UW-Green Bay students in Associate Professor Heidi Sherman’s (Humanistic Studies-Medieval History) History Capstone Course had a chance to relive the past with a visit to a longhouse recreated to replicate those of tenth-century Scandinavian farms in Norway.
Owen and Elspeth Christianson, who have studied Viking-age Norway for nearly 40 years, built the longhouse in 2011-2012 near Marshfield, Wis.
Students camped overnight and some slept in the longhouse, others in tents. They enjoyed an evening campfire and a pre-modern tradition — storytelling. Owen shared tales of the Vinland Sagas, which describe the Viking voyages to Labrador, Canada in the early 11th century.
The students studied two specific areas of Viking history, clothing in Viking-age Greenland and woodworking.
Hands-on opportunities included medieval weaving, including metal weaving, and blacksmithing — creating their own s-hooks used for hanging pots over the fire. Some students spread daub (a mixture of clay, sand and straw) over the walls of the Viking-era latrine. They also prepared all of the food: apple-onion-bacon stew, porridge and flat bread (recipes from the Viking Age with ingredients available to medieval Scandinavians).
“The teamwork, mixed with the learning of the Viking culture, gave me an awesome positive feeling I’ve rarely felt on these things,” said student Kelsey Schulz. “Instead of a classic lecture students were able to have a first hand experience about the everyday life in the pre-modern world.”
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