The hunt

After all this time it seems that we need to talk about the actual hunt.

There where many ways to hunt during the medieval times… just like there is now. The one that mostly concerned the huntbooks and its intended audience was the hunt Par force, but other types of hunting was popular and prevalent. We will have cursory look at them.

Many ways of hunting


queen-marys-psalterThere where many ways of hunting in the medieval times. The one we most Think about, where a hunter stalks his prey with his trusty dog companion, was called the bercletti. Our sources don’t talk much about this hunt but mentions some breeds that are good for this kind of hunt and that it is preferable to wear green clothes and even paint your bow green.

Phoebus recommended that bows be made of boxwood or yew and twenty hands long (over three feet). They were to be strung with silk, which was more elastic than hemp. Arrows were to be eight hands long, and the double-edged and barbed head five fingers long and four wide. A hunter stalking for game was always to have his bow ready and partly drawn in order to avoid a quick motion. The arrow was to pierce the animal’s breast.



c60_616Netting and trapping was of course also popular, especially amongst bisshunters (those that hunter for fur). It was considered a lowly form of hunting. Edward of york will have nothing to do with it and does not mention it in his book (or, rather he mentions that he will talk about it and then skips it altogether). In King modus there is some trapping as well as in Livre de chasse. trapping and netting was something that was also considered a method for poachers. In Modus these are treated a bit ambiguously. They are of course not to be tolerated, but are even so thought of as fellow hunters of skill. It seems the romantic shimmer have Always illuminated the poacher amongst his fellow hunters.



The hunting of prey with Falcons and other birds of prey was of course a loved way of hunting. There seems to be a little animosity between ‘doghunters’ and ‘birdhunters’, (as can be read about here —>  )but many did both. The art of birdhunting is a subject for a later article (one I will need help writing), so for now, lets stay with that it was an appreciated form of hunting.

Par Force.

the great hunt, hunt par force. This is what takes up most of the huntbooks. This is also the hunt we will look a bit closer upon.

The stages of the hunt par force

The legwork

It all starts the day Before the hunt. The huntsmaster goes out and talk to the foresters and woodsmen. Talking to them about what kind of prey is available and where it has its overnight lay. After the lay has been located the hunter marks the trails in and out of the bushes (the lay is usually in thickets). When the markings are out the hunter returns home for the night.

The brunch

c38_616The day of the actual hunt the whole huntingparty sets out. This is usually a big affair with noblemen hunting, different kind of dogkeepers, stableboys and different kind of specialists. Most of the hunters assembled in a sort of huntingbrunch called ‘the gathering’ (something we reenact each year on st. Eustace day). Whilst they were assembled at the gathering the hunter set out to the lay he had marked the day before.

At the lay he does two things.
He cuts a small stick the size of the hoofprints at the site.
He also collects ‘fumes’ (that is a more fancy word for poop, my friends), that he puts in his horn and secures with some grass.

After this he returns to the gathering.

poopshowingThere all the hunters that has been out to different lays shows their fumes and sticks to the huntsmaster who then evaluates the fumes and the sticks, thereby judging the animal’s size and how much ‘in fat’ it is. If we look more carefully at the picture above, From Gaston Phoebus ‘livre de chasse’ we can see how the fumes are being inspected at the high table by Gaston himself.

He then proceeds to decide which of the animals they are going to hunt that day.

This is the only animal that they are hunting. They can not change prey during the hunt.

The hunt commences

When the animal is chosen the hunters move out to their places and prepare for the hunt par force. Three relays of three greyhounds each it positioned along a route. Raches, packhounds, are readied to be released. At least 12, preferably 24 or more is the recommended size of the pack. “The more hounds, the merrier music they make” , Edward of Norwich states.

10513429_10152160197552765_2504682716337842305_nA special trackingdog, the lymer, is brought forward. This dog is used to find and move the prey.  It was called a “lymer” (or limer) because it was always kept on a line (lyme).  As soon as the game is moved, the signal for ‘the game is afoot” is sounded and the raches is let loose after it.
It is recommended that the Lymer is brought along behind the raches to easier find the game if it is lost.

The raches are to chase the game and the hunters to follow on horseback, not wholly dissimilar to an English foxhunt. Bows are not used, but sometimes swords and javelins. It seems that the main use for these where to wound the animal to slow it, making it loose stamina and also make the trail it leaves clearer to the dogs. vildsvinsjakt4

If the game was lost the hunt stopped and the lymer brought up to find and move it again, and the hunt continued. If the game startled another animal, the dogs where not supposed to take this, but stay true on the decided animal.

c47_616Huntinghorns were used to communicate during the hunt so all concerned would be able to keep up as to what was happening.  ”the game is afoot”, ”the dogs follow the game straight” (parfait), ”the dogs have lost the game” where some of the signals used during the hunt. Most hunters, doghandlers (Berners, or valet de chiens) and other had horns and were supposed to repeat all signals. Thereby both showing they had heard it, and also signalling along to others further up.

Release the hounds!

As the hunt drew past a relay of greyhounds (greyhounds was a collective term for all sighthounds) they were let loose, or ”slipped” on the game. It the greyhounds where always slipped AFTER the prey had past, never before. Greyhounds run fast (around 65 Km/h for a good one) but not very far. They are sprinters. If one relay did not catch the prey the next one it passed was released.kvinna-jagar


The end of the hunt

At some point (well… at the end actually) one of the greyhounds would pull the game down. They where not supposed to kill it though and the dogs were pulled of, or beaten with sticks so they left the animal alone, and a hunter killed it with a sword or dagger, and in some cases a spear. The Mort was then sounded on the horn (unless it was a female animal for whom the mort was not sounded) to denote that the prey had been killed.


