Village Life with DAS, 2011

Crafts on the Village Brown

Crafts on the Village Brown

Our annual visit to the Danelaw Village, Murton Park, York is the time when we really get back to the Dark Ages. We live in wooden houses, cook on fires, play games and catch up on craftwork.

We had some good weather despite the fact that it was the August Bank Holiday, and it was a great pleasure to sit around the fire on the village ‘brown’ (well, it isn’t green…) outside the longhall working on various crafts. Spoons were carved, bands woven, dresses sewn and socks constructed. In the Dark Ages, socks are a very acceptable gift.

Playing Kubb

Playing Kubb

Kubb is a popular game with both re-enactors and visitors. No, it’s not authentic to the Dark Ages: it’s a Swedish game (specifically Gotlandic), and relatively modern, but it’s a lot of fun and gets people together. Kubb is a kind of strategic skittles that can be played by teams of any size. And yes, that purple tunic was dyed authentically – with elderberries! Time will tell how well it stands up to modern ideas of how often clothes should be washed…but that’s experimental archaeology for you.

Inside the Longhall

Inside the Longhall

We had a few rainy spells in the afternoons, which gave us an excuse to hang out in the nice dry longhall. Cooking became a real group activity with everybody pitching in the chop vegetables, cut wood, tend the fire, wash up cauldrons and so on. But the longhall really came into its own in the evenings, when we gathered for food and conviviality by the light of the hearth fire. Nothing beats firelight on the rafters, tasty food on the table, and good company while the rain beats down outside in the dark night.

As I am obsessed with food, I am always particularly interested in the menu! There were some non-authentic foods for people with dietary restrictions, but by and large we served food appropriate to the dark ages. Breakfast was a simple but hearty affair of bacon, sausage and bread. Lunches included bread, butter, cheese, cured sausage, boiled eggs, pickles and fruit.

Alf with his little chopper

Alf with his Little Chopper

For Saturday’s banquet we served smoked salmon, pickled onions and cabbage, pork stew with cider and apples, and plums cooked with pears and ginger. For vegetarians, there was a vegetable casserole with beans and cider. Sunday’s supper was a sort of risotto made with shredded roast lamb, lentils, garlic and gravy. There was a garlicky lentil dish for the vegetarians.

I’m already missing the village and looking forward to next year!

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