much more. Very recommended!

Wagner, Eduard. Zoroslava Drobna and Jan Durdik. Medieval Costume, Armour and Weapons
Use this book with caution. It is mainly re-drawings from medieval manuscripts. A contemporary review of the original German book stated that the authors were obviously not costumers, so I would recommend using it only as a starting point.

Wilcox, Ruth Turner Wilcox. Various Titles


Working on a new version of the bibliography and sharing it here. These books are recommended—or warned against—by members of the group and other medievalists. Please write with any additions you suggest!


Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo
One of Norman Cantor’s Short List.

Douglas, David Charles. William the Conqueror; the Norman Impact upon England
Biography of the Bastard.

Duckett, Eleanor Shipley. Alfred the Great
Biography of vastly over-estimated Anglo-Saxon monarch.

Lavelle, Ryan. Æthelred II: King of the English
Apologist, revisionist biography of one of the—if not the—worst of the English kings.

Lawson, M. K. Cnut: England’s Viking King
Biography of the Norseman who sat the English throne so well.

Walker, Ian W. Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King
Biography of the last Anglo-Saxon king.

Williams, Gareth. Eirik Bloodaxe
Biography of one of the early significant figures in the Danelaw.


Bealer, Alex W. The Art of Blacksmithing
Good beginning blacksmithing book—includes some armor and weapons making.

Chinnery, Victor. Oak Furniture: the British Tradition
Covers all types of furniture very well, though from a British, present in Britain, or affecting British furniture making perspective. This is an excellent work, profusely illustrated and footnoted, and the discussion reflects the best of modern scholarship and resources.

Diehl, Daniel. Constructing Medieval Furniture
A practical guide with historical notes.

Fleming, James Evans. The Blacksmith’s Source Book
Excellent bibliography on the history of Blacksmithing. Annotated source to 300 works.

McDonald, Fiona. Textiles: A History.
A handy and illustrated book dealing with histoical textiles and production.

Mercer, Eric. Furniture: 700-1700
An overview of the development of furniture, with many excellent illustrations, both from primary sources and of the pieces themselves.

Oates, Phyllis. The Story of Western Furniture
An overview of European furniture styles and usages.

Watkins, F. L. Age of Wood
A look at woodworking during the Viking age, including woods, tools and methods.



One of the most controversial parts of any serious living history endeavors are eyeglasses.

It is untrue that early man possessed no way to correct his eyesight. From ancient times, magnifying lenses—generally crystals or curved transparent goblets filled with water—were used to help with fine work, to start fires and to cauterize wounds. Workshops manufacturing these lenses have been found from Gotland to Constantinople. However, these were large, heavy, unwieldy and only minimally transportable. The modern concept of spectacles was invented in the later thirteenth century and, unlike many technological advances through the ages, was at once widely adopted. By 1290, only a few years after their development, spectacles were being praised as essential. In 1306, an anonymous monk wrote, “It is not yet twenty years since the art of making spectacles, one of the most useful arts on earth, was discovered. I, myself, have seen and conversed with the man who made them first.”

For post-13th-century eras in Western Europe, the use of simple frames and, in some cases, even often acceptable alternatives, even though critics noted that

A. Most spectacles are worn to correct near-sightedness, and those corrective lenses date only from the sixteenth century.

B. Even though early optics were often crystal and often tinted, hardly ever purely transparent, sunglasses were not invented until the eighteenth century. Any sunglasses—whether they are eyeglasses or even transitional eyeglasses—are immediately inappropriate.

C. Early spectacles were often difficult to wear because rigid ear pieces were invented in the eighteenth century and were kept on the face by unwieldy straps, races, ribbons, spring nose pieces and sometimes by balancing them on the nose itself. Sometimes, they were even kept on a stick or otherwise held up to the eyes.

C. Spectacles were a sign of old age and infirmity, and worn by many Europeans only in private.

D. Spectacles were a sign of learning and, in painting, often used as shorthand for portraying the subject as educated and literate. Unless there was a reason to brag about literacy—and this was scarcely so in pre-Industrial revolution Europe—there was no reason to make such an ostentatious display of the ability.

However, for persons portraying pre-thirteenth century eras, such as our own, even this controversial work-around is unavailable. A Viking wearing spectacles is comic and inappropriate. Although inappropriate eyeglasses have often been a part of burlesque and comedy, and although Robert Wooley’s black Harry Potter-like frames were hilarious in films such as Cockeyed Cavaliers, hopefully your intent is more educational and less humorous.

There are, however, ways to work around the problem.