After this the animal was skinned and disemboweled. The dogs got their fair share of the animal and everyone went home to share huntingstories.Another rather complicated note was played on the horns on the hunters return.

Other hunting

other speciality hunt was also practised, for example Otterhuntingutterjakt

And coursing, mostly for hare and rabbit




Conclusion and further reading

This has been a very short summary of some the medieval hunting. For some more reading of certain aspects of it you can read about the different types of dogs here

How hunters dressed; here

More about the hunt books, and who wrote them here

Something about javelins in hunting, with a little film; here

More about women in hunting, here

So, Finally we covered at least the basics of the medieval hunting…





Viking age dogcollar and chain

Out of focus

As you might know this blog generally deals with 14th century, but today we will move out of focus a bit. Vikingage is not even considered being part of the medieval age in Sweden, but as the rest of the world considers it a part it will be covered now as we want to put some light on dogequipment from Uppland.

Viking gravefinds

In Uppland, Sweden, old-time religion lasted longer. This also means that norse burial traditions also lasted longer. The habit of gravegifts is a heathen one. Christians generally frowned on this and christian graves have very few gravefinds. The Uppsala area was a religious hotspot, where the rulers of old lived. Great powerful people lived here and the Vendel gravefield is famous for its previking gravefinds.

We will look on two objects found in two different graves. 200 years separate them. They currently resides in Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala. A very old and venerable museum.

If this collar and chain have been used for guard or hunting dogs we do not know. A chain is seldom used for hunting, so this points toward a guard dog. The collar on the other hand might well have been used for a hunting dog.

The collar

This dogcollar was found in a viking boatgrave.That makes it the belonging of a nobleman. We know from other graves that big sighthounds was used by norse nobles in this area (several have been found in graves in Old Uppsala), So called ‘Mjöhunde’ . The collar is dated to 10th Century (900 tal).


The leather is obviously new, just to show how it would have been mounted.
The collar have metal plates, approx 3 inches Square, with pointy spikes in each corner riveting it to the leather. We can see that the leather have been rather thick, able to hold a bigger dog. The grey pad between the metal and the new leather is just to protect the old rusty iron.

It is hard to figure out how big the spikes might have been as they are all rusted down. But as spikes generally are used to protect a dog’s neck against predators getting their jaws around it, they probably have been bigger than their current stunted size. 20160130_153610

Two plates are connected with a metal link. My guess is that this has been the attachementpoint of a leash. This would possibly give the collar a semichoke character.


The guard dog chain


This chain is thought to be a dogchain and it is a bit earlier then the collar.

It is dated to 8th Century (700 tal)


There is no easy way to open or close this for attachment. Probably it was used to attach a dog to something (a house perhaps? ) and having it guard it. Or it was used with some kind of groundanchor, a short pole maybe. The chain is rather short, but dogkeeping could be quite harsh in old days.

In all honesty I am just guessing about its use. There is a swivelpoint that is quite common later in dogequipment, but the other end terminates in a ring and a plate on it… I cant really see how this is helping holding that dog to anything… but there might have been more to it that have corroded away.

In conclusion

The conclusion here is that we just wanted to show you a viking age collar as there is not that many out there and this one might be new to most.





Numble pie

This post is about pie.
One might wonder how pie fits into the medieval hunt? Or if this is just a thinly veiled attempt to sneak in some foodblogging.

Well, pie this sort of pie, allegedly, has very much to do with the medieval hunt. I will have to say allegedly as my first hand sources are shady, unprecise and uncertain. We do venture into these not to well researched topics at time.. but we try to make it clear how and why we think it is interesting.

So, pie.

Pie was a common food in the 14:th century.

Pievendor in 15:th cent

Pievendor in 15:th cent

It was a way to preserve a dish, as well as a way to serve it in a selfcontaning bowl. Streetvendors sold pie as a snack for busy townsfolk. They came in big sizes, or smaller, cupsized, but they where all made as ‘standing crust pies’. The bread of the pie was not really meant to be eaten, even if you very well can, but its main purpose is to hold the stuffing. If the pie was made as a way to preserve, fat was poured the stuffing over and made to harden.


Numble pie, a hunters pie.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Humble pie’, this was a pie made of the ‘numbles’. Numbles where the innards of the animal and was considered the right of the hunter (in the same way the head was considered the right of the Limerdog).

There is scarce mentioning about this in medieval sources though. In the 1920 edition of “master of game”, the 15th Century huntbook, they say this in the appendix.

NUMBLES. M. E. nombles, noumbles ; O. F. nombles.
The parts of a deer between the thighs, that is to say,
the liver and kidneys and entrails. Part, and sometimes
the whole of the numbles were considered the right of
the huntsman ; sometimes the huntsman only got the
kidneys, and the rest was put aside with the tit-bits re-
served for the King or chief personage (Turb., pp. 128-
129). Numbles by loss of the initial letter became
umbles (Harrison, vol. i. p. 309), and was sometimes
written numbles, whence came ” humble pie,” now only
associated with the word humble. Humble pie was a pie
made of the umbles or numbles of the deer, and formerly
at hunting feasts was set before the huntsman and his

So…. in hunterreecreation reenacting at least, this pie is common. Therefore I wanted to make one for St. Eustace day.

