30 July 2016

Crafts andVikings Festival 15th - 16th August 2016

I offer the following information from the Viking Ship Museum to go along with my previous post about the summertime activities at the museum, which is located near Roskilde, Denmark.

Go to the museum's website to view all the interesting events and displays. (Ed.)


Meet Vikings - Nordic craftwork - fire and flames - Viking traders - build your own boat - modelboat race - sailing - family activities - food and drink - music
More than 1,000 years ago, the Vikings set Scandinavia on the world map. A lust for adventure and their skillful ship technology brought them around the world.

The Viking Ship Museum's festival, 'Crafts and Vikings' offers a unique opportunity to experience and try maritime craftwork: traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation, from the Viking Age right up to today.

For the festival we have gathered a group of skilled craftworkers, who will demonstrate their skills and give the whole family the chance to try their hand at the old crafts.
As something new this year, the festival has also gathered together local organic food producers, who will offer samples of their wares, based on modern interpretations of Viking Age meals.
Come and enjoy an exciting and action-packed weekend, where you can experience, try and learn new knowledge about the Vikings, their impressive ships and traditional maritime crafts from the Viking Age to the present day.
This all takes place at the Viking Ship Museum and on the atmospheric Roskilde Fjord, accompanied by the sound of music.
Crafts og Viking Festival 2015
The Crafts and Vikings Festival runs the 15th and the 16th of August from 10.00 to 17.00

Evening event with music and New Nordic Viking Food 15th of August from 18:00 - 22.00

The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Vindeboder 12, DK-4000 Roskilde

Admission to the Viking Ship Museum and the Festival:
Museum admission 115 kr. for adults. Under 18 years old free admission.
The ticket includes admission to the Festival.

Sailing in traditional Nordic boats DKK 95. A boat trip takes approximately 50 minutes.

» Read more about the Festival here...
By: Rikke Tørnsø Johansen

24 July 2016

Work with Red-Hot Iron the Viking Way

This from the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark. I have been there, and each summer they have interesting demonstrations for their many visitors.

If you are close enough to Roskilde to pop in during the final week of July or in mid-August, do so, you will not be sorry.

Next week I'll give you a look at what the museum has lined up for August. (Ed.)


Work with Red-Hot Iron the Viking Way

In week 30 you have the opportunity to try your hand at the ancient art of blacksmithing.

In week 30 we'll be making iron rivets from bog ore. This will be a unique archaeological experiment, where visitors can follow the smelting of the bog ore, the forging of the rivets and the use of the rivets in the boat. Museum guests can also try their own hand at making an iron nail. Our skilled blacksmiths will both demonstrate and explain the noble art of blacksmithing- so come and join in!

By: Sabine Stubbe Østergaard
19/07 - 2016

16 July 2016

Searching for the Vikings: 3 Sites Possibly Found in Canada

The following is an interesting excerpt from a Live Science article that sheds a little more light on what is happening on Newfoundland at the Point Rosee site currently being excavated, and the Baffin Island site previously excavated by Dr. Pat Sutherland and subsequently shutdown by the Canadian government so they could spend the money on establishing prior claim to Arctic resources. Ah, the politics of the socialist governments.

Unfortunately, some author named Einar Haugen, writing in 1942, ascribed the naming of Vinland to Leif Eiriksson. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Why? Because, Leif Eiriksson never wrote down a single word about anything, so how is it that he named Vinland. Nobody knows what the Greenland explorers called North America. He and almost all the other Greenland settlers were most likely illiterate. Not a single document about any of the Greenland settlers or any part their settlements have come down to us from they themselves in the written form. The only exception is a small rune stone found in the far northern hunting grounds of Nordsettir, that tells of a group hunting up there -- no mention of the elusive Vinland.

Everything, including the illusion to a place called Vinland, comes to us from the Norse sagas. All were written some 200-300 years after the facts they are shoveling and by people who had never been to Greenland or North America.

Beyond that, the article has some good info and it is fairly short. You should be able to stay awake until you reach the end. (Ed.)


