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Exeter Dialogue with Science Roadshow: Foteviken

Friday, 19 June, 2015 to Sunday, 28 June, 2015
Linda Hurcombe
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 
Particpants included 4 from University of Exeter, 3 from Calafell, and Foteviken Staff/ 120 Visitors left comments or engaged in our processes/ Audience was all of the visitors of the Craft Market

The OpenArch collaboration at Foteviken occurred when three Calafell staff were also visiting during the Viking Market-a major event at Foteviken. Our contribution was the Dialogue with Science Roadshow and was badged as Historical Workshops by Foteviken as a new venture. The Roadshow consisted of a number of different experiments including period-appropriate cooking methods, skin tanning, cordage and textile processing techniques, and the evolving use of flint throughout time. Each of these technologies was demonstrated for multiple levels of public interaction including the general public, Foteviken staff members, and their respective volunteers and student interns. The period-correct cooking methods were used to cook plaice on a hot stone wrapped in Burdock leaves (Arctium sp.); salmon both on a pine plank and in a self-constructed smoking tent; and a lamb haunch and a flounder that were cooked using a pit roasting technique. The demonstration of skin tanning included both fat tanning methods and bark/vegetable tanning using skins from the fish used for the cooking experiments, as well as additional skins provided by the kitchen and fellow Vikings. The cordage and textile techniques s focused on various locally acquired cordage materials and multiple nettle processing methods. In addition to these different technological demonstrations, we demonstrated how flint was implemented in two different archaeological epochs; the Upper Palaeolithic and the Viking Age.

Craft-Skill Transmission
All of the Exeter participants had benefitted from attending the learning craft skills workshops and the ‘roadshow’ events are an important way of cascading this set of experiences and knowledge out to other staff and volunteers at our partners. In the midst of our replications we worked to share our information with the Foteviken student-interns. This was a way to exchange knowledge with the Foteviken staff and then have the interns help to communicate our research agenda to the public. This was in the event that our involvement in the demonstration process inhibited focused interaction with the visitors. Both Matt and Theresa spent time briefing the Foteviken student-interns on what the University of Exeter was contributing to the museum’s Historical Workshop as demonstrated in the photo below. The University of Exeter team also spent a fair amount of time learning other Viking Age skills from the staff members of the museum- such skills included the manufacturing of different Viking Age tools and how they were used. This, in turn, helped the University of Exeter team communicate with the public about specific Viking Age technologies especially in relation to an experimental context. The mutually-educational relationship between these two institutions helped to inform the general public about both experimental archaeology and how our experiments fit into a Viking Age context.

An Archaeological Briefing
Prior to arriving at Foteviken the Exeter team took the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Denmark to view material culture from Scandinavian history and prehistory. This was done as preparation for the previously mentioned experiments at Foteviken, as well as way to contextualise future experiments that will be undertaken in the 3rd leg of the Dialogue with Science Roadshow in Lejre, in July. Also, the Exeter team was involved in the museum staff's daily meetings, which gave the team an excellent understanding of how the museum operates and how this reflects the means of communicating our insights with the museum visitors; especially when running a major event. In addition to the staff and general public’s interaction with us as demonstrators, the Exeter team participated in the Viking games as a way to learn Viking Age skills and interact with not only the staff but other participating re-enactors. In doing so we engaged in competitions which mimicked Viking training methods including, an endurance run through the sea, caber throwing, archery, swordsmanship, the use of the spear, axe throwing and a balancing completion involving a staff. As it turns out we didn’t do too bad as Vikings! We placed in few events, really enjoyed participating and caught the Viking bug!

Matthew Swieton
Theresa Kamper
Michael Pitts
Linda Hurcombe

University of Exeter, Department of Archaeology


Theresa Kamper both explaining and...
Linda Hurcombe explains raw material...
Matthew Swieton poses with a leg of lamb...