Surgical Correction

One should never enter into any sort of surgery lightly. Before any non-emergency surgery, be certain that you exhaustively confer with your physicians! Laser eye surgery—commonly known as Lasik—and the implantation of permanent lenses are both available. The former is still expensive and probably not covered by most insurance. It is has not been around long enough that we know the long-term effects of Lasik, so no one knows how long the beneficial results may last or even long-term side effects. The implantation of lenses is usually to correct cataracts or other eye ailments and should not be approached lightly.

Contact Lenses

The most obvious remedy are contacts. Contact lenses, which are small corrective lenses that are placed directly upon the eye, convey the illusion of using no device at all. Since all good living history—with the exception of practical archaeology—is, at its base, illusion, this a very suitable remedy.

There are people who are familiar only with the more primitive forms of contact lenses—heavy, uncomfortable glass appliances that could only be worn by a short time—that were invented in the nineteenth century. They had become relatively comfortable to wear for short times by the 1930s and had attained great popularity by 1940s. Rigid plastic lenses became available at this time, and soft plastic lenses were developed into the 1960s, although they did not became commercially available until the 1970s.

These lenses all did not breath and could not be worn for extended periods of time. Disposable extended wear and gas-permeable lenses only became available in the 1980s and 1990s. A new generation of disposable, extended-wear gas-permeable lenses was introduced just before the turn of the millennium.

If you attempted without success to wear contact lenses prior to this time, see your optometrist for sample lenses. You might very well be surprised that your ancient prejudices were for naught.

Getting Accustomed to Going Without Eyeglasses

Most folk can go without spectacles. In an era with low rates of literacy and no way to correct them, people of our period were much less concerned about perfect eyesight than we are today. Continued reliance on corrective devices has in some cases weakened the eyes and has increased our reliance on spectacles for convenience and comfort. There is, however, a great distance between convenience and necessity.

Practicing going without spectacles should not start at an event. Do it first at home, and do not try to overdo it. Do not be too active at first, and stay away from dangerous activities. You might find that there are certain things you cannot do; please accept these limitations so that you do not endanger yourself or others. Reenacting should not be run by egos!

Hints for Going Without Spectacles

Much about living history is, to modern sensibilities, inconvenient and, perhaps, uncomfortable. However, if you are willing to compromise, you will find that it is not impossible! Here are a few hints for not using your eyeglasses at Regia events:

A. Realize that spectacles must be abandoned only during public hours within the confines of the ropeline. Outside, the use of spectacles are allowed, although you might find that continued use of no spectacles may make the transition more easy.

B. Before public hours begin, police the area in which you plan to stay to make certain there are no dangers that you will not see.

C. Find a pursuit that does not require good vision. These are pursuits to be practiced in public at events. You can. Of course, wear spectacles when practicing a craft in a non-public setting.

D. Move slowly without your spectacles. Even if you are accustomed to striding quickly about, you will find that taking your time is safer. After all, your ancestors did not have tv programs or soccer games to rush to!

E. Allow fellow reenactors to guide you about if necessary.

F. Use a walking stick to help walk around.

G. Be careful around weapons, tent stakes and fire!

H. Request—and expect—that you campmates will keep the area relatively clean of debris and dangers, even as you expect them not to leave unsheathed steel around!

I. Keep your spectacles convenient—I used to slide them up a sleeve—so that they are relatively accessible if you desperately need them.

J. Acquire a magnifying globe or crystal that is acceptable to the Authenticity Officer. It is presumed that these were also used as jewelry.

K. Put your spectacles on again when public hours are over or when leaving the ropeline. Some persons in your situation, however, prefer to go without spectacles whenever they are in period kit. As my wife said after a recent weekend event, “Oh, the green blobs have leaves…”

You will also often find that you have compensated so well that putting your spectacles back on after an extended period without will leave you slightly confused and dizzy.

Try it before rejecting the idea. You may find it easier to do than modern life has made you believe!

If Wearing No Spectacles Leave you Unsafe, Nauseous and Debilitated

If you are not capable of nor willing to go without spectacles and cannot otherwise correct your visual disabilities, and you will not abide by the limitations imposed, find another hobby. Don’t expect the whole hobby to change its principles for you.


Working on a new version of the bibliography and sharing it here. These books are recommended—or warned against—by members of the group and other medievalists. Please write with any additions you suggest!


Alexander, J. J. G. (ed.). Insular Manuscripts: 6th to the 9th Century
Vol. 1 of “Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles,” with an introduction, 354 illustrations and a detailed catalog.

Backhouse, Janet. The Lindisfarne Gospels
All major decorated pages and several representative canon and text pages, along with a comparison with other Celtic art.

Bain, George. Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction
Basic work on Celtic knotwork, keywork, etc, first published in 1951.

