Way of Living – (Dedicated to Njardarheimr, Norway)
We have our land. We go raid no more. We here have plenty. Do not take like before.
In our hearts we are Viking. People of Iron. In our town we are Viking. Viking Town.
Shipbuilders come here. In iron nailed hulls. Bringing sightseers to us. They help at the sculls.
Season by season. The world comes stay here. The reason is Vikings. They hold us dear.
Our chieftain welcomes. His word is enough. We stay just as strong. Strong of love.
Chieftain he speaks. “Piracy is gone.” “No need to go plunder” Being here is strong.
Warriors a plenty. No need of an army. You come to us. We have no enemy.
All here are welcome. Whoever the world will bring. All here are welcome. Except the unwelcoming.
Come join in the building. The building of kinships. The skill and the interest. This town equips.
Ancient crafts abide. Use needle and hammer. Clothe us, shod us. Be potter, be carver.
As you sit you are of us. Viking by fire. Cook, drink discover. Be thirsty, aspire.
Remember to believe. Believe in your heart. We have games to share. Here we shall start.
Be in his team. Tell stories that last. Live here in the now. We bring you the past.
Adrian Spendlow – from the words of my chieftain (NB the R in iron is silent)
Saying Thank You
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I was sent an interesting link and asked for more. Lots of friends sent me information on Viking foodstuffs, so I thought I would put all the links and chats together in one place. I am always glad to hear more.
I pontificate quite a lot so more rigid findings will be found in the links supplied and the future links and information you send me. Here you will find me ruminating like an ungulate.
I asked around about information of foodstuffs and a good friend Leah mentioned hearing of work by the York Archaeological Trust in York, Britain. Lots of bone and poo. Here are couple of things I ‘picked up’ from the conversation. Professor Terry O’Conner of University of York said that cattle were at the heart of daily lives. Although they were quite small compared to contemporary cows they were used for many things, leather, horn, meat, fat, dairy products and of course bone carving.
For some great bone carving skills, and indeed leather working, do visit Peter Merrett on his Facebook page.
Old bones is what were found mainly I understand, and this seems to indicate that the cattle were used for labour. They would be hauling things, carts and ploughs and such I guess. Dairy products would also be another reason for keeping the cows longer.
A couple of things came to mind, I would love feedback on these thoughts. Were there young male bones? Did they kill off most of the bulls and keep a few for breeding? Perhaps they hadn’t thought of that. If haulage was so important then bulls or steers would be useful.
I have heard Viking presenters describe the slaughter of animals in the early winter or late fall. They say that you tally up how much animal feed you have for the winter, calculate how many animals that will feed and then work out how many you can keep. So presumably there was a great working of animal materials at this time. Drying and working.
Preservation of food stuff is a thing I would like to hear more about. The communal gathering of wild flora for instance. The ways to keep meat. The equipment used. They must have been a lot of that going on. Where did they get the preservation materials? Lye, smokehouses, salt, vinegar, fermentation, honey boiling. I don’t know but I want to.
They would have course eaten lots of fish. There are remains to show so. I understand millions of oyster shells were found in the Coppergate dig in York. I imagine these were mainly fresh-water oysters. I wonder if they found pearls?
The sea isn’t far away (along the Humber) and Scandinavia isn’t that far away, especially if you think of preserved fish.
There are two rivers in York. The folks of Jorvik would certainly have noticed them, because they come up to visit you on a regular basis! Eel come to mind, I have seen reconstructions of eel catchers.
I have also seen coracles. Again, I want to hear more.
That dig in York found bones of an odd selection of creatures. As well as all the likely suspects when it comes to eating meat and fish there were also birds, frogs and mice bones.
What, I wonder, about the bones of animals which provide fur. There is a controversial thought. They are not mentioned here. Did the Vikings hunt for fur to wear? They traded it yes.
Cooking methods are also pointers, cauldrons, flat stones, griddles possibly, spits and pits.
When it come to the analysis of poo (coprolite?) another surprise food ingredient was discovered. Grit! They ate a lot of that, especially the poor. It got in the flour and wore away the teeth. The teeth were a limitation on life.
Thank you to Fiona for sending me a link to – From Loki to lipids: Using modern biology to discover Viking culture
A great links page, and I like their blog the best.
Some other thoughts…
We can also look to the sagas and the stories and poems for pointers.
I hear talk of ballast plants, you fill the ship with stuff to sell, you trade for lighter things, you need ballast. Loads of soil and rock perhaps. This needs emptying out when you get home. So does all the animal waste I guess too. There are seeds in there. Stuff grows. I have been told that oregano grows in Norway because of this factor. So I hear.
Some common-sense thoughts (ramblings).
The placing of settlements, and marker stones point to foodstuffs. What is available in an area and what trade routes could have been established.
The availability of materials. Did the Icelandic people eat rotten food because they didn’t have any trees?
My pal Holger from Germany who I know from working with him in Njardarheimr Viking Town, and his wonderful crafting skills, posted this link to our group chat. This is the piece that got us all talking about other information and links.
Hayley McParland their science advisor. She has written on the findings at the site of the Jorvik Centre ride in York.
The majority of plant finds seem to have been grasses, certainly on a microscopic analysis level; these were most likely oats, rye, wheat, barley and other grain producers. I guess these were mainly for flour, but could also have been for brewing (especially if they found Yarrow?).
Ah, there were lots of archaeobotanical remains which showed the culture, diet and crafts. I don’t have specifics though.
The methods of dying material could be tied back further towards plant cultivation, awareness and gathering.
I haven’t so far on this quest discovered any links to medicine, folk-medicine, folklore or beliefs.
