Bera Spins

" Most people lived a simple life on farms in large extended family groups. A 'Bondi' was a 'bound man', a person who had given oaths of allegiance or had blood ties to a more powerful chieftain.
A simple camp like this one would have been typical for the first days in Vinland. A spare sail thrown over the oars keeps the rain off a sheepskin sleeping bag. For most Norse, all you owned would fit into a single sea chest or on your body. Woman's work would be ceaseless, especially combing, spinning, and weaving wool into cloth. Food was commonly stews prepared in a communal pot. Most men were not warriors, a spear was more useful for hunting than fighting."

Overall View Weaving games, navigation
Overall view of the Bondi's camp.
Textile Production
A Trip to Vinland.

These objects are more representative of the common person. Again, most people lived on large farm steads, grouped with family, servants and even slaves. Compare the number a quality of objects here with those in the Chieftain's Camp. A special focus here is on Vinland. When the Norse first arrived in Northern Newfoundland around 1000 AD, they would have lived in simple tent shelters until the turf houses were completed.

Bondi tent

(10) Sail : Once again, only small fragments of original sails survive. Likely most were made of felted wool, although both leather or imported linen canvas were possible. This sail cloth (of modern cotton!) is about 10 x 20 feet overall.
(Conjecture                 unbleached cotton / artist : Peter Lefebvre)

Oars : The tent frame here are several of the oars lashed together. Oars were shaped from single pine or ash poles, resulting in a very small blade surface. They are made this way for strength. Normally a freight vessel, or knarr, would only have six or eight ores. Lashings are made from hemp rope.
(Roskilde, Denmark / Viking Age             pine poles / assisted by Brad Markewitz)

(11) Sheepskin Sleeping Bag: Eight sheepskins are sewn together with leather laces to produce this bag. It has toggles and loops down one side so it open could double as a heavy cloak or blanket. With the sail ten open on the ends and you sleeping on the ground, it would not have been all that comfortable. Compare with Chieftain's bed.
(Conjecture                sheepskins, leather lace)


(12) Man's Clothing: Compare with the woman's clothes in Chieftain.

Linen Shirt, wool Tunic : Note how similar the cut is to the woman's. The simpler colours and rougher texture to the fabric indicate less wealth is involved.
Pants : Only men wore pants in the Viking Age.
(Conjecture                 wool, linen, blends / artist : Vandy Simpson)

Ring Pin: This simple ring headed pin is a reproduction of one found at L'Anse aux Meadows in Vinland. This artifact find proved the site was from the Viking Age. It was used to hold a cloak shut, and is style common to Norse Ireland and Iceland around the year 1000. Link to other LAM Objects.
(LAM, Canada / 1000                 bronze / artist : David Robertson             Artifact in Full Circle)


(13) Shield : Described under Chieftain
(Gokstad, Norway / 800         pine, forged steel             Artifact in Full Circle)

Helmet : This simple helmet has plain bands riveted together with heavy leather plates forming the skull. The top bar extends to form a nasal to protect the face, Such a helmet would keep a sword from killing you - once. Compare with the Chieftain's.
(Conjecture                 steel, leather plates)

Spear: In comparison with the Chieftain's sword, this spear is primarily a hunting tool, designed to be thrown.
(Iceland / 920             forged steel, ash                 Artifact in Full Circle)

games and navigation

(14) Navigation Tools, both are relative position instruments that work by measuring the sun's shadow.

Latitude Disk,This instrument is speculative, as no samples survive. It determines your relative position north to south. Suns shadow at mid day (shortest) is compared to circle measured at known location. By floating it in the bucket it would remain level when ship board.
(Speculative                 pine)

Bearing Dial - calibrated before your trip, it indicates location of north. Arc of suns shadow is drawn on shore. Later, shadow is measured to touch arc and north is indicated.
(Greenland / Viking Age                 pine / artist : AG. Smith)

Bucket - This bucket, with its brass hoops, is really a bit to fine for the Bondi. Wooden buckets (large at top), pails (large at bottom), tubs (straight sides), and barrels are the primary storage for any liquid up until the modern age.
(Oseberg, Norway             pine, brass, forged steel / artist : Gary Stephens)

