Sunday, April 20, 2008

DEMARK Research Trip

So how the trip has shaped up...

At time of writing this, I have about three hours till I leave for my Denmark trip. The centerpiece, and the reason for the whole expedition, is the Iron Smelting Seminar in Thy, which runs from April 29 to May 4. (details here)

I have arranged to meet up with experimenter Michael Nissen, from the Ribe Viking Centre. We will be driving up to the Seminar together the evening of Monday April 28 (its a roughly 3 hour trip). Michael has been working with the 'bellows plate' type of furnace, and I will be helping with at least one firing of that type at the Seminar.
Jake Keen (fellow Smeltfest 08 participant) is proposing to build and test a historic furnace from the Eastlands region of Norway and has asked me if I'd like to help out. I was unable to find any information on the smelter, but will certainly contribute if I can.

I published my intended schedule in an earlier posting (details here). Since then I have tracked down as many of the individual curators as possible (mostly due to connections given me by my mentor Dr Birgitta Wallace). This is what has come of those:

April 22 - the Viking Ship Museum
Its still early in the Museum's year, so not everything is in full operation yet. Although I did make contact with the sites Boatyard Manager Søren Nielsen, timing was not good for an in depth meeting. I have been assured that the working team in the boatyard will be expecting me, and that I will be allowed to closely examine their working tools. (This in aid of the current project for Parks Canada to produce a set of Viking Age shipbuilding tools for L'Anse aux Meadows HNSC.)
April 23 - the Roskilde Museum
From curator Jens Molter Ulriksen, I learned that recently this museum had lost its Collections Manager - due to cut backs. For this reason I will not be able to get into the 'back room' with the collection. I am expecting to see a wealth of material in the regular public galleries here.
April 24 - SPARE
I have switched my travel arrangements around to give me an extra free day in Roskilde. This will allow me to spend a second day as required at either of the main two museums. If not, there are plenty of other things in the area to take in.

April 26 - the Ribe Viking Centre
At this point the Centre is actually not open to the public yet. May 1 marks the grand opening, including a major 'Viking Market' special event. Curator Bjarne Clement has offered to meet with me for a short while on this Saturday despite how busy he must be.
I have of course been in contact with both Michael Nissen (iron smelting) and Trine Theut (glass making), two artisan / interpreters at the site. They have offered to show me around their own working areas as well. I have also offered to buy them dinner against pumping their brains, likely on Friday evening.
April 27 - The Ribe Museum
I have been unable to connect with the curator here. At the very least I expect a full day with the public galleries. (This is the artifact collection from the Ribe excavations.)
April 28 - SPARE
Michael and I drive up in the evening, so basically this day remains open. Apparently there is a just opened display of early industrial objects in town that Michael has recommended that I should see. My room in Ribe is right across from the cathedral, so maybe that should be checked out too (quite looking forward to this stay!)

May 6 - the National Museum
Unfortunately the Early History (which includes the Viking Age) gallery is going to still be closed for its current renovation. Jette Arneborg, the curator of the Medieval collection, has offered to show me around her part of the collection.

April 20 / April 25 / May 5 are travel days within Denmark. I will basically be crossing the country in a large triangle that is anchored in its three corners. Each leg is roughly 5 - 7 hours. I think wisely, I have made no specific plans for the first day I arrive - after roughly 20 hours spend in transit!

Taken altogether, the extra research trips are not going to be as fruitful as they might. Almost all of the living history / open air museums in Denmark do not actually start their seasons until May 1. I had to put my museum visits on the front end of the Iron Seminar, as I have a full week of courses starting back in Wareham on May 9.

I would like to thank Dr Birgitta Wallace, who provided me with a lot of insider information and shared her contacts with the various museums.
My brother Randy made a substantial donation to the overall cost of the trip. What he called 'walking around money', but will make a big difference in the comfort level of the whole expedition.
I still have hopes that my application to the Canada Council for the Arts for a travel grant may prove successful. The earliest they would have replied would have been after April 15, so I was not really expecting to see the results before I departed.

I will be trying to make some short entries here over the weeks of the trip as I can make internet connections - stay tuned...

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

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