Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Viking Age in Ottawa for Canada Day

(1000 years in the making - less than 70 hours in the organization!)

On behalf of Parks Canada, I will be mounting a presentation of daily life in the Viking Age this Canada Day (Friday July 1) in Jacques Cartier Park, just across from Parliament Hill on the Quebec side. The Park is just across the street from the CMC on Rue Laurier, backing on the Ottawa River.

Admission is FREE
Presentation hours are 10 am - 8 pm

I will also be working as one of two historic interpreters. I will be operating a Norse type sand table forge, demonstrating simple blacksmithing techniques.
Also in camp will be Stephen Paine of L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC, who is flying in from Newfoundland for the presentation.

I'm told that there may be something between 350 - 400 THOUSAND people in attendance at the various venues of the official Canada Day celebrations. (Part of the draw are Will and Kate - who apparently are intending to visit the CMC (right across the street) as part of the Royal Tour...)

If you are near Ottawa, it would be nice to see some friendly (intelligent) faces in the massive crowds...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Recent Work

- I know that individual postings here in detail have been a bit thin of late. Preparation work for CanIRON 8 is eating up a lot of time (and limited brain power).
Here are a couple of images of one of my late spring commissions:

This was a small 'Juliette' type balcony intended to match the earlier purchased (by another maker) curved back kitchen door.
In use this balcony primarily allows the home owner to open up the pair of doors to expand their kitchen into the small back yard. The deck space on it is about 12 inches deep by 40 inches wide. Although certainly not specifically 'up to code' the customer did decide to have the top rail set at the required 42 inches tall. The frame is made up of 1 1/2 outside diameter pipe. The pieces were forged into graceful curves, echoing the shapes of the earlier metal stairs.

June 11 Smelt - REPORT

- for the DARC to CanIRON 8 Practice Smelt.

- is now available on the main Wareham Forge Iron smelting web site :

Monday, June 20, 2011

Some things are free, but much more with Membership!

On 19/06/11 6:28 PM, John wrote:
Is it true that the iron smelt is on Thurs. only? That is my primary interest at the conference ...

The iron smelt by members of the Dark Ages Re-Creation Company will take place over the full day of Thursday 28, the opening day of CanIRON 8. The team will start the furnace build roughly 9 am, expects to be ready for the start of main sequence by noon, pulling the bloom roughly 4:30 - 5 pm.

This is a free, public outreach part of the conference. I'm expecting that I personally will be stuck running around organizing, but feature demonstrators Mike McCarthy and Jesus Hernandez are members of the "Early Iron Underground" and will be able (Mike especially) to lend a hand.

Of course you might expect that I should be plugging the full four day conference!

Jesus Hernandez, who works in the Japanese bladesmithing traditions, will be taking part of the DARC iron bloom and later demonstrating forging it down to a blade blank.

If you are interested in ancient historical methods, I think you will be interested in the (amazing) work of Jake Powning, who will be demonstrating Viking Age style pattern welding (twisted composite core), plus lecturing on his blend of Celtic and Norse designs.

There is a packed schedule of feature demonstrations, hands on workshops, lectures and panel sessions for paid registrations to CanIRON 8. One of the missions of the hosting organization, the Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association, is to inform and educate the general public about the 'art and mystery' of the blacksmith. For that reason we have included a full program of public outreach events.

Other aspects of CanIRON 8 which are being presented as FREE public access:

- Friday & Saturday (roughly 9-12 a + 1:30-4 p): Come see members of OABA, under David McCort, work on completing the Fergus Park Bench project.
- the Gallery is open daily from 1:30 - 4:30 p, including 'meet the artist' sessions
- our Auction takes place Saturday starting at 6:30 p, bid on original hand forged art pieces (plus smithing related items like tools and hands on courses)
- 'Hammer In' style demonstrations, Sunday 9 - 12 a, where members of OABA will present their skills using a range of forge equipments and working styles.
- Forging Competition, Sunday 1:30 - 4:30 p, always a lot of action and highjinks as teams of smiths (stuggle?) to make an object with limited materials and time.

Regular Readers are no doubt aware that I am heading up the working team for CanIRON 8 ...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CanIRON practice smelt

- June 11 at Wareham
Smeltmaster - Neil Peterson
Lead Hand - Richard Schweitzer
Loader - Sam Falzone

This is just a very preliminary overview. The full report should be available later this week.

