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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wareham Forge makes the News...

... as in 'ThorNews'
https://thornews.com/

ThorNews describes itself as 'a supplier of Norwegian Culture' - with a very heavy load of Viking Age topics represented.

Author Thor Lanesskog had chosen to use an image of a group of replica spears I had made to help illustrate today's blog post :

The Viking Age Spears – “The Ones Who Stare from a Long Distance”

on


" The majority of the spears are decorated with fish bone patterns, pattern forged along the middle of the blade " 

I sent back a bit of a clarification :

The 'forged pattern' is the result of welding layers of soft and hard iron metals together, then twisting and welding again, most typically to form the core part of a blade. There are some (unresolved) questions about why this method, called 'pattern welding' in archaeology, was undertaken originally. It can provide functional advantages, especially for long blades (so with swords). It may be as simple as building up a larger block when all the smith had were small pieces. The techniques were also clearly used for their decorative effects. Spears using pattern welding a very good example.
'Wolf's Tooth' actually refers to a specific effect caused by a specific method of working with the starting layered bars. I would refer you to the work of British blacksmith Owen Bush, who I know has investigated how to duplicate those specific patterns. 


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DARC at Vinland - seen on ExARC!




https://exarc.net/issue-2017-4/mm/dark-ages-recreation-company-lanse-aux-meadows-nhsc-2017

Neil Peterson, with additions from DARC members Marcus, Kate and Karen, has had a very complete summary of the group's July 2107 presentation at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC published in the journal ExARC.


Abstract:
To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the historical interpretation program at L’Anse aux Meadows, NHSC, Parks Canada invested to extend their regular staff with a 10 day special program. Darrell Markewitz, the designer of the original program, and the Dark Ages Recreation Company (DARC) returned once again to this UNESCO World Heritage site to interact with the staff and public and mount displays of various craft activities.

The article details the public presentations and experimental archaeology projects carried out over the 11 day stay by a total of 14 DARC members.
Mounting such a major display, 3000 km from home base in Ontario, represents a major effort for DARC.

Next up for the group? 


Participating in the Royal Ontario Museum's presentation of 'Vikings' - a traveling exhibit from the Swedish History Museum

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Making glass beads from the past

Making glass beads from the past

EuroREA 7 (2010) Jannika GRIMBE https://exarc.net/files/exarc-eurorea_7_2010-making_glass_beads_from_the_past.pdf
This is a nice little (4 page) article on Jannika's experimental bead making. The first page covers the usual archaeological evidence and background on Viking Era beadmaking. There are a lot of assumptions being made, and statements for which I would love to see citations. For example, the metal plate from Ribe is presented conclusively as a pre-heating plate for glass fragments before adding them to a punty rod. While that is one possible idea there are other suggestions for that plate that have been made over the years. Her final bullet point in the archaeological section mentioned that "Analyses of 'non-glass' rests in the bead holes of beads from Ribe prove the use of separators". Statements like that really do require citations. On the plus side, a citation does appear on page three when the point is repeated.

The second page begins with a discussion of the furnaces. Sadly, she begins her discussion with "Since there is no knowledge about what the prehistoric furnaces looked like". This is simply false. The hearths from Ribe have published shapes and dimensions. Any effort to re-create the furnaces must begin with an understanding of that basic fact. If your furnace design is going to deviate from those bases you need to explain why you chose to do so.

The practical experiments were quite interesting as she worked heavily with punty rods. This isn't something we have done a lot of work with ourselves but is certainly a reasonable area to explore. I am happy to see someone exploring it. A method she did not try for working with a punty rod, which we have done, and is done today by Turkish beadmakers is to use a crucible to collect and melt the fragments. The rod can then be inserted into the crucible and the glass collected on it for future use. See for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G5EMXekreM. The experimental sequence involving resists ("rests" according to the article),  is very much worth the read. Some good basic options of clay and salt are tested and discussed. Overall a good experimental summary.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

the Galloway Hord...


At the National Museum of Scotland - Edenburgh :


Lower groupping of arm 'rings'

Upper grouping of ingots and worked strips

Revealed in the two cases above :
- Several of the ingots were clearly made in the same top poured mould. There was a distinctive knob feature seen, from a deeper cut to one end of the mould.
- The arm rings were all considerably thicker in cross section than I previously thought. (Exact L x W x H x weight is rarely indicated.)
- Seeing the ingots and the arm rings side by side certainly suggested that the arm rings were made by simply hammering flat the ingots. The sizes of the bracelets was very uniform, and the volume of metal from ingot into ring was very consistent.
- You also can see that all of the 'rings' are in fact flattened strips - not formed into C shapes at all.
This might easily have been done to keep the package of silver small for burial. That many of the bracelets have been deliberately turned over and squished flat on one or both does suggest that all the silver, worked or ingot, was only intended as silver weight.