The pies of the middle ages where of the kind we call ‘standing crust’. This is a bit different from the modern ones we do that requires a Shell to hold it.It was the first time i tried my hand at these standing crust thingies As a guide I used Jas Townsends great tutorial. So.. if you want you can just skip to that and have a look here….

…but if you decide to hear my ramblings on it I will continue.

How I did it

The crust of these pies are not really meant to be eaten. They just hold the stuff. This means they are not made to be tasty.

The key to standing crust pies are to melt the fat and the water together.

There are several options to fat in the middle ages. Suet, Lard, Butter and perhaps oil in some areas (i have no idea if oil works in these pies though…). Suet might be a suitable option considering it is a hunters pie. Lard might be a good choice as it becomes harder and is common in middleages.

I had both lard and butter at home. At first i was tempted to go with the lard.. as this kinda feels ‘old’. But Sweden was a major producer of butter during medieval times. Even exporting it. Copper iron and butter was the base of the economy, there is even a saying: Not for all the butter in Småland,  Meaning not to any price, no matter how high.
With this in mind I thought that butter might be the logic choice…

So, into a pot goes butter and water.

As this pie was supposed to be ‘humble’ i did not want to use pure wheat flour. Especially up here wheat was hard to grow and was considered a bit of luxury quite far up in history. I opted in on a mix, mixing rye flour as this was a common crop here then. It also gave a more rough texture to the dough.

The flour and fatwater was mixed with one egg and an extra yoke (the White was needed later…). No salt or other was used. Remember, this is not supposed to be a tasty dough…


After being worked the dough was cut into three parts. these are the lid, the side and the bottom. The dough is quite pliable, resembling play-do in texture. when rolled and shaped.. it stays that way. This makes it very well suited for making decorations.



The side was made to the size that I judged convenient, in a thickness that seemed self supporting. It was then glued to the bottom using the eggwhite saved from earlier.



20150919_210010Some fitting decorations of the Eustace hart was cut and glued to the lid (using the eggwhite once again)


Now the whole contraption was to be put into the Owen to bake. I used Jas trick of pouring rice inside. Even if this is nor a medieval method I didn’t Think it would add or subtract much in correctness really. The dry rice is poured in to support the sides while baking so they don’t collapse. after the pie is baked it is poured out again. The lid was baked on the side of the crust until I thought that it looked abit like it would be ready.


When all parts where made, it was time to give the filling some thought.

I had already decided to keep it simple. I had a liver from a hart. I did not want to use what would then have been expensive Spices. So no salt or pepper. I did think thyme would be appropriate though, as this was commonly grown here. I also added an onion. I like onions.


So.. liver from deer, thyme, and some unions. Thats it. I also added an egg later on as I needed something to hold it together..or so I thought.
I actually didn’t think it would be very tasty. I was fully prepared that this was probably going to be eaten by the dogs at the actual picknick since none would stomach my unspiced liver pie.

The filling was fried up as i didnt quite know if it would get hot enough inside the pirecrust. I was thinking that if liverpie didnt sound tasty, half raw liver pie sounded even less tasty.

After the filling was in, the lid was glued on with eggwhite and into the owen it went again. For… a while, until it looked good enough.


I also decided to try and make a smaller pie 20150919_210309of the leftover dough. To make this I just moulded the crust over a glass. After this I removed the glass and made a filling of red onion, white wine and cheese. This lil feller was then put in alongside the big gamepie. This size seems to have been common especially with the street vendors. its also a good size to have along for a snack when out in the forest. the standing crust makes it easy to pack.

The pies did not fall apart, fall over, or fall in on them self, as I half feared that they would. instead they hold up just splendidly and came out looking swell. I was not sure about the taste though (I was on the small pie as I had eaten some of its filling and it was awesome!). The smaller pie had expanded slightly and had a small gap between lid and wall, but this was mostly because it was stuffed to tight and that the cheese had bubbled up and out.20150920_000254


Eating the pie

Then came the big day. The pie was hauled out and set on a blanket for the gathering of the hunters. The lid was popped with a wooden spoon and a greenish mass showed up. I ladled on a helping onto my bowl and saw the dog looking at me very hopefully. Both her and I thought that her time to feast had come.

20150920_134336But it actually tasted quite good. The taste of liver was not that strong and the thyme really lifted the dish. The Dog got to eat the bottom of the crust eventually… but by then she had stolen so much other food she barely could muster any disappointment about not getting the whole.

In conclusion

It wasn’t very hard to do, and it also did not take long. It turned out tastier then suspected and I am sure I will do it again. Small pies might well be made for snacks on our outings, but maybe not with liver.
I recommend making this pie for your picknicks. Its easy to make, and easy to transport.










The Gathering of the Hunters – Saint Eustace Celebration

12049267_1041899552521974_4214658516203275861_nLast Sunday we saw what might have been the very last day of summer this year. Sun and clear skies, but with that fresh crispy air autumn brings. A perfect day to spend outside and in a medieval setting celebrate all hunters patron saint Eustace.

IMAG8490The 20th of September was the old feast day for Eustace. It felt good and proper to celebrate him on the right day, just like last year. We had chosen a beautiful place for the hunters to meet, as it is described in the hunt books.

Cloth was laid out in the grass. Everyone brought a little something to eat and share with the others. Some ate standing, some sitting and some laying on the ground, leaning on their elbows. The four dogs present mostly ate running, with a mischievous look about them and their prey of stolen food clasped between their jaws.

