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Saturday, August 28, 2010

DARC is done with L'Anse aux Meadows

DARC's time at L'Anse aux Meadows has come to an end. Our too short ten day contract ended, and sadly, we are heading home. More images will come as we get them collected from everyone and sorted, but here's a few more from our last day on site.

Egil is one of the permanent staff at LAM, found here cooking over the open fire. He is a fun fellow and quite the musician and storyteller.

These folks descended on Ragnarr to trade with him. From Ragnarr, going left, we have Thora, Astrid, Emundr, Emma and Katla. Thora is also part of the permanent staff - the others are various associated children. Ragnarr says the kids really got the better of him in that deal.

Thorgrimr and Egil discuss the merits of a trade they have in mind. Thorgrimr is eyeing a whale rib that Egil has and Egil is eager to have Thorgrimr's bow harp.

Thorgrimr is a master carver, and Egil an extremely talented musician.

It seems the bargain is struck and both men are happy with the deal.

And finally, some simple domestics - Audr made a bag of netting and some wool is being washed in the nearby stream.

Monday, August 23, 2010

DARC does L'Anse aux Meadows - the days are blurring

A great many things have been happening on the site at L'anse aux Meadows lately.

Kaðlín has finished warping up the loom and begun weaving. She's got 4 inches and counting now...

On Monday we repeated the bead melt. The furnace had no problems with the second heat. In our first attempt last week, the wind caused the beads to cool too fast and break before we could anneal them.

Today there was no wind! Today we managed to make all but two of the beads survive. Several visitors and staff had the chance to try and make a bead (many of them decorated). For Hrobjartr and Ragnarr it was very much a successful experiment. More pictures will follow.

"It was this big", or maybe "Bless this bloom" - Ketill caught during one of the explanations he gave on saturday as the smelt progressed. It was a wonderful thing to be able to run a smelt on the same ground where the vikings did it a thousand years ago - using tools and techniques that we reasonably believe the Norse used. And we wound up with a workable bloom of iron.

Thorgeir working with the spring pole lathe to turn a bowl while Jorunn makes use of the carving bench to work some wood.

Grimbold explaining to the visitors how a spring pole lathe works and the products that can be produced on one.

Cousin IT or perhaps Grettir Blackhands working on breaking charcoal to the correct size for the smelt that was held on Saturday. More on that later but it was indeed a big success.

Two more days remain!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hi there,

It's Grondzilla here, volunteering my services as the blogger for the day based on a certain level of foolishness on my part. As the semi-official photographer for DARC on this expedition I've been getting to see a lot of the interpreters over the last week. They've been going gangbusters and unfailingly drawing visitors to the L'anse aux Meadows back into history with them as they practice their arts, skills and trades and demonstrate first hand life here in the hinterlands a thousand years ago. It's been my great pleasure and privilege to try to capture a small sense of how much fun it is to be at the epicenter of this one ancient piece of Canadian 'European' history.

Don't worry...we're not done yet and I'll try my best to find more interesting peeks into the lives of these industrious visitors.

Alrighty then, enough of the small talk...let's get to the good stuff.

Today, for those of you following along on the Calendar, was 'smelt day' and boy howdy what a day. The amount of planning and agonizing and then just plain work that goes into making the smelt happen does boggle the mind a little bit. It's interesting to see the human machinery in action as the smelt workers go at their tasks with an enthusiasm and determination that only somewhat obsessive crazies can muster.

What's that? Oh right...I promised 'good stuff'...let's hope these images are a reasonable consolation prize.

First up we have the noble Grimbold manfully providing one whole 'Norsepower' to the bellows to keep the home fires burning. What do you mean that was truly awful? You wound me.

The machinery that makes this whole thing work is really about how these two elements interact (as far as my limited monkey-brain could make out...I'm sure there's all kinds of chemistry and physics going down but without the bellows and furnace you've got bupkis).

When I got back to our base station to have a look through the small mountain of photos that I shot this afternoon I took at little double-take at this one. What exactly were they making in there? The One Ring? Yikes!

Eventually it got to be time to drag the bloom into the light. I regret to inform friends and family that the mother furnace didn't survive the procedure. This shot is a good indicator of how roasty toasty things were inside.

Eventually the molten child was brought sizzling into the outside world and while it may be stretching the metaphor a tiny bit this here action was the doctors slap on the bottom. Ouch.

Stay tuned friends of should be back to a sober and focused posting very very shortly (at least pretty much as soon as they see what happens when unsupervised 'support staff' get ahold of the keys).


Thursday, August 19, 2010

DARC in the DARK

Wednesday's weather required working indoors for much of the day. One interesting result was the discovery that it is pretty much impossible to carve bone indoors in a Viking house. I was working in the fire hall of the reconstructed house in L'Anse aux Meadows, with the fire lit, the smoke holes open, and the doors open. Even with all of those light sources, I had to stand in the doorway to work the ring and dot tool, never mind actually carve with the knife. The bone carving is too fine to find by touch, and was invisible under those lighting conditions.

Wood carving is probably possible in that light, and bone work may be possible if done near a lamp. No doubt the weather will encourage future experiments in low-light carving.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 3 at LAM - random thoughts

Potato chip testing - Discriminating Vikings choose the smoked gouda and carmelized onion potato chips just slightly over the 2 year out of date stale cheddar cheese chips. The runners-up were sea salt and cracked pepper chips, lobster chips, ketchup chips.

Scotch tasting - A fine trio of Glen Breton whiskeys were sampled by the Scotch-inclined. The entry bottle (17 year old, Ice wine casked) was described as reminiscent of retsina and turpentine, but not in a bad way. The second, the "battle of the glen" whiskey (15 yr), seemed the most popular since it had a more balanced sequence of flavours. The third, Glen Breton Rose, seemed lost in comparison. It may turn out to be a good first whiskey, as it may have subtleties in its flavour which were lost in comparison.

Homemade County Clare beef barley soup, baked beans and fresh homemade bread - 40 thumbs up!!

Discriminating Vikings find Richard Castle's _Heat Wave_ a medicore read. "Night of the Living Trekkies" has yet to gain a rating.

Quote of the day: "Kaðlín plies her trade in the men's workroom."

How individual objects in archaeology need to be placed in context:

The Ring Pin found at L'Anse aux Meadows

" NOSE PIN? (Ragnarr slaps his chest) NOSE PIN! - NOW you tell me its a NOSE pin...."

Random Thoughts compiled by Karen, Steve and Darrell - with input from all.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 2 at LAM

Still good weather - only starting to get overcast by the afternoon. Two _huge_ tours from a cruise ship. The longhouse was just completely packed at one point.

It's a good thing our cooks were still able to cook outside. Soup for lunch today was a delicious fish broth, a bit of cheese and some dried bread. I should have dipped it in the soup.

Grimbold explains what he's doing to a visitor.

Rig takes his son up on his to help him out with the wood shaving. Did I mention it was hot out in the morning? No fear - the temperatures are supposed to drop today with some rain.

I didn't get quite as far as I hoped in getting closer to weaving. I'm still knitting the heddles.

It might be time to make someone else blog tonight. I don't get out of the longhouse very often so I don't know what the rest of us are doing. I've just been finding words to go with the pictures our photographer takes!

Quote of the day: Ragnarr to a tourist who wanted to take his photo- "Get my heroic side!"


Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 1 - DARC does LAM

Day 1 - unloading the boat, to join the crew at L'Anse aux Meadows.Good thing we used the large boat to get here. The folks who already live here were very welcoming to us newcomers.

We had a few issues to address, Grimbold tried to keep us all in line.

Kadja, reposed, as she listens in the meeting.

The cruise ship arrive tomorrow. We're expecting upwards of 600 folks to visit. May Thor grant us continued good weather.

And it turns out that I had no reason to freak out after all, it was a fine day.

"Sunburns on the northern most tip of Newfoundland, who'd have thought?"


Sunday, August 15, 2010

DARC has arrived in L'Anse aux Meadows

The Dark Ages Recreation Company have arrived in L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada, and we go live tomorrow for the next 10 days.

Hi, I'm Karen. I do weaving on the warp weighted loom and I'm freaking out.

Snorri came along for the ride.