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VIKING HIKING VII

COMMON ARTICLES OF CLOTHING Part Three

Much of the clothing of the time was unisex. Clothing that was worn mainly by one gender or the other is marked below with (m) or (f). Descriptions are taken from entries in Regia Anglorum’s Basic Clothing Guide.

Footwear

Shoes come down to us in various styles, and the York Archaeological Trust created a timeline that showed the various types in York. They were secured in various ways and were of different heights, though during this period they were not known to be higher than the just above the ankles.

They were all made of leather—goat leather was popular—and were turn-soled shoes. Welted, hard-soled shoes were not seen until the sixteenth century. Marc Carlson describes turn-soled shoes as “The shoe is made inside-out (with the flesh side outward) by sewing the lower edge of the upper to the edge of a single sole using an Edge-Flesh stitch. The shoe is then turned the right way round so that the grain side of the leather is on the outside of the shoe and the sole seam is now inside.”

Shoes of the time seem to have all been made from the same thickness of leather, but some shoes—especially by modern shoemakers—have soles of a heavier weight to increase its endurance and durability. It is worth noting that the soles are smooth (and not gridded or hobbed) and, therefore, quite slippery, though there is some suggestion that shoes of the time placed pitch on the soles to increase the amount of traction.

It is more appropriate to say that leather is water resistant rather than water proof. Leather has a tendency to absorb liquid, so that it will not be waterproof unless it is totally coated. A Norwegian reenacting group, Hands on History, makes turnshoes water resistant with liver oil, tallow, tar and bee’s wax cod. They note that liver oil is greatest ingredient.

Unless you are trying to mimic the discomfort of the period, putting in cushioned innersole that are unseen is generally not forbidden. Just as bringing necessary medicine is essential, so is making these very important compromises, and it is one of the compromises that is necessary.

Belts & Pouches

For our purposes, the difference between belts and sashes is that the belt—whether leather, card-woven or fabric—has a buckle and other furniture, such as strap ends, slides and plaques (obviously, the higher status you were, the more decorated the belt could be), though the belts you bring trekking should probably be rather simple and inexpensive. Belts and sashes were, for the most part thin and, from the buckles that are extant, no more than half an inch or three quarters of the inch in thickness. We allow belts to be an inch in thickness. The sashes might have been card-woven, fabric or merely cord or rope.

Tails of the belt should not be hanging down; this was a later fashion. A look at illustrations of belted tunics during the period and the popularity of belt slides also indicates that the ends of the belts were placed into the slide and not hung down from the buckle. Sashes were knotted, but lengthy tails might well be doubted.

Buckles, strap ends and slides were made of horn, bone or metal. Belts are not seen in illustrations, being obscured by rucked-up tunics or gowns.

Some illustrations suggest that the sash may have been wrapped around twice with a twist in it. Regia Anglorum notes that “It is interesting to note that strap ends but no buckles have been found in Viking women s graves, suggesting that waist ties rather than belts were worn.” Tools and personal ornaments are sometimes shown hanging from women’s sashes and tortoise brooches, but we cannot be sure how widespread this practice was.

Rather than going through a list of available types of pouches or purses, going through what might be contained in them and especially going through where and how they can be displayed—something covered exhaustively elsewhere, and we wrote an entire book on the subject—let us just make a statement. It is best to have a scrip that hangs from the neck. It is useful and can contain many useful things. These pouches may be fabric (hemp or flax linen) or leather. Pouches are seen in illustrations of the time, but Bible book bags of the time are extant and show how the pouches actually were made.

The other type of pouch you might want is a small drawstring pouch, but this is just cosmetic It is a great place to put in coins and slash silver, souvenirs and other inconsequential things. The drawstring pouch should be kept under your tunic for no other reason than to keep it safe.


VIKING HIKING VI

COMMON ARTICLES OF CLOTHING Part Two

Much of the clothing of the time was unisex. Clothing that was worn mainly by one gender or the other is marked below with (m) or (f). Descriptions are taken from entries in Regia Anglorum’s Basic Clothing Guide.

Dress (f)

Women did not wear trousers. In fact, a woman wearing trousers was a cause for divorce.

The woman’s overdress was generally ankle length with full-length sleeves. The tightness of the sleeves varied with time. The body of the dress was not tailored and similar in shape and construction to the male tunic. It may have been belted at the waist and sometimes pouched over exposing the hem of the underdress. Belts or sashes were usually restricted to the lower classes, allowing them to keep clothing from getting in the way of labor.

The underdress was usually made of linen or fine wool, ankle length. Sleeves were long and tight, and the ends extended to the middle of the hand and were then pushed up to the wrist. Hangerocs were the traditional Scandinavian over-dress, though it has been suggested—because of the disappearance of so-called tortoise brooches can no longer be found after the conversion—that it was a style worn by the heathens. There are several reconstructions of this garment.

Gloves

Gloves were coverings for the hands worn for protection. There were two purposes for gloves of the time, both practical. First, they could be used to protect the hand against heat, friction, abrasion and dirt while laboring. Second, they could protect the hand against the cold. Practical gloves were generally made out of leather or fur and wool, in three main versions.

Mittens, where a single sheath held the fingers together, was the most common and possibly the warmest. The individual fingered glove such as that common today was less frequently found and was probably preferred for work. The third variation—actually a variation of the glove style—were fingerless gloves where the palms are often padded to provide protection to the hand, and the exposed fingers do not interfere with sensation or gripping. Both glove and mitten have an individual thumb.

