Celtic Warpaint 2 ~Verdigris~

As I mentioned in the article about the celtic warpaints and how it might have looked (an article you can read here —> ) There is some thoughts about what kind of color that was used. This is a two-headed problem, what pigment? And what medium.

The medium problem

the problem of finding a good medium is that it needs to stick to the body while painting. When it dries it should not cake and flake of. If it is a grease paint it needs to not melt from the body heat and run. And last of all, it needs to be something that is available for the people of that time.

The pigment problem

The pigment is also a problem here. The most common assumption is that woad was used as this gives blue color…on textile. The problem here is that it is a liquid in the way it is used to dye textile. Woad is made from the woadplant that is harvested, then dried and after that ground up. A reaction is then needed with ammoniac to get the color going. In the old days this was done by fermenting urine. The mix of urine and dried ground woad is a rather potent dye that I will try to use later on. Woad, as it is, is rather good att dying skin of the ones using it. But how it works trying to make patterns and decorations needs to be examined.

Another possibility that has been proposed is the use of verdigris. One of the arguments is that Caesars description of the warpaint can be translated as ‘glassware green’. The green of Roman glassware at the time resembles the blue-green of verdigris.
Verdigris is a more traditional powder pigment. Lets look into the Verdigris pigment first, and return to revisit the woad at a later time (the woadballs are waiting for me to get on with that ).

Verdigris

Verdigris is the green stuff you get when copper oxidate.
To make it you take some copper, and to speed things up a bit you put it into a jar with a bit of vinegar. This will speed the corrosion a bit.

After a while you will get verdigris and if you wait longer it will form crystals. The picture below shows verdigris crystals on copper wire after about a year in a jar.

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After the crystals are harvested you grind them up to a fine powder. At this point someone reading is already typing a comment about that verdigris is poisonous. And, yes it is, but we are not talking about longtime exposure here and the human body is quite capable of dealing with small amounts of toxins. If you find grinding verdigris challenging to your mind, I would recommend stop reading now. It will get worse.

 

I used a pair of musketballs on a stoneslate for the finer grounding of the pigment. This was purely incidental… the musketballs was what I had at hand and they seemed like a good hard ball to use.  After grounding it to a fine powder i added the medium. I had a plan here.

The medium -linseed oil

Linseed oil, or Flax oil, is a very old pigmentbinder that has been in use since old. I must confess that i do not know if the celts used this, i have not found any research of what medium was used on their painted things. All the same i wanted to see if it was a viable medium for warpaint.

I added linseed oil in small amounts. Not much is needed, you want a semithick porridge that has a lot of pigment in it. I used the musket balls to grind the pigment into the oil and the result was a very satisfying sludge of a dark blue-green color.
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The canvas,  -my arm.

So, now it was time to see if it would work on the human body. I took a brush and painted a triscele on my forearm. In retrospect I might have used a place that was not exposed to as much scuffing as the forearm, but in another way that also was a good thing to see, how it stood against scuffing. 32293861_10155418233982765_3529832513033732096_o

It gave a clear quite dark blue-green color. Quite capable of making rather intricate designs if needed. During the dryingperiod it got a couple of scruffes as I got through my daily shores of computering, working the yard and tending the chickens. After a couple of hours it looked like this:
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Not to bad considering i did not stay still during the first drying phase. This is also after rather hard work in hot weather, so sweat did not seem to be an issue. It was also quite attached to my skin and did not rub off or flake. The scuffed parts are mostly from before it dried. After that it was hard to disturb. In fact.. the day after, after a good nights sleep in my sheets it was still clearly visible, but noticeably greener
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Conclusions

Verdigris and linseed oil clearly work well and gives a bodypaint that don’t run, don’t smear after it have set and do not wash of from sweat and battle.

I can not, of course, say that this IS what they used, but it was an interesting test of a theory.

More on celtic Warpaint patterns  HERE—> 
And more on celtic nakedness in battle HERE —>

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Pipecase

Claypipes.

We all know that they are basically expendable items with a very short lifespan.

If you are lucky the break in ‘a good place’ and have enough stem left to be smokable.  Broken pipes seems to have wandered down the social ladder and the price of clay pipes is higher today than it was in 18th century though, and it gets expensive rather fast with  historically correct broken pipes….

There is a cure!

In the olden age they did have some trouble with transporting pipes also and they had a cure. Pipecases.

There seems to have been mainly two varieties of pipecases.

One was opened at the front and the pipe inserted and then closed. This is a model that we see all from 17th century and forwards. Many of the more fancy pipecases that have survived are of this model.

 

 

The other model of pipecase opens along the stem and is a little simpler in construction. These two pipes are both found on a shipwreck. One on ‘Le Dauphin’ that sank in 1704 and the other on the ‘Lossen’ that sank outside Norway in 1714. (thank you R.W Gullbrandsen for the photo of the Lossen pipecase)
1704 the Dauphin wreck22904790_1984154765141210_5067335588663417368_o

 

I bet you made one of those you old bugger

 

Well, yes, imaginary reader, I did make me a pipecase.

I wanted to try the front open one first so i made the hollows in two pieces of wood and glues them together. After that i shaped it, and finally i took a finetooth saw and cut open a lid at the front. I wanted a simpler case than the more fancy surviving one, since i mostly recreate lower class.

I used some leather as a hinge and a piece of hemp string as a closing device.

The case was painted with linseed oil in ‘English red’, that was a popular color in Sweden, and then decorations was made in verdigris green. The decorations included the kings arms, popular even among commoners to lend some royal shine to mundane things, and “no:13” the enlistment number of me as Footdragoon in my company.

 

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Next time I will try to make the other kind of pipecase, it is mostly the closing of the lid that I want to figure out before i start that. I have great confidence in that this case will make the life of my longpipe longer though.

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The naked celt

 

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The naked fighting celt is often questioned.
Often this seems to me like modern ideas of what ‘civilisation’ is. A rather eurocentric way of looking at history, or, if you like, a roman view of things.

I must admit I have a sort of fascination for the naked celt.
To me it is the perfect dictonomy. The roman soldier,  well armoured and a cog in a well choreographed war machine. On the other side, the Celt, herobased culture with personal prowess as the ideal. Alone in the eyes of the gods, naked and painted to draw their attention to his (or her) prowess. (More on Celtic warpaint – here )

Nakedness is not an odd thing in many parts of the world and naked warriors not that strange.
The Spartans are rumored to have fought naked and sports and games was done naked in the greek society.

The Zulus fought mostly in close combat and even if they was not completely naked was mostly uncovered.

I better throw in the old disclaimer here. Yes, MOST celtic warriors fought in armour. The celtic helmet and chain mail was so good that the roman army added it to their own arsenal as standard equipment. BUT! it seems that the naked fighting celt was something that was indeed associated with the celtic culture. So much that when celts are depicted they often are depicted naked.  We will get back to that.