(15) Sea Chest : See description under Chieftain
(Oseberg, Norway / 825             pine, forged steel )

Wooden Trencher: This is a simple slab of wood carved to a plate. On the back is carved a simple game of '9 Man Merrels' with found object game counters. Compare with Chieftain's game.
(Various / Viking Age             pine / artist : Randy Markewitz             Artifact in Full Circle)

Drinking Horn : One simple solution to a water proof container. Easily obtained whenever you kill a cow. Bee's wax lined to keep horn taste out of your drink. Compare with that in Town House, glass 'horn' of Chieftain.
(Non Specific / Viking Age             natural horn, bee's wax)

Gourd Bottle. Another natural container, but this is water resistant - as opposed to water proof. Compare with other containers in exhibit.
(Conjecture                 natural gourd)

(16) A visit to Vinland, objects found at L'Anse aux Meadows:

Ship Rivets : With Roves. Longships are built using the 'lapstrake' method, where individual planks overlap to be held in place with these rivets (rather than nailed to a frame). When the salt water corrodes the rivet, it is banged out and a new one is replaced - it was these failed rivets that were found at LAM. Compare with Nail Header in Town House Blacksmith and Hull Section.
(LAM, Canada / 1000             forged steel                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Bog Iron : This naturally occurring type of iron ore is found throughout the North. It takes a special geography to create, with a chain of acidic bog over iron rich rock, then a bubbling brook containing a particular bacteria. Bog iron also occurs in NE coastal USA, and was used in Colonial times. This sample from the LAM area.
(LAM, Canada / 1000             natural ore                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Smelting Slag : The bog ore is placed in a special flask shaped furnace called a smelter and heated with charcoal. It takes four to six hours at extremely high temperatures to convert the ore to metallic iron. One other result is the creation of a glass like slag, which is allowed to run out of the bottom of the smelter at the end of the process. This slag then indicates to the archaeologist that iron was produced - at told them that LAM had a European origin.
(LAM, Canada / 1000             iron slag / Dark Ages Re-creation Company             Artifact in Full Circle)

Wrought Iron 'Bloom' : The desired result of an iron smelt is to produce a large mass of wrought iron metal, called a bloom. This is a fragment of one such smelt. It would then be worked in a separate forge fire to shape out the required iron bars. Link to Town House Blacksmith. (see above)
(LAM, Canada / 1000             wrought iron / artist : Lee Sauder)

Turf block: 'Sod Houses' leaves the wrong impression. Walls are in fact made of turf, which is compressed peat moss. This is cut out in large slabs, and when dry stacked to create walls some six feet thick. An excellent insulator. Compare with Town House construction.
(LAM, Canada / 1000             natural peat)

cook fire

(17) The cooking fire:

Trammel : Of forged chain and hemp rope. The trammel is used to adjust the height of the pot above the fire, and thus the cooking temperature. Ornamental forged 'cauldron hangers' were a sign of wealth.
(St Petersburg, Russia / 900's             forged steel, hemp                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Tripod : Of simple wooden poles. Contrast with Chieftain
(Conjecture                 natural maple saplings)

Cooking Fork : For roasting large pieces of meat. In use a forked stick would hold up the fork, while a rock anchored the end.
(Sarheim, Norway / 900's             forged steel, ash                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Cooking Pot. Here the most common construction of riveted metal plates. The pot would be sealed from leaking by cooking jam or porridge (as this one was), and then never cleaning the outside or joints. The normal supper is the 'endless stew pot', where todays ingredients were added to yesterdays left overs. Compare with Chieftain's.
(Bengtsarvet, Norway / 1000's             dished steel)

textile tools

(18) Small Textile Tools:

Sea Chest : See description under Chieftain.
(Oseberg, Norway / 825 pine, leather / artist : Brad Markewitz)

Bone Needles : For sewing. Imagine how hard it is to make a small needle with a knife, especially to cut the hole!
Naelbinding with Needle: This is a partially completed sock. This type of single needle knitting is more like modern crochet. It was used to make socks, mittens and skull caps. It uses short lengths of yard, and ideal use for pieces left over while weaving.
(needles - Various / Viking Age             natural bone                 Artifact in Full Circle
naelbinding York, England / 900's         handspun wool / artist : Vandy Simpson)