Trousers (m)

Trousers were mostly wool and seemed to have come in a variety of styles, both loose and tight fitting. There are few extant trousers—the pre-Viking era Þorsberg trousers are fairly complete—but our notions are mainly based on period illustrations and to a lesser degree on literary mentions. They were apparently held up both by drawstrings and by belts (with belt loops).

Tight leggings were similar to later hose and were apparently sometimes worn in period. They were usually separate and attached to a belt. In later times, garters were attached at the knee and the wearer rolled down the hose to cool the wearer. It is not known whether this was done at this period. The hose, like breeches, might have built-in socks.

Stockings & Socks

Hose was worn both by men and by women, though there is some suggestion that women wore garters. Both sexes did wear shorter socks. We have a few naalbound socks that are extant, but fabric sock tubes and even wrapped socks were also worn. There have been an indication that naalbound socks were thick enough that they could be worn as slippers, and I have personally done this! The naalbound socks are thick—at least at the beginning of their use—and provide excellent pads for the feet.

Plain white or grey socks are acceptable as long as they are mostly or entirely hidden from public view. Socks should not be loud or have designs of any sort.

Winingas—and many other names as well—were leg wraps later known as puttees, which went from the ankle to about the knee. There were several ways of wrapping them, and they were secured either with hooks or with various ties. There were mostly lengths of wool that were between two and three inches wide, about six to twelve feet long. They were probably mostly used by people in active trades or going through overgrown brush and would therefore be very useful for trekking. Evidence is scarce, but it would appear that types of Winingas were popular both with men and women.


VIKING HIKING V

COMMON ARTICLES OF CLOTHING Part One

Much of the clothing of the time was unisex. Clothing that was worn mainly by one gender or the other is marked below with (m) or (f). Descriptions are taken from entries in Regia Anglorum’s Basic Clothing Guide.

Headgear

Hoods are about the only way to keep the sun out of your eyes! The hood was often of wool of varying thicknesses. Hoods worn in the heat were much cooler than you might suppose. Not only did the wool breath, but gaps between the face and the hood allowed ventilation.

The big disadvantage of hoods was that the sides often drooped down over the eye on one side of the other, rendering the wearer half blind. It also insulated the ear, so that the wearer was effectively deaf, but the hood could easily be pulled down about the neck so that the blindness and deafness of the wearer could be alleviated.

The cap is a kind of soft, flat hat and comes in many variations down to the present day. Caps of the period did not have visors or brims.

Panel caps were used by the Norse more than for the Englisc. No naalbound caps have been found, so these caps were probably four- or six-paneled woolen caps. The use of furry bands around the outer band of the cap seem to be reenactorisms.

The Englisc had skull caps, made of leather or wool, more like yarmulkes than the panel caps. They fit higher on the head than the panel caps.

Women had three basic styles of headgear, though there were many variations:v

Arming caps, familiarly known as “Baby bonnets” were a later development and were not worn during this period. Straw and slouch hats were not used in this period. Straw hats might have been in use by the end of the period but were not common. The slouch hat, although appearing in non-period illustrations of Oðinn, actually date from a later period. The Phrygian cap was a style from classical times and is found in contemporary illustrations but was probably not found in this era.

Cloak

A rectangular or semi-circular piece of wool, often thick, secured at the neck with a pin of some sort. Most brooches or pins were on the right should (since the wearer was usually right-handed, and this made it easier to grab the sword), but they were also secured over the chest. Whether this style was used by women and people not armed, we cannot tell. The cloaks were worn both inside and outside since there was often no such thing as universal indoor heat!

The length of the cloak varied from a little below the waist to ankle length. For trekking, the length should probably be short enough for the hiker to move easily but long enough to keep him warn. Hoods were not attached to the cloak, though they were in later times.

Cloaks were not different for men and for women (and for children, except the size). Norse women also wore a triangular or rectangular shawl or cape, fastened at the neck with a brooch.

Not only did the cloaks keep a person warm, but they could be used as blankets. They should be tightly woven, which helps them to retain warmth and also protected against the wet.

The cloaks did not seem to be lined, but then few if any of the clothing of the time were lined. There are, of course, people who disagree with this, but we still urge that the cloak and any lining are the same color.

Mantles—essentially shorter cloaks and basically in the words of Regia Anglorum, “an oval shape with a hole in it for the head to pass through. It was sometimes worn over the wimple, sometimes under it”—were worn by wealthier women, and cloaks were often worn over the mantle while traveling.

Tunic (m)

The tunic was frequently worn by men during the Middle Ages. Formerly used as undergarments during antiquity, during the Middle Ages it became an outer garment, and an under-tunic was frequently worn as well.

Tunics of the time were loose and most frequently wool and more expensively linen. They were long sleeved, and the sleeves are usually “fairly loose on the upper arm but tighter on the forearm, often with creases or pleats shown round the lower arm. The skirts are full, frequently made fuller by the insertion of extra triangular panels at each side.” Viking tunics often descended to above the knees while Englisc tunics descended to below. In both cases, a belt or scarf was often used to ruck up the tunic, so that what belts were used at the time were often obscured (see the Julian work calendar).

Brooches or pins could be used at the collar to close the neckline or to secure any wrap-arounds. Buttons were known during the era but were not used to secure much clothing as they were in late eras.

