Schools Activities page
Here we have a number of items which schools have asked us for. Let us know if you have any specific request which we might be able to fulfil.
1. INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING COMBAT BRAID
Combat braiding is a fun way to make a strong colourful braid for edging and fastening clothes together. It can also be used for tying back hair, and as string on which to hang valuable items. So far as we know it has been mostly found in Viking contexts, but the Anglo-Saxons seem to have used it also.
Tools and materials
A hook or some similar fixing on a frame, about 2 metres off the ground.
2 braiders (enthusiastic young folk work best)
4 beanbags or sandbags in (say) two different colours, small enough to fit comfortably in the hands of the braiders.
Thick (double knit or chunky) wool in various natural matching colours. (Don't use mixtures or synthetics, we find they stretch too far)
Pure wool is ideal.
Cut 2 lengths of wool of different colours approx. 1.5 metres in length.
Tie ends of each length onto bags of the same colour.
Fold the wool in half to find the middles. Tie a small loop in the middles, and then hang them up on the hook. (bags should now be hanging at the same level).
The braiders face each other on either side of the frame and agree which colour to throw first
Swing one bag across the front of your body to the opposite hand of your partner, Remember to transfer the other bag you hold across to your other hand. Next time your partner does the same to you.
It is possible to change the order of swinging the bags just to see what patterns it produces.
Keep going until all the lengths of wool are used up.
Tie off the end, and decide what you want to use the "string" for.
2. SOME BASIC RULES for HNEFETAFL
There seem to have been a variety of rules for different variations of this game. Its an older relative of the game of chess. You can develop your own variations. The main thing is that both players follow the same rules!
Hnefetafl is quite a complex game for two players, “attackers” and “defenders”. The game is known in Scandinavia in about 400AD.The name we know it by is Norse. The Anglo Saxons had a very complex variant with boards 19 x 19 squares. Most had 7, 9 or 11 squares. The centre and corner squares are reserved for the King alone. (Any piece next to these squares can be hemmed in by other pieces and the empty square). Players take turns. The attackers have a larger army than the defenders. On a 9 x 9 board Attackers have 24 pieces, Defenders have 8 (plus King).
All pieces move like rooks (castles) in chess, i.e. vertically and horizontally, and any distance, but not diagonally. It is not permitted to jump over other pieces or stand on same square. Pieces are taken by hemming them in on two opposite sides, except for the king which needs 4 pieces to hem him in. The Attackers win by hemming in the king so he can’t move. The Defenders win when the king reaches a corner square.
Placing pieces; Attackers line up at the edges of the board on all four sides (excluding corners). Defenders line up surrounding the King in the centre square, but with extras in the central line at top and bottom of board.
Take turns at Attacking and Defending. The strategy needed for successfully playing each side is different.
For a board, use any flat surface. A piece of plain A4 paper ruled off in squares will do. For gaming pieces let your imagination and creativity loose. We use stones of two different colours and similar sizes gathered on the beach, plus one piece of an additional colour and texture to denote the King.
Google the "Lewis Chessmen" to see how fine some medieval gaming pieces could be.
3. LEARN ANGLO-SAXON
What do we know? Anglo Saxon is also known as Old English. We speak “modern” English to each other. See how many Old English words you can recognise.
Those blessed with a Northumbrian or Geordie accent will make more authentic "double vowel" or "dipthong" sounds. These are probably the nearest modern descendants of the sound of Anglo-Saxon. If you aren't blessed, listen to Ruth on the Radio 4 programme "the Archers". She may not have the most attractive North East accent, but you can hear it twice a day without having to hunt the airwaves for Radio Newcastle.
Days of the week
Monandaeg – day of the moon
Tiwesdaeg - Day of Tiw, a god of war and the sky
Wodnesdaeg - day of Woden, a god of war, wisdom and poetry
Thunresdaeg - day of Thunor, the god of thunder, sky and weather
Frigesdaeg - day of Frig (Freya), the goddess of love and fertility
Saeturnesdaeg - day of the planet Saturn
Sunnandaeg - day of the sun
Now it gets a bit more difficult
Months of the year
Aeftere Giuli - Yuletide or January, which was the first month of the year
Solmonath - month of cakes (or mud) - February
Hrethmonath - month of the goddess Hretha – March
Eosturmonath - month of the goddess Eostre – April
Thrimilci - month when cows were milked 3 times a day – May
Erra Litha - the season when the sea was calm enough to travel on – June and
Aeftere Litha - July
Weodmonath - month of weeds – August
Haligmonath - holy month - September
Wintirfyllith - winter-full - October
Blodmonath - month of blood (when animals were killed for food) – November
Erra Guili - Yuletide – December (and January)
Godne daeg god aefen godne mergen wes thu hal eala
Hlaford Hlafdige min deorling ic bidde the ic thoncie the
Hwonne cymst thu hider eft? Welcumen na yea sooth unsooth
Sumer is icumen in
An endleafon an ond twentig feowertig
Twegen (twa) twelf twegen ond twentig fiftig
Thrie thrietiene [etc] siextig
Feower feowertiene hundseofontig
Fif [etc] hundeahtatig
Seofon hund, hundred
Tien twentig thritig
(Note “g” is usually pronounced “y” as in “yes”)
Anglo Saxon Military Commands
Aweccan = Come to Attention (awaken!)
Nimath Wepon = Shoulder arms
Reareth wepon = Ready weapon (with a shout to frighten the enemy)
Gangeth Forth = Advance (Walk on)(in good order)
Forth Rinnath = Run Forwards (at the double)
On Raes = Charge!
Gangeth on baec = Withdraw (in good order)
Winstren = left
Swithren = right
On winstren wendath = turn left
On swithren wendath = turn right
Wendath on baec = about turn
Trimmiath on Winstren = Trim(tidy) the line to the left
In twa (thrie) reawas filciath = Form up in two(three) rows
Standeth fast = Stand fast (prepare to receive charge)
Steppan = one step forward
Sittath adune = sit down
Stand up = Astandath
Standath = Halt
Standath softie = At ease