The Written sources

There are four famous mentions of the naked fighting celt. Since the celts themselves lacked a efficient written language and had a seemingly low literacy, we have no written accounts from themselves.

We have some roman and greek sources though, spanning a long time period.

In the battle of Thelamon, Polybos states that the Gesetae have a habit of fighting naked.

“Very terrifying too were the appearance and the gestures of the naked warriors in front, all in the prime of life, and finely built men, and all in the leading companies richly adorned with gold torques and armlets,”

According to Polybius, the Gaesatae fought naked for two main reasons. First of all, this was meant to display their confidence, both to their allies, and to the enemy. Secondly, it seems that it was more efficient to fight this way, “Thinking that thus they would be more efficient, as some of the ground was overgrown with brambles which would catch in their clothes and impede the use of their weapons.” Thirdly, the sight of naked warriors was also intended to intimidate the enemy.

Diodorus Siculus also mentioned that some Celts fight naked;  “Some use iron breast-plates in battle, while others fight naked, trusting only in the protection which nature gives.”

Titus livius notes that: The fact that they fight naked makes their wounds conspicuous and their bodies are fleshy and white, as is natural, since they are never uncovered except in battle; so that both more blood flowed from their abundant flesh and the wounds stood out to view more fearfully and the whiteness of their skins was more stained by the black blood (Liv. 38.21.9).

And finally we have the most famous; Julius Caesar records in his account of the Gallic War that the Gauls went into battle naked save for their weapons.

So, here we have four accounts from different sources, noting on some of the celts fighting naked.

The artifactual sources

There are artifactual sources showing naked celts. These are both from outside (roman, greek, others) as well as celtic designs.

My conclusion is that the reason for these are that the nakedness in battle was an important aspect of the celt identity.  I state again, that most celts fought in armour and very good armour to boot. But, the naked warrior seems to have been a heroic epitome, a paragon. So central to the celtic identity that when you wanted to show that someone was a celt, you showed the naked warrior.

What is interesting here is that these hail from all of the cultural area that was under celtic culture. Britain and Iberia in the west and to Bulgaria in the east, indicating that it was indeed connected to the celtic culture core, not just certain tribes.

Sadly I have lost much of the information about the exact source of the images due to a computer crash….


The outside sources

These sources show mostly roman and greek depictions of naked celts as art.

We also have some sources from roman tombs and monuments, and a tile.

The Celtic sources

 

The celts also showed themselves as the naked warrior. These artifacts show some of  the celtic art. The golden one is a helmetcrest.

 

 

Celtic coinage

 

Celtic coins are especially interesting as coins was a way to express power. It was therefore important that they show who had minted them. In this case it is interesting that they choose to show naked warriors. This might mean that it was something very celtic about this.

 

 

This statue shows a Gaulish mercenary in Ptolemeian service. It is from Egypt
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Uncertain sources

These pictures are from sources I am uncertain of at this stage. They are from the ancient times though, as I have come to understand, if not, please correct me.

 

As seen, the celts are in many cases not totally naked. Helmets, capes and sometimes shoes are depicted. The capes are also something that is connected to celt culture. The romans noted the celts colorful capes, and celtic capes was in fashion for a while.

Sum up

 My thoughts on the matter is that looking to the spread of the sources, both in time and in geography, it looks like the naked fighting warrior is a central concept in celtic culture. It is not isolated to a certain area, but it might be a certain cast of warriors, or warriors in a certain stage in their development. Possibly gaining reputation (as the native american practice of counting coup) and showing personal prowess on the field of battle.

It is probably also a manifestation of the warrior/hero ideal that  was central in germanic and celt tribes.

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A knitted cap for the soldier

30729663_10155369425222765_1967852722518491136_oThis short post is to show a rather uncommon thing. Not uncommon in it self, but it is uncommon in that it is preserved.

A military knitted cap for the cavalry.

This is a hat for the Östgöta Ryttare, Eastgotha Cavalry from 1750. Knitted caps for cavalry is mentioned in the armylists early on though, at least as early as the great northern war.

The Eastgotha regiment was a ‘county regiment’. The counties of Sweden was to set up a regiment (or sometimes more, depending on the population of the county).
East gotha (östergötland) set up two regiments, one regiment of foot, and one of cavalry, called Östgöta ryttare (est 1550, and remade into infantry in 1791). In the battle of Poltava 1709 the regiment held of the Russian onslaught during the retreat and was all but obliterated.

Nightcap?

The cap is named “nightcap” and even if it might very well have been used when sleeping. It is this authors belief that they were used as what we later call a campcap, or foragecap. The fancy tricorn (that the Swedish army adopted very early) was only to be used in battle and other dressed up occasions.

In civilian life the use of a banyan often included a ‘nightcap’ for home use. I think that the nightcap has to be seen in this aspect. As an informal wear for campduties and marches.

Cavalrycap?

Not only the cavalry had nightcaps. They appear in the armylists, for the Lifeguard troops they appear as early as late 1600. Amongst smaller items that the soldier was to get themselves (but in reality was ordered en masse by the captain and deducted from pay) was ‘a nightcap’ (according to Tomas Lindell that has looked into that regiments history)

Anders Larsson looked at the nightcap, and they are also mentioned in the lists for  Västgöta-Dals Infantry reg. 1702 who were to have white nightcaps, Blue was the color for the Nobles cavalry 1712 (a regiment set up by the nobles of the realm), Upplands replacement regiment of horse 1714 also had white caps. They are often listed under “march equipment” meaning that they were used on marches and other duties to save the tricorn for formal duties. When they are described they are described as being “knitted of wool”.

The cap

 

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The cap is knitted of wool yarn dyed blue, the regular army basic color. To the edge a felted red woolstrip is sewn on. Red is the traditionalcolor of the Östgöta regiments, and even if they had yellow cuffs, upturns and socks at this time, it seems that the red lingered on in the nightcap.

 

At the tip of the cap is a round yarnball. Half is blue, and half is white. This is a bit odd, as the color of the Östgötar is, as mentioned above, red. It could be just a personal thing, or it might reflect the company colors of the soldier. Who knows.
The grey linnen that is seen on the picture is part of the conservation and mounting . The cap was not lined .

Recreating the cap

mössaI got my mother in law to knit me a cap, as I myself is a bad knitter.
We agreed that the hat looked like it was narrowed on two sides, and not four. Making a bit flat as opposed to it´s stuffed appearance in the museum.

First stop was the fancy yarnstore where i showed my picture and expediatly got help finding the right color and thickness of yarn. A two thread 100% Norvegian wool from Rauma Ullvarefabrikk. The right size knitneedles would probably be nr 3, but we used nr 4 roundneedle

30729612_10155370539112765_5613619970672951296_oThe little yarnball was made as half blue and half natural white. This gave a rather good appearance quite alike the original ball.

If you do not know how to make a yarnball there is plenty of information about that online.