It is worth noting that tunics were always worn; the male chest was not bared because that was a sign of effeminacy, indicating that the female chest could be bared (probably not sexual, just for nursing). Catherine Stallybrass notes, in the “Laxdaelasaga, I think, Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir marries her first husband (Þorvaldr Halldórsson) at the age of 15 and he turns out to be a man she cares little for. She makes him a low-cut shirt. This means that either he will refuse to wear it, in which case she can divorce him for unreasonable behaviour, or he wears it, in which case she can divorce him for effeminacy.” Trousers were taken off to avoid too much warmth; see the workers in the Julius work calendar.


VIKING HIKING IIII

COMPOSITIONS AND COLORS OF CLOTHING

You are not dressing for a royal progress. Dress for practicality and for comfort! Clothing should be made of unembroidered, untrimmed plain cloth. Fancy, expensive clothing should not be worn.

The fabric used should be wool, not linen. Not only was wool more common, but it was less expensive. And more practical than linen because the wool is far warmer and, even when it gets wet, remains warm and comfortable.

If allergic to wool, linen clothes may be worn beneath the wool. I consider it another medical necessity!

Colors are less important, though bright and expensive colors should be used seldom if at all. Regia Anglorum lists the status of colors as:

Lowest Rank

• Undyed Wool
• Cream
• Full range of Browns
• Grey
• Combinations of the above in weaves
• Unbleached linen (probably)
• Faded middle rank dyes

Low Middle Rank

Any of the above plus

• Weld: Yellow, Yellowy-Green, Moss Green.
• Wild Madder: Salmony-pink, Orange-brown, Bleached Linen.

Slightly Richer Middle Rank

Any of the above plus

• More intense madder Red from cultivated plants
• Woad: Blue
• Combinations of the above, e.g. Leaf Green, Bottle Green

High Rank

Any of the above plus

• Small amounts of Kermes Red (Cardinal Red)

High Clergy & Royalty

Any of the above plus

• Shellfish Purple
• Silk garments

The preferred colors for trekking are the lower, less expensive colors since dyed clothing was produced with more expensive dyes.

We will not be discussing jewelry, though we recommend that very elaborate jewelry be avoided. Some jewelry—especially some brooches and probably personally valuable pieces such as rings, armlets, beads (probably no more than three for a male)—will be covered.


VIKING HIKING III

SEWING KIT

Rips, tears and worn areas on your clothing happen and develop at all times. Repairs might not be essential or needed to be repaired or replaced immediately, but they might be very essential. At least you (or one person in your party if there is more than just you) should have carry an emergency sewing kit.

The kit needs not contain such things as a naalbinding needle, yarn, spindle or the like. If you want to use them for a project, that is one thing, but, it is suggested that these items are necessary:

• Linen or Hemp thread (on a period winder, not on a spool of wood or plastic)
• sinew (on a period winder, not on a spool of wood or plastic)
• At least one needle(steel, iron, bone or copper; make certain the eye is larger enough to accept the thread)
• At least one pin (steel, iron, bone or copper)
• snips or scissors
• fabric patches
• leather patches
• awl for leather
• A piece of wax

Contents of the kit should be kept in a period container, for example a small bentwood box or a bag of leather or wool, preferably red.

PRESENTING YOURSELF PROPERLY

The accuracy of your clothing does not rely on how fancy it is. Accuracy depends on three different points:

• Whether each article of clothing (and jewelry) has the proper number of documentable precedents, either visual, literary or an artefact
• Whether the majority of the clothing and equipment is from the same culture, time and social status (a single exception per impression is sometimes allowed by a variety of societies)
• Whether all the material used in sewing the clothing is period, namely wool, linen (flax, hemp or nettle) or leather/fur

What you choose the clothing for your trekking impression, realize that you are not choosing costume for a royal progress or for an encampment.

You are traveling by foot or by horse-, ass- or mule-back, not by ship or even by waggon. The gear gathered should be light and not cumbersome, and both easily transportable and furniture should be kept at home or at a major encampment and not carried on the trek. You should be wearing neither a maille shirt nor a helmet. You are out hunting or just traveling from one place to another.

Remember: you are attempting to embody the common everyday non-martial lifestyle of the day!


VIKING HIKING II

MODERN ESSENTIALS

Most modern objects should be avoided, but there are a few that should be included for safety reasons. However, if there is more than one member of the expedition, with a few exceptions these items should be entrusted to only one member of the expedition and not borne by all members.

• Keys and ID kept in a pouch
• Telephone (fully charged and not turned on)
• Compass and map or GPS (if not provided by the phone)
• First Aid Kit (see below)
• Small Camera (if not provided by the phone)
• Any necessary personal medication • Keys and ID kept in a pouch
• Telephone (fully charged and not turned on)
• Compass and map or GPS (if not provided by the phone)
• First Aid Kit (see below)
• Small Camera (if not provided by the phone)
• Any necessary personal medication
• Toilet Paper (you can use moss or vegetation…if you are certain it will be available and will not irritate your bottom if it is)
• Female necessities (each member of the expedition should have their own supply)
• Toilet Paper (you can use moss or vegetation…if you are certain it will be available and will not irritate your bottom if it is)
• Female necessities (each female member of the expedition should have their own supply)

Let a friend who is not going on the trek know your schedule, and agree to let that friend know when you get safely back into civilization.

A sounding horn (made from real horn) is not at all modern but can be essential in emergencies. Each person should have a horn that can be blown to let people know where they are if they get lost or to call for help.

FIRST AID KIT

Do I really have to waste any time explaining why you should have a first-aid kit when running around in the wilds with sharp tools and unpaved earth?

