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First Experiment
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Archaeology of Viking Era Bead Production

This page contains an out of date (too busy doing to write it up) summary of the archaeoligcal information underlying a series of experiments attempting to re-create the bead making techniques used by the Norse in the Viking Era.  In 2004 several of us participated in a workshop learning how to make beads using a modern torch.  This is useful (and necessary) in learning how to work with hot glass but it is not the eventual target. Our goal is to work the glass using the same tools and techniques the norse did.

There is an amazing lack of information out there and a lot of people working on "Viking" furnaces who are doing it "because I heard from X that this is the right way".

So far we have found information for 7 or 8 sites that might be sites with bead manufacture (see below) and 1 (and only 1) location with something that might be part of a bead furnace. At Ribe there are some clay pads and hearths associated with activity layers containing bead making debris. According to a new source it appears that Callmer found at least one hearth at Ahus. We are working to run down that information now.

We haven't been looking at Staraja Ladoga in Russia which might be an additional source of information - the difficulty there is that the sources are in Russian. The list of places we have been looking at includes:




Hedeby (Heiðabýr)




Ahus (Aarhus, Arhus, Århus, Aros)

I'll try and put up some sketches when I have some more time.

I'll also put in some time and see if I can't find some web-based pictures of any of this stuff.
There are also a number of Old Norse words that might be applicable
Agate (litterally glass-stone)
Tala (pl. tolur)
Quartz (rock crystal) litterally frost-stone
obsidian - black stone (perhaps usable for jet?)

The annotated bibliography has been moved to its own page here.
      Updated: August 23 2017 22:41:28.
Text © Neil Peterson, 2017
Photographs © Individual artists
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