Pair of fine silver hinged strap orniments - considered very unusual for VA finds

These large glass pieces were described as 'beads'
The large flattened disks were roughly 3 - 4 cm in diameter, with hole diameters approaching 1 cm.
The largest, to the lower right, was almost double even that mass of glass.
Taken together, this huge size suggests to me that these might easily have been intended as spindle whorls.

Not everything from the Hord was on display. Especially most of the more 'unusual' objects (likely still under preservation work).
For more images - go to the Galloway Hord at the NMS



We have to raise £1.98 million to save the Hoard, and in addition we need  to raise additional funds to properly conserve, research and prepare the Galloway Hoard for display, (NMS web site)
 The Hoard was uncovered by a single individual, so it would fall under Scottish 'Treasure Trove' law. It appears that although technically all  such finds revert 'ownership' to the Scottish Crown, in practice, an independant pannel determines a 'market value', which museums normally pay to the original finder.


Images :
The National Museum of Scotland allows for full photography in all its galleries.
All the images above were taken by myself on August 9, 2017
Although captured as photographs, the copyright to the text panels really rests with the NMS.

Cross Posted from 'Hammered Out Bits'

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Adventures of 'Snorrette'


Well, here I am at the Crannog.
Sorry that I'm such a mess - I still can't seem to find all my clothes!

The iron smelt here was a bit of a mess, mainly from rushing things and limited tools to fix problems as they happened. If you want to see any of that, do check the blog post.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Iron Smelt at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC

This is a fast report on the bloomery iron smelt undertaken by a Parks Canada team, with some assistance from DARC, on Sunday July 16, 2017 - at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC.
This was in conjunction with 'Historic Sites Day' - and in turn part of the ongoing Canada 150 events.

This is only the second time in the modern era that iron has been smelted at LAM, since Leif Eirikson and his crew undertook the process some time about 1000 AD.

This iron smelt was a very long one.

The 'smelt master' was Mark Pilgrim ('Little Ragnar'). He and I started at 7:00 am with the organization and pre-heat.
Main sequence start with ungraded charcoal at 10:45
(from here on constant bellows work by Ian / Kevin / 'Thorstien')
First ore (DD2 Analog) at 12:00
A bit of mix up there, poor communications / instruction (?) resulted
in the first charge being a full 2 kg , followed by a more normal 1 kg
amount.
Burn times ran an average of about 20 minutes each (fastest = 17 /
slowest = 29)
Total of 29 kg ore was charged, last addition at 5:36

Although the normal burn down to ready for extraction was finished at
6:45, the extraction was delayed to about 7:30 to allow the visiting
group from C-3 to assemble.
The end result of this was that the furnace interior had cooled, the
normally white hot bloom had shifted down to at best a bright orange.
This in turn resulted in great difficulty separating the bloom from
the slag bowl - and the slag bowl becoming completely frozen to the
furnace walls.
Mark undertook the extraction process, but in the end had to break the
furnace apart to free the mass.

Top of Bloom - showing 'scoop' from air blast.

The end result was a 5.5 kg bloom. Yield = 19 %

This is still a bit lacy on the outside, due to initial compaction
being undertaken well below the normal welding heat. Still the bloom
looks and feels quite solid under the hammer. This a marked contrast
to the crumbly texture of the 2010 results.

Cut (and broken) along the mid line. Top 'half' is to left.

Impressive work by all involved!


Saturday, July 1, 2017

DARC to Vinland - 2010 view


DARC will be returning to Vinland!

Ragnarr Ragnarson will once again be gathering his band of friends and heading of into the West. (You think by now we would have learned not to trust his navigation skills!)

Members of DARC will be expanding the regular Encampment program at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC from July 15 through 23, 2017. The highlight will be July 16 - with a full re-creation of the first iron smelt in North America (originally undertaken by Leif Eirikson's crew some time about 1000 AD).

To give you a hint at what you might see in this special presentation for Parks Canada and Canada 150 - here are some images from past voyages:

2010























All images by Paul Halasz - © 2010