Rudimentary first aid kits may be purchased or built up personally. The following contents are suggested:

• Booklet explaining emergency procedures
• Gauze strips, gauge pads and tape (avoid plastic strips)
• Scissors to cut gauze or tape
• Antiseptic Wash
• Antibiotic Ointment
• Instant Cold Compress
• Thermometer
• Tweezers (modern tweezers might be more useful that period ones)
• Non-latex Health Care Gloves (I prefer Nitrile; for me, they must be large, but they come in a variety of sizes)
• Pain reliever such as aspirin, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (gear selection toward allergies of members of the expedition)
• Sunblock
• Insect Repellent or unguent if especially needed)

Contents of the kit should be kept in a period container, for example a small bentwood box or a bag of leather, linen or wool (a green bag is suggested and even required by some societies).

PERSONAL HYGIENE KIT

This is an ironic mixture of period and necessary. The whole idea is that th reenactor must be able to find items needed for everyday hygienic tasks that are period and accurate. The tools were sometimes joined together on a ring for future use.

Period and common alternatives for the tools are:

• Comb (usually bone or horn, sometimes wood; a comb was carried by virtually all people of the time)
• Earspoon (what I call a medieval Q-Tip, a metal spoon to help scoop wax out of the ear; we will not get into the use of the wax)
• Nail Pick (for cleaning under the finger nails)
• Tweezers (used for pulling out hairs but also splinters)
• Towel (can be just a piece of cloth)

There were no nail trimmers, so knives were probably used most often.

Tooth brushes and tooth paste were not introduced into Europe from China until the fifteenth or sixteenth century, but there have been suggested that people had small sticks with frayed ends that were used for brushing while the other ends were sharpened to be a sort of toothpick. This was often known as a chewstick and was sometimes made from aromatic sticks to freshen the breath. small kindling was used to polish the teeth. These sticks seem to have been temporary. Modern toothbrushes, with hog bristles as the brushes, were invented by William Addis in England around 1780.

A sort of toothpaste seems to have dated back to 5000 bce and was made of such ingredients as crushed bones and oyster shells, powdered charcoal and powdered bark.


VIKING HIKING I

Introduction

Call it Viking hiking, trekking, bushcraft, foot camping or some other term, it is an activity by living historians acting as experimental archaeologists and involved in recreating the Viking era (roughly 750 to 1100 ce for purposes of this essay)). Their research for historical trekking is accompanied by experimentation in historical situations, using the foods, tools, clothing, weapons and methods accurately recreating those used by the people of the era. The best way to preserve history is to research it, to experiment with recreating the culture and then to share the results of that research and experimentation with others.

Historical trekking is a way for Viking reenactors to learn and to experience first hand what life during the time was like. It is learning what, in the words of Nathan Jefferey, a person of the time “would have worn, used and experienced on their journeys into the woodlands….sometimes it is very hard to experience what they went through but by using what they used and wearing what they wore it is a way we can experience it and basically understand what our ancestors went through on their journeys and their hunts. It involves a lot of research. I suggest that you do research on your own.”

Keep a few things in mind when planning your trek:

• You are doing this for yourself, not to put on a show but to learn and to experience new things.
• Know your terrain! It might well be more exciting to explore and take things as they come, but…
• Realize that you may not know the time…not that you need to know an exact time. Hopefully, you can get an approximate idea of the time from the sun and perhaps from a mini-sundial
• Always consider weight and space when packing. Learn to do more with less!
• Leave no trace, pick up your trash and pick up the trash that others have left behind. Perhaps this is not period, but it shows a respect to the wilds that everyone should have!
• And remember that the lack of spectators is no excuse for shoddy standards and lack of accuracy!

NOTE ON ACCURACY

By accuracy, I am referring to accurate historically impressions in this chapbook. I prefer reenactors to be accurate—within th restrictions of safety. You are trying to re-create ordinary life. You need to have at least two (or possibly three for some societies) precedents for an activity or a piece of equipment. Any exceptions must be approved by your society’s Authenticity Officer and strictly limited.

This may not be your goal. If you have no qualms about wearing spectacles, tennis shoes and a nylon parka while doing your impression, this may not be the chapbook you are looking for!

DO NOT BRING

Tobacco

No!

No tobacco since it was unknown.

They did know about marijuana and apparently used it (see the Oseberg burial, where one woman had a bag of marijuana, perhaps for religious reasons). Do not include it if you are trekking in an area where it is illegal.

Spectacles

No!

No framed eyeglasses of any kind that did not have to be held up to the eye in some manner existed even after the invention of spectacles. There are many conflicting stories about when frames were first invented, but even the earliest was long after the Viking Age.

Spectacles themselves were invented around 1258 (for near-sightedness; various crystals and glass lenses date back to at least the fifth century, but various methods of magnification appear to have existed for a long time). Telescopes were invented in 1608 and although experiments with binoculars started soon after, modern binoculars date only from the middle of the nineteenth century.

No sunglasses (make certain you have a hood).

If you need a corrective lens from time to time, pack a magnifying lens, preferably of a period type. Draw it out only when it is needed.

Flashlights

They probably did not even have candle lanterns.

Matches or Lighters

If you want fire, learn how to produce it using flint and steel.

Paperback Books

See the section below on Writing and Reading to see what is acceptable. Hint: Even Game of Thrones is not!

Videos

No no no!


