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Special Event, L'Anse aux Meadows, NHSC

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, NF, July 2012

In 2012, DARC returned to L'Anse aux Meadows with the help of sponsorship from the Norweigan consulate. Apart from strengthening the interpretive presence in the longhouse and surrounding area, DARC again provided a series of lectures for visitors. We even provided some neighbourly assistance to Norstead as Thorgeir helped restore their pole lathe, and others visited to share knowledge. Other projects included an experimental open pit firing of pottery, and a series of hikes in search of sources of bog ore.

The presentation included hundreds of detailed replicas of period objects: domestic goods, cooking equipment, simple textile tools, woodworking tools, basic blacksmithing equipment, weapons, storage, and more. 17 members of DARC spent 10 days demonstrating a number of activities at various stations in conjunction with the parks staff.

On most days the first station a visitor would see was the domestic activities. When weather allowed this was set up around an open air fire just inside the gate, otherwise it moved into the small dwelling house. Around this fire Jorunn and her thrall Kadja made our daily lunches: soups, breads, cheeses. Dishes and laundry were washed as well.

Kadja teaches LutaKadja interviewed by CBCKadja cooking

Across the path the tourist would have come across Ragnarr's trading tent. Here a visitor would be regaled with tales of far away places and the exotic materials collected for sale to discerning customers. Iron; worked iron in the form of hinges, arrrow heads; beads, necklaces; fabrics; and more. A visitor could also engage in a game of hnefatafl, or discuss navigation techniques.
Ragnarr's waresRagnarr bargainingLocal musselsLuta and Ragnarr playing
Luta playingInspecting the goods

Continuing on to the woodworking station Thorgeir, Grimbold, and Rig could be seen turning bowls on the spring pole lathe; or working on a piece for the faering being repaired onsite. Some lucky visitors would hear tales of the home country from Rig.
Grimbold teaches carvingGrimbold drilling boneThorgeir prepares a bowlRig interviewed by CBC
Thorgeir smooths a bowlRig teaches runesEmundr whittlingGrimbold carving
Emundr dozesThorgeir takes a breakRig takes a breakThorgeir

From here a visitor would proceed into the main hall to meet with staff from Parks Canada who would tell them stories of Leif's arrival and the building of the hall.

The next stop for many visitors was Gudrun's loom and a discussion of the types of weaving, the effort required to prepare fleece and spin it to prepare to weave.

Proceeding further in a visitor would need Auðr and Kaðlín for a discussion of net making, spinning, and naalbinding and a chance to try each of those skills. Tablet weaving was a specialty of Hrobjartr.
Jorunn working a tunicKatla preparingEmma and KatlaÆsa finishing hat
Auðr makes a bow stringJorunn shows mittensKaðlín skeinsHrobjartr, Æsa and Thora
Hrobjartr prepares to warpAuðr makes a netÆsa naalbindingWarping the loom
Gudrun ties weightsDye vatDye resultsJorunn
Gudrun weavingKaðlín spinsKadja teaches braidingKaðlín naalbinds
Gudrun and LutaWarped!

Outside in the back a visitor would find Ketill working the forge.
Ketill lectures

Some additional unplanned activities occurred.
Vikings on VacationKetill demonstrates cooperingKetill putting up a tentKetill putting up a tent
Katla carries waterKadja teaches KatlaKeiran and Katla playKeiran takes a break
Kids playingÆsa jugglingNorse jugglingBathtime!

There were also local expeditions to collect raw materials and samples.
Hunting ore samplesCollecting local clay

At the end of the day's work some odd juxtapositions tended to occur.
Heading outKatla the Girl GuideNorthern DelightEnd of day
A final group photo

In addition to the interpretative activities, members of DARC provided lectures for the public at the interpretative centre. These lectures included:
Norse Music
Did the Vikings sing when they rowed? Could Thorsteinn carry a tune? This lecture will introduce the instruments played by the Norse and demonstrate some of what remains of their musical traditions.
Bead Production in Scandinavia: converting archaeological evidence to a practical method
The 10th century writer Ibn Fadlan assures us that Vikings loved their beads, and archaeological evidence suggests to us that beads were produced in a number of locations in Scandinavia. Unfortunately the Viking Era Scandinavians neglected to document their production methods on YouTube for us. Over the past two years members of DARC have performed a number of basic attempts at bead production. This session demonstrated the basic techniques used to make glass beads.
Vikings Unearthed
This introduction to the Viking age will explore the archeology and reconstruction of the Oseberg site. Learn about the way the Norse lived and what they valued through this examination of the richest archeological find from the time period.
This introduction to the Viking age art of naalbinding showed visitors how to execute this ancient technique.
Pastimes of the Vikings
"It's all fun and games when someone loses an eye!" Actually, Norse pastimes tended to be a little less violent than that. This class will cover the basic rules of Tafl, as well as examining other past-times that can be used to fill those long hours of leisure time.
Iron Smelting at Vinland - Converting archaeological evidence to a practical method
The excavations at L'Anse aux Meadows Newfoundland uncovered remains interpreted by the original excavation team as a 'Furnace Hut' containing an iron smelting furnace. The remains are fragmentary, and at best only represent the last stages of a complex physical sequence. What might this furnace have looked like, and exactly how might the smelting process have been undertaken by the Norse, 1000 years ago? As well as considering furnace remains from Norway and Iceland, practical experience derived from a long series of experimental iron smelts will be considered.

Experimental activities were also conducted including:
Ragnarr beadmakingRagnarr beadmakingKadja excavates potteryPottery construction

      Updated: Jan 2016
Text © Neil Peterson and Richard Schweitzer, 2015
Photographs © Individual artists
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