At the bottom a felted wool cloth strip dyed with madder was added. Care was taken so it would not pull the cap tighter, or wider. The cap ended up slightly longer than the original. I think this is in the allowed variation as the cap was not standardised in that way. The cap is very nice, light and well suited for all kinds of weather. Not to heavy for warm days, but still varm enough to be cosy as the chill of evening draws in. 30741106_10155370539187765_4417298839447273472_o

 

Wearing the cap

There are no pictures of the cap worn. My thoughts are that they probably was carried in a multitude of ways depending on the weather and the task at hand. As I made a reference to the civilian banyan and its nightcap before, I have choosen to wear it in a similar way. Hanging down on one side. This is also the way the cap naturally wants to be worn. It falls down that way.
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Celtic warpaint

 

The issue of celtic warpaint is much debated.

Was it paint? Or tattoos? Or even possibly scarification?

These questions aside, you land in the next one. IF they decorated thier body in some way, how did it look like?

As i entered into this conundrum i had no idea how to adress the problem.
Some other reenactors seems to have very little to base thier warpaint on. Everything from the latest movie  with some celts in, Braveheart, american football cheek soot, tigerstripe cammoflage….  It all seemed mostly modern eastetichs to me. I wanted something more… period to base my guesses on.

Some other reenactors base their motives in decorative patterns from jewellery and other artifacts. I was starting down that path myself as that at least would show an eastetic from that culture and age.

Researching for a clue

As i stumbled around blindly, looking at as many things i could to get a feeling for thier artistic language, i noted someone talking about celtic coins and the possibilities of these showing tattoos. Of course we see what we think we see, so my interpretation of the coins turned to warpaint.

18342765_10154492271362765_7855177331152047658_nNow, there is of course no way to know if these coins show tattoos, scarifications, warpaint or just some surrealistic addition of unclear meaning…
There is also the problem that many of the coins is based on greek or roman coins that degenerate in artistic quality in each generation, and some aspects that might have been something clearly visible at gen 1 is just an odd line of dots in gen 5.

BUT! At least here we have Celtic faces, with some kind of decorations on them. As these coins are from all around the celtdom i think we can assume they are showing something rather basic in celtic culture, something that is ”very celtic” and reqognized as celtic of all that handle these coins. Minting coins is a move to show power, so it will be important to have the coins show who has the power to mint them.

So, i now had a couple of coins showing designs on celtic faces. In archeology there is a thing called Things and text correlation. The short meaning here is that if you have a text describing something and then find an item resembling what the text say, you have a ”thing-text correlation”. Here we have descriptions of celts being painted (or other kind of patterened) and we find pictures of patterened celts, from thier own culture. Then it is REASONABLE to assume that the coins show decorative designs mentioned in the texts.

I took the coins i could find online (i am sure there are more out there that has not found thier way out into the big wide web).  These I made a kind of chart from and tried to draw a bit more clearly. The wheel of Taranis and the favored swirl seemed to me as a probable celtic decoration, and so in the realm of possibility. 18320606_10154496595607765_1400560487730669518_o

Get the paint out!

Next i wanted to try how this might look on a painted warrior.

i chose to go for the things described of celts, like ”the used lime in thier hair and swept it back, looking like satyrs”, a hairstyle also seen on ”the dying celt”. I also retained a moustasch that is mentioned in the ancient texts and visualised in statues. The nakedness i will adress in another post (one you can read here! ), but it seemed to have been a rather more common thing then some like to belive. And it is not really that odd, the greeks and others also have a history of fighting naked.

….and, yes, i know that the wast majority of the celts had armour and was a big inspiration to the armament and the armour of the roman legions, and probably invented the chainmail…. But thats not what this is about. So, back to the warpaint.

Verdigris crystals and two balls of 100 year woad.

The coloration of the warpaint is as debated as the warpaint itself. Greenish copper verdigris have been suggested, Woad is a popular theory, orangered rustbased color have been mentioned, especially with the Iberian celts.

I did not have the time or the preperations in order to test these different pigmenttypes. Also i have not yet figured out a smart medium for the pigment to keep it on the skin without the bodyhet melting it and making it run, or making it dry and cake and crack…. But, i have some plans to try this soon. The Verdigris is ready for harvest and the Woad is just waiting. You can read about my tryouts with verdigris as warpaint HERE

So, for this part of the project i went with just a basic blue paint (a decision my wife later lamented as we still find blue paint sticking to odd places)

Thinking about the way the possible paintings on the coins presented themself i got my wife to paint me in probable ways.

Time for makeup

For the face i choose the first coin above as it was so clear and iconic with its swirl. The triskele seemed like a sure bet that it was used and got a prominent placing on the pectorials.

The swirl also made a comeback at my upper arms and clavicle and thighs and rump in the form of a double swirl. The wheel of taranis was put on the calves as my wife, that has a degree in theology and religion, pointed out that wheels often have a symbolic meaning contaning motion and movement (rather logical…)

The lower arm…. Looked a bit naked so it just got itself a spiral going up it, in a faint resemblance of a spiral armband. I found that this rubs of a lot on the inside if the shield any way. Not much of a surprise really.

The lower legs was left clean, as brush would just smear the paint there anyway.

The angled knife was kept on a high belt as most depictions show them worn at that place.

So, this is the thoughts I have collected about Celtic warpaint and how it MIGHT have looked. Based primarily on celtic coins. I make no claim that this is the true way celts painted themselves.

 

 

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Stefan Löfving -Adventurer extraordinarie

The great Nordic war is full of heroes. But few where so spectacular as Stefan Löfving. A swashbuckling bravado of special warfare, freebooter and army intelligence.

Stefan Löfving, or ‘the Löfving’ as he was often called, was born in Narva on Christmas eve 1689. His father was an artillery NCO.

20160418_201525-1He was keeping a journal between 1713 and 1720. In 1734 he composed those into a diary. Even if there are some exaggerations, scholars holds most of it as true. It is intriguing stories of harsh conditions, fleeing for enemy forces, Daring undercover sabotage and infiltration in disguise, and death-defying combat against overpowering odds. The last is of course standard for the Carolean army as it was not allowed to give up or run away. It was basically an army of religious protestant fanatics with a fatalistic view of life. everything was in Gods hands, and it was already decided id you would die or not. You might as well just fight. This view shines through in letters and diaries from soldiers and also in Löfvings diary. He constantly give thanks to God and leaves him self in his mercy. When he spoke to the King, he said “My enemy I fear not, if he has not strength to hit me, I hit him. Being afraid does not help, after you have sought out your enemy”

20161112_161517He often operated out of uniform. More than once he refers to him ‘changing clothes’ and also all his disguises (as a cripple, farmers help, half blind and so on). At least once he mentions “we where dressed as Russians” Some put him down as part of the footdragoons. This might be the case in 1711 and 12 however, later on it seems he had a wider work field. At that point he never refers to himself as a footdragoon and he reports either directly to the king or to General Taube. Not to the high command of the Army in Finland, as the other footdragoons seems to have done.

He held a lieutenants commission and usually was on patrol with 3-7 men, not always army personnel, but a mix of soldiers, farmers and other of more suspect origin.

There are no known depictions of him.

Let us dive into his diary and have a look at some of the more spectacular things in it.

…And killed him with his own sword.

In 1708 he started working for the bordermajor Simon Afleck and this is when he got his first taste of the war. Finland was brought in to the war in 1710, When the Russians took Viborg. This area, Karelia, is where Stefan was stationed.

And this is where he killed a cossack with his own sword. While his hands was tied.
But that is not enough…..

Lets start from the beginning.

In 1710, in July, he was captured by a Russian troop and severely beaten since he did not divulge how many horses and other necessities the manor where he worked had.  He lost his money and also his clothes. They tied his arms with rope and he had to run between the horses for about a quarter of a mile. When they arrived at Kide he lost his pants and shirt also, and thought he was about to die.

Luck was with him though and he even got a shirt, before being hauled between horses for yet a while. This time considerably longer. On a small bridge he managed to escape and was violently pursued. The Russian force was about 300 man strong so he had quite the hassle to stay ahead. He waded through two swamps and hid in the last swamp until he finally lost his pursuers. He then thought that it was time to go home, and this was when he met two plundering cossacks. After having beaten and dragged for most of the day. Clad only in a shirt. Just waded through two swamps. And his hands tied.

One of the Cossacks kept riding, but the other one stopped and started questioning him. He seemed to think Löfving was worth getting hold of and asked him to hold his horse while he dismounted.

Löfving:
He bade me hold the horse so he could dismount. But since he had big sacks and buckets behind the saddle he had to bow low before he could throw his foot over. So I grabbed him over the neck and killed him with his own sword. I took from him around 1000 daler in kopeks (money) and a green kaftan (a kind of Cossack coat). Then I ran through the woods to the farm.

Blind fury

In may 1714, after having had a part of his ear shot off  (a Russian shot his ear so the earlobe was hanging. A major asked “What shall we call the Löfving now that his ear has blown off?”  Whereupon Löfving forcefully yanked off his own earlobe, hanging loose, replying ” others have been wounded worse” ) , Löfving and a volunteer was out on a sabotage mission.

Disguised as a blind beggar, his friend as a one-eyed hunchback. He set out on a sabotage mission some times later. Blindfolded he was led as blind for three days. Between their legs they had tied grenades inside their pants, surely it was not very comfortable. The usual grenade of the swedish army was the threepounder.

Seeing to his diary it seems that he usually carried a smallsword, a couple of grenades, a pair of pistols, a knife and a musket. Quite strapped in other words.
After two days they came to their target area and on the third day they struck.

They managed to burn down three storehouses of meal with their pant grenades.

They are only 8 times as many!

The 24 of july in 1714 he was in charge of 7 men that he had picked up around the countryside from the now retreating Swedish army. In Haavisto village they came upon a Russian surgeon a regimental chest and the lieutenant and the 58 men that escorted it.

Deeming these odds good, or not… they had no other option than attack according to Carolean doctrine, they loaded their muskets with 14 shots and a bullet each.

Rännkulor. Army shot for close encounters. 14 of thesse and a bullet was used in the 20 mm muskets.

Rännkulor. Army shot for close encounters.
14 of these and a bullet was used in the 20 mm muskets.

They “marched with force upon them, but since there was a big field there the Russians fired three volleys upon us” No one was hurt though, but poor sergeant Holmgren that had a scratch on his foot beside the buckle. Only the surgeon and 8 men from the Russian side got away. The swedes lost none, not counting Holmgrens sour foot.

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The stealing of a certain cook

Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn Governor of Finland

Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn
Governor of Finland

in 1715, he was disguised as a one-eyed beggar. He went into Åbo where he walked right up to lord Golitsyns house.

Golitsyn was the governor of all Finland for the Russians and quite the bigshot. He had led the conquering of the land and was no chickpea. It was to his house Löfving directed his steps.

In his beggar outfit he managed to get 10 kopek of the big man himself. After this he sneaked into the house kitchen. The cook engaged him in conversation. It ran into the question about fish and if there was any to be had where he came from?  Löfving answered that there was primo herring at his made up place of home.
Once the reached open water he opened his other eye and pulled out a pair of pistols. From there he took command and delivered lord Golitsyns cook and two servants in Stockholm a while later.

High and low

In his diary he also mentions things that has amused him.
Like the time he had his horse parked outside the gate while he was buying paper (a spy is of no good unless he reports…) and two Russian high officers came by. It seems the horse had to go just when they passed it and sprayed its manure forcefully over their wigs and fancy coats over one side. This amused Löfving enough to write it down.

For us others it gives a glimpse of the day-to-day hazards of the preindustrial society….

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Another time he got stuck on a farm while a Russian lieutenant and his dragoons came to party. He played the fool and managed to pour three glass of vodka down the officers boot. “It was like he had just came up from the sea with all the sloshing of his boot” he remarked. It is unsure how this helped the Swedish war effort…

Another time he was tired and came to a Russian encampment. Dressed as a farmer he just lay down and slept amongst the Russians on the floor. This was in 1717 so he was quite sought after at that point.

Yaahr! Russians ahoy!10452379_10152689987677765_5264263206348143874_n

Much of 1717 to 1720 Löfving was seaborne and operated as a freebooter.  In 1719 the king was already dead, valiantly shot in the head by a  stray grapeshot and the Russians was sending fleets to burn and plunder the Swedish mainland in order to get the stubborn swedes to give up.

Löfving saw plenty of sea action and a small glimpse can be seen in the episode he choose to share  when he encountered a Russian sloop with mail, ammunition and all that. It was manned by 20 Russians and two officers.

“They fired a salvo first. I then asked if someone of mine had been hit? they said NO!, Fear not, it will surely go well, row on! and when I got closer, the second salvo. Then a man called Johan Bergman was injured in the arm and all the oarlocks on one side and the gunvale to the water was blown off, as well as the hat from my head. I thence fired my threepounder swivelgun loaded with scrap and hit them so they no longer could fight. After that I fired on them with handguns until only four men, that was rowing, could be seen. After that I had to lay still and repair my rowingplaces. After that I set after them and shot at their sails so the mast came down. “

Stopping the whole russian fleet. On his own.

the 15th of august 1719 Löfving saw the Russian fleet at Sundby. After being chased he made land and ditched his boat. He commandeered a Lieutenantgenerals horses and rode in advance to Lindal, where he found two small cannons.

When the Russian fleet came to Lindal he fired upon them furiously with his small guns, and, not knowing what or how many they had encountered, the Russians retreated a bit and anchored at Vårdholmen. Within sight of Lindal straights.