GRAFFITI

The blank wall by the Mooby’s Burger is aching for some period graffiti! Variations that inspired those noted below were carved in runes, but you don’t have to do that. Illustrations were often included or used instead of the words.

Variations of the graffiti text includes:

NN fucked. NN carved.
These rules were carved by the man most skilled in runes on the Western Ocean with the axe that killed the son of NN in the South of Iceland.
In the northwest, great treasure is hidden.
Jerusalem men broke into this hill.
NN is the most beautiful of all women.
NN is a horny bitch.
NN was here.
NN made this cross.
Is to me said that treasure is here hidden very well.
NN the Dane was weary when he came here.
NN the fair widow – many a woman has walked stooping in here a very showy person.
This mound was raised by NN SS when his sons were brave smooth-hide men.
NN the son of NN carved these runes
NN SS carved these runes
These runes were carved by the man most skilled in runes in the western ocean
NN SS carved these runes high up
NN SS carved these runes with this axe owned by NN SS in the South land
The son of NN says in the runes he carves his father ventured bravely.
NN the cook of the jarl carved these runes.
To the north-west is a great treasure hidden.
It was long ago that a great treasure was hidden here. Happy is he that might find that great treasure.
NN alone bore treasure from this mound. Carved by NN SS.
It is surely true what I say than treasure was taken away.
Treasure was carried off in three nights.
NN to me said that treasure is here hidden very well.
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.

Notes

NN stands for the personal name, and SS stands for the soubriquet or patronymic. The originals were founds in “11 Samples of Authentic Viking Graffiti.” and “Maeshowe’s runes – Viking graffiti.”


WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A VIKING FILM

Well, historical films in general. Are historical films education or entertainment?

Let’s face it. Even documentaries are entertainment. Some reenactors are angry at any film that is not a hundred percent accurate. To them, the value of a film is not economic—anyone giving money to a film should be doing it for love of history—but educational. If someone is wearing a tunic that is not hand sewn—and they have turned their magnifying glasses onto enlargements of stills from the film—the entire effort is rubbish. Let’s face it. No one is ever going to come up with a cinematic effort that will please them any better than a book of popular history!

Of course, more knowledgeable people—and we are speaking about more knowledgeable about history as well as more knowledgeable about how the real world operates—say something different. Jackson Crawford is most concerned about his specialty, linguistics, and has posted a vlog that should have these experts dancing in fury. Jim Grossman, Executive Director of the American Historical Association notes in the words of Elisabeth Grant, “how movies can be used to generate questions, start discussions, and in the end, teach history.” George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels and the Richard Lester “Three Musketeers”, said that “in a way, Hollywood has been a great historical educator, because if you or I or anyone else thinks of ancient Rome, you probably think of something you’ve seen in the movies. Who would know what the Romans wore or looked like or a chariot race looked like if they hadn’t seen Ben Hur? Who would know what a Philistine temple looked like if Victor Mature hadn’t pushed one over? I think we get more vivid pictures of history from the movies than we ever get from histories. Sometimes there are minor distortions, sometimes there are major distortions, but one can be pretty sure the background detail has been accurately researched.” And Norman Cantor writes in The Civilization of the Middle Ages, “Films are not a substitute for history books, but films can evoke the ambience and sensibility, as well as the visual locus, of the Middle Ages, not only in a supplementary reinforcing and entertaining manner, but sometimes in a distinctively perceptive and persuasive manner.”

I am a reenactor and not in any sense a professional historian. I was trained as a news-editorial writer. When I approach an historical film, I judge it by five factors:

1—Does the film-makers claim the film is accurate?

“The Pathfinder”—the remake, not excellent original also known as “Ofelas”—claims to be optimized for accuracy. Perhaps for the American Indians—not my forté—but certain not for he Norse with their horns helmets and plate armor!

2—Is the costuming accurate?

One might find this the most important thing. Films and television that will often make the clothing flattering for a star without any regard to accuracy. See, for example, “The Long Ships,” where Richard Widmark might look splendid while wearing something that is as accurate as a parka and sneakers! (Let us not talk about the buoyant golden bell)

3—Are the props accurate?

Actually, often more care is taken in background props. For example, the props in “The Vikings” are much better researched and manufactured than the clothing! This does not mean, of course, that they are all accurate to the period and not mixed with props from other eras.

4—Is there a consistent effort to make things accurate?

Just tossing in bits of history from other times—such as the armor in “The Thirteenth Warrior”—can often be confusing or prompting incorrect assumptions.

5—Is it a good story that makes no claim at accuracy?

I absolutely despised the History Channel’s “The Vikings” not only because they claimed absolutely accuracy without providing it but because the story sucked. On the other hand, I loved the Curtiz “Adventures of Robin Hood” because it had a cracking storyline and made no pretensions of its terrible and anachronistic costuming or plot and still think it one of the best historical films around!

For me, claiming accuracy while not really caring about the accuracy is the most important thing in my perception of a film. While it is perhaps hypocritical to look down on lying in a work of fiction, there are times when I cannot help look poorly on what might be a trivial inaccuracy! I stopped watching “Rome” when a market had some orange carrots! 🙂

As I said, these are the questions I have. You might have more and different questions.


BOOK CURSES

Books of the time were valuable. They were all hand produced, important and loved beyond the actual worth. So what do you do during a time when mythology and superstition ran things?

You include a written curse to protect the valuable thing you love!

Here are a few curses that were included in books of the time, that you can include in your own books (I recommend them being used in accurate replicas, but that are often not.