Searching for the Vikings: 3 Sites Possibly Found in Canada

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | April 18, 2016 08:21am ET

Another possible Viking site, located at a place called Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland, was discovered using satellite imagery. Credit: Image courtesy Point Rosee Project
Three archaeological sites that may have been used by Vikings around 1,000 years ago were excavated recently in Canada.
If confirmed, the discoveries would add to the single known Viking settlement in the New World, located at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Excavated in the 1960s, that Viking outpost was used for a short period of time around 1,000 years ago as well.
Sagas from the time of the Vikings tell tales of their journeys into the New World, mentioning places named "Helluland" (widely believed to be modern-day Baffin Island), "Markland" (widely believed to be Labrador) and "Vinland," which is a more mysterious location that some archaeologists have argued could be Newfoundland.

Even so, pinpointing actual Viking remains or other clues of Viking settlements has been difficult, making the three sites — two in Newfoundland and the other in the Arctic — intriguing to archaeologists.

Point Rosee
Sarah Parcak, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her colleagues spotted the so-called Point Rosee site in southern Newfoundland while scanning satellite imagery, and announced their discovery a few weeks ago.
The team found what may be a hearth used to roast bog iron, as well as a structure, of some type, made with turf. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the site was used sometime between the ninth and 13th centuries.
These finds, the researchers say, suggest that Vikings may have used the site, though more dating information and excavation are needed to confirm that idea, they said. Additionally, even if it is a Viking site, it's uncertain how long the Vikings lived there.
"I think that all of us would be in agreement in urging you to relay the preliminary nature of the findings — the unconfirmed cultural and period affiliations," said team co-director Gregory Mumford, who is also a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Sop's Arm
Another possible Viking site turned up after archaeologists investigated a series of peculiar holes in a small town called Sop's Arm near White Bay, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) south of L'Anse aux Meadows. Archaeologists say that these "pitfalls," which have been known to exist near the town, would have been used to trap large animals, such as caribou.

The possible bog iron roasting hearth can be seen beside the structure made of turf at Point Rosee. 
Photo courtesy Gregory Mumford

In 1961, Helge Ingstad, the archaeologist who would excavate L'Anse aux Meadows, was guided to the pitfalls by a local man named Watson Budden. Ingstad thought it was likely that the Vikings had constructed the holes, but he didn't excavate them.

In 2010, archaeologists surveyed and excavated the pitfalls. They found that the pitfalls form a 269-foot-long (82 meters) system that lies in an almost straight line, the team wrote in an article published in the journal Acta Archaeologica in 2012. Each of the pits is about 23 to 33 feet (7 to 10 m) long and about 5 to 7.5 feet (1.5 to 2.3 m) deep.

Perhaps the Vikings drove animals toward the pits, where they would have fallen in and been killed, said Kevin Mcaleese, a curator of archaeology and ethnology at the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. The team did find stones inside the pitfalls that could have injured animals that had fallen inside. However, the archaeologists didn't find any artifacts and were unable to obtain clear radiocarbon dates for the pits.

"No Newfoundland and Labrador aboriginal group or archaeological culture is known in historic times or in ancient times to have regularly trapped animals with pitfalls," Mcaleese said. "I am developing a research plan for the site and area, but have not yet secured funds."
Kent Budden, nephew of Watson Budden, collected a number of what he suspects are Norse artifacts from the Sop's Arm area, including an iron ax and other iron artifacts, as well as a stone that has what could be a serpent carved into it.

Kent Budden died in 2008, and his brother Owen Budden showed photographs of the artifacts to Live Science. (Before he died, Kent Budden also gave a presentation of the collection, which can now be seen on YouTube.
Mcaleese said he is not very familiar with the collection. "What I have seen does not appear to be Norse, and my colleagues think similarly," he said.

The Vikings also may have settled, at least for a bit, in Nanook on Baffin Island. Researchers recently discovered the remains of a building that may have been constructed by the Vikings and artifacts that may have been used in metalworking. Among the artifacts was a stone crucible that may "represent the earliest evidence of high-temperature nonferrous metalworking in the New World north of Mesoamerica," wrote a team of archaeologists in a paper published in 2014 in the journal Geoarchaeology.

A structure that may have been used by the Vikings was in the process of being excavated in 2012, when lead archaeologist Patricia Sutherland was abruptly fired from the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now called the Canadian Museum of History) and the excavations were terminated. 

