Viking Age


ISBN 978-0-9783284-2-9

R-2011 version includes:
Chapter Titles Menu
New Bonus Segments


RIGHT : A short segment from the program - Cauldron Hanger Elements


The finds at L'Anse aux Meadows at most Northern Newfoundland mark the only authenticated Norse occupation site in North America. Now considered by archaeologists to be Leif Eriksson's outpost in Vinland - Leifsbudir.

In 1997, Professional Blacksmith and Interpretive Program Designer Darrell Markewitz was contracted by Parks Canada to create the 'Viking Encampment' for L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC. The Viking Encampment presentation included some 150 replica objects. A staff of six, was trained to portray the people and elements of the life as it would have been undertaken by the Norse in Vinland circa 1000 AD. Creation of these pieces required extensive research, application of historic techniques, and close attention to details.

This two and a half hour program was taped during the creation of these same replicas and reproductions. Forging the Viking Age centres on the forge work. Follow the production of a number of specific objects, with commentary on both the original source artifacts and detailed background on the replicas. Much of the footage takes place in the forge, as raw bars are hammered into the finished objects.

FORGING the Viking Age will be of special interest to the blacksmith, the Norse re-enactor - or anyone with a deep interest in history.

Program Content
Introduction to the Encampment A background look at the material culture of the Viking Age, as it relates to the Encampment series of living history programs. This is a walk through of a Viking Age camp, examining a number of the objects seen latter in production.
Cauldron Hangers An overview of the elaborate cauldron hangers found in Norse and Saxon burials. A close up description of the approximately three meter long hanger made for the 1996 presentation. Follow the creation of the new hanger as it is made - from producing the bars to final assembly of the many elaborate forged elements.
Carving Knife A record of the metalwork involved in reproducing a small folding carving knife, based on the sample found at Coppergate in York England. Starting with a bar of tools steel, see the forging, finishing and heat treating of the blade, along with a description of how the final mechanism works.
Box Hinge Shows the production of two variants on the well known 'loop and tab' style hinge found on Norse sea chests. First is an exact reproduction of the hinges found on the Mastermyr Sea Chest. Second is a simpler version requiring less forging skill and time.
Axes A number of types and sizes of axes were created for the Encampment. The sequence starts with the raw materials and a consideration of Viking Age construction methods. This is followed with the production of three differing axes. Two are small belt axes, using the looped and welded method including an inset carbon steel edge (demonstration forge welding). Also shown is work on the fine tool axe from Mastermyr (with punched eye).
Spiral Iron Here is the forging of one of the spiral shaped cook irons. Work starts with the preparation of the bar stock, through forging the spiral. The sequence ends with a look at the finished object.
Forging an Anvil
The original plan was to hand forge a replica Norse anvil, based on the T shaped sample from 1000 AD Russia. See why this project was abandoned part way through!
QuickTime Shorts
TWO new bonus features have been added (find the 'Bonus' file using your computer.) One is 'Forging a Norse Broad Axe' the other 'Forging an Iron Cookpot'

The first three programs in this series (Introduction / Bladesmithing / Forge Viking ) were all shot using older analog VHS video equipment. It was also decided to use the actual 'in the workshop' ambient sound. An experienced blacksmith knows the sound of the hammer on metal is an important clue as to the progress of the work, and I wanted to illustrate this. These are NOT slick commercial tapes with voice overs and music sound tracks! For both those reasons, the image and sound quality of these programs may not prove to be equivelent to that provided by state of the art digital equipment. The amount of information provided on each remains exceptional.

Starting on February 1, 2011, a new upgraded edit of these programs was made. This included the use of 'chapter' menus and formating for use on computer hardware DVD drives.
Those using the disks inside computer DVD drives are still cautioned that these still may operate at the whim of the many different software programs available. No specific support is provided for computer use, customers are advised to consult the manuals that came with their individual software if there are difficulties playing the disks. Usually some alternative method chosen from your 'FILE" menu will resolve the issue. No refund will be available if the disk does not work in your specific computer.

About the Author

Darrell Markewitz is an Interpretive Program Designer, a specialist in the Viking Age. He created the 'Norse Encampment' series of programs, starting in 1992. The culmination of this work was the 'Viking Encampment' living history presentation for Parks Canada at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC. In 2003 he designed and produced the exhibit 'World of the Norse' for the Cranbrook Institute of Science. He was part of the original concept team for the Smithsonian's 'Vikings - North Atlantic Saga'. He also worked on the educational programming related to the Newfoundland Museum's 'Full Circle - First Contact'. In 2000 he created and delivered the college level program 'Interpreting the Viking Age'.

As a working blacksmith, his experience goes back over a quarter century. Since 1992 he has operated the Wareham Forge in Grey County, Ontario. Work is split between consulting with museums, teaching and creating original art metalworks.

He has worked as an artisan / interpreter at a number of historic sites throughout North America and over a range of time periods. He was fundamental in the creation of the Dark Ages Re-creation Company, and remains a driving force behind the group's museum presentations and experimental archaeology projects.

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All text Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge