Friday, August 26, 2011

'New' at Kensington Minnesota...

... but Viking Age it is NOT.

Hello, I visited your website after googling about blooms, and I know you'll want to see this object I found just two weeks ago. It looks kind of bloom-like, yet it seems to tooled by a swage. Please let me know your opinion after experimenting so much as you have, hands on. I value your opinion, especially because of your Vinland connection. Thanks. It needs some fast, serious study. I'm sorry that the pages load slow, but the wait will be worth it for you, I'm positive. Maybe the original iron came from Vinland? - Bob ****, from Minnesota (Where the Templars/Cistercians came in 1362).
I warn my readers that the indicated web site contains absolutely massive image files - in the range of 5 - 8 mgb each. It takes way too much time to load!

The measurements are given as 5 1/2 inches long, 3 inches wide, 2 1/2 inches thick
I have converted the published image into life size - and a size suitable for the web!
Original image

My Reply and Commentary:

I have to tell you that the weight of physical evidence, cultural practice and raw geography are absolutely AGAINST any materials found in Minnesota actually having any connections at all with Vinland during the Viking Age.

The best estimates of the amount of iron bloom produced at Lief's Houses (L'Anse aux Meadows) are for approximately 3 kg. (One furnace firing only.) Once compacted down to working metal bar, that drops to something in the range of 2 kg (at best). Trace analysis proves some of that metal was used for nails and rivets which remained to be found at LAM itself.
What is the mass of your object?
To my eye it looks larger than it would be physically possible to form from the single bloom known to be created at LAM.

If you had a chemical analysis of the metal alloy undertaken, it would tell you a great deal.
First, microscopic / chemical examination of the object would certainly tell you much about how the iron was produced. The methods used in the Viking Age are significantly different than those used during the Settlement Era. This alone may serve to rough date (and exclude) the object by date of production.

As you should know, trace elements present in the parent ore are passed in the same concentrations into a finished iron mass when the bloomery furnace method is used. The concentrations of elements are known for the LAM site ores. (Check the original Ingstad excavation report.) This kind of test could be definitive.

Superficially, the surface of the object suggests to me a *cast* object. This method of production was completely unknown during the Viking Age. It is a common method used during the 1800's however, especially for pieces of farm machinery. A check of the carbon content of the metal would confirm this.
It also does not look like a very good quality casting, given surface folds and flaws seen in the images.
These kinds of surface effects are not seen on forged objects.

The raw mass and shape of the object limits its potential applications. Its far too massive to part of any hand tool. Again (machinery not being my area) the shape and raw size suggests something like a plow tip. The piece is certainly not functional for any kind of axe like tool!

In conclusion, the object, taken independent of its find location, has nothing about it that suggests it has a Viking Age creation date. It actually has any number of aspects which put it into the Settlement period (1800's) instead.
It may be an interesting object, but even casual observation places it outside the 1000 AD date of the Vinland base camp - which is on the other side of the continent to begin with.


1 comment:

Lee said...

Looks kinda like bog iron from here--Lee


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

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