At nightfall Löfving played taps on a drum, and rode off to report the Russians whereabouts to the Commanding Swedish Admiral in Vaxholm. The admiral was not keen to use his highsea fleet though, as the Russians had smaller and faster ships, more suited to the hard-to-navigate archipelago.

Typical hard to navigate swedish archipalago

Typical hard to navigate swedish archipelago

Löfving rode back into the night, and back to Lindal. There he commenced to shout guardchallanges and replies, shooting Swedish identification and making a general ruccus, keeping the russian fleet at bay. At dawn he played revelie and the 16th, the Russians sailed of to Tuna.

..and much more.

20151029_150045These little tidbits above are just some of the adventurous that fill the pages of his diary. There are duels, quarrels, fisticuffs, spying and escapes over frozen grounds to fill a half-dozen Hollywoodfilms in there.

Löfving survived the war and died 1777, 88 years old.

Posted in 18th century | Leave a comment

Spruce it up

This article is not about the 18th century per se, but rather about general woodsmanship.

 

I generally prefer doing my reenacting outdoors in the forests. Sweden is about 80% forested area so there is a lot of space to use… Much of this forested area is spruce so spruce comes up a lot in woodsmanship around here.
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The most common way to use spruce is to make your bedding with it. It is generally very good for this but few have a good grasp on how much is needed, and how to apply it. Some just collect a few branches and put them on the ground. Lets look at a better way.

To gain as good an insulation from groundcold as a modern camping mattress it needs to be about half a meter high. This generally is three or four armfulls, depending on how you arrange it. It you just heap it, it will take more and compress faster. But if you stick the ends into the ground and have them tilting up in an angle you will get a springy function and it will be way more effective. This way they will not compress as fast and you will generally have a softer more effective bed, with the added bonus of no hard endtwigs poking you. Align them in rows until you have your allotted area covered.

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Branches arranged by sticking them into the ground. Giving a high and insulated bed.

Doing the dishes

For doing the dishes the spruce is an excellent choice. It will provide you with a dishbrush and detergent.  Lets get all out educational with step by step pictures and all!

So, you just eaten and reached that happy reclining state in came where your belly is full and you are about to stretch out. 20160507_152157Now is the time to do the dishes. Of course you have fried something greasy and its starting to stick to the skillet.

Fist step, use some small branches to just clear out the big chunks and give it a good starting scrub.20160507_192829

Next, put some branches into the pot and pour water on them. Get quite many and try to get them to fit into the pot. If you like you can chop them up. 20160507_192912

Fill up with water over the branches…..20160507_192942

…and get back to camp. Now we put the sprucesoup on the fire. This will give us hot water for our dishing but there is an additional perk. Spruce contains quite a lot of saponine which acts as detergent. Even pine has a lot and birch, eventhough birch is mostly used as a detergent for cloth. Cooking the branches will release the saponine and give you detergent for your dishing up. 20160507_193209

When the needles have lost colour and you can see a sort of oily film on the water, the dishwater is ready for you. This is the oils and saponines that have released into the water.

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During the time the dishwater gets ready you can fashion a clever dishbrush. and get ready for the actual dishing. See all those little saponines swimming happily in the water, ready to do your bidding as detergents?20160507_195801

Now you have dishwater to use for most of the dishes that needs to be done after the meal. Everyone is happy and double happy that your demonstration of ‘how to do the dishes’ have resulted in all the dirty dishes being made.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Swedish commoner of 18th Century.

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I never had much interest in recreating nobles and macaronis. I always found the common man more interesting. I don’t really have a reason for this… maybe it is because I see to many aristocrats and I want to be different? Or I just like to be gritty.

I am happy enough to have friends around me that like to do the same stuff. So we routinely get out in the woods to do… commonerstuff.

This article talks about how we look at things and makes no aspirations about being the ultimate guide to commoners. You may, if you like, choose to see it as a start to more in-depth research if you like…  but really it is just some thoughts scribbled down by me.

The illusive commoner

I mostly do early 18th Century, the age of the great Nordic war (1700-1720). this is a time where virtually noone painted commoners in Sweden. There is very Little pictorial evidence of them and costume historians have had this problem for ages…. There are some written evidence but these seldom tells us HOW things looked. In general the timeperiod is refered to as ‘the long 17th century’ (1560 to 1719) as little happens that changes things during this time. The early 18th century basically had the same fashion in clothes as the late 17th century. Long waistcoats and justacorps rule the upper and middleclass as well as the army. There is some evidence that the more provinsional types had a lingering earlier 17th century fashion with ballonish breeches and short jackets. If you where closer to towns, you seem to have a more updated dress though.

20160320_105610-120160320_105637Jon is seen here with a broadcloth coat. Grey broadcloth, heavily fulled, seems to have been the most common for basic commoners. “grey farmer” was used to describe that class by others. It often lacked buttons, using hooks and eyelets instead. Jon has a more fashionable variant. Sporting tin buttons and short cuffs, the style used by the military and called “Swedish cuffs” by others.
The round uncocked hat is also the common hat for the peasant class. Sometimes a knitted hat was popular as well.

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buff/chamoise was popular both in the army and amongst commoners. Jon has a buff/chamois waistcoat. They where usually of moose, but ox was also used. The shoes have birchbark soles, very good to keep wet and Cold out. They also lack buckles, also not required by commoners. The army had their socks outside their breeches, but civilians had their breeches over socks earlier, even in 17th Century. Knitted socks are winning ground, but sewn socks are still more common. Usually you see some kneebands helping to hold them up.

Tröja, väst and kamisol

Väst is the Swedish Word for vest/waistcoat. if it had a full back, that is full long and with same cloth as the front, it was considered fit for outerwear without a 20160320_101924-1coat on.
Armvests/sleeved waistcoats was referred to as ‘tröja’ or if it was of buff leather ‘kamisol’. It seems you could use both a ‘väst’ and a ‘tröja’ at the same time. This is refered to in text and songs. There is also a dragoonuniform with both väst and kamisol (both in leather).

On this Picture I wear a green wool waistcoat and over that a grey sleeved waistcoat with leatherfacings buttonholes and the inner arms of leather. The simple reason for this is that I ran out of cloth and opted for putting the leather on the inside of the arms as it seems to have been common to try to put ‘replacementcloth’ on the least visible places. The pockets are low, as were common in early 18th Century and I wear goatskinn breaches.

Beard?

This is something that often irks foreign reenactors.
The selfowning Swedish farmer. That is the head of the household, not so often his farmhands, often sported a beard. This seems to have been a vital part of their identity. Even if regional fashions was observed it seems most common to shave the moustache.

For more musings of bearding you can look here.

Woman

I would like to write more about womenclothing, but to be honest I know to little as I have mostly looked at male clothing for my own reenacting. Perhaps on a later date I can get someone who knows stuff to write an article for me.