Needle Hone: A small stone for sharpening iron needles. A stone like this was found at LAM, and is typically a woman's object. Link to LAM Objects.
(Various / Viking Age                 natural stone                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Shears : This style of shear is ancient. Lager sizes were used for shearing sheep. Link to Fleece.
(Various / Viking Age                 commercial                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Spindle : The soapstone weight, or whorl, is like the one found at LAM. The drop spindle is used to twist wool fibres into thread or yarn. This small size is used for creating fine sewing thread. Finding the spindle whorl proved LAM predated explorers like Cabot and Cartier. Link to LAM Objects, Spinning tools, Loom.
(LAM, Canada / 1000             soapstone, maple / artist : Neil Peterson             Artifact in Full Circle)

Wooden Bowl : An object such as this would be most likely purchased at a Town. Artisans there would use a 'spring pole lathe' to produce bowls such as this. Compare with Trencher.
(York, England / 900's             maple (?) / commercial)

Horn Spoon : Cow horn is the plastic of the Viking Age. Made of a material like your finger nails, it becomes soft when heated. Here a 'ball on a stick' shape would be boiled, then clamped between two shaped blocks of wood to create the bowl. Link to Drinking Horn.
(Non Specific                 natural horn / commercial)

the loom

(19) Basket with spinning tools:

Fleece : Is washed and ready to spin. This is 'Icelandic' breed sheep, even today much like those from the Viking Age. Note the colour, this 'white' fleece would be dyed using plants or lichens for colour. Link to Drop Spindle
(Non Specific                 natural - Icelandic breed / Glen Osprey Farm)

Wool Combs,: Before spinning, these combs are used for straightening the fibers (and removing any material like grass).Link to Drop Spindle
(Terum, Norway / Viking Age             maple, steel)

Drop Spindle: Like the soapstone spindle, for twisting wool into thread. This ceramic weight is larger and heavier, and thus allows a thicker thread to be twisted.
(Various / Viking Age             ceramic, maple / artist : David Clarke                 Artifact in Full Circle)

Wool Winder : Once the spindle is full, the thread is wound off on to this frame as seen. This pulls the thread straight, the thread would be left on here before it was transferred to the Shuttles on the Loom. Link to Loom.
(Oseberg, Norway / 825             pine / artist : David Cox)

(20) Weaving tools:

Loom : This simple upright wooden frame forms a 'Warp Weighted' loom, the type used in the Viking Age (and also up to modern times in rural Scandinavia and Iceland).
(Faeroe Islands/ Viking Age                 pine poles)

Warp: Runs up and down, and is made of the spun wool thread. There are about 20 threads to each inch, and the warp is 16 " wide. This warp is about 72" long . This all means that the warp alone requires about 2000 feet of spun wool. Link to Spinning Tools.
(Conjecture                 wool / artist :  Vandy Simpson)

Weights Are made of Ceramic, Soapstone and simple Stones (in bags). The weights, each about one and a half pounds, are tied to groups of the warp threads to pull them tight.
(Various / Viking Age                 soapstone                             Artifact in Full Circle
Hedeby, Germany/ Viking Age     ceramic / artist : David Clarke
Conjecture                                   stone (in cloth bags) / artist : Vandy Simpson )

Shuttle : Is loaded with more spun thread, and is used to pass threads through the warp. To produce a fabric with a pattern, several of different coloured thread would be used.
(Non Specific                     oak)

Weaving Sword : Is used to tap the threads tight. Once this is complete, the front bar (called a heddle) is moved to lift a different set of threads forward for the next row of thread.
(Various / Viking Age             oak                     Artifact in Full Circle)

Cloth : The number of threads across (the weft) is normally the same as those up and down, so add another 20 threads per inch on this piece (x 18 x 16). The short piece of cloth, 16" wide and 18" long, uses total of 960 feet of spun wool. This is perhaps enough to make one arm of a man's tunic. Imagine the tens of thousands of 'woman hours' required to make a sail!
(Conjecture                     wool, some handspun / artist : Vandy Simpson)

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Unless otherwise indicated - All Images and Text - © 2003 Darrell Markewitz