If anyone take away this book, let him die the death. Let him be fried in a pan. Let the falling sickness and fever seize him. Let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen.

The finished book before you lies. This humble scribe don’t criticize. Whoever takes away this book may he never on Christ look. Whoever to steal this volume durst may he be killed as one accursed. Whoever to steal this volume tries out with his eyes, out with his eyes!

This book belongs to none but me For there’s my name inside to see. To steal this book, if you should try, it’s by the throat you’ll hang high. And ravens then will gather ’bout to find your eyes and pull them out. And when you’re screaming “oh, oh, oh!” Remember, you deserved this woe.

This is the book of St. James of Wigmore. If anyone takes it away or maliciously destroys this notice in taking it away from the above-mentioned place, may he be tied by the chain of greater excommunication. Amen. So be it. So be it. So be it.

Whoever steals this Book of Prayer may he be ripped apart by swine, his heart be splintered, this I swear, and his body dragged along the Rhine. May no one believe that ever have I been taken, but that happily this place never have I forsaken. Yet may no one doubt that the wrath of God upon him will fall if he essays to take me from the confines of St. Gall.

The book of Saint Marie and Saint Liborius in Patherburnen. A curse upon the one who takes this book, a blessing upon the one who keeps it safe. If anyone removes or cuts a page, may he be accursed.

Whoever steals this book will hang on a gallows in Paris, and, if he isn’t hung, he’ll drown, and, if he doesn’t drown, he’ll roast, and, if he doesn’t roast, a worse end will befall him.

This book belongs to St Mary of Robertsbridge. Whosoever shall steal it, or sell it, or in any way alienate it from this House, or mutilate it, let him be anathema-marantha. Amen.

I John, Bishop of Exeter, know not where the aforesaid House is, nor did I steal this book, but acquired it in a lawful way.

Hanging will do for him who steals you.

There are many other curses of varying severest and entertainment. Marc Drogin compiled an interesting and entertaining book of curses, Anathema!: Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses.


AN END OF THE YEAR INDULGENCE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY-4

Without knowing what I was going to finish up doing, I started to work on a personal version of the Bayeux Embroidery. Not embroidery or fabric, since I am a graphic arts person. I was uncertain if it would be a comic book, or a bunch of characters based on various folc and I hope one day to expand it to an annotated versions. But I hope the effort intrigues you so much that you want to do one for your group or society!


AN END OF THE YEAR INDULGENCE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY-3

Without knowing what I was going to finish up doing, I started to work on a personal version of the Bayeux Embroidery. Not embroidery or fabric, since I am a graphic arts person. I was uncertain if it would be a comic book, or a bunch of characters based on various folc and I hope one day to expand it to an annotated versions. But I hope the effort intrigues you so much that you want to do one for your group or society!


AN END OF THE YEAR INDULGENCE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY-2

Without knowing what I was going to finish up doing, I started to work on a personal version of the Bayeux Embroidery. Not embroidery or fabric, since I am a graphic arts person. I was uncertain if it would be a comic book, or a bunch of characters based on various folc and I hope one day to expand it to an annotated versions. But I hope the effort intrigues you so much that you want to do one for your group or society

!


AN END OF THE YEAR INDULGENCE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY-1

Without knowing what I was going to finish up doing, I started to work on a personal version of the Bayeux Embroidery. Not embroidery or fabric, since I am a graphic arts person. I was uncertain if it would be a comic book, or a bunch of characters based on various folc and I hope one day to expand it to an annotated versions. But I hope the effort intrigues you so much that you want to do one for your group or society!


WITHOUT A WORD X: NEEDLE

Monastic sign language has been used in Europe from at least the tenth century by monks of the Benedictine Order because “silence is a virtue.” It was a method using a hand lexicon to name certain commonplace things without speaking aloud. It is not a language, per sé, like ASL, though very useful. This article was inspired by Debby Banham’s The Anglo-Saxon Monastic Sign Language.

If you need a needle, fold the hem of your left sleeve in your right hand over your left forefinger and make a motion over it with three fingers as if sewing.


MINI SEAX

Watched two Woody Fields films (without commentary; I have four more on order!) and mounted my mini-seax/patch knife. Rather pleased with the results!

I received the knife from Townsends and may be ordering five or six more because I kept thinking of other variations I can do, and I’m thinking a few more for sale when we get back to events (Miss Julie says, it is rather cute)! Most knives from Townsend are slab tanged, but those of our time the knife at least could be rat tanged. I’ll be making sheathes for them as well.

I have three small seaxes that are period. Not very popular because buyers want big mucking blades they can hang beneath their six-inch wide belts…


FIRST MICEL FOLCLAND PUB QUIZ!

Don’t be a luddyduddy, don’t be a mooncalf, don’t be a jabbernow! Join us for the first Micel Folcland Pub Quiz! We are going to have the first Micel Folcland Pub Quiz on Thursday, 9 December at 6 cst on Zoom. Hopefully, you will find it as much fun as the last year and a half of Regia Pub Quizzes have been! And there will be time for show and tell, q&a and other things that will help bring members of the group and others interested in Viking Age reenacting together!

Here is a possible question. Questions do not necessarily have to do with our era and culture, but I think they are all interesting and informative!

What is the tallest statue in the world, where is it, how tall is it and when was it completed?

You do not have to be a member of Regia Anglorum to attend!


WHEN IS THE VIKING AGE?