12039520_1041899892521940_2162597831576072395_nJohan claims that this must have been a problem experienced by the hunters back in the 14th century and that we therefore must not omit to reenact the ordeal of having food stealing dogs around. I’m sure his wolfhound Boudica agrees heartily, satisfied with her catch of my very expensive piece of Gruyère cheese.

Johan had made his first attempt on a classic medieval “standing crust” pie, filled with liver of deer as a traditional hunters “umble pie” or “humble pie”. The story behind the name and how humble pie is connected to hunters need a post of it’s own. I hope Johan will also share his experience of making and tasting it, as well as the recipe.


The umble pie and the cheese.


Boiling sausages in beer before grilling them.

Even with the loss of my chunk of cheese (which I ought to have guarded better) I needn’t starve. The hunters had brought plenty of food and shared generously. We had sausages boiled in beer and then grilled over open fire, sweet pastry’s spiced with cinnamon and several different types of pie.

In the afternoon when all the hunters were properly gathered and fed, we went on to our playful competition in more or less hunting related games. We began with explaining the purpose of the actual gathering of the hunters as it is described in the huntbooks.


Searching for fumes.

The hunters gather up to plan the hunt in detail, it is basicly like a early brunch meeting before the actual hunt. Some hunters who have been tracking interesting prey in the nearby woods now return and report their findings to the master of the hunt. They were expected to gather “fumes” along with a stick broken in such a way that it could be used as measure of an individual animals track.


Karin and Sannah found fumes of fox.

New readers of our blog might not know what “fumes” are and neither did some of the participants of our hunting feast. Fumes are animal dung. The hunters gather fumes in their hunting horns, carefully stuffed with grass so that the fumes won’t fall out.

The fumes must be presented to the master of the hunt. He will then analyse their quality, shape and texture along with the size of the matching footprint before making a decision on which prey the hunting party should go for.

To us this might sound strange, but the judging of the fumes was a crucial part of the preparations before a hunt. Now when you know this and look at the pictures below you’ll see what most overlook . On all of them there is a man showing a handful of little brown balls to the huntsmaster, the most important part of the picture. (Click on the them to enlarge)

Jägarna rastarc38_616Namnlös


Hunters getting ready.

We sent our hunters out divided in two teams to search for fumes. It didn’t take very long before they came back to present them to Johan and me as masters of the hunt. Both teams demonstrated true commitment to the cause and the spirit of the competition. But I must admit that I was surprised by the diversity and amount of strangely shaped shit brought back to us!

The first team presented a pile of something that looked like horse dung, claiming that it was from a very big deer or possibly some kind of unicorn. But unicorns only poop rainbows and medieval Christians didn’t eat horse (and definitely should not hunt them). Therefore the other team presenting fumes from what might have been a fox was deemed winner.

IMAG8502So much for the reenactment, the rest of our games was mostly for fun. We had a quiz with tricky questions about the medieval hunt, a horn blowing competition and my favourite – a philosophical feud on which hunt that’d be the nobler one – the one with dogs or the one with birds of prey. Find out the correct answer in this post: Flea pickers and dogturds!

For grand finale we had the two leading participants Karin and Sannah choose one of the dogs and compete against each other in a search for a hidden sausage. (It must count as some kind of hunt, don’t you think?) Bets were placed on the dogs and then the competitors were off.


Sannah – the proud winner of this years hunting games

The race was over in seconds and far from even. I’m proud to say that it was my Basilard that led Sannah the final steps towards to her glorious victory in this years hunting games. Her price will be delivered as soon as it is ready, a custom made T-shirt with our blogs’ logo on it.

After the games we returned to our feast to have some more pie, wine and cheese. In an attempt to make our merry picnic relate to our patron saint, I asked Johan to tell the story of saint Eustace. I would have done it myself if I’d only remembered it, but that is exactly why you have feasts in remembrance of saints – to refresh ones memory of their martyrdom.😉

For next year, I think it could be fun to do some sort of simple play to act out the story of the saint. It is a nice medieval tradition and I’m sure that’d make it easier to remember.IMAG8473

This was our second feast of St Eustace and even if the event was not as big as last year, those who came had a good time.

We must have done something right because I’ve heard that some of our friends in St Huberts Rangers housed their own celebration in rural central New York, inspired by us. Inspiring is the best we can hope to be and I already have plans for next years celebration.

/ Emil

(See more pictures in our Facebook album from the event!)



The second feast of St Eustace

Foto 2014-09-20 15 56 57Summer is singing on it’s last verse. If you feel that you haven’t seen much activity from us this season, we hope to come to terms with that before it’s over. We have a few articles coming up and in a month from now we will be celebrating all hunters patron saint Eustace, just like last year. On his feast day the 20th September we invite our friends to a hunters picnic with fun and games in a medieval setting.

Foto 2014-09-20 15 54 50The concept of our St Eustace celebration is basicly the same as last year (more about that here). We will be having a feast for hunters outside, resembling “The gathering of the hunters” before a Great Hunt.

The Great Hunt was a big affair. To me it seems to have been highly regarded both as a sport and social event. It is this kind of hunt that most of the period huntbooks are concerned with. Many people and dogs were involved in a Great Hunt, so it had to be prepared the day before, if not several days ahead. “The gathering of the hunters” takes place where the hunters meet to coordinate and do the final preparatory work before the actual chase.

