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

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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!


A recent thread on a Regia newsgroup concerned questions about baskets—specifically types—of the Viking age. In it, there were plenty of extrapolations, suggestions and suppositions. Almost no hard evidence, that is, extant baskets of the time.

On one hand, we know they had baskets. There are fragments of basketry, and “The history of weaving containers with plant fibers likely goes back to the start of mankind. Unfortunately, plant fibers often have a hard time surviving in the soil that long or even as far back to the late 8th Century at the start of the Viking Age.” A ten-thousand year old basket miraculously survived—and it is not significantly different from those of later ages—was found is Israel, and we are told ““Organic materials usually do not have the ability to survive for such long periods,” Dr. Naama Sukenik from the IAA’s Organic Material Department told The Jerusalem Post. “However, the special climatic condition of the Judean Desert, its dry weather, have allowed for dozens of artifacts to last for centuries and millennia.”

There are a few extant samples of baskets from our periods, We know from extant baskets thAt they were both round and square, sometimes with solid bases and tops, made out of willow and other natural substances. We are not certain if they were painted, and we can only make conjectures about whaT they contained, since none have been found with a a content. A few logical extrapolations can be made by examining later baskets and noting that they did not significantly change, but that is closer to experimental archaeology than to anything else. Ironically, the basket weaving techniques founds in extant ancient Roman basketry, in later basketry and even in North American basketry—such as the several basket fragments ound in Binderbost in Washington State do not differ thAt much despite the time and geographic differences.

Here are a few of the baskets that we know existed.

Fragments are known to exist from Oseberg, though there is a tendency to mistake these are being from Gokstad, and these fragments are even often included with pieces of the Gokstad back pack..

The so-called Gokstad back-pack is generally acknowledges to be a basket, though no samples of the basket weaving is available. We are left with the solid wooden top and bottom, and holes for the strakes to be inserted. Weaving a basket around these strakes is logical and easily done, but there are no existing, real samples. In fact, some writers insist that no basket weaving was used at all, and the pack was enclosed by leather. In fact, plenty has been extrapolated, but very little has been proven.

A rectangular wicker basket top has been found in Coppergate. It has been suggested that it ws a pigeon coop basket.

Many of the woven baskets we have come from fishing baskets. They were submerged in mud that helped to present them!

Finding extant samples are difficult, even though many authors love to lecture us that they have been found, though without any documentation or provenance. It is like the subject of tattoos in ma ways; though statements and claims are frequent, solid evidence is sadly lacking. If you have any other sources of photos or descriptions other than those listed here, please let me know.


Today, we are warned not to mark in our books (there are, of course, many who will do it anyway). However, in the middle ages, owners of books were encouraged to mark in their books. This was called a gloss or glossa and is specifically an annotation written on margins or within the text of manuscripts specifically of the Bible. Jerome (though he was probably not the translator) used glosses in the process of his translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible.

The subjects of explanatory glosses may be reduced to the following glosses.
• Foreign words
• Dialectical terms
• Obsolete words
• Technical terms
• Words employed in an unusual sense
• Words employed in some peculiar grammatical form

These glosses were written between the lines of the text or in the margin of manuscripts. The glosses originally consisted of only a few words, but they grew in length as authors enlarged them with their own comments. Eventually, manuscripts had so many glosses that there were no longer room to write them in the book. These glosses were compiled in separate books, known as lexicons. But this was not common in England until the fifteen century. “So great was the influence of the Glossa ordinaria on biblical and philosophical studies in the Middle Ages that it was called ‘the tongue of Scripture’ and ‘the bible of scholasticism’.”

A splendid book on glosses has been recently published, though it deals only with the glosses of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Eleanor Jackson’s The Lindisfarne Gospels: Art, History and Inspiration is published by British Library. The Lindisfarne, and other earlier copies of the Bible, were written in the Latin that was known as the Vulgate. However, Jackson notes that “In the tenth century an Old English translation was added between the lines, which I the earliest surviving translation of the Gospels into the [Old] English language.”