20160320_105521-1Lets look at something at least. The same is true for women as with men. The fashion lingers from the century before. The skirts are full and have one or several petticoats under. Some think that you used the skirts you hade and then altered which one was topmost and visible.

20160320_105438-1The ‘tröja’ for women was usually three quarters length on the arms, or it was full length and folded back up. To combat the chill of not wearing full length arms you could use longer unfingered gloves.

The shawl was carried either tucked into the tröja or over it. Sometimes a longer bigger one was carried swept across the chest and tied on the back. possibly they could have been knitted. Stays seems to have been used, but it is possible that they were taken off during labour.

To see more of this particular reenactingsession when we where out collecting branches and twigs check out Jons video below or check our pictures on my facebook .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 18th century, Clothing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Succariebread, Fieldprovisions of the 1718 campaign

The most tactical bread ever

King Charles XII tried to invade Norway once before, in 1716. It did not go well, and part of this was that it was almost impossible to sustain the army.

To succeed the King figured out that provisions needed to be stored and transported out to the Army. This might seem like an obvious thing, but in that time it was a rather revolutionary idea. The common practise was to feed the army of what one could procure from the area it operated in.

Carl Gustaf Mörner. Field marshal and breaddevloper for the king

Carl Gustaf Mörner. Field marshal and breaddevloper for the king

The king decided of a sort of bread he had seen the Russians use. 1716 he ordered a series of testbakings to start in Uddevalla. They found out that they should use coarse flour. This is because too much flour was lost in sifting it, according to Field marshal Mörner, head of the baking.

The king was heavily involved in this on a personal basis and wrote several letters about how the bread was to be made, that only this bread and nothing else should be baked. and all sorts of things concerning the bread.  As the war drew closer the baking of the bread was centred at Frösö redoubt in Jämtland under Majorgeneral Fitinghof. By the turn of the year 1717-1718 the stores in Jämtland held bread enough for 9000 men for nine months. Three years after the campaign it was reported that of the bread that was left only very small amounts had been damaged.

By the recipe of the king

The king wrote down how the bread should be baked. The translation below is made by me, and if it is a bit odd, I have tried to keep the feel and the way of the text, but cleared some things that was hard to translate directly.

 

Description of Sucaris bread how it should be rightly baked and dried

  1. It will be of ordinary well kneaded ad set to sour, as is usual here in the country, but the dough shall stand in sour 16 hours and for all becomes well sour.
  2. When the dough has stood and become well sour it is worked a lot, and flour kneaded well into, before it is made into bread.
  3. The dough is baked in long round or square loafs of 10 or 12 marks heavy/long and one hand breath hight, which is well baked through.
  4. The bread, after it is baked, stands and cool before it is cut small, at least 4, 6 or 8 days, so that the bread with less loss and more easy is cut
  5. When it has become cold and hard, it is first cut in slices and then in dices so big that when they are dried they should be 2-3 inches in cubic.
  6. Then these little cut dices is put into a warm enough oven, making sure it is not to hot, so that the bread is not burnt and the power of it dried away, which soon easily can happen in a very hot owen, being that when the bread is all burnt it is totally hurtful for the people, wherefore this must be taken into serious account, so that it is dried in a warn and not hot owen, and it must during the drying be often and readily stirred
  7. In this bread there is no salt, since the bread from that draws up moist and turns bad.

In the original there is sometimes alternative words added when the scriptclercs did not know exactly what the king had said. The reason being that they were terrified to write wrongly.

Succraiebread. Hard little lumps of joyless nutrition.
Succariebread. Hard little lumps of joyless nutrition.

 

Now, I will let Victoria tell you all about how she went about making the bread.


 

Making bread, Viktoria Arvidsson

To make the Succariebread i used to different sources, both in Swedish,

Viktoria Arvidsson, Textilexpert and Breaddevloper for us

Viktoria Arvidsson, Textilexpert and Breaddevloper for us

One from the very interesting story about Frisenheim  and And the other from Forskning och Framsteg

I did not make as much as the recipes suggests, because that would be too much for this small experiment and I did not have the time to make such a big batch. Time was at the essence because the bread needs to rest a lot and for many days and then dry for many more.

I made one small batch and followed the suggestions on the sourdough package for the ratio of water and flour. That to was a time-saving part, I did not make the sourdough myself but bought it from the store. It was supposed to be a lot of flour in the dough so I poured in a lot and then some more, until I could not knead it with the spoon any more. Only 12696244_1242609935754529_250856944_nthree ingredients were used, sourdough, water and rye flour, the more coarse kind. No salt or anything else to make the bread taste something. Then after the kneading the bread had to rest for around 16 hours. The long rest makes the dough go sour and that makes the bread taste something at least.

After the rest the bread is shaped, I made it in to a small loaf like shape. Then it is baked for a long time in a rather low temperature, around 125 degrees Celsius. Because of the small size of my loaf the baking time was only 5 hours. After that the bread needed to rest again, preferably a week or more, for the bread to set and not crumble when cut in to pieces. My loaf rested for 7 days. After the long rest the bread was supposed to be cut in small cubes, easier said than done!  If it was possible to cut it crumbled, if it was impossible to cut, you had to use more force. After a smaller bloodshed the bread was cut in pieces, though not in the neat 2×2 cm kind.

After that the bread pieces where ready for drying, I used a modern oven, because again it is faster and more convenient. The bread pieces were dried at a low temperature, around 60 degrees Celsius, for a long long time, until they were completely dry and where more similar to wood than bread. Now the bread is ready for storing and eating.

Soaking in brand... for... more then an hour.

Soaking in brandy… for… more than an hour.

Before any attempt to eat the succariebread it must be soaked! Otherwise your teeth are at

risk. One source suggests soaking the bread in brandy, and because we are reenactors and want to try such experiements we tried, but the results were not so good. The bread took a really long time to get moist enough to chew and the brandy tasted rye after a while.

the vodkaexperiment

the vodkaexperiment

Then we tried grinding the bread in to crumbs and soaking it in vodka, more ordinary soldier-style, but still the bread took a long time soaking and the vodka

tasted rye. None of these methods where fast enough to make in a small break on a march.

But on the nest occasion out in the field with the succariebread there was hot liquid at our disposal, this was a more effective way of soaking the bread, the time needed was only one half of that needed in the liquor. I can imagine that letting the bread pieces boil with the rest of the food would be the most effective way to use the bread, and that way you get croutons in your soup 18th century style. Another way to consume the bread pieces is go around soaking them in your mouth, gently chewing, like candy, this can be done during work or marching to keep the hunger away.


Our daily bread

Despite the kings intentions of a breadbased campaign, the soldier did not only get succariebread to eat. The ration was, under good cirumstances, quite good.

In daily ration the soldier got:

  • Bread; 6.3 hekto (1.3 lbs)
  • Grits; 3 decilitre (1.2 cups)  (probably barley, but it is not specified)
  • Meat; 2,3 hekto (0.5 lbs)
  • Also; Salt, Dricka (a kind of very weak beer.. think weak small beer), Vodka and tobacco.