In the books we see this gathering described as a feast, and this is also how it is depicted:

Edward of Norwich, Master of game

[…] And also they that come from home should bring thither all that they need, every one in his office, well and plenteously, and should lay broad clothes all about upon the green grass, and set divers meats upon a great platters after the lord’s power.

And some should eat sitting, and some standing, and some leaning upon their elbows, some should drink, some laugh, some jangle, some joke and some play — in short do all manner of disports of gladness […]

c38_616Now, this was what we want! People eating, drinking and having fun! Encouraging others to get out, use their gear and have some fun is always on the agenda for us.

Foto 2014-09-20 16 34 38If you read our blog because you are in to medieval clothes or crafts but new to reenachtment and living history, our hunting picnic is a good place to start. It will probably never be quite this uncomplicated again: Instead of a crowd with curious tourists there will be other reenactors welcoming any novice. There will be no need to bring lots of heavy gear, no sleeping outdoors, no walking for miles in thin leather shoes. No fighting or actual hunting will happen, so no weapons needed. And weather is hopefully kind on us, at the least no snow expected this time of year. In other words – if you don’t know us to well but still read this, you are extra welcome!

An important ingredient of reenactment besides eating, drinking and having fun is the element of education. Learning new things about the subject at hand for reenactment, or sometimes passing your knowledge on to others. This is why we will be presenting our Hunting Games, a playful competition where knowledge about the medieval hunt is rewarded and hopefully also conveyed.

IMAG2527The competitors of last years Hunting Games was put to many a test as we in accordance with the medieval huntbooks sent them of in search of “fumes”,  fresh dung from animals in the area who might be interesting to hunt (more about that here). We also had them do a simple quiz on medieval hunting and divided into teams debate the question “Why do we hunt?”. The best use of classic rhetoric and medieval reasoning was deemed as a winner. For grand finale, the best of the best was set to challenge each other in sounding the hunters horn.10635871_10152625159850708_1425179991131912415_n But I must not reveal to much of our plans for this years celebration. So without further ado – I welcome you to celebrate the feast day of St Eustace, all hunters patron saint!

/ Emil

For further information, please check the Facebook-page for the event.

Foto 2014-09-20 16 33 14

Get out! Get Dirty!


Your clothes looks so used! They look authentic worn, stained and patched like that! How do you get your clothes patinated that good?

I have no events to use my clothes at! No one makes events with my focus/timesegment.

You recognise these questions? We have gotten them and similar many times. People like to use the things they make but there is no place to do it at. Its the same for us. But it don’t have to be that fancy and difficult. We are what can be described as quite active. That’s how our clothes get ‘that used and tarnished look” (dirty and decript is also terms that has been applied…)

Why is it good to get out?

While some are perfectly happy to just make clothes and watch them hang on a rack, many want to feel how they work. To get a real feel for how they work, what works and in which way, you need to actually use them. Sitting at a table at a banquet you can do in almost any clothing. But walking, running, climbing and working in the clothes will make you feel what works and what doesn’t. It might also give you some revelations about why the clothes are cut, or the gear positioned, as it is. This is to slowly move into experimental archaeology…

Organising an event?

Now, all things we do might look very planned when it is digested and pooped out in blogform. But mostly they are about as planned as this:

Me: Hey, its supposed to be nice weather tomorrow, forest?
Emil: Yeah, we aint been out since two weekends ago. You finally going to shoot that hornsoundingvideo?
Me: Naa….. dun feel like it.. I need to check up sources…. lets just.. eat cheese.
Emil: Ok, new forest?
Me: Naaa…..  lets take the same one as I’m lazy and don’t wanna walk to far before  we get to the actual woods.

Evenets dont have to be big. Instead of cunducting a salmonorchestra ocf pipers, maybe just a pie in the park?

Events don’t have to be big. Instead of conducting a salmon orchestra of pipers, with a meatfork,  maybe just a pie in the park will do?

And this is the making of about 80% of our blogposts under the ‘hunting expeditions tag’ (like this one for example) . They usually result in a day or half day of medieval woodsmanship.

Time for planning: approx ten minutes.

Time to prepare approx 20 min (including looking for braes -ten minutes)

This is an excellent way to keep your medievaling going and get to use your clothes that you put all those hours into making.


The next level, organising an event!

Lets say you want some more people to join you and not just the ones that are easily gripped at armslength.

It still don’t have to be very much work. Just set a date, a time and maaaaaybe some kind of theme (if it doesn’t feel to advanced) and tell people to be there. You usually get more people the longer time they have to plan.

A week?  You get maybe three to five people.

A month?  You get maybe ten to twenty.

noone ever liked Neighbors playing loud music. Keep the event civil.

No one ever liked neighbours playing loud music. Keep the event civil.

Now, some might think its more work the more people you get. But you don’t really have to do everything yourself. You don’t have to make all the food, get places to sit and tables and all that. Most people like making their own things. That is part of the hobby after all. These kind of events can range from rather small and cosy, like the huntgathering, or very big social historical crossovers, like “the ultimate historic megapicnic” , which where both in the form of a picknick and thus not as draining on the organisers.



Its just me, myself and I

Lets say it is mostly just you that share the fascination of late spring 1378 and you’d like others to play with you. To get people interested there is almost just one way to go around it. Get active. If you build it, they will come. People like to be social, and they like to do things. This is why historic segments with alot of actives, get more actives.