Furnace - Econo Norse (standard set up)
Ore - untested rock ore from Bratton's Run, near Lexington Virginia
Amount - estimated at roughly 23 kg
Bloom - 2.65 nice soft iron

Slag tap 2/3 through sequence

Neil peeks while Richard loads

Compacted and sliced bloom

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

De-Bunking the Kensington Rune Stone ...

Yet Again.
This topic reared its ugly head again on Norsefolk 2. This was my initial offering:

Viking disappearance from Greenland

This topic was dealt with in some detail in 'Vikings - North Atlantic
Saga', which was the most up to date research at the time of the exhibit
(being 2000)

As a member of the design team for the exhibit, I can tell you there was
considerable discussion about whether to even mention (much less
include) the Kensington stone in the exhibit. It has long been PROVEN to
be a forgery.

My friend Dr Birgitta Wallace specifically wrote a section in the book
on various theories of 'Norse' occupation sites outside of the proven
location at L'Anse aux Meadows. Outside of the Maine Silver Penny find
(another thing entirely) there are NONE.

Considerable wishful thinking however. Please check your geography and a
map. There are rapids at Montreal that kept ANYONE from passing an ocean
vessel further - until the St Lawrence Seaway was constructed. Remember
Niagara Falls? That takes a portage of over 15 km - if possible at all.

Horses can not possibly walk from modern New Brunswick over through the
bush on the Canadian Shield over the top of Lake Superior. (Ever tried
it? * I * have!)

As for taking the route from James Bay to Minnesota, remember that old
warning : "Stay on the boat..."

Even the most basic research will show all these 'finds' are from the
But this topic is like Jason from Friday the 13th - it just will not die. Rabid supporters of the WAG that the Norse did in fact travel into the interior of North America persist.

Enter Christie Ward

Christie also is known on the internet as 'the Viking Answer Lady'. I highly recommend her web site, which is an excellent resource for the serious re-enactor of the Viking Age. Her personal interests and specialties are textiles and food related topics, but the collection includes very much more.

She (with so much better patience than I have) took the trouble and effort to re-format the bulk of the text by the Smithsonian's Bill Fitzhugh from Vikings - North Atlantic Saga that I mentioned above. Using the power of the internet, Christie added web links for virtually ALL the individual references cited in Bill's original piece:
Debunking the Kensington Stone

Text below is taken from:

Fitzhugh, William W. and Elisabeth I. Ward, eds. Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 2000. (Available at

Whenever possible, I have expanded in-text references to Google Book links or other online resources to better allow readers to follow up on these sources. If I have not linked a reference in the text, it means I could not find an online version of the text: however, it will still be listed in the bibliography, with, whenever possible, purchase information. When I have inserted my own text, it will be included in [Square Brackets and Green Text].

(from Christie's introduction)

To view Christie's version of the original article : go to 'Debunking the Kensington Stone'

To view the Smithsonian's web site on the parent exhibit : go to 'Vikings - North Atlantic Saga'

Monday, June 06, 2011

Early Blacksmith

Stuttgarter Psalter - Cod. bibl. fol. 23

Saint-Germain-des-Prés 0801
France : 820-830 AD

This image dug up by Jeroen Zuiderwijk who posted it to the Don Fog Bladesmith Forum.
For the full image off the manuscript page - go HERE
For various versions of the Stuttgarter Psalter - go HERE

Now, what I see here is:
- ground position fire
- use of bellows shield stone
- bellows (may?) be a simple 'bag' type
a top set plate with opening, sealed by the palm on the down stroke (??)
- smith working standing with waist height anvil
- anvil is simple T stake shape (proportions ??)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Demonstration IRON SMELT : June 11

- The Dark Ages Re-creation Company will be mounting a demonstration IRON SMELT at the upcoming CanIRON 8 (Fergus, Thursday July 28)

The preparation / test smelt for this will take place on our normal
spring smelt weekend :

Saturday June 11
Wareham Ontario
Demonstration start time: 9 AM
Expected extraction time : 5 PM

Neil Peterson will be smelt master, demonstration team is Dave Cox, Sam Falezone and Richard Schweitzer.

Those interested in attending the June session can undertake the role of the general
public. This may mean that there may also be roles available as part of a
'hands on' aspect to the demonstration.

The smelter to be constructed is the Econo Norse type (firebrick with
sand packing). This is a modern system using easily available parts in its construction.

In addition there will be some general grunt work to be undertaken, required to prepare materials for the two smelts. Smashing charcoal being one task. Breaking rock ore would be very

Following the CanIRON pattern, this June 11 demonstration intended to be a ONE DAY

How to get to Wareham?

(cross posted from the DARC blog)

February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE