Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tripods in the Viking Age

I have had a couple of conversations recently rolling around round rods - and tripods and camp ironwork in general. For those concerned with the overall look and accuracy of a camp - consider this taken from ARCHMETALS:

Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 17:21:27 +0100
Subject: Re: Rolled Iron Round stock

"A metallurgist friend is giving a talk at a historical site and needs to
know when rolled round rod was generally available for sale.

Anyone have a good off the cuff idea? "


Thomas Powers


"The mills around London that produced barrel hoops were operating under =
a patent of c.1680 that also dealt with round and half round iron. =
However I suspect that it was not often made. First the bar was slit in =
a slitting mill and then passed through the rolls again to give it the =
desired section. I have seen a patent of c.1780 for the classic 19th =
century rolling mill, though the mill was in fact intended for rolling =
copper. Henry Cort applied this or something like it to iron in his =
1784 patent (for puddling). However his process seems to have had a =
slow take up, perhaps because ironmasters did not wish to risk being =
asked to pay a royalty for the use of his process (though no one did pay =
one after 1790). The answer to your question is thus probably 'about =
1800'. Nevertheless, (as indicated) there are complications. "

Peter King


So - what this should tell you is - basically NO USE of round profile rod for the Middle Ages - Much less Viking Age. Round profile can be created by taking square rod, hammering to octagon, then hammering the facets off to more or less round. The object that comes to mind here is the cauldron hanger from Sutton Hoo (circa 600) - which is interpreted to have a number of individual chain elements (not all!) first profiled this way. Mainly however, anything for the Viking Age should be created from square at best, and better still rectangular, profiled stock.

Long shafts of iron for tripods are basically not correct either. Yes - there is the **single** sample from Oseberg. But I suggest that is is a specifically created grave offering, and was never intended as a working cooking tool in the first place. (I could drone go on about that - but check the piece on my web site 'Aunt Martha's and Damnthings'.) Remember that in the VA, raw iron for the smith was purchased primarily as short 'currency bars'. If nothing else, making each limb of a useful iron tripod will require welding at least two of these together and then laboriously (in a small charcoal fire and on tiny anvil) hammering out the bars required. What a waste of valuable metal!

As far as I ahve been able to tell, the 'standard' modern re-encators tripod of three four foot straight steel rods with end crooks or loops is American CIVIL WAR at best. I have seen photos from that conflict that show them.

Fortunately, the most historically accurate Viking Age camp tripod is also by FAR the easiest to make (and the cheapest too!). A simple tripod made from three long poles / saplings. Lashed together at the top, with the free end of rope hanging down to end in a foot or two of rough chain with a simple hook. What could be easier? Has added value in that it helps define a box around your fire pit to add safety.

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