A viking projekt - doing it the authentic way.

Some of my viking friends and I discussed viking events at museums, viking markets and other reenactment issues at a party. The general feeling was " it would b e nice to be a viking without tourists asking silly questions ".
I participated in a viking marked one in the mid 90 ties, vikings only, and that was very nice. Some of my friends did hikes in Sweden and Denmark in authentic gear in late autum years ago. Unfortunately I never came along.
Drinking with viking friends ends always in boasting and promises! The next day, sobering up you think what the hell did 
I promise and how am I ever going to achieve it? I promised to take part in a weekend tour in authentic viking gear in late november approximately 30 to 40 Km in 2 days. That is going to be very cold. Everything has to be carried and the night is to be spend in the woods.
Very well I am 58 and not quite the fellow i used to be. I thought I better get started and test myself and my equipment.
How far can I go with primitive turnshoes in different kinds of weather? How much can I carry? Are my wollen clothes up to the task and what kind of food am I going to pack? Is my gear good enough and authentic?

19.9.2012 First try - viking clothes, turnshoes and a backpack weighing 7 kilo. The gras was wet and there was little wind, temperature 15 degree Celsius and clouds. I walked 2,5 km in the lokal wood. That went well. My shoes got soaked, but the wool in my shoes kept my feet warm.

22.9.2012 Viking clothes, turnshoes, backpack 7 kilo. I walked 5 km in open and wooded area. There was a lot of wind and the temperature was 13 degrees Celsius. The wind made me feel cold in the open space despite my cloak. The day after I could feel my calfmuscles, because I am not used to walk in flat shoes for a longer period of time. I very much doubt that I can walk 20 kilometers in turnshoes. It would certainly cost me a pair of shoes to train up for it.
Something else happended. I walked in a familiar area where I have walked for hundreds of times but never in viking clothes. Everything was different, because I thought what was the landscape like a 1000 years ago? Are there dangerous animals nearby or robbers? What was the way like, how long is it to the next farm and where do I spend the night. That was quite an experience and I am going to do it igen.

Workshop at Trelleborg 3rd and 4th november 2012. How to make and use colours vikingstyle:

We had help from a professional, working at the museum Den Gamle By i Aarhus. It turned out to be quite easy. You use animal blood, egg or linseed oil and blend it with a colour pigment. The rest is praxis and experience. Here are some of the results.

Making a viking scramasax.
The sax has a long tradition in Europe during the Migration Period and the Viking Age. The sax was a broad bladed, single edged fighting knife, the blade having a strong back and a wedge shaped cross-section.  In general  the early saxes are the larger and longer ones. The primary weapon beside shield, axe or spear. The Valsgärde saxes  in Sweden from the Vendel Period are fine examples of this type. The sax of the Vikings is much shorter. It is just a big knife which could be used in everyday life, as a hunting knife and as a weapon in a fight. The blade is about 30 to 35 cm long.
We are trying to reproduce a sax that was found in Hedeby. The idea is to make a complete sax with sheath and bronze decorations during the winter.
Dr. Tobias Capwell                     The World Encyclopedia of Knives Daggers and Bayonets. London 2009
Pär Olsen                                       Die Saxe von Valsgärde 1 Uppsala 1945
Petra Westphalen                     Die Eisenfunde von Haithabu Neumünster 2002

30. 03. 2013 The sax is well under way. The blade is finished and needs to be hardened and tempered. We are going to meet at Trelleborg next Saturday. That the first time in the smithy after a long and cold winter. It would be nice if I could get the blade finished til Saturday.

working with a roman and 2 viking knives
the new longsax, the blade is ready to be hardened
the knive and the little sax completed

It took some cold vinternights to finish the projekt.
January 2014
The seax is inspired by number 5. A seax found on Gotland.

see ArkeoDok 2003 Viking Knives from Gotland ISBN 91-973304-5-0

A trip to Haihabu, september 2014


Blacksmith workshop at Trelleborg in september 2014.

We decided to work on reproducing viking age tools. Theme chisel, bevel edged and drawknife - wood working tools. Allan F. acted as supervisor. We worked with the same theme in 2007 at Moesgaard where Götz B. did the teaching. He showed us how to fireweld a steel edge to a piece of iron. Afterwards the tool was formed with a whittle tang. It looked very much like any modern chisel. We did the same with the draw knife and besides the different shape and angle of the handles it looked like a modern tool any craftsman would recognise imediately.
I wondered about the shape of the gripsection of the chisel at the time, because most of us seemed to know that the handsection of viking age chisel generally was formed like a cone. Very similar to a lance socket. If I remember correctly we discussed that both options existed at the time. Maybe it is this funny idea that it has to be different from what we use today. But there are plenty of tools that did not change in form the last thousand years, because form and function are perfect like the hammer for instance. 
Last september I tried to do some research before the weekend. To my suprise I only found chisels with a whittled tang.


Petra Westphalen - Die Eisenfunde von Haihabu.  Wachholtz Verlag Neumünster 2002, page 87

Erik Andersen - Roar Ege - Skudelev 3. page 49 Værktøj af Søren Vadstrup

Greta Arwidsson - The Mästermyr find. A viking age tool chest from Gotland. page 34

Jan Petersen - Vikingetidens Redskaper. Oslo 1951


Pictures from the meeting in Moesgaard in 2007.

