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Sunday, March 21, 2010

DARC at Forward Into the Past

Saturday March 27, Laurier University, Waterloo Ontario
FITP web site

If I have this correct from the schedule, these are the classes being taught by / or of special interest to, those studying the Viking Age.

* indicates those classes being taught by DARC folks who are going to L'Anse Aux Meadows in August 2010

9:00 AM
(Keynote) Out on the town in 10th century Reykajvik, a survey of jewelry dress and textiles in early Iceland

10:30 AM
Intermediate Glass Beads "The fancy stuff"

Pottery: An experimental early-period Pit Fire *

Introduction to Tablet Weaving *

Norse Sagas - the Bloody, Bawdy and Bizarre * (which right now is the single highest registration)

11:30 AM
Viking Navigation Techniques

Introduction to Fibre Prep for Spinning

Bead Production in Scandinavia: converting archaeological evidence to a practical method *

Feet firmly in the past – Shoes from the Viking Age 800 – 1050 *

Meaningful Scratches *

1:00 PM
Viking Combat Demonstration

Treasure Necklaces

Warp Weighted loom - a Hands-On Introduction *

Iron Smelting in Vinland: converting archaeological evidence to a practical method *

2:00 PM
Building the Coppergate Helm

Bone Carving *

Tablet Woven Artefacts *

3:00 PM
Iceland - Geography and Museums *

Introduction to Drop Spinning

Norse Music *

Flint and Steel Fire Striking

Classes on Interpretive method

11:30 AM
Not Just Costume - Reenactors as serious historians

2:00 PM
Habits of mind; How tools affect thinking

3:00 PM
The importance of excellence in material culture

4:00 PM
The Importance of Excellence in Material Culture

Setting the Scene: Interpretive Methods for Living History *

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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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Thursday, March 5, 2009


(listed alphabetically by title, at date of posting)

DARC on the Viking Age...

Exploring the Viking Age in Denmark
In spring of 2008, Darrell undertook a two and half week trip to Denmark. The primary reason was to attend the 'Iron Seminar at Thy' - meeting and working with other experimental iron smelters. Much of the rest of the time was spent in museums, especially focused on the Viking Age collections. This illustrated talk will be an overview of what was seen and experienced, both in the museums and while travelling across Denmark.
Speaker: Darrell Markewitz

Tablet Weaving for Beginners (2 hours)
A hands-on introduction to tablet weaving. The participants will be shown how to string up a loom, as well as a few basic techniques and patterns. Observers are more than welcome.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

To build a Tent - Camping in the Viking Age
So there you are, Norse and in need of some overhead cover while travelling. What do you do? A 'friendly argument' presenting two alternate points of view : the A frame versus the Geteld. We will each make our case historically and practically, plus take a look at the evidence for some alternatives. Includes a discussion of plans, materials and construction tips for would be tent makers.
Speakers: Darrell Markewitz, Meghan Roberts

Towards an Icelandic Smelt
This session is a field report on the current experimental archaeology series being undertaken by DARC. Recent excavations by Kevin Smith at the Hals in Iceland have uncovered a Viking Age 'industrial' iron processing site. Using clues from the archaeology, is it possible to re-create the physical iron smelting methods which may have been originally used?
Speaker: Darrell Markewitz

Viking Era Bead Production
The glass trade among the Viking Era Norse culture was complex not only in terms of the distances covered by these trade goods but by the complexity of the products produced in the workshops at the Ribe and Paviken markets. Using only the simplest of tools viking era craftsmen produced wonderfully detailed beads. This session will survey the material remains from these locations, and explore several experimental attempts to reproduce these techniques.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

Viking North Atlantic Sites & Museums
Karen and Neil went to Scotland and Iceland in May 2008 and visited every darn museum and archaeological site that they could find, with a heavy emphasis on the Viking Era. This is a picture heavy look at many of the Viking Era and Neolithic sites in Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, and Iceland. Many museums will also be examined including their presentation styles and policies.
Speakers: Neil Peterson, Karen Peterson

Viking age clothing and textile production
To be Added (this a version of Meghan's recent lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum)
Speaker: Meghan Roberts

(DARC members, not VA topics)

Cryptographic Praise Poetry
Hiding a message or a person's name in a poem is a technique that has been around for centuries. Find out more in this survey of some of the poets (and their verses) up to 1600.
Speaker: Ann Graham

Dances from Tudor England
These are fun, easy dances reconstructed from a recently found manuscript. Dating from around 1500, these are the earliest known English dances. No prior dance experience is necessary.
Speaker: Sarah Scroggie

Meaningful Scratches
no description available yet
Speaker: Stephin Armstrang


Monday, March 2, 2009



The Dark Ages Recreation Company is featured prominently at an event called Forward Into the Past, in Kitchener on April 4th, 2009.

Check out the webpage for class information, schedules, directions, the history of the event, and so much more!

You might even see this guy lecturing people.....




Sunday, February 15, 2009

'A' Frame Tent Covers...

... at a great price!