Try to get cool pics for Facebook. But dont get photobombed by shady monks in sunglasses. No one likes those guys.

Try to get cool pics for Facebook. But don’t get photobombed by shady monks in sunglasses.
No one likes those guys.

If you want to get a new historic segment started you need to make things people can do in that segment. There is no use to try and lure someone to sew an outfit to clutter up yet more space in an overused closet. As stated above, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it has to be shown. If you are falling down in the forest and noone noticed it on Facebook, noone will ever know. But if you show all and everyone how you sit on a rock, eat a sausage and pokes a worm, they will see how cool it is and want to join.



In conclusion

You don’t have to make things big and fancy. Just grab your stuff and go out.vår

The Lappvattnet hat

This time we will go slightly of focus for the blog but we just have to put some light on this rather extraordinary well preserved medieval hat.

In 1938 they found an old hat. Its was a ordinary felted hat of 18 cm height and a brim with a 46 cm circumference. The hat emerged when a bog was being diked out. The special conditions of bogs can keep textile, especially wool, in a very good condition for a long time. Time went by and it was delivered to the local museum in 1966 where it was dated to around 1600 somewhere, mostly based upon its shape. The hat was carefully conservated and mounted. It was placed in its natural shape and not as it might have been worn. It has a rather distinct shape for 17:th century hats. In 2014 some workers at the museum had started wondering if the hat might not be older  than this. A small piece was cut from the edge of the brim and sent for C14 dating. The test showed that it was from between 1310 and 1440, with a probability peak of around 1400. This makes it one of the best preserved medieval hats in Sweden, Scandinavia and possibly even Europe.

The northern reaches

Before we take a look at the hat, lets have a look on where it was found. The north part of the Scandinavian peninsula was at this time not part of any kingdom. Norway claimed some tax rights of the Sami people on the eastern sides. On the Baltic coast Swedish traders, so called birkarlar, where the only ones from Sweden allowed to trade with the Sami, a right they kept for a long time. Traders from Novgorod, the forerunners of the Russian empire, also came from the north to trade. The trade was almost exclusively with furs. Bisshunters (someone that hunts mainly for furs) and furtraders lived and traded here. The trade then moved over Stockholm, as this was a stapletown which all trade in the region had to go through. In Stockholm foreign traders would buy the goods and transport it out to the customers in Europe and the world. The area of Lappvattnet also had trade with the Norwegians, getting English goods from the Norwegian ports. This paints us a picture of a harsh pioneer frontier, but with connections to modern cities and fashion for those of means. The hat probably belonged to either a bisshunter or a furtrader. The name “Lappvattnet” means “the Sami water” Lapp, being an older term now considered derogatory. That the hat was found here, might implicate that the owner was part of the furtrade in some way.

The hat

The hat is extremely well preserved. As mentioned above it has a height of 18 cm and is slightly tapered to the top with a flat top. It gives a pointed look. Hat-maker and textile antiquarian Amica Sundström of the state historical museum thinks it was made on a stock, according to the surface of the hat. The brim is 46 cm wide. Over the brim we can see indentions from two cords. If these have been there as decorations or if they are marks from when the hat was made and tied down to the stock, is hard to know. Tying the hat to the stock under manufacture was not an uncommon practise. The hat is made from uncoloured sheepswool.

photo from Västerbottens museum

Photo from Västerbottens museum

A look at other brimmed hats of the age

The hat does not look like a hat most people think of as medieval. But if you imagine it worn a bit different, it suddenly pops out of the sources as not very uncommon at all. Especially around the turn of the century 1300-1400. Most broadbrimmed hats are shown with the brim turned up, sometimes decorated. While most are roundtopped, there are some that have a clear point. Especially Russians in western art are depicted in pointy hats. These hats are somewhat more pointy as a rule, but there are all manners between round and pointy.

Russian bisshunters on Rigafahrergestühl St.-Nikolai-Kirche, Stralsund

Russian bisshunters on Rigafahrergestühl St.-Nikolai-Kirche, Stralsund. These hats are very pointed and the brim uppturned all around.

The above picture is mostly to show pointy hats in the Baltic region. Other pointy hats in manuscripts have a more defined brim. Like these two, non russians, that we might suspect has this kind of hat in a more fancy version. The brim is turned up in the front and back. Note this for later. rockar Johannes döparens huvud på ett fat

coupled hounds

Hats with a more rounded top, but also higher then what would be called a roundtop can bee seen on more ordinary men, like this berner (doghandler) in Livre de chasse.

Something that looks quite similar to the Lappvattnet hat can be spotted on a fellow in the background of a illumination. kortärmad rockThis pointed hat in a dark purplish hue could be worn with the brim upturned or not. the angle of the head makes it hard to judge.

Also this hat from Another copy of livre the chasse shares characteristics to the Lappvattnet hat. The brim upturned and a pointed top. blåhatt All these hats are not quite spot on on the Lappvattnet hat, being to pointy or not pointy enough. But they serve the purpose of showing that brimmed hats with a pointed crown are not foreign to the age. But this hat with a fancy band on also sports the flat top of the hat combined with a brim and a tapered crown shape. I think that the Lappvattnet hat could be worn in a fashion like this and have a very similar look.Suzanne och åldermännenAnd then we have these two weary pilgrims from 1462. Having almost identical hats to the one from Lappvattnet 1462

The brimquestion

So, now we have looked at different hats and seen that the model is not all that uncommon. I have been thinking that the hats brim would have been worn turned up. This is of course also reflected in the picture-material I have presented to support this. There is also examples of wearing the hat with the brim down. This is mostly seen on pilgrims and other pious persons, but it is a possibility. Now lets look at the hat before and after preservation. Foto av filthatt, Pnr 4925, 1968 001 (1)As we can see on the Before Picture (the topmost) the brims have a rather distinct upturn. Visible after some 500 years in a bog and 30 years above it. This curve could be from being in the bog, or from being badly stored after being taken up. But I find it quite possible that it is a upturn from its used days, based upon the pictures from the age showing that this is a very common way to wear it. The brim bears an uncanny resemblance to how the brim is used in the first pointy hats I posted above.