People seem to love to define eras very precisely. But then most people love to make definitions and then argue like crazy with anyone who has a different idea. For the most part, the common education system relies on being able to make these definitions.

I suppose that I am no exception. So…

I define the Viking Age as the time when the Viking ship—the drakkar, the knarr and the othwr types—was the greatest weapons of the time, just as the atomic bomb was the greatest weapon of the Atomic Age. The Viking ship was about the foremost of its time, though variations leading up to its invention could be found in many culture prior to their appearance on the scene. They were shallow, clinker-built ships propelled both by sail and by oars. They were quick and maneuverable, perfect for hit-and-run raids/expeditions.

The Viking ship was invented in…well, we do not know. It was probably a developed over many years, and not only is it difficult to say when it was developed, it is difficult to say at what step you could call it a Viking ship. And though many smaller boats today are built on the Viking ship ideal, when can you definitely say that the Viking ship was no longer made except as reproductions. They tried experiments—like a castle such as the cog, which succeeded it, had at its stern and sometimes both ends and never quite worked. But at either end of the timeline, they were not the preeminent weapon of the time…even if the exact times cannot be pinpointed.

Vikings were thugs. Many people try to portray them as bucolic, peaceful flower children who probably wandered around with flowers in their hair. But if you read the descriptions by contemporaries (…the raiding-army became much stirred up against the bishop, because he did not want to offer them any money, and forbade that anything might be granted in return for him. Also they were very drunk, because there was wine brought from the south. Then they seized the bishop, led him to their hustings on the Saturday in the octave of Easter, and then pelted him there with bones and the heads of cattle; and one of them struck him on the head with the butt of an axe, so that with the blow he sank down and his holy blood fell on the earth, and sent forth his holy soul to God’s kingdom.” Anglo-Saxon Chronicle translated by Michael Butler Swanton) and even by their own sagas (“Next morning they found Hálfdán Hálegg on Rinar’s Hill. The Earl made a blood eagle be cut on his back with the sword, and had his ribs severed from the back-bone, and his lungs pulled out. Thus he gave him to Odinn as an offering for victory…” Orkneyin Saga, translated by Jon A Hjaltalin and Gilbert Goudie), they were thugs. Of course, as I have said so many times before, everybody of the time were thugs! It is very hard for me to exclude everyone but the Norse in the Viking Age. For example, the Englisc and the Norse were very similar. Differences were in the details (and that is the source of accuracy, so do not lecture me 🙂 ). So never think the Viking Age just said one side of the struggle was evil!

To be succinct, my definition of the Viking Ages is not the common 783–1066 (the raid on Lindisfarn until Stamford Bridge. After all, there were earlier Viking raids on many less famous locations (Iona and Portland for example) and the Vikings still made raids later (the 1070 claim of England by Sven Estridsson at Humber to claim England and even later), but this is mainly an English definition, and the definition is different in other locations. I like round numbers. For no specific reason, I define the Viking Age as 750–1100. Your definition might—should!—be different!

What started my musings on the matter was a video by The Welsh Viking. It is a thoughtful and perhaps controversial piece. Watch it, think and do not accept what others are stating as fact. What is your definition of the Viking Age?

(Though I disagree with his assertion that you have to be a heathen to be a Viking…)


WITHOUT A WORD VIIII: SHEARS

Monastic sign language has been used in Europe from at least the tenth century by monks of the Benedictine Order because “silence is a virtue.” // // It was a method using a hand lexicon to name certain commonplace things without speaking aloud. It is not a language, per sé, like ASL, though very useful. This article was inspired by Debby Banham’s The Anglo-Saxon Monastic Sign Language.

The sign of shears is to move the forefinger and middle finger of your right hand on some cloth, as if to cut it with shears.


PROJECTS FOR THE PANDEMIC VIII: MAKING A HOME FOR YOUR SEAX

I purchased two seax blades—from Germany, one more of a scramseax, a contemporary term sometimes used for longer seaxes. Damascus steel and pretty darned pretty! I won’t go into hilting them, because I did not use a ferrule and just attached the blade to the hilt through a hole driven in the wood. Some note that this is done by heating the tang, but I have personally never been able to heat it enough. YMMV.

However, I would like to speak a little on the sheath for the smaller seax. In fact, the necessity for making new sheathes was one of the reasons I purchased the blades in the first place.

While many people might not believe it, we have plenty of artefactual evidence for how seaxes were carried in the day! I consulted a favorite book, Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York by Quita Mould. Ian Carlisle and Esther Camerom, published by the Council for British Archaeology. It has a variety of shapes that have been found in Coppergate. I already an idea of what shape of sheath I wanted. I considered using a brass edge, as many sheathes of the period were so edged, though I consider that not only a trifle posh but a bit beyond my metal-working skills! I found a shape that I liked and used it, while changing the stitching a little so that I used a chain stitch on the outside, without any wood that the leather covered.

I chose veggie-tanned leather, about .24 inches (2.3 mm) thick. The size of the sheath itself is determined by the length and size. By trial and error—not much by this time—I determined how to cut the leather by laying the shape found in the book against it. I then bent it double and clamped the sides together, punching sewing holes with an awl, Using the two-needle method, I sewed the sheath in a lock/saddle stitch, sewing it with waxed 5 ply linen thread (sinew could be used as well, though you should stay away from cotton or polyester thread). I tied off the ends to make the stitching more secure.