Pictures from the meeting at Trelleborg in september 2013 and 2014.

A trip to Sweden, late August to Löddeköpinge.

Lars `s manual of how to plaster a wall. 

Our pit house was built in the early 90 s of the last century. We used a groundplan of a house excavated in Jutland called the Uldal house. The house is built with timber walls and the walls on the inside of the house were covered in clay and chalked white. After 20 years large parts of the original plaster fell off and the house needs redecorating - say ferocious viking women.
During our visit of vikingatider in Löddeköpinge we asked Lars how he would do it. The center has 3 houses with wattle walls chalked in white, so they pretty sure know how to do it. 
His recomendation for the clay mixture: 2 parts sand (fine sand without small stones) 1 part clay (preferably clay powder bought at a local building store - gives you a high quality product without the pitfalls of locally dug clay) 1 part horse manure. The horse manure should not be fresh but half rotten, anything from 14 days to 6 weeks. It makes the mixture more sticky and ensures the plaster is sticking to the wall or wattle.
The wall, the mixture is going to be applyed to, needs to be very wet. You thin a small portion of your mixture with even more water until you get a paintlike substance you apply with a brush. After a short while you begin to apply your plaster. Create a thin layer and let it dry. You repeat the process twice. Several thin layers hold much better than a thick one. Work in the period April to late May or August to mid September. The temperature should not fall below 13 or 14 degrees celcius. You can not do it in summertime because it will dry too quickly and result in lots of cracks. 
You need to cover the finished layers with a protective layer of chalk. Paint the wall with chalk once a day and repeat this for 5 to 7 days. Always start and finish the process with painting the wall with chalk water. You need to chalk the wall twice a year to keep the protective layer of chalk intact. This is for outside walls, I guess you can do with less on the inside. I am going to ask some other people with this kind of experience to hear what they recommend. We are going to try next year and see how it works out.

Danish Journal of Archaeology: First evidence of lime burning in southern Scandinavia. Published by Peter Steen Henriksen and Sandie Holst.

The excarvations at the aristocratic residence at Tissø produced evidence of lime burning at the end of the 9 th century. Pieces of mud and wattle (Lerklining på fletted væg) with whitewashing. Two kilns where found just outside the enclosure of the residence.


Workshop on Trelleborg 26 and 27 sept 2015. Theme viking lock from female grave number 854 Birka.



Greta Arwidson Birka II : 1 Systematische Analysen der Gräberfunde. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien Stockholm

23. Kästen und Schachteln.

Gruppe B: Mit Metallbändern versehene Kästen mit Schloss. z.B. Bj 639

"Die Tendenz erscheint deutlich: verschliesbare Kästen sind in erster Linie eine Grabbeigabe für Frauen, nicht verschliessbare sind Grabbeigaben für Männer."

Boxes without locks are found in male graves whereas boxes with locks are found in female graves.

Holger Arbman Birka I Die Gräber - Text K. Vitterhets och Antikvitets Akademien Stockholm 

Page 327: Grab 854 " das Schloss, Taf.264:2, das gegen die eine Schmalseite zu angebracht war und einen gegen die Enden stangenförmigen Riegel mit winkelgestellter Mittelplatte hatte, war bei der Niederlegung unverschlossen, Länge desSchlossblechs 31,8 cm, Breite 5,9 - 6 cm, der 10,2 cm lange Eisenschlüssel mit Bronzegriff, Taf. 264:1, anscheinend auf das Kästchen gelegt, der Bart mit 2 Kerben, eine nach unten und eine nahe dem Griff nach oben (auf der Abbildung nicht sichtbar)

The box shown in the last picture is a reconstruction of the box found in grave 639. The lock is very similar to the lock from grave 854. Therefore I will use it for the box I am going to build for my lock. If I should make the lock again I would choose a slightly larger lock plate, because that will make it much easyier to fit the lock onto the front.

21 november 2015. The first winter meeting. Subject purses and bags with focus on archaelogical finds from Birka, Hedeby and Scotland.

Marts 2016 the next vinter meeting. Our members would like to work with a simple project in wood. We decided to make a wooden dish found in the Oseberg ship burial. The dish is depicted in:

A. W. Brøgger, Hakon Schetelig  Osebergfundet Bind 2, Oslo 1928 Universitetets Oldsaksamling

Picture on page 145, text on 147. The wooden dish is 36 cm long and 18 cm wide. The dish is very shallow, lots of cutting marks and is believed to be dish for serving fish.


I found a piece of poplar. It is a piece left from building a stoneage dougout boat. It was split from the top of a large poplar when the log was opened. See under Stenalder on our page, lots of fotos. I used an axe to flatten the piece on both sides and a saw to remove surplus wood. The wood is very easy to work. I am tempted to make the bowl deeper than the original because there is enough material. It would certainly give you more food on your platter. 

A visit to Næstved Museum. We went to see the exhibition Oldtid uden grænser.


Ribe Vikingmarket 2016