Secular interlinear glosses developed from the Biblical glosses but dealt with secular writings. While translations date back to ancient times, glosses do not appear to have been used. The translations were separate sections—for example the Rosetta Stone—and as noted above were later separate books. Secular glosses seem to date only from the eleventh century.


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.


Thanksgiving! What does that have to do with the English and the Norse!

Okay, let’s call it Harvest Festival. Or maybe Lammastide. Or Loaf Fest. Or Freyfest. Or, yes, Thanksgiving.

Harvest celebrations are traditionally celebrated in many cultures. Important to any culture for whom agriculture and the harvest was of great importance, and that included most cultures. Most persons, even those as important as kings, were involved in agriculture. After all, harvest would decide whether they would live, or at least be moderately comfortable, until the next year.

Though Lammas is traditionally 1 August—customarily between the summer solstice and autumn equinox—the celebrations traditionally occurred between then and 1 September, and the later American Thanksgiving was, of course in November, though the first Thanksgiving seemed to have taken place somewhere between the end of September and the beginning of November.

The ancient Lammastide, in the words of an historian, “was a way for farmers to ease their way into autumn and to set their minds upon the harvest, and first fruits of their diligent labor of the soil.” In heathen times, it was a custom to bring a loaf of bread made from the grain harvested, and even after Christianity achieved a prominence, that load was blessed by the priest and divided into four loaves, each quarter being set in the corner of the barn to protect the grain. The English called the time hlaf-mass, or the “loaf mass.” early church documents, the ritual was referred to as the “feast of first fruits.” Christians also have church processions to bakeries, where those working therein are blessed by Christian clergy. Lammas coincided with St. Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison. Today, many heathens celebrate Lughnasadh about the same time. It was a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and was a heathen festival that was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The hlaf-mass was blessed in the early English church and was afterwards employed in protective rituals. In fact, a book of Englisc charms may be the origin of placing a quarter of the loaf at the corners of a barn.

What the harvest festival was called by the Norse or how it was celebrated by the heathen is most conjecture. After all, no purely Heathen name has survived for this festival, any more than most aspects of the heathen religion is known except what can be imputed by occasional verses and runestones. However, modern heathen writers then go on to describe how the first fruits of harvest were brought to the temple as gifts and in Norse tradition, the “First Sheaf was often bound and blessed as an offering to Heathen deities or the spirits of the field at the beginning of harvest, just as the Last Sheaf was at its end. English folk custom also includes the decoration of wells and springs.” // https://www.theasatrucommunity.org/freyfaxi //

For both the Norse heathens and the Englisc heathens as well as the early Christian themselves, all that can be definitely said that the amount of food was great, especially after a period that might have seen starvation and little or no food. Some food could not be preserved at the time and actually had to be eaten at the time. So we can almost intuitively note that the people—both Christian and he then—gathered together in large, convivial and warm company, and stuff themselves! May you approach Thanksgiving with the same plans and have a great holiday!


I was fascinated when I read about the dirt balls found in the Galloway Hoard in Archaeology Magazine. I’m still searching for information on them, but there were apparently dirt balls in Greenland, Scotland and Denmark, as well as elsewhere in the Viking world. The dates are ambiguous, but they are from the Christian era.

A supposition—that seems very logical to me—is that the dirt balls were souvenirs. Not quite pilgrims’ medallions, but the idea is close. They show you—and others—that You Were There. They were scooped up and rolled into balls from holy sites and then rolled against reliquaries, picking up gold dust from the reliquary. Were they produced in an industry, or did pilgrims o out and scoop them up themselves? For that matter, I am uncertain of how frequently they were made during the time, but there are suppositions that they dried and crumbled away. Those found in the Galloway Hoard lasted because they had ben put into air-tight containers that kept them safe.

