Friday, October 3, 2014

The Viking Mythos Project Rolls On

 Another week, another batch of acquisitions for the Viking Mythos project.  One nice thing about an effort like this is that I can work on it when time is available.  At this point that consists mainly of gathering the parts before putting things together.

Starting from the upper left we have a hammered brass bell, a beautiful primitive knife, a leather pouch with antler closure, some off-the-shelf bentwood containers, a wooden dish holding metal beads and mail links, a collection of animal bones, some drying herbs, and linen cordage.

I scored the beads and wire rings at a garage sale out in the middle of nowhere.  It looked like someone had tried out jewelry making as a hobby and then given up, leaving little bundles of supplies to be sold off by their family.  They're a mix of plain steel and steel washed with copper and brass.  Not period accurate by any stretch, but more than cool enough for a project like this.

The wooden containers on the left have slowly grown on me.  They're "Mini Craft Boxes" from Hobby Lobby.  I need something to hold spell components and glass containers really aren't appropriate.  Once these have a coat of stain and some weathering I think they'll do a good job of replicating period Norse examples.

Speaking of spell components, here we have some bundles of thistle and galium.  These are two of the plants specifically mentioned in the Galdrabok Grimoire.  That treatise dates to long after the Viking period, but it's one of the few resources available regarding Icelandic magical practices.  For now I'm contenting myself with getting the right species, but I'd like to eventually get an exact match for the plants available to the Vikings.  Based on my preliminary research most of the Galdrabok plants (thistle, galium, yarrow, and wild leek) can be found in my area of upstate New York.  I just have to get up to speed with their identifying characteristics and get out into the woods to find them.

The highlight here is the primitive knife that CoastConFan generously posted off to me.   It's a forged carbon steel blade from his personal collection, and I can't thank him enough for his kindness.  Now I just have to come up with a horizontal Viking-style sheath for the piece.

The leather pouch showed up at one of my local junk shops.  I think it was originally for tobacco.  I'm not crazy about the visible black stitching, but the antler catch does a lot to make up for that.

The linen cordage is from a vendor on Etsy.  There's solid archeological evidence of both hemp and linen cordage in the Viking era, but most of their twine and light rope was actually made from bast.  Those are the tough fibers found in the inner bark of trees like oak, lime, and alder.  Two out of three are common here in New York, while European Lime is occasionally found as a landscaping plant. I just need to find the source trees, learn how to render the fibers from bark, and teach myself to hand-roll cordage.  Easy peasy.  Heh.


CoastConFan said...

Slightly off subject, this makes me think of Viking era spices and food, which is surprisingly diverse. Check out Viking cooking via the Viking Answer Lady blog, with some (nearly) period cookbook references that would be worth running down, especially in translation:

More Viking cooking links:

Anonymous said...

The more posts I read about your project the more I feel like we are working on something similar. Our approaches and themes are a bit different, but it seems like we are going with the same kind of idea.

That knife looks nice, and is a good fit. Do you mind sharing any details about that bell?

Anonymous said...

But what about THE BELL? For Odin's sake, tell us about the bell!

CoastConFan said...

Post scriptum For Propnomicon and those of you out there who are deeply interested in Viking swords and spears, the following work by Jan Petersen, De Norske Vikingswerd (1919), is absolutely invaluable – just one small problem though. It’s not in English and it has never been fully translated from the original Norwegian to my knowledge. Nonetheless this is the masterwork for Viking swords and well worth the download.

Markus said...

Very nice. One of the best-fitting containers for this era would be probably containers made from birchbark, which were used in parts of Europe until the 20th cenutry. You can see some examples on the bottom of this page:

Propnomicon said...


As always, your help is invaluable. And thank you once again for that wonderful knife.


I'll get some shots of the bell up in a few minutes. I was genuinely surprised there was so much interest in it.


The one thing I gloss over is the thing everyone wants to see. Heh.


That's exactly what I want the set to evolve into using.

CoastConFan said...

PPS I forgot to list Viking knives:

The Last Northumbrian said...

That knife is stunning. As an archaeologist and reenactor, it's far better than those curly handled single piece ones that are all too common despite being totally without provenance!
Rune staves are fantastic pieces of lore. A friend of mine has the Vegvisir as a tattoo. It supposedly guards against getting lost- I dare say it hasn't helped her much.