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 9:00 PM
Subject: Wedge Tent Blow-Out Sale #3

I have acquired another 70, yes 70 wedge tents that are ready for re-sale.
For those who remember, I formed a partnership with an artist from Toronto
who is using wedge tents as part of his art expositions. We have done shows
in Toronto, New York City and our latest show in Ottawa this past fall. The
tents were only used for 3 days in Ottawa and are brand new. This lot of
tents are taller and longer then the 2 previous lots that I had acquired. I
am selling the tents for $190.00 each including poles
and spikes. The tent specifications are as follows:

9 Feet Long
7 Feet High
8 Feet Wide (At Bottom)
9 Webbing Loops
Sun Forger Treated Canvas
10.38oz Canvas
1 Pine Ridge Pole
2 Pine Uprights
9 Modern Spikes
Straight Back (No Bell)
The tents have solid backs with one door.

If you have any questions let me know ... Payment guarantees a tent. If you would
like to be put on the tent list let me know and you can forward your payment
to the address below. I also take paypal and other forms of e-payments.
Shipping and handling is extra if needed.
I will be attending the Living History Conference in Hamilton on February
27th & 28th and will bring tents for those who are attending or have made
arrangements with friends to pick them up.

David J. Brunelle
23 Byrnes Crescent
Penetanguishene, ON, Canada
L9M 1W4
Cell - 705-716-7124

Anyone in the Viking Age re-enactment circle who is needing a tent might look at this:

I have known David casually for a number of years. He has been behind the War of 1812 events up at Penetanguishine. This will be the real deal, you can't beat the price!
These tents are a bit small, but can easily be re poled for a classic A frame. Looking at the images, a bit of modification would be required, with a hole cut in front and back at the peak for an externally mounted frame.
This is an excellent deal for anyone looking for a primary (or even second storage) tent. The poles that come with it are perfect for any Settlement Era encampment as well. For that price you could not even buy the fabric!


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bead thoughts

There has been an update to the Viking era beads article.

I have been asked a couple of new questions and have added the answers into the page. The first question dealt with which colour is the most common. The other had to do with how common monochrome beads were compared to the fancy beads.

I also added some more thoughts on the number of beads on a necklace.

There are more bead charts in production covering the missing periods.



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New projects posted - Carving tools and Skates

Steve has provided a second post about his creation of a pair of skates and a couple of attempts to use them.

Steve has also made available some notes and pictures of his carving tools.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Watch this space!

Our estimable leader - Darrell - leaves for Denmark any day now, and then Neil and myself are tripping off to Scotland and Iceland shortly thereafter. Darrell's been invited to a symposium on early Scandinavian iron smelting, whereas Neil and I are finally taking our honeymoon and exploring historical sites just for fun.

Being laptop enabled, and prone to seeking out internet connections (okay, semi-addicted to email), it's my intention to post our Viking related travels live from the road on this blog, and non-Viking related adventures on my personal blog.

Darrell will most likely post his adventures after he returns. Stay tuned!


Saturday, February 2, 2008

New articles posted

We just added three more articles to our website. These were written by
Caitlin Henderson for Wilfrid Laurier University's Vikings course (ML300D) last term. Caitlin is a guest author whose work we are happy to host. The articles are:

- A Review of Andersson, Theodore M. "Demythologizing the Tradition: Njáls Saga."
- A Review of Bauman, Richard. "Performance and Honor in 13th-Century Iceland."
- A look at law in Njal's Saga.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

FINAL CALL FOR PAPERS (Please forward and circulate)


This is to announce, and is a call for papers to be presented at, the
3rd Annual Symposium of the Friends of the Mediaeval Studies Society
of the Royal Ontario Museum (FMSS-ROM), on Sunday 30TH MARCH, 2008
(problems with booking the ROM theatre around Easter and March Break
have rather caused problems with finalizing the date).

The FMSS-ROM is an association of ROM members and individuals that
are professionally involved with the mediaeval period. This one day
series of talks represents the continuation of what was a very
successful symposium last year, and which promises to be the
beginnings of a long tradition in Toronto. Ten speakers will talk on
various aspects of the Mediaeval world, including archaeology,
history, culture, and art. The nature of the talks will be scholarly,
but accessible to non-specialists. Chronologically, the scope of the
society, and of the symposium, runs from the late classical world
leading up to mediaeval times, and encompasses the Renaissance at
the end. Geographically it crosses the Old World from Europe to Asia
and Africa, having a general interest in the Age of the Stirrup
wherever it occurs.

The FMSS-ROM invites all scholars to submit proposals for papers to
be given at this symposium. The deadline is JANUARY 30th 2008, and
the proposals should eventually comprise a single page comprising
your name, contact address, affiliation, and an abstract of the
paper; but if you are pressed for time a title and a rough idea what
you want to speak about may get you a spot. The Symposium papers
will be presented on SUNDAY, 30TH MARCH, 2008. Proposed papers can
deal with any subject in the broad remit of the FMSS-ROM.
Presentations cannot be longer than 25 minutes in length and must be
illustrated by digital presentation. A vetting process will be used
to select papers, which will be chosen on merit and also to provide
recognition of scope of the FMSS-ROM.

The location for the FMSS-ROM Symposium will be in the Royal Ontario
Museum Theatre, 100 Queen's Park Crescent, Toronto. The event will
take place from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

It is proposed that there will be an attempt to put together a
proceedings, bringing together papers from the first three symposia,
so presentation of materials for which the author has publication
rights would be particularly appropriate.

Participation in the symposium is free to speakers and those
accompanying them. Entry fee for non-speakers will be around $70,
and will be used entirely to support the event, with any surplus
going to the FMSS-ROM.

All paper proposals and enquiries should be sent to Robert Mason at

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