Leah suggested that if you were visiting the Jorvik Centre you pre-book a copy of the Jorvik Centre Companion Guide to be waiting for you on arrival. I see you can mail order a copy but it seemed to be way more expensive that way.
Real nice to see a friend in this video for the York Archaeological Trust on our topic of Viking foods.
Ah thank you Zoe, at last talk of cooperative gathering and preservation.
And remember to spit.
It was also nice to see Fiona portraying Wulfruna demonstrating the related topic of pottery.
I have enjoyed spending time with culinary archaeologist Daniel Serra, here is a link to a wonderful book –
Do visit the Facebook page for the Viking House which is managed by Jarldress Professor Heidi Sherman-Spendlow with the assistance of Jarldress-in-waiting Mariah, the building skills of Trodin Hegn (Dwayne) and many others.
The grounds, buildings and events have pretty much been on hold as things have been everywhere.
The future is ahead of us and will blossom deep into the past.
The Society for Creative Anachronism have a group in Green Bay and they are a great bunch of active reenactors of history. They get well involved with the development of ‘the house’.
Now let’s go to amazing star Alda Raven. As well as her work as a singer and creator of Gods Bless Ya! she also hosts the culinary creative Viking Kitchen which features Viking and Vikingesque cookery.
Here is her introductory feature…
And her visit to the Viking Village of Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, Norway where she works with Viking cook Trine Volder.
We loved dining with the Green Bay group of Sons of Norway. As well as a whole array of wonderful food from Scandinavia they had asked me to bring along a contribution. I realised all was planned so I thought I needed to create a dish no one else would think of; hence – Gas Station Delight!
(Interesting to look back at this blog from five years ago to see the sort of things I was up to.)
You can read minds, I am told, but only because I brought coffee at the right moment. Yes actually I can. I don’t, well, not generally, but I can. I wonder if I should. If I key in I can, and if I am asked. Then again I think perhaps I can only do it if it is team work; my spirits teaming with your spirits to your benefit.
I think that is how it works, then only if I have some sort of device; some artefact to rely on. This sort of thing gives me permission I think.
I hadn’t thought of it like this until it came up in conversation, but once I had thought of it lots of examples came flooding back to me.
“There is a pregnancy here but I cannot be quite sure who it is… it is like it is both of you.”
“How on earth did you know?” “Ah, but it is not you though is it.” “No, but I have been going through her symptoms with her as if it was me too.”
Actually that was before I had got out the usual runes and crystal ball; that is an exception though.
Often I don’t see all that much, or say all that much. When I said at a venue in South Yorkshire that I saw two men interested in her but she was unsure about one of them. The lady said, “Ooo yes, should I go back to him?”
I said I didn’t feel it was up to me to make such a decision for her but that I would look. There in the crystal ball was a firework crossing the sky. So I simply asked, “What happened on bonfire night?”
That’s all I said, for now anyway. Turns out they had been walking his dog on November the 5th on a moor in their area. He had let the dog off the lead, despite her concern and, of course, the dog took fright and, er, took flight.
He did not have time to search; his program was due to start. So he left her to it. Nearly two hours it took to find the poor terrified creature. She knocked on his door, he opened it, pulled the dog in saying, “My program’s still on” and slammed the door.
I did say more, I couldn’t help myself, “And you want to know if you should go back to him!?”
I often see things; I think it is their loved ones trying to prove they are around them. I recall describing a vintage coat that would never be worn taking up a third of the wardrobe: It was the young woman’s late grandmother’s.
Exclamations often come, “How do you know that!” – “Has he been in our house!” The latter being when I was reading tea leaves and described a shelf full of Chinese ornaments. I also at that session asked someone, “Have you been planting a tree this morning?” They had.
In the next session I recall seeing the broken umbrella a daughter had thrown in a bin before entering the hall. She turned and asked her mum if she had told me.
I have taken care to be sure no one can be identified in this blog; the following recipient will probably recognise themselves however…
With some of the things I’ve mentioned one might wonder what use they are but the following snippet was reported back to me later as being very useful.
I had seen details of a few things in the reading but promptly forgot all about it until my friend said, “You do remember how we met?”
I did I had done them a reading. I was reminded of what I had said, “Go in the marquee! – you are not supposed to but go in anyway.”
I had gone on to say they were looking out of a window of a big old building and there was a marquee in the grounds. As they were stuck for something to do they should go in. Apparently they did, it was some sort of amateur archaeology club and as my freind seemed interested they were let in.
There was a lot to be interested in and it was a long pleasant visit, so when a raffle ticket was offered it was seen as a way of making a contribution. It was a winner – the prize? A two week holiday.
At first the holiday was quiet. Everyone else staying there were in couples. Two other singles turned up though and the three of them got on great. My friend told them all about their book and it turned out these two new friends were publishers. They liked the sound of the book. They published it.
“So, thank you Adrian for your reading, I would never have gone in the marquee otherwise and I am very glad I did.
Perhaps I should do this sort of thing more often.
I’ve not gone into details here of the woman who changed her sexual preferences (in a sudden realisation of love) during the course of my reading but let’s just say that the woman she had arrived with thanked me as they left with a backwards glance and a very big smile on her face and both thumbs up in the air.
Lovely to rediscover this sensitive thoughtful art-work
Poem Pics II – The Jacobs Well Project with Mary Passeri…
As we have plans afoot to build a forthcoming exhibition (or two) I thought it would be a good time to share the poems and artwork created during our projects with older people.
Artist Mary Passeri especially invited those who endure dementia problems and their loved ones to meet with us; initially at Space 109 and then a whole series of gatherings at the beautiful old Jacob’s Well, both in York.
Here are some of the pieces created and some of the people involved.
Poems and art from this project were published and distributed around relevant centres within York and Leeds.