Doing research into making some, Roland Williamson repeated something that I had already considered: Make them out of clay to insure their longevity. I ended up getting some air-dryable clay. The white seemed a little too pristine and brilliant white. I wondered if I could assume an adequate color by dyeing it with tea. I still do not know. I may experiment later, but this time I bought some terra cota-colored clay. I liked the hue it was, even if it was a lot darker than the relic! Ah well, reenactment is always very absolutely thenty… :\

I ordered ten ounces of dirt containing gold dust. Uncertain how much gold dust. Some buyers said it wasn’t filled with enough gold since they seemed to expect to retire to Mara-Lago on gold contained. I think the seller just went and scooped up a shovelfuls of dirt from an era where gold was found. They even included a free prospecting pan! 🙂 It was, I decided, good enough for my purposes. (yes, I did do Walter Huston’s prospector dance when it arrived 🙂 )

I rolled the clay into balls. Not spherical or smooth because I tried to mimics the Galloway balls. Dome cracks and fissures. Then I spread out some of the dirt that allegedly—or perhaps hopefully—contained gold. The dust covered the balls, and they actually sparkled in the sun, sine they seemed to have flecks of gold—or pyrite at least.

Then, wanting to see what drying would do to it, I set the dirt balls for a few days, an they dried into a very satisfying hardness.

The results were great!

In period, were the dirt balls carried around like a crucifix? Were they kept in a single, stationery place like replicas? How were they kept safe? The answers may pop up, but I will not be waiting for hat information.

When I feel safe to do shows again, I plan to trot out a dirt ball. The dust can easily be rubbed off, so MoPs probably will not be allowed to handle them. But for that matter, the dust might be rubbed off in transit and storage, so I am using boxes and packing foam to keep them safe!

I have no idea what the reaction will be. I hope that MoPs are fascinated by them and have never herd of them before. Aren’t those the main reasons we do re-enacting to start with?


Seals were used in the earliest civilizations and were very familiar by the early middle ages. Wax seals were being regularly used by the end of the tenth century. The practice of sealing in wax gradually moved down the social hierarchy from royalty, nobility and high-ranking ecclesiastical individuals to minor knights by the twelfth century and to commoners by the middle of the thirteenth century.

By the middle of the eleventh century, the seals were attached to charters by a length of parchment that was cut from the charter itself. The modern pouring of wax to “seal” an envelope was not yet used. I determined that a seal should not be used on the computerized charters that I produced and ordered some actual parchment—my supplier suggested goat parchment—that could be used and sealed.

After looking at historical and available seals, I decided to design my own. I decided on the circle shape, made the circular text “FOLCIVSÞEGNMICELFOLCLOND✠. The center would conventionally have the head of a person, but I decided to go with Michael, the mascot of Micel Folcland, in the center. In deference to my skills at carving the seal, I decided to replace the crane with a triskelion design that appealed to me. As it turned out, I could have kept Michael since I had the seal carved by a professional. I ordered a professional seal out of brass but did eventually carve a seal myself out of faux ivory, but I did not have the skill to do it veery well. I plan to work on another in my spare time.

Most of the seals were on disks that the parchment was attached to, and I found a suitable mould, the top to a cannister of pills. I melted wax, placed the end of the strip of parchment and placed more wax on top. It popped out of the mould with no problem, and I was pleased with the result.

I used simple red wax, which was of dubious authenticity, and I mixed up more accurate waxes, combining powdered and then crushed rosin with beeswax (2/3 to 1/3).

I have a lot goat parchment, and I intend to keep trying to make a very satisfying result. But then good living history is a never-ended experiment!


How important were paint brushes during the period? We are familiar with the pens, but pictures of paint brushes are more rare. With the help of the guidance of Gary Golding, I have been busy this last year to accumulate–generally making–scribe tools: pumice stone, prickers, burnishers, straight edges and clothlets, as well as pens and scrapers. When they were all finished, there was no way to delay even more. No matter how much the process intimidated me, it was time to make a brush.