They where also supposed to get 1.7 hekto (0.3 lbs)  butter or pork, but this was very scarce so they usually received well under their allotment

This is actually what we usually eat when we are out. Frying up the meat (and an onion) then boiling the barely with the meat and the fat from it. Some salt (or broth if we have) and then its quite good and you keep for a long while. Mix in some Succariebread and you have it all!

Barley, pork and union. Food for a king!

Barley, pork and onion. Food for a king!

Thank you Viktoria for supplementing your experiences to this article.

Posted in 18th century, Food | 5 Comments

The Norwegian campaign of 1718 reenacted

In late October, early November 2015 we decided to reenact some up in the Jämtland mountains where the Carolean army staged the campaign of 1718 into Norway. One of our group has a little cabin in those mountains and we decided to use this as a base. The weather can be rather unpredictable up there so we had no idea if we would expect snow or blistering heat. We decided that the cabin would be our base and we would make day tours. This was also because it  gets dark fairly early in that time of year and it isn’t really much fun with 12 hours darktime out in the field. It just gets boring. November was a good time. The actual date we choose was the date the Army left Sweden and entered Norway.

map showing the important places of the campaign staging area and the area we where.

map showing the important places of the campaign staging area and the area we where.

There where two ways into Norway. One was over Duved and one was over Långå. These roads had redoubts build already in 17:th century. The Duved redoubt was now the forward operations base. this is where the logistic command under Frisenheilm was located. The Frösö redoubt was important as this is where the army bakery was located. A bakery might seem like a small ting, but in this campaign it was a key point. Norway is scarcely populated and there was no way that the local farms there could support the Swedish troops. The King had put a lot of effort into developing a special bread ‘Succariebröd’, that would last long and would be the basis of the food for the whole army.
This bread was baked at Frösön.

Our area was located in between these places and we thought that we would have been placed as counter insurgent. Norwegian spies was very much an issue and it was not helped by the fact that the people of Jämtland often saw them selves as having more in common with the Norwegians then the swedes.

Preparations

We had gotten hold of a good example of the field map of 1685 of the area. judging by the folding that had been done to the map, still visible on our facsimile, it was the same that was used by the army. if you fold it after the folds… the staging area of the army comes neatly into view.

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The map folded after the foldingmarks.

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The Army map of 1685, Jämtland

 

The map was of course on a to large scale to be of much use for us as a navigation map.. but it was never the less a fun item for reference.

 

We also made Succariebread, as per the kings orders, and some ‘pocketsoup’. We where thinking that the kind of troops we are, that is Footdragons, we would tax the locals for fresh food and just keep the succariebread for emergency. This is also what happened.

First days lunch. Porkpies, smoked reindeer, sausage, Cheese and port.

First days lunch.
Porkpies, smoked reindeer, sausage, Cheese and port.

 

Day one

The first day we decided we would patrol the valley. The stops would be the fäbod and the falls. Fäbod, a place where the animals was sent for grazing during summer with some farmgirls keeping watch. They made cheese of the milk which was later sold. Our thinking was that this place surely would have food, and that it was also a vital part of the army logistics. All soldiers need cheese.

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The fäbod in the morning sun

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The milkmaids going out to milk the cows

 

The fäbod was just a short walk from our base. And it would make a good first stop to check if there had been any suspicious activity in the area. The weather was quite nice this day. I opted for a sleeved waistcoat over a unsleeved one and a wool shirt under that. I carried a coat and a cape if it would get chillier during breaks. The temperature was around 3 and moving up to 7 Celsius (44 f) if I remember correctly. The ground was covered in frost

20151029_113948When we arrived we quickly convinced the milkmaids to cooperate. Reminding them about their duty to King Charles XII and God . We enrolled them into local guides and gained information about the area and its byways. They where most cooperative and possibly even on our side to begin with.

12189570_10153346902769195_8878933844617739963_nAfter a break for lunch and some pipesmoking we felt it was time to get going. the Falls where still some distance to walk and we needed to get there in good time.
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Onwards, we are heading for a fall.

Still day one.

Now a longer trek along the river started. Some of it was on modern roads, but mostly we could keep to smaller roads and paths. When we entered the woods the terrain became quite difficult. Boulders and roots made the walking harder and it was easy to trip. The long and constant ascent sapped our strength. Somewhere around here my first claypipe broke. It was being transported in the hat, and when the hat fell on the trail… the pipe broke in three.20151029_142903-1

It also took longer then expected even if we took very few breaks. When we reached the falls it was already getting darker. To get down the the actual falls we needed to descend some quite steep slippery wooden steps. As the Falls was our goal we hid most of our packs and started our way down.

It was slippery as all hell with the leather soled shoes we had. I slipped and hit the butt of the gun in the rock, but it seems that it had survived for 300 years because it was well made. And so it held. 12196206_1185539744794882_4856924664898129457_n20151029_150045

The ascend from the falls was a bit more troublesome. Boudica, the 55 kilo wolfhound, could not make her way up since it was difficult the last 50 meters and steep rocks prevented her from going outside the stairs. I had to carry her on my shoulders and that was a bit exhausting after we came up.

We where now starting to lose daylight faster than we had counted on. Seeing hos the trail up was, we didn’t much relished the thought of traversing that in dusk and dark. We decided that we did not have time to cook a hot meal over a fire. So we ate some apples and sausages we had left, spat on the ground and started walking back home.

20151029_162215Apart from one of the milkmaids trying some kind of fishy activity, we got home but the dark had fallen before we got to the cabin again. We where rather tired, but happy with our first day of scouting. After all, there was no signs of the evil Norwegians.

 

Day two, The west mountain.

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On day two the temperature had dropped somewhat and the fog was over the mountains. or if it was the clouds lying low, probably a bit of both. Västfjället is around 1000 meters over the sea where we where heading. As we didn’t quite feel like expending all our strength on getting UP on the mountain walking on asphalt

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The old army fieldmap was of some use to locate ourselves according to the other mountains. Drom mountain and Falconcatcher mountain is seen in the distance, and pointed out by me, trying to look important.

roads, we took the car up to a start point.  From there we gingerly took of into the barren mountainside. This is above where trees comfortably grow and so we had to carry the firewood we needed with us. We could not expect to find it on the mountain.

This day we did not have a clear goal. We had a diffuse goal to get to a cabin up on the mountain, but mostly we just wanted to get around a bit and have a look-see. The patrol took of through the fog and the underbrush. Seeing only reindeers and fog. The wind was chilly as there was nothing there to stop it. It howled in our waterbottles when we uncorked them. The few hidingplaces was meticulously searched by the unflappable patrol.

