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Video Review - History Channel - Forged In Fire - Viking Sword - #TidbitThursday

Researching Vikings and the Viking Era has led me to several interesting videos. One of these is from the popular History Channel series, Forged in Fire, which is a competitive show that focuses on the art of blacksmithing swords with various challenges.

Forged in Fire - Viking Sword

Season 2 - Episode 5


This particular episode the contestants must recreate Viking swords with materials from a car within a limited time frame.

The Blade of the sword is about 9 to 11 inches long. The total length with the tang is about 22 inches long.
The sword features a recurve blade, ideal for slicing.
During the Viking Age (8th - 11th centuries), their swords were typically double-edged and fuller along the blade's length to add strength and flexibility.
A hilt and pummel added balance.
A fuller (a rounded groove or slot) was added to the blade to make it lighter weight and, interestingly, to give it more strength.
Uneven heat during the forging will warp a blade when it's quenched (dunked in the water).
Delamination occurs when two metal layers which were welded together during the process begin to separate.
The Viking sword was meant to be a single-handed weapon (freeing the other hand to carry a shield).

See info on the series here - TravelChannel.com

Watch the Episode online: Viking Sword

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Jewelry - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! This week join me as we begin exploring the jewelry that was crafted during the Viking times.

During the Viking Age, metal smiths were highly revered and their skills made them wealthy. Jewelry was a form of wealth and could be used in trade exchanges.

Jewelry was made from various materials including gold, silver, wood, leather, glass, ceramics or stone.

Beads were made from amber, glass, crystal or other material. The first example, we have glass and amber beads from 11th-12th century. The second example features pretty glass beads from about 7th century.

One popular piece of jewelry found at most archaeological sites is the brooch (used for both functional purposes and decorative purposes). They range from plain designs to very ornately carved. Many feature animal designs. In this example from The British Museum, the pitted copper alloy brooch features a small animal head, which is a common theme throughout Viking art.

Women usuallly wore decorative brooches on each shoulder. This set from the National Museum of Denmark shows one set which was connected by a string of amber beads.

Both men and women wore neck rings (similar in style to the arm-ring). The Walters Art Museum has an excellent example of a silver twisted neck ring. Typically they were open at the back (like the arm-ring) but this one features a clasp.

As mentioned last week, jewelry was often given as a gift or in exchange for loyalty.

Picture References:
Gold Neck ring - National Museum of Denmark
Dress brooch - National Museum of Denmark
Animal Head Brooch - The British Museum
Amber Beads - The British Museum
Glass Beads - The British Museum
Neck Ring - The Walters Art Museum

The Field Museum - Vikings
British Museum - Viking Collection
Viking-Era Ring Unearthed in Northern Ireland - History.com.
"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5
The Vikings: Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder (General Military) The Vikings (Journey into civilization)
Vikings, a Dark History Vikings: Warriors, Raiders, and Masters of the Sea (Oxford People)
The Vikings  

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Jewelry - Arm Rings - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! This week join me as we begin exploring the jewelery that was crafted during the Viking times starting with the arm-rings.

Arm-bands or arm-rings were circular bands, usually open, worn around the arm by both men and women.

Opinions differ on the actual technique used by Vikings to make these bands. One theory suggested they twisted one or more rods of gold or silver into a circle. One theory suggested they were cast as a single piece. In any case, the twists could be any combination of plain or decorative and they varied in thickness and widths.

This one from the Walters Art Museum has a nice twisted-rod pattern ending in two animal heads.

This example at the British Museum is a thick piece of silver with punched designs.

And another example from the Yorkshire Museum of a thick band of gold stamped with designs.

Here we see a piece from the BBC's "A History of the World" that is stretched out.

Typical arm rings include a carving at the ends of an animal or mystical creature (such as a dragon).

Considered a sign of wealth and prestige, a person would proudly wear many rings on their arms or would gift a ring to someone of importance or who performed a great deed. They might be offered in exchange for allegiance. A chieftain or "Godi" would wear a silver ring when performing duties such as settling trade agreements.

Arm-rings have also been found in burial sites possibly suggesting they belonged to the owner or they were specially made for the burial.

Arm rings were also used as collateral for trading goods and were known as ring-money. At some point, most were of a uniform weight to allow for easy exchanges.

Picture References:
Gold Arm Ring - The Walters Art Museum
Silver Ring - The British Museum
Stretched Ring - BBC - A History of the World
Gold Hammered Ring - Yorkshire Museum

Nice page full of arm band pictures - Lancashire Museums
Viking-Era Ring Unearthed in Northern Ireland - History.com.
"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5
The Vikings: Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder (General Military) The Vikings (Journey into civilization)
Vikings, a Dark History Vikings: Warriors, Raiders, and Masters of the Sea (Oxford People)

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Food and Diet - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! This week join me as we explore the typical Viking diet.

Farmers raised beef and milk cows. A farmstead with a lot of cattle was considered wealthy and, interestingly, the word fe' means both cattle and money showing how closely they were linked. The cattle breeds were a bit hardier so they could endure the cold winters. This breed shown, the Fjall, was a hornless all-white cow used for both meat and milk.

Farmers raised goats for meat and milk, pigs for meat, and sheep for wool, meat and milk. These sheep had thick coats that shed naturally. They might hunt bears, red deer or elk.

Fish, such as herring or salmon, was a common source of food and could be preseved by air drying, pickling, salting or smoking over a fire pit.

Food was typically boiled in a cauldron and Vikings made a stew called skause which might contain any number of ingredients tossed in. Stew would be eaten with bread (which was unleavened) made from whatever grew nearby (rye, barley, oats, or even peas).

Other crops the farmers raised included corn, peas, beans, cabbages, apples, berries, hazelnuts and walnuts.

Honey was used as a sweetener. They also extracted salt from the salt water. Spices could be found locally or through trade.

Picture References:
Fjall Cattle - http://www.livestockoftheworld.com/cattle/Breeds.asp?BreedLookupID=1036&SpeciesID=8&Screenwidth=479
Sheep - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22051619
Feast - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/food_01.shtml

History.com - https://www.history.com/news/the-surprisingly-sufficient-viking-diet
Viking Food - http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/food_01.shtml
"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5