Many Canadian archaeologists condemned Sutherland's abrupt termination and the decision to end the project. They noted that the Canadian government, which owned the museum and funded her project, proceeded to pour millions of dollars into locating and excavating a ship destroyed in 1847 during the ill-fated Franklin expedition. This expedition, led by Sir John Franklin, aimed to find a sea route through the Canadian Arctic between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The expedition ended with the death of Franklin and his crew.

This funding decision led to accusations that the federal government favored research into British remains over those of the Vikings. In 2015, a new federal government was elected, but it remains unknown whether it will fund new research at the Nanook site.

Where is Vinland?
One of the mysteries that researchers have been trying to solve is the location of a place that the Viking sagas call "Vinland" (wine land). Historical texts describe a place where grapes and timber could be found. Famed Viking explorer Leif Ericson is said to have led an expedition to Vinland. The sagas say that Ericson was so impressed by what he found that he told his crew that, "from now on, we have two jobs on our hands: On one day, we shall gather grapes, and on the next, we shall cut grapevines and chop down the trees to make a cargo for my ship." The stories, as translated by Einar Haugen in the 1942 book "Voyages to Vinland: The First American Saga," go on to say that "Leif gave this country a name to suit its resources: He called it Vinland."

Grapes don't grow as far north as Newfoundland, leaving some researchers to speculate that Vinland is located farther south, possibly around New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Maine. Others think that Newfoundland is Vinland and that the "grapes" could refer to wild berries, which are found in abundance in Newfoundland.

So far, no potential Viking sites have been discovered south of Newfoundland, although a coin, minted in Norway between A.D. 1065 and 1080, was discovered in Maine in 1957 by an amateur archaeologist at a Native American site. How the coin arrived at that site is a mystery.

02 July 2016

Smelting Iron the Viking Way

This article from Medieval Histories will be of interest to the student of the Viking culture because it provides a thumbnail look at the process for making the low carbon steel that the Norse people depended on for their tools and weapons.

Considering the need for steel in the Norse culture must have been prodigious, I have always been amazed that the Norse never mined iron ore insofar as is known, but rather they depended entirely on bog iron, a byproduct of the daily, natural chemistry of the peat bog, or fen.

It is little wonder that the smithy was arguably the most important tradesman, along with the shipwright, in the far flung settlements of the medieval Norse people. (Ed.)

Medieval Histories


7 APRIL 2016

Beating the bloom at Ribe Viking Centre
Smelting Iron the Viking Way

Smelting Iron the Viking way is a remarkable simple process. It only takes some charcoal, some bog iron ore, roasted and crushed, plus a simple clay oven.

Film on stream indicating bog iron – Iceland © Shawnee Trailor
Bog ore may be found where streams flow from mountains and into peaty land. The streams carry the iron, which is then acidified because of the low level of oxygen in the bog. Bog ore is typically identified through the presence of an iridescent oily film floating in the bog. The bog ore may then be harvested in the form of pea sized nodules of bog iron, the raw material which may then be melted down.

Extracting iron from bog ore is a traditional summer activity, which may be experienced at any decent Viking museum in Scandinavia.

By experimenting, the have found that they are able inside six to eight hours to extract 4.5 – 5.5 kg bog iron from app. 35 kg roasted and crushed bog ore. The bog iron might then be forged. In practice you need a furnace, which may be constructed of clay or stones, lined with a mixture made of sand, fiber (horse manure) clay, and water.

Oven for smelting bog iron
The furnaces might be built into the earth. The construction of such furnaces have been based on finds from archaeological excavations from the Iron Age. They usually measure app. 20 – 30 cm in diameter and a height of 80 – 90 cm. They are dug 40 – 50 cm into the ground. 

One of the challenges is of course to get the 1200 – 1300o celcius, needed to smelt the iron from the bog ore. This is done by continually feeding the oven from the top with charcoal. This implies a process whereby any Vikings would need to first burn a cartload of charcoal, which takes about five days.

When completed, the oven is turned over and the bloom is extracted. This consist of a mixture of low-carbon iron, slag and charcoal. This bloom has to be processed afterwards in order to cleanse it for residue. This is done by hammering at it for a while until the dross and slags falls away.