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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pit Fire Pottery 1

Icelandic Althing Event, September 2009

Kary's project, with contributed pots by the group.

Some images of the extraction and the results.
All shot by Jo - on my camera.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Glass drinking vessels

Horn-shaped glasses show up in Sweden and Denmark from the 3rd C and were made by the Franks a little later (particularly the Lombards). They were rare after the 7th C, though they occasionally show up in Carolingian manuscripts. Sometimes, these were actually for holding ink (find from 9-10 C France).

Conical or funnel shaped beakers appear to have been more common, as were fatter cone beakers. I have seen one image of a palm cup or bag beaker (almost like a bowl) from Oslo, and one stubby mold-blown dark green rhenish glass beaker that looks suspiciously like a flower vase from the 1960s. The glass beaker and a conical beaker, both from Birka, can be found at

(Image at right ported from the Regia web site)

Glass cups or beakers of the 9th or 10th C might well be vivid blue, bluish-green, or red, decorated with fine canes (either one colour or more often colourless and opaque white or yellow glass twisted together). The canes could be placed horizontally or vertically on the body, but some cups have them on the rim. This is a design feature found almost exclusively at coastal sites in Britain, Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

From about the mid 10th C, continental glass houses produced only a few
types of poor quality utilitarian ware, using a new composition of glass made with local potash produced from bracken and other plants (instead of importing from Egypt). Nevertheless, eastern glass continued to reach Britain and Sweden until as late as possibly the 11th C. Examples include a Persian glazed cup found in Sweden that looks like a small, rounded coffee cup with a handle large enough for one finger, and at least one nice example of an Arabic glass from Sweden that looks perfect for an old-fashioned or a whiskey sour.

All glass drinking vessels were rare, and were probably costly imported luxury goods.



Monday, September 14, 2009

DARC at Bonfield

Some images from 'Viking Hill' at Bonfield over Labour Day, 2009. Most of these images were taken Monday morning, after a couple of days of late nights and reduced sleep (!)

Washing Up

What time is it?

Þórgrímr & visitor (Aelswitha)

Auðr and Kaðlín





Images by Darrell Markewitz


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Norse Camp in Panorama

All taken at Bonfield, September 7, 2009 - A few modern elements (outside our camp !) were cropped out. In this case I don't think anyone really shows clearly enough to really identify (without knowing them anyway).
Images by Darrell Markewitz


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trade Like the Norse - Coins and Currency at the Althing

The following will be of most interest to those attending the 'Icelanding Althing' event being held September 26 near Orono ON.

Although the Icelandic Althing was centred on legal maters, any time a lot of people gather together is a chance for other activities - trade among them. Although a certain amount of barter was still taking place, one of the aspects of the Viking Age was the increased use of sliver based coinage as the means of exchange. Although the Anglo Saxon Silver Penny was closer to 1.5 gm total weight, the years of 'Danegeld' had lowered their silver content to closer to 50%.

The Norse system of measures is based on the following, (the values are converted to grams of pure silver):

1 peningar = about .78 gms silver

1 eyrir = 30 peningar
about 24 gms silver = cost of 6 ells (yards) of wadmal (wool cloth)

1 mark = 240 peningar or 8 eyrir
about 200 gms silver

Although the Anglo Saxon Silver Penny is closer to 1.5 gm total weight, the years of 'Danegeld' had lowered their silver content to closer to 50%.

In the spirit of the Althing, a set of trade tokens will be available as exchange at the Althing. These are backed by Master Sylard (and the Wareham Forge).

LEFT to RIGHT (life size)

Pewter Ingot - trade amount $10 ( 45 gm)

Silver Pennies - trade amount $5 (.75 gm = 1 penningar)

Pewter Token Bar - trade amount $1 (15 gm = 1/2 eyrir)

The INGOT shows 'Wolves and Cattle' on a thick oval surrounded by line and dot pattern. It was intended to be used as a guard for a knife (cut a slot to fit the blade). No specific historic prototype, never released to the public.

The PENNIES are the two replica coins issued by the Wareham Forge, artifact sizes and weights, made of 99 % fine silver. Sometimes called 'Silver Sylards' - a detailed description at:

The TOKEN is slightly modified from the event token used at the original Althing, years ago. It's shape is taken from a small whetstone, and has the figure of a Norseman - and original design.


Modern currency can be converted into any of these trade tokens either at the Admittance Troll or at my demonstration of coin minting inside the DARC market encampment. You will in effect be PURCHASING these tokens.

At the end of the day I will happily REFUND the full purchase amount against any of the tokens returned to me for exchange.

Merchants may also 'buy in' by purchasing extra token to act as 'change'. These may also be exchanged for full refund at the end of the event.*


1) I will make myself available for refund exchanges :
Saturday September 26 - until * 10 PM * (after that I'm likely to be in bed)
Sunday September 27 - from 9 AM to 12 Noon

2) The pewter INGOT and TOKEN have no refund value AFTER Sunday September 27.

3) The silver PENNIES remain the standard 'gift certificate' for the Wareham Forge. They may be returned against goods in to the future at their $5 trade value.

4) Only full, unaltered tokens are ellidgable for refunds. (If you cut a token to make 'small change', the pieces can not be refunded.)

* 5) Merchants ONLY can make special arrangements to exchange collected tokens for a LIMITED PERIOD (two weeks) after the event. Please contact me directly ( to make arrangements.

(Cross Posted from Hammered Out Bits - Darrell)

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      Updated: 4 Dec, 2007
Text © Dark Ages Recreation Company, 2007
Photographs © Individual artists
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