Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tripods in the Viking Age - again

A bit of a rant on the Oseburg Tripod:

(Note: In defence of the original writer: He obviously has done some research, asks good questions, and is drawing the correct conclusions! )

From Norsefolk 2 discussion
Norse iron ware for out door cooking
Date: Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:34 pm ((PDT))

" My conundrum is that everyone makes big ole huge Oseberg tripods to
hang various items, but my research indicates the one found is much
smaller. The larger ones are actuallynecessary for cooking over the
fire with a cauldron or fire grid, and besides everyone has them."

And everyone is wrong:
(see 'Aunt Martha's and Damthings' )

Image to right is an accurate reproduction of the Oseberg Tripod, with a replica of the (smaller) Mastermyr cooking pot. The piece of fire wood is only 7 cm diameter, and touches the bottom of the pot.

1) Royal status object.
This shows in complexity, amount of material used, source context. If you are not a Queen, you should not consider this prototype.
2) Not an * actual - functional * cooking tool
Look at the cauldron also in the burial. When set on the tripod, there is only about 10 cm worth of clearance, impossible to physically use over a fire. The height of the tripod is fixed by its construction. The hanging hook is also fixed. So there is no way to change this mounting height, no way to alter temperature of cooking.
3) Likely a symbolic object. Was it purpose built for the burial? It is the 'image' of a cooking tool, not an actual cooking tool.
4) Possible other purpose entirely. I have had it suggested by archaeologists that what this pair may really be is a high class serving set for offering previously heated wine or mead to guests.
5) Apply 'Uncle Atli's Bronze Budha rule' : There is only one of this type of object. This is the only metal tripod known from the Viking Age. (The only other *possible* sample is seen in the Bayeux tapestry, and it may actually be green wood supports.)

Image to right - a typical 'solution'. The legs of the tripod have been doubled in length, the clawed feet cut off.

I have seen some of the most foolish methods used to allow a copy of this object to become functional:
1) Place the legs up on stones so to create extra height
The legs are bent and clawed specifically for use pressed into the ground. Putting these on stones makes the whole tripod unstable.
2) Dig a hole to put the fire in. Which of course makes the fire almost impossible to manage (if it burns at all).
3) Move the fire around - rather than the pot. Typically done by people with very little real experience with fire cooking. This is a method applied from modern gas or electric stoves.
4) Extend the size of the tripod legs to allow a pot to correctly fit underneath. Remember that the metal stock the smith started with was 2 cm square by about 40 cm long. Try hammering out the required bars using VA equipments. Remember each leg contains enough metal to make an axe.

" So I have searched high and low for other options, and the only thing
that comes up is the Capel Garmon fire dogs found that date to an
earlier period than Norse. see
I would love to do one
of these and modify it slightly for spits and a horizontal cross bar,
but prefer doing an extant item if possible."

Sorry - wrong historic period. Wrong cultural group. Wrong context. Wrong application.

"I would really like to know what other options there might be in the
archeological evidence, to hang pots, or a spit on a device that is
not one of the above. Is the 2 uprights with a cross bar a 10C period
form? I know that alot of the cooking was done in the longhouse with
cauldrons and etc . which could be hung from a chain to the center
ridge, but outdoors this is not available."
Image to right - A wood pole tripod with rope and short chain hanger.

Ok - now the meat of the question - some advice:

Everyone seems to forget that any 'camp' represents a travelling situation, not that seen at home in the long house. You hit the nail on the head with your understanding of the difference.

Use wood.
Take three saplings, tie these at the top for the outdoor tripod.
All that is * required * is about 30 - 40 cm worth of chain, the rest of the hanging support can be plain rope. This is a cooking fire, not a bonfire! (If you had to gather and cut that wood yourself with an axe, believe me, you would make that fire a lot smaller and just sit closer. As kids in scouts we used to joke about 'white man's fire'.)

The design and size of the VA meat spits (those that actually *are* meat spits and not Sa∂ir status symbols) is such that these work correctly supporting them with a forked stick at the side of the fire. The base end sits under a large stone. They are not designed to be supported on both ends like most later period re-enactors do.

Remember as well - one pot per household grouping. Our modern concept of many pots is *extremely modern*, as in post Industrial Age. Get used to stew and soups, its what most of the Norse ate, most of the time.

Note: Search this blog under 'Oseberg Tripod'. There are other postings on this topic, which include a copy of the original artifact drawing and my own construction diagram.
PS - those desiring to eat corn and potatoes in Viking Age camps need not respond.
(I just lectured on the weekend on Interpretive Method, this being one of the illustrations of bad representations of history.)


STAG said...

Nice dogs.

that cool grainey shiney look is achieved by electrolytic rust removal. I have done some horseshoes...they look great. Well, un rusty anyway.

Albert A Rasch said...

Dang! That is a handsome tripod!

That would be a definite conversation piece around the campfire!

Best Regards,
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
Reviewing the Nikon Monarch 8X42.


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

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