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The only shrubbery in a mile is searched for infiltrators

We soon gave up the idea of reaching the cottage. Mostly because it looked like others where heading for it and we would rather be alone. When this decision was made we headed for a  depression in the mountain to get out of the wind. Then 12191943_1059911444027062_1892525438859930332_nwe made lunch.
12196222_1059911554027051_6255186372309116935_nThe firewood we had lugged along came to good use, we started by frying up pork and onions in some lard. After this crushed barley and water was added. We also used the ‘pocketsoup’ now. Pocketsoup is beefbroth cooked almost dry and then left to harden. it resembles some kind of rubber or leather and when put into water dissolves and become broth again. Barely is a very good fieldfood and it keeps you full for a long time. The pork adds, but if you don’t like meat it is not necessary really. some onions and maybe garlic will do the seasoning well. After the meal we also took out the pot and made ourselves a nice cup of coffe.

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there is no need to drink coffee like a heathen just because you are in the mountains. Always bring the good china.

Dennis even got his fiddle out and we enjoyed some music on our break.

Onward, secure that mountain!

After we had eaten, we bundled up in warm clothing, looking like small cones of cloth some of us, and headed out to followed a mountain stream that showed signs of campfires. 12108838_1059911784027028_5332616146256401246_n11182121_1061195500565323_2395496337617964128_n

They where all old and cold so after we followed the stream to its start we headed back down the mountain through the wind and fog. The temperature had dropped enough for the road to ice over. 20151030_14551112191602_1059911944027012_2476827594144009951_n

 

 

 

 

 

Day three

Drommen
top

Day three was saved for the ascent of Drommen. The famous Drommen cleft where it was rumoured the Carolean warfund chest was hidden all those years ago.

It became clear from the beginning that not all could go. Boudica, the wolfhound, had a slight limp on one of the paws. This can go away after she starts using it as it is often some stiffness from the day before. But it was not a good thing to chance upon as it would be hard to go back once we started up. The terrain, it would show would also be abit difficult for such a large dog. Frida also had some mischievous legproblem from before and was willing to give the climb a miss to nurse the dog and make us waffles for our triumphant return.  20151031_131302

11148632_1061195447231995_5604608140108118049_nThe first part was a nice little walk to the actual cleft. The sun was out, and it promised to be a very nice climb.  At the bottom of it was our last chance to refill the water that would take us to the top. Up on top there was mountain lakes that we hoped would not be frozen solid and therefore give us water again.20151031_131810

After filling up our canteens to the brim we set out up through the cleft.

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Yes. They are walking on the so-called trail here.

It soon became obvious that it was perilous ground. The rocks was mortared together with sand and dirt, and looked like they would give gave no pause about just letting go if they wanted to. The sides was steep and resting was mostly done by leaning a bit and not quite standing. I found that my cut down naval boardingaxe was a good help in digging in and getting grips in the dirt. 20151031_141519
Soon we where sweating healthily and the humour was at the top. That we had to lug up firewood once again did not bother us much I skipped the coat and cape this time though, as I was sure I would keep warm anyway. I did not use it on the day before, and this day the weather was fairer. Halfway up there was a rather strange arch. Naturally formed in the mountainside. It felt like a good halfway landmark. 12208459_1061195400565333_4012821069474465980_nThe climb was not as arduous as one might believe. We moved steadily upwards and kept a good pace. When we could see the top we where starting to feel oddly sad about leaving the cleft that had been our home for the day. Happily enough we found a flat rock and took our chance to pull out the booze and cards. After all; when the field is your home, the Drommen cleft is your livingroom!20151031_15084612065817_1061195260565347_9028751953199208843_n

 

our spirits lifted by vices, we started up the last bit. Once again it had become later then expected (and it was not the booze and cards fault!). Our canteens had now been drained and we where hoping for those lakes up top.

The last stretch of the cleft was negotiated and we where finally at the top. The lakes where close by, but so was the impeding dark. We did not

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Dennis. looking at what is known in folklore as a ‘trollgate’. Believed to be a gate into the mountaintrolls world

cherish the thought of going down the cleft in the dark, but there was an alternative route over the hillside that would be easier and also brighter longer. We had to, once again, face the fact that we did not have time to make a fire and cook warm food. We even had a small debate if we would have time to go to the lakes. But our thirst could not

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Seeing the lakes up on the mountain

be ignored so we set of to the lakes.

We where in luck and the lakes only had a sheet of ice on them. It could easily be hacked with the boardingaxe and the canteens refilled for the passage downwards. As the dusk was setting in we descended Drommen mountain. Chewing on the lonely sausage and some apples we had left. Someone I believe, produced a cheese also. In this area cheese where more common than other food due to the Fäbodsystem, and dairy was common even into modern times as a base in food. Growing cereals is hard at that altitude.

Before we started the long climb downwards we had a rest. Some rested more than others.11694127_1061195153898691_4595290836011457117_n

The wind was blowing hard enough for me to have to take my hat off and tuck it in behind me bandolier. This was when I noticed that even my second pipe was lost somewhere in the ravine. Well, that is the way of pipes. The desecnt was faster and part of it was in a skislope. Even if this was rather flat, the steep angle made the feet hurt in the shoes. As the dark had fallen a seemingly flat surface turned out to be a half-frozen20151031_164348 bog that sucked me in to the knee. But, thanks to my trusty reindeer gaiters, that was hardly a problem. That the straps of my backpack came of in the commotion added a bit to the fun. In any case I was able to steer the others away from that area as they saw my problems.

Soon we where back safely at home. Our backs and our legs where a bit sore after three days of climbing around, but we where happy with our adventures.

10408717_10153153268362765_1215954754244382706_nOh, and here is the firewood that had a nice trip up mount Drommen, and back again. don’t it look all giddy after its own adventure?

The waffles were indeed waiting for us when we got back, and we also got ourself a hot meal after long last.

What about that special bread you where on about?

Ah yes… that bread…

That bread was so hard it could not be eaten. I mean it literally could not. We could not even cut it with our knives. We had heard that it was to be soaked in something to be edible. But as we tried on the night it was soaked for over an hour, and it was still rock hard in the middle. Later trials have shown that it softens up better when boiled. but as it was now, we just did not have time enough in the field to get those buggers edible. No wonders it would not go bad and could be stored for a long time. So can stone.

We have not given up on the Succriebread yet though and will keep trying to use it in our rations. There will be an article about it here, with a recipe, as you seem so interested in it, oh theoretical questioner.

Some kind of wrap-up

It was a very nice excursion into the history. We got to feel a bit how it was for the footdragons and regulars that operated in that campaign. There is a thought these days that when you are going up in the mountains you need to minimize your pack. I was never much a follower of that. I pack what I might need and then I lug it. They most certainly brought a gun, so there would be no point in leaving it behind even if it was never to be used. To get that feel, you need to carry what they did. then you might get the same chafing they did. you might feel the same discomforts they felt. and that.. is when you are getting close to feeling their history.

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If you like more pictures from the trip you can find them here, on Facebook.

 

 

 

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