Tuesday, December 24, 2019

'Christmas' Favorites

'December will be Magic'
Kate Bush - 1979

This version from a BBC special, with a young Kate lip syncing and beautiful to watch.

I Believe in Father Christmas
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - 1975 & 1995

this version is from the later EP release
For the original version

Fairytale of New York
the Pogues / Kirsty MacColl - 1987

Ring Solstice Bells
Jethro Tull - 1976

In Praise of Christmas
Loreena Mckennitt - 1987

... to drive the cold winter away

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Viking Age - Just how BIG ?

I thought I would take a fast look at this, originally prepared as background to an 'Introduction to Experimental Archaeology' course I was auditing in the fall. *


Is by far the most complete look at this overall. It is weighted towards modern (last 50) with some data for the last 200 years.
Historically - and into modern times, males run about 4 inches average taller than females
But down into the centre, there is information based historically. There is a lack of fine detail. You do have to look at a number of the overviews and try to pull them together.

 * Generally the view is global, so often there is no break down
   outside of a European average
 * A lot of the charts don't have enough resolution - 5 cm is the usual
   indicated variations.
 * Scandinavian countries do have higher protein in basic diet. Body
   sizes increase.
 * Denmark shows as the clear largest body size (even to modern times)

There appears to be a relatively stable size (with dips from war / famine) over the last 2000 years. With a slight *drop* over the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution (rural to urban?). Then a sharp increase over the last 50 years especially (this is world wide too).

For the Norse


by Else Roesdahl:

   "The examination of skeletons from different localities in
   Scandinavia reveals that the average height of the Vikings was a
   little less than that of today: men were about 5 ft 7-3/4 in. tall
   and women 5 ft 2-1/2 in.

Don't let Carolyn's seeming casual presentation throw you. I have known her for years and her work is always well researched.

I found this paper - which I have only very quickly scanned


Again the focus here is the impact of urbanization / Industrial Revolution.
There is some back reference into the Middle Ages (check his table 2 - at the bottom)
Based on skeletons, it looks like the quote is
Britian 1200 = 168 cm
Norway 1200 = 170 cm
Sweden 1100 - 1200 = 172 cm
Not enough samples for the UK - but it does look like 2 - 4 cm differences

There is a SHARP decrease in body size from the later 1700's through to the late 1800s !!
Body sizes during the actual Medieval period (500 - 1500) seem fairly stable (short localized drops)

Note that effective 'striking range' for a sword is effectively  : 4 cm
Body height equals arm length
Larger body equals increased 'ideal' blade control size
(So this effect can be doubled!)

So, I was certainly a bit on the high side for average Scandinavians, also under estimated UK a bit.
(my own height is 175  cm / 70 inches)

Not the best data - but at least an idea

PS - to my regular readers :
You would have noticed a sharp drop off in posts over the last several months. This is partially due to a lot of back and forth for the course mentioned. I have been working on a number of more detailed research and writing projects - some likely too detailed to break up and post here. 
Stay tuned however (expect some notes on Viking Age knives, historic metalworking )

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

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