I began by reading DIY articles on making brushes. I cannot say that the brushes were entirely accurate, but I was able to take what seemed to work. And I did several, so I was able to take several different approaches. Some of the results I was not satisfied with, but they were not entirely dismaying!

Brushes were made from boar bristles or from squirrel fur. I was able to secure both, but the squirrel fur was intimidated me too much, so I still have a whole squirrel’s tale. I may use it someday, but I did find the boar bristles very easy—if frustrating at times—to work with.

I took the boar bristles and cut them to the desired sizes. They were cut a little longer than what the final result would be simply to be able to cut them down. I would take about twelve bristles, bend them double and bind them at the bend with hemp thread. Then, there were bent double. The bristles were obstinate, and this was not as easy as it sounds!

The handle part was a bit more iffy. I tried a wooden handle, and it was adequate but not satisfying. For the most part, handles were made of the quills—just like the quills used in making the quills—and vulture feathers were recommended. And then I discovered that vulture feathers were expensive! I bought one and used it. But frankly, I did not find that it was any more useful than the goose quills that were much less expensive. So most of the brushes I made were made from goose feathers.

The goose and the vulture feathers were treated in the same way. The feathery parts were stripped, which is actually a very simple thing to do. Pinch the barbs of the feather at the base of the shaft and just pull. It will usually zip off easily. Both sides must be stripped off. Then the open end must be reamed so that it is entirely empty. Some people say it must be soaked, but I found that a bit of overkill.

I took the bristle bundles and stuck them into the empty end. Ideally, you want to do so with about six benches, but the size of the quill opening determines how many are used for a brush. After a while, I discovered that a drop of glue in the empty space helped keep the bristles under control.

Then taking hemp thread, I would wrap the bristles. There is actually no way to describe what needs to be done to make it secure. You just see and feel it. I discovered that coating the thread in glue helped. Cheating? Maybe, but glue is my friend! It eliminated the need for knotting or otherwise securing the cord. I then put another coat of glue over the bound bristles just to make it more secure.

I was then able to trim the bristles to the desired size. I must admit that the bristles sometimes would not work together, so I needed to keep them together with little glue. The result was pleasing visually, and I used one a little but did not use any a lot. But for display, it was veery satisfying!


The clothlet was a piece of cloth impregnated with pigment (generally a vegetable dye), used to hold vegetable pigments in a dry format. A portion of such cloth, when soaked with a little gum arabic, releases its colors into the medium and produces an artist’s pigment. Clothlets were convenient way of carrying or shipping vegetal pigments, and they were especially popular from the fourteenth century on, with the growth of the textile trade, though they seemed to have existed in earlier times.

An early appearance of the clothlet was in the tenth-century Mappæ Clavicula. The earliest copy of the Mappae was a manuscript in the Benedictine monastery of Reichenau, dated to 821-822. The manuscript is no longer in existence. But later copies speak about a variety of colors derived from organic sources.

Production of clothlets is simple but time consuming. Basically, a pot of vegetable color is made by boiling the vegetable source of the dye in water. It must not be too watery. I made several batches, include woad, madder and weld. Several different colors could be made from a solution depending on the density of the solution. For example, these organic colors could produce blue, red, green and yellow. Experiment with the solutions

Gary Golding, who guided me in the production of clothlets, notes that “A clean linen cloth is dipped in pigment and allowed to air dry, then dipped and dried again and again until it’s impregnated with pigment.” The cloth is soaked in the solution and brought out to dry. I hung them from rods and allowed them to dry. I did this about twelve times for each piece. I used squares of white linen. These would be stored until needed, and a piece would be cut off. It could be soaked in glair or gum. In the morning, you should have a wash that is ready to use. Gary adds that “Organic pigments have poor coverage compared to mineral ones. Such pigments tended to have poor coverage and lightfastness and so were typically used as highlights or washes on other colors. This would then be used to highlight or wash the stronger mineral pigments…” These washes were often used to enhance other colors in a book illumination, since they created a rich, glowing, and transparent effect.