In conclusion

The Lappvattnet hat is a uniquely preserved hat for the common people. There is not many of these around, and the ones that are are not as well preserved as this one. If this was a hat for a more well positioned members of society it would probably have been dyed in some nice colour. That it is a plain undyed wool puts it in the lower layers of society.

We like to thank: Thank you to Västerbottens Museum for all the help they gave us. Especially Åsa Lundberg and Hillevi Wadensten. Also thanks to Amica at the state historical museum, textile antiquarian and hat reconstructor for some thoughts around it all. …and a personal thanks to Anna Söderström that pointed me towards the hat in the first place. You can read the museum report of the hat in Swedish here, pg 44 and 45. And the homepage of the museum is here, if you want to contact them. / Johan

Hunting for signs of spring


This year spring is unusually early in Sweden. The meteorological definition of spring here is that the average temperature must be rising and lie between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius for seven whole days in a row. This happened in mid February where we live, more than a month earlier than expected.

My personal definition of spring is different, it craves a close inspection of the signs in nature that the season brings with it. When I see it, I believe it. That is why our first spring outing is so important and it was about time we got out in the forest this weekend. Johan and I was also extra glad that our friend Helena joined us, bringing her energetic boarbaiter Bullen.


Early spring outings in medieval gear means that you will have to deal with a lot of melting snow and expose yourself to a serious risk of getting very cold and soggy feet. It will take at the least another month before the forest dries up and the melting water is just above freezing temperature.

But few things are as medieval as cold and soggy feet due to walking in thin leather shoes or as effective to make you toughen up a little. At the least I suppose that is why Johan insisted that this was the perfect time to cross a bog flooded with icy water from the melting snow. He also claims that it is a lot of fun to make your way where there is no paths and the more challenging, the more fun. I will definitely agree on that point. (More about dressing for the season here.)

Brave bogtrotters.

But I don’t expect that the “toughening” effect is measurable after only occasional events of uncomfortable experiences, just like I very much doubt the validity of single attempts on experimental archaeology when taken out of context. To gather valid knowledge based on experience is a long time project, it takes years. But every outing we do makes a little difference, we always learn something new.

For me, this outing was not about handling getting cold and wet, even if I did that as well. Instead I mostly focused on observing and bonding with my dog, Basilard. He came to me only five months ago and I haven’t had him off the leash much, worrying that he would go off hunting and get in some kind of trouble or another.
Now I watched him run happily with the other dogs and he was never out of sight for long. He only reacted to the scent of game once or twice, as when we found massive boar-marks in the ground. I learnt that I had to take a chance more and trust him a bit to see the result of all the training we have done.
After walking through the marches all of us had achieved the expected status of wet shoes and cold soggy hose-feet, but with a varying degrees of experienced discomfort. However I think we all equally enjoyed our little sit-down as we made up a fire and had a light meal including wine, cheese and some extraordinary tasty sausages.
Göra eldstad

Making a fireplace by folding up the moss.

The subject of fire makes me think of our next project. This year we have decided to make an effort to better ourselves as fire-makers. We will practice to use traditional tools and methods to a further extent than we have done so far. I used to be proficient at using flint and steel but that was a very long time ago and I am looking forward to pick it up again. I imagine I’ll do a short video or an article about our progress with this project.
As for signs of spring except for wet feet on wanderers in the woods, there was birdsong, budding leaves and little rivulets flooded with water. There still was occasional heaps of snow and the moss crackled with frost on some places, but also sprouting tufts of green on the ground. Most importantly, there was a few extra hours of daylight available for us now compared to when we did our last outing. All in all, what I saw was well enough for me to decide that spring is truly here.
/ Emil
You can see all the pictures from our outing in our Facebook-album here.

20.000 clicks

… well, its closer to 22.000 when I write this, but it went so fast at the end there we didnt have time.

I never really thought that the blog would get this many clicks at all, even lesser in such a short time. But we said that if we got 20.000 hits we would do a video about something not very serious. And so we did.

So, here it is:

♦Ten ways to wear your hood!♦

Out and about with all your stuff

ut på turMany of our readers are out and about in the woods themselves in your medieval gear. We all face the same problem eventually. How do I get all my my stuff with me?

I have said it before and I say it again. The medieval man was not the nature loving trekker we want her to be. You went into the wilds only when you had to. Even in Sweden, then a civilisation backwater, you had inns instated at least one day from each other. This was regulated by law. If this was not for some reason possible the villages where not that far-spread and you can often see one church from one parish to the other.

The hunt was probably mostly over the day, judging from the huntbook descriptions. Starting in the morning and finishing in the evening when you where back home, or possibly in a hunting lodge if it was a far removed hunting area. Most described hunts are from dawn to evening, when you return to your home. The woods where also home to trolls and werewolfs. Even if we scoff at these notions today, they where real fears for medieval man.

