In medieval Iceland, lawspeakers remembered the laws of their society by heart. They used this knowledge to resolve disputes at the thing. In the course of the Middle Ages, however, laws were written down. Now, it turns out that the scribes thought carefully about the process. About which parchment to use for law texts to avoid falsification. New research shows that they chose the parchment that is the hardest to scratch and thus, to remove text from! The academic article is in Open Access (see below), but there is also an fine read on Science News. Doherty, S.P., Henderson, S., Fiddyment, S. et al., ‘Scratching the surface: the use of sheepskin parchment to deter textual erasure in early modern legal deeds.’ in: Heritage Science Volume 9.29 (2021). doi.org/10.1186/s40494-021-00503-6.
A few times, stave churches appeared on this web site, such as here Dating Stave Churches in Norway. Today, I noticed a really good article on Atlas Obscura (reblogged on Viking Archaeology Blog) how people are currently trying to preserve these historical churches for the future. Why and how these old techniques are re-used today, is also mentioned on Science Norway and stavechurch.com.
The boat burials of Valsgärde, Sweden, might be slightly before the Viking Age. But you’ll see them mentioned a lot in various articles on this site. A recent study reveals that the warriors in these burials were resting on feather beds. Read more: Birgitta Berglund and Jørgen Rosvold, ‘Microscopic identification of feathers from 7th century boat burials at Valsgärde in Central Sweden: Specialized long-distance feather trade or local bird use?’ in: Journal of Archeaological Science: Reports (Volume 36, 2021).
This is an excellent article by HistoryExtra on, among other things, migration patterns in the Viking Age. This is a great summing up of the latest research and insights. Read it here: ‘Vikings under the microscope: what can science tell us about Viking life?‘
This week, part of a Roman road is discovered in Belgium (see The Bulletin). As I’m more and more interested in the infrastructure of the Viking Age, I’m also keeping a close eye on any information about the Roman road network. Did people in the Viking Age still use the old Roman roads, or did they develop their own, new roads? How did this work?
Here is an article that makes you aware why it is necessary to keep a critical mind about what you see and read on the web and social media. The title is “‘Fake history’: hunting down false facts about the past“.