In period, clothlets were often stored in books. I have found that blank pages are recommended, since colors rub off onto the paper!


How well do you know the Early Middle Ages? As we get back into the school year, these questions might be of interest to students, and to new or inexperienced reemactors!

  1. Leicestershire
    A. Loncastre
    B. Lundenwic
    C. Lægreceastr
    D. Leòdhas
  2. The name of the most important Viking town in England was
    A. London
    B. Canterbury
    C. Jorvik
    D. Nottingham
  3. The poem “Beowulf” takes place in
    A. Iceland
    B. England
    C. Denmark
    D. Russia
  4. Sårkland was in Old Norse
    A. Muslim lands
    B. A fish farm
    C. A fallow field
    D. Scotland
  5. Blæland was in Old Norse
    A. Muslim lands
    B. A fish farm
    C. A fallow field
    D. Scotland
  6. Grænland was in Old Norse
    A. Greenland
    B. Greece
    C. Gotland
    D. Constantinople
  7. Miklegård was in Old Norse
    A. Greece
    B. Iceland
    C. Cathay
    D. Constantinople
  8. Undoubtedly real evidence for Norse in North America was
    A. The Vinland Map
    B. The Kensington Stone
    C. “Pathfinder”
    D. L’Ans Aux Meadows
  9. Grikkland was in Old Norse
    A. Poland
    B. Greece
    C. Serbia
    D. Sicily
  10. Ireland was in Old English
    A. Armagh
    B, Ísland
    C. Grænland
    D. Leprekhan
  11. The Mediterranean Sea was in Old English
    A. Heahsæ
    B. Wendelsæ
    C. Hierusalem Sæ
    D. The Middle Sæ
  12. Kent was in Old English
    A. Clarke
    B. Krít
    C. Camri
    D. Cent

answers: 1-C. 2-C. 3-C. 4-A. 5-A. 5-A. 6-A. 7-D. 8-D. 9-C. 10-A. 11-B. 12-D.


How well do you know the Early Middle Ages? As we get back into the school year, these questions might be of interest to students, and to new or inexperienced reemactors!

  1. The center of medieval maps was generally
    A. France
    B. Jerusalem
    C. China
    D. Rome
  2. 3. A quern stone was used for
    A. Washing clothes
    B. Grinding grains
    C. Mortar
    D. Executions
  3. The horns on Viking helmets were
    A. A length denoting the rank of the wearer
    B. Five Inches
    C. Ten Inches or More
    D. Viking Helmets had no horns
  4. The first white man to set foot in North America (west of Greenland) was
    A. Christopher Columbus
    B. Saint Brendan
    C. Bjarni Herjolfsson
    D. Leif Eiriksson
  5. A person of the Viking Age most likely would eat
    A. A jalapeño pepper
    B. A carrot
    C. A turnip
    D. A banana
  6. The term “Viking” refers to
    A. A job
    B. A style
    C. A military force
    D. A race
  7. The most popular pet for people in the Viking Age was
    A. A horse
    B. A dog
    C. A dragon
    D. A cat
  8. The British king with a coin with an Islamic text was
    A. Offa
    B. Alfred
    C. Arthur
    D. Richard
  9. The early Norse call spectacles
    A. Magik Eyes
    B. Nothing at all; there weren’t any
    C. Lens
    D. Bifockels
  10. Englisc parliaments were known as
    A. Things
    B. Parlements
    C. Senates
    D. Moots
  11. An ard was
    A. A light plough
    B. An ox
    C. An ale
    D. A small longship
  12. A gerefa was
    A. A reeve
    B. A broom
    C. A pastry
    D. A stableboy

answers: 1-B. 2-B. 3-D. 4-D. 5-C. 6-A. 7-B. 8-A. 9-B. 10-D, 11-A. 12-A.