This means that they did not have the same need to lug a lot of gear around, and when they did it was often A LOT of it (meaning a sumpterhorse was needed). The reason I am addressing this is that many are translating their modern needs to a medieval environment. this usually means they want, or need, a rucksack or similar to carry their things in. This need was not as great for medieval man as her needs to carry a lot of stuff was not as big. Sleeping outdoors probably was very rare, and something that was avoided as much as possible. It is not unheard of though, but when its mentioned, for example in Decamerone, they just lay down on the ground. Henri de Ferriers is shown laying on some kind of straw-mat, but we don’t know if he is sleeping out or just resting.

Henri Ferrieres having a Little laydown

Henri Ferrieres having a little laydown


So, the backpack, what about that?

harvesting leeks in the 1390:ies

Harvesting leeks in the 1390:ies

We can start by saying that a backpack is virtually unseen unless you are using it in work. For example people picking grapes use a wicker basket on their backs for the grapes. Quarry-workers also have similar, or people having a need to transport things on a workplace. These wicker-baskets are mostly seen when you are transporting different wares or when harvesting. Also, some do not use two straps, but one horisontal, carrying the bag with the chest more then the shoulders. Of course these COULD have been used to carry things further. For example if you have to carry things out into the wild, it is possible even if we have not seen this on pictures, and If there are these baskets around, you would use it. They seem to be a popular way to transport goods.

The Martebo sack.


martebo_01On the church of Martebo on Gotland, Sweden, we see a woman carrying things as she is wandering. She probably utilises a double sack, one that has two compartments and an opening in the middle. It is possible, although not likely, that it is a regular sack-, but the lack of a visible closing makes the first option more probable. This sort of bag appears to be both rather simple and common as it is seen in many other places too. It can be carried over the shoulder or used for sumpterhorses.

I have been using this kind of bag for several years and it is quite possible to walk long distances with it loaded with the necessities needed. You might need to change shoulders now and then to distribute the burden. It is not as comfortable as a backpack, but its working and it is also easy to use with a horse.

The sack carried by me

The sack carried by me

the same sack, carried by a sumpterhorse

the same sack, carried by a sumpterhorse

Of course, having a horse in medieval times is like having a car now. Most that actually where travelling around had a horse and they came as expensive as sin for a combat-trained stallion, destrier, or rather cheap  for the lowest quality nag, one step away from the glue factory (or the dinner table if this was vikingtimes). Using a horse is a great way to get your stuff moved about, if you like to see the use of sumpterhorses I recommend this video of a medieval pilgrimage I did, where sumpterhorses was put to good use.

pilgrimmer.Another way to use this bag is seen on some pilgrims in 15:th Century. They have made a hole straight through the bag and thus are able to carry it more evenly distributed on the shoulders. You can also see bags carried around their waists. Thos probably is shoulder bags worn like this. Talking about that.. lets have a look at…




pilg blackShoulderbags are mostly seen on pilgrims. They are so much associated with pilgrims that they are a part of what identifies a pilgrim (the bag, and staff are often used as symbols for pilgrims). Pilgrims are of course the very example of medieval people that are travelling. But they are also in a way very non-representative for medieval travellers. Being a pilgrim means that you are supposed to rely on God and the kindness of others to get along. So all you needed was your bowl, spoon and a canteen of water.

So, did others use shoulderbags, the ones we also call pilgrimbags? There is scarce evidence of anyone else then pilgrims using them. Why this is is hard to know. Perhaps the need was not big as they did not have a lot of things with them. But we can almost be assured that they had something to eat on long walks. Perhaps some coldcuts to nibble on between the inns. But we don’t know in what they carried this. I can not in good conscious say that shoulderbags was in good use by all, but to me it seems plausible if you had things you needed to bring.

pilgrimsbag, leather

pilgrimsbag, leather

There is also a ongoing discussion (I can say this knowing that even if this article is read in two or three years from now, it will still  be discussed…) if these bags are in leather or textile. If they are lined or not. No preserved pilgrimbags are known and in pictures they come in different colours. This can mean that it is textile, or that is dyed leather. I for one Think that they where common enough to probably have been made in both textile and leather. Lining of the bags is not easy to know. There are other bags and pouches that have linings, and using textile inserts in beltbags is not uncommon. Again, we do not know and both having and not having a lining seems plausible.

Bundle it up

You can also just fold everything into your blanket and tie it up nice and tight. This is sometimes seen when medieval man is packing up trade items. I guess there is nothing really stopping you from doing the same with your personal stuff.

carrying stuff


Bundled up trade goods

 final thoughts

So, we probably have more needs then medieval man had when we are out. Sleeping outdoors is something we can quite enjoy when it was something to avoid for them. If they had to they mostly probably just slept under a tree with the cloak for blanket. But hopefully you have gotten some ideas about how to lug around your gear in a probable medieval way.

I myself mostly use the double carry sack (Martebo sack) when I need a full overnight kit, as these seems to be the most common pack of people travelling in the 14:th century. I have been walking days with it and it is not that uncomfortable, once you get used to it.

For dayoutings a pilgrimbag is all that is needed. Sometimes I tie an extra cotte to the bagstrap if I think it might be needed. All I carry then is some cheese and wine and maybe a sausage for lunch. And a little bowl if I feel abit fancy.

extra kyrtil

Extra cotte strapped to the shoulder-strap of the bag