I inserted the knife into the sheath and then dunked it in water so that the leather would shape and constrict. I did learn to be careful clamping, since there is a tendency for metal clips to discolor and streak the wet leather. Make certain there is enough room for the seax to enter and to leave the sheath easily. Oil, while making it easier for the leather to hold the shape, has a tendency to discolor the leather as well.

I finished it off by punching a hole into the sheath where it was indicated on the drawing. I used leather on the first and a hemp cord on the second, then attached it to my belt so that it hung usefully at my side. Wearing it tht way in a modern flding chair dangerously entanmgled it, so using a period stool or bech is more important than just being accurate!

Although YAT has found red-dyed leather sheathes and thinks additional colors were plausible, I did not dye the leather. The leather discolors naturally, assuming a pleasant patina, and I like the effect. Period sheaths were also often decorated with leather carving, using popular designs, so you can use knives or stamps on the finished sheath.


WITHOUT A WORD VII: EGGS

Monastic sign language has been used in Europe from at least the tenth century by monks of the Benedictine Order because “silence is a virtue.” It was a method using a hand lexicon to name certain commonplace things without speaking aloud. It is not a language, per sé, like ASL, though very useful. This article was inspired by Debby Banham’s The Anglo-Saxon Monastic Sign Language.

If you need eggs, scrape with your finger up on your left thumb.


MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION: IIII

Here are a few possible occupations, separated according to gender. Many occupations could be followed by members of either gender, though there were more of one than the other, and. This is only a sampling:

Male

Artist, Painter, Scribe
Bee Keeper
Beggar
Brewer
Carpenter
Cook
Egg (Wild) Collector
Farmer
Fisherman
Fyrdsman (militia)
Hunter
Jeweler
Læce (doctor)
Lord
Lady
Miller
Miner
Moneyer
Monk
Potter
Priest
Sailor
Shepherdess
Skald, Scop
Slave (Þrall or Þraell)
Tradesman
Warrior (Professional)
Warrior

Female

Artist, Painter, Scribe
Beggar
Brewer
Cook
Concubine (prostition was apparently not found until later)
Dyer
Farmer
Jeweler
Laundress
Læce (doctor)
Lady
Potter
Nun
Shepherdess
Slave (Þrall, Þraell or ammmmm)
Tradeswoman
Camp Follower
Weaver

The Final Impression

There is no such thing as a final, finished impression. It should always be added to and corrected to depending on research and new discoveries or interpretations. But above all else, your impression and its construction should be fun! So, have fun and good luck!


MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION: III

Primary Questions

These a few standard questions that should be answered as you finalize or refine your impression:

• What is your name?
• Where were you born?
• Do you read and write?
• What is your state of health?
• What diseases have you suffered?
• Are you married? Divorced Widowed?
• Do you have any unique skills or talents?
• How do you get from one place to the other?
• Are there customary talents that are common to your station and class?
• What clothing is typical of your station?
• Do you own property?
• What is your occupation?

Occupation

There was a wide variety of jobs that were practiced in the early middle ages. Some of the job titles originated or were popular only later, but they were performed throughout much of the early middle ages.

Many of these jobs were trained positions, so that craftsmen specialized even in homes, and persons might identify as a practitioner of more than one occupation. Most were not full time employments, and it is misleading to say most were professions.

In our next installment, we will list some of the occupations. Many occupations were hereditary and even became used for later names though there were temporary exceptions, based on current needs!


MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION: II

CONSTRUCTING YOUR IMPRESSION

Name

What name do you use in reenacting? Is it the original form of the name or atranslation of the original Norse name? Is it a modernization or an Anglicization or some other transformation?

The use of a transformed name is rather endemic in many of the books that are otherwise full of vital information. There is an attempt, it seems, to make the modern spellings and pronunciations of the names, probably to make things more comfortable for the mainstream reader. However, looking at any good book, there is often an attempt to compromise between these two. If you want a name in its original form, the name that is given in the modern, more instantly recognizable form, you often find that the traditional form is given as well, in parentheses, in a footnote or even in an endnote. If it is not there and you want to use the original name, you should be able to track it down easily on the internet.

The reenactor must also deal with this, and there is no perfect answer. Just be very careful not to mix the names at a reenactment, which comes very close to intermingling the names of Greek and Roman Gods in the same project, a situation that is immediately hilarious in many cases. I prefer the use of a totally period name, but even that becomes questionable because in most cases, it is a modern interpretation that may or may not have been used in period.

When choosing a name, make certain that you know how and why names were constructed, and know the accuracy of the source. While it may be amusing to know the supposed meaning of a name, it is more important to know its origins. The baby-name books which list names and their meanings, however, might be amusing but are generally of very doubtful accuracy and should be regarded only s a starting point for further investigation.

Ethnicity, Class & Nationality

Keep in mind that ethnicity, class and nationality—or the combination hereof—will determine not only your name, often your costume (while styles of costume did not vary from location to location, details did have an effect) and must be considered. The addition of a single piece from another ethnicity or nationality is allowed by most groups, though more than one specific inclusion shoul be seen at single event since the common goal of living history is to represent everyday life. Ethnicity and nationality are also determined by feasability, since the goal for true living history is historic accuracy and not cheap pulp fantasy.

What ethnicity and nationality does not necessarily determine is the skin color. From ancient times, people of different races were easily found in the same ethnicity, class or nationality. Illustrations from the time indicate this, though primary literary sources do not since it was of such little importance to them. Racial prejudices seem to have started much later; at this time, religious prejudices were much more important!