Bayeux Tapestry, The
A primary primary source. Available in various sizes and editions, both in color and monotone, the larger and more accurate a reproduction you can find, the better. Note that some persons decry using it for primary documentation, citing artistic liberties such as the color of horses. For the most part, it is easy to distinguish between what is a fairly faithful observation and artistic interpretation.

Benson, John H. & A. G. Carey. Elements of Lettering
Good book of history & technique for experienced calligraphers. Most scripts are illustrated with no further instruction. The Rotunda is beautiful.

Bouet, Pierre (editor). The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidering the Facts of History
Series of essays from a conference on the Bayeux Embroidery, including points of how realistic details are, how colors and were attained and a set of photos from the back side. Available in English but only through French sources. If you have any interest in so many subjects, very recommended!

Bridgeford, Andrew. 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry
Fascinating look at the Embroidery, explaining its techniques, meanings and history and why it’s not just an act of Norman propaganda.

Brown, Michele. The Lindisfarne Gospels: Society, Spirituality & the Scribe
An innovative book that sets the Lindisfarne Gospels into the context of artistic influences of the time.

Dodwell, C. R. Anglo-Saxon Art. A New Perspective
Hazel Uzzell notes: “The title is deceptive as it covers: Art survivals and written sources. Anglo-Saxon tastes. Artists and Craftsmen in Anglo-Saxon England. Painting and carving. Textiles. Costume and vestments. Jewellery, silver and gold. Anglo-Saxon Art and the Norman Conquest. In my opinion, it is one of the best books that I have read on the period.”

Drogin, Marc. Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Techniques
A perfect balance of history and technique. Reproduces period examples and explains what to look for. Half the plates have transcriptions. Available in an inexpensive Dover reprint.

Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus : the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Ostensibly about the Bible, religion and changes in scripture caused by a variety of sources, what it says about professional scribes and details of copying manuscripts is both useful and interesting.

Fox, Michael, and Stephen R. Reimer. Mappae Mundi: Representing the World and its Inhabitants in Texts, Maps, and Images in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Overview of mapmaking with many color illustrations, though none of the maps themselves.

Graham-Campbell, James. Viking Art (World of Art)
An excellent collection of artwork of various kinds from the Viking Age.

Henry, Francoise (ed.). The Book of Kells: Reproductions
Coffee-table book in a slipcase, with color plates reproducing major illuminations, followed by an historical article.

Jackson, Eleanor. The Lindisfarne Gospels: Art, History and Inspiration.

A small but beautifully printed book on the Lindisfarne Gospels, dealing glosses among other things.

Johnston, Edward. Writing & Illuminating & Lettering
The first and one of the most consistently revered “bibles” of the art.

Lovett, Patricia. The Art and History of Calligraphy
A clear, well-illustrated book on calligraphy and manuscripts with a very interesting section on production of a manuscript. It dealswith a good many eras.

McKendrick, Scot and Kathleen Doyle. The Art of the Bible: Illuminated Manuscripts from the Medieval World
Period and non-period facsimiles of pages from mediaeval manuscripts, including marvelously detailed pages from the Harley Psalter. Large and wonderfully reproduced pages.

Nordenfalk, Carl. Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Painting
Introductory article on book illumination in the British Isles during the 7th through 9th centuries, with color plates and commentary.

Page, R. I. Runes (Reading the Past)
Easily read and not new agey

Pollington, Stephen. Rudiments of Runelore
Good, brief introduction to the Fuþark by a man who helped name our group.

Shepherd, Margaret. Learning Calligraphy
The book I recommend to all beginners. Only five alphabets are studied, but each is examined in depth.

Svaren, Jacqueline. Written Letters: 22 Alphabets for Calligraphers
Little basic instruction, but graceful, accurate interpretations of modern and historical scripts.

Temple, Elzibeta. Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900-1066
Vol. 2 of “Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles,” with a short introduction, 370 illustrations and a detailed catalog of 106 manuscripts.

Thornbury, Emily V. Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England
An intriguing and informative examination of Latin and English Poetry from the early middle ages, with many samples and examples.

Watson, Aldren A. Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction
A good book. The illustrations are so clear you almost don’t have to read the text.

Webster, Leslie. Anglo-Saxon Art
Profusely illustrated of artwork from Anglo-Saxon England, including items from the Staffordshire Hoard.

Weitzmann, Kurt. Late Antique and Early Christian Book Illumination
Survey. This period had mostly pictorial instead of abstract decoration.

Whalley, Joyce Irene. The Student’s Guide to Western Calligraphy
The emphasis is on script, but there are examples of simple illumination.