Bob Davies – Viking swords.net

Spent a lot of time yesterday creating a new blog gallery here on WordPress for Bob’s viking age creations. Anyone that has read my About Me page will know that Bob is my other half. He’s a wonderful sword and silversmith and has a website already, but we wanted to  provide a better gallery for the beautiful things he makes.
Took a bit of time and effort, but I think it was well worth it!!

Take some time out; make a cuppa, draw up a chair and enjoy!!

Viking Swords

Welcome to Vikingswords.net; my name is Bob Davies.

I have a keen interest in history and metal working, particularly in the viking era.

I trained as a silversmith at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham, and from this I progressed to making viking age jewellery based on various archaeological finds from Europe. Over the years I have developed my skills as a metalworker to produce swords, seaxes and silverware, mainly for use in the re-enactment world.

I strive to produce quality items that are durable, feel right in the hand, look pleasing to the eye and are correct for that period.

The swords, seaxes and silverware pieces are individually hand crafted by myself.

Silver pieces, like the arm-rings and bangles are made using traditional techniques as they were in the viking age. The coinsare hand stamped on coin dies made by myself.

The majority of items shown on the different pages…

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Bread and Cheese …….. updated!

When we were at the Corfe Castle event I wrote about making bread viking style.

Last weekend I had a chance to try this out myself when we were at a Fingal Living History event held in the grounds of Malahide Castle near Dublin.

I had the basic recipe that I had used in the past, and after watching the Manaraefan ladies cooking some, I was pretty confident that this would work.

I used spelt flour (purely because I use spelt rather than wheat in all my baking). For measurement purposes I used a 2 cups to 1 ratio of white to brown flour. I added some yeast and some crushed garlic, and then used just enough warm water to bind it together to create the dough. Then I divided the mixture into small balls and left for about 15 minutes until it had risen a little. To cook the bread I just placed the bread balls onto the pan and cooked over the fire. A word of warning; you need to be careful with the heat from the fire. If the pan is directly on the fire, the bread may burn on the outside before it is cooked.  Also, dust the pan with a little flour to stop the bread from sticking to the pan.
You know the bread is cooked when you tap it and it sounds hollow.

1-DSCF4207For the second batch I actually cooked it on the griddle suspended over the fire.

I also made the cheese/butter spread I had been shown at Corfe.
I took half a block of butter and allowed it to soften enough that I could mix the same weight of Cashel Blue cheese through it – delicious.
No picture though – it got eaten before I could take the photo!!

Meanwhile over at the FLHS kitchen the girls were also cooking bread. Their bread mixture was made with oatmeal and apple. I’ve done this in the past where I’ve added some pinhead oatmeal to the bread mixture.

1-DSCF4350This was fun to do and quite easy to make……….

Castle in the Mist

We were lucky to attend an event hosted by Hrafnslith in Corfe Castle near Poole in Dorset at the beginning of May. The weather for the weekend was absolutely amazing; glorious sunshine all day long. It made for wonderful days re-enacting!

But there was something else we hadn’t expected. The warmth of the days created mist and fog in the mornings.
When we got up the castle itself was almost completely obscured by the mist.

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I loved the way the battlements and the viking village appeared to merge into the mist.

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There was great heat in the sun and the mist disappeared quite quickly; but the images were pretty spectacular. Here are a few more photos of that beautiful morning.

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Viking bed……

In 1904 a viking burial mound containing a viking ship was discovered at Oseberg in Norway. The grave contained two female skeletons and an array of grave goods. Irish archaeology have a great post on their blog which outlines the burial and the finds; they also have some great photos.

My main interest in the Oseberg ship is purely selfish! And if you have ever camped you will fully understand why I was so interested in them!

There is nothing worse than waking in the morning after having spent the night on the cold damp floor of a tent. Yes, we had beds and coverings to make life more comfortable, but we were on the ground. I’m no spring chicken any more and I like a bit of comfort when I’m away.
During the Oseberg excavations, the remains of three beds were found. I first saw one of these beds at a viking event in Northern Ireland and thought ‘that is a great idea!!’
So Bob and I had a wee chat, and over one winter he built us a bed. It is based on the Oseberg design, but the ornate carvings on the corner posts were not really an option as our little A-frame tent wasn’t big enough to accommodate that. Our solution was to make the bed ends without the carvings. To be honest it’s a bit more like the Gokstad bed, also discovered in Norway (in 1880).

Here are a couple of photos of the bed assembled in the tent. You can see that if we had the carved ends then they would have pushed hard against the canvas.

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The bed is flat pack. We joke that there is a reason that the Swedes have Ikea…….. and that the vikings were the first ‘flat pack people’! It makes sense, as the bed packs away easily for transport. I’ve included a couple of photos of how the bed slots together at the corners.

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When it’s all assembled, we cover it with our sleeping skins. Looks pretty comfortable – and trust me…….. it is! Another great thing is that it increases our storage space as we can use the space under the bed.
Bob swears he should have made one years ago. Just proves my point; it takes a good woman to sort these viking lads out!!

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If you’re interested in making one of these beds yourself, there are some plans here on livinghistory.co.uk.

Red Onions to dye……..

So you might remember that I blogged about dyeing with the skins of white onions back in February; they have the gold/yellow papery skins. I had added a copper mordant to the dye pot at the end in an attempt to create a deeper, richer colour. The photo below shows the result from then.
The yellow colour was from dyeing the wool for one hour in an onion dye stuff; the deeper brown colour was created after adding the copper mordant.

1-DSCF2979After posting it, a reader commented that if I had used red onion skins, I would have gotten the same results. Nothing like a bit of experimentation……..

I tried to keep the red onion dye prep as close to the original. I used the same method I had used for the plain onion skins. I use one third the weight of the wool in skins; 33g of skins per 100g of wool. I also used the same wool type and water source.
I boiled the skins in rain water to get the dye stuff.

1-DSCF3357After simmering for an hour, I drained the water off the skins and used this as my dye.
When I added the wool I got

1-DSCF3362

1-DSCF3364I have to say that it looked quite promising. After simmering for an hour I got the following results.1-DSCF3378 1-DSCF34001-DSCF3382They are really lovely colours. The question was did the red onions give the same colour as the plain onions with a copper mordant?

To me the answer has to be no; at least not in this case. The copper mordant seemed to have dyed the wool a deeper shade of brown, whereas the red onion skins gave a deeper gold yellow. But to be honest, both dyeing attempts gave beautiful colours…. Now to start saving skins all over again…….