Facebook can be useful. Someone just posted a link to the Archeology Data Service site where they list English Heritage monographs that have been made into free PDFs. This one about Yeavering caught my eye.
There is a lot of information in it and I’ve only had a chance to flip through, but any mention of Edwin or Paulinus made me think, “Hey, I know those guys!”
Thanks for writing about Hild. Between my interest in medieval stuff (and playing in the SCA for 20 years), and working as a metalsmith in a studio where we dabble in forensic metalsmithing, your book inspires me to dig more into things Anglo-Saxon.
I skimmed the Hope-Taylor, long ago. Fascinating stuff. But I didn’t have it. Now I do. Yay! Thanks for that.
Yeavering is a most interesting place. It strikes me as out of character for Edwin. He seemed to prefer low-lying areas of rich countryside, close to water. This is the top of a hill. But Bede and the archaeology agree: this was a big, important site during his reign.
In Hild I posit that it’s basically a traditional ceremonial place of the British: a hillfort where tribes came for the annual cattle render to their lord in spring. This was taken over by the Angles a generation or two ago (by Æthelfrith? before that? I don’t know) and maintained in order to keep the local populace in their place. I’ve followed Hope-Tayor’s interpretations of the material evidence, mostly. Those interpretations are agreed with—to a degree—by many.
Yeavering was destroyed, deliberately. I’ll say no more of that here because for those that don’t know their Bede, or the archæological evidence, it could be a big spoiler for Menewood (working title).
But for how it might have been at the height of Edwin’s rule, you could do worse than watch this brief animation of the sparrow’s flight above and through the site of Yeavering. It’s crude, very old-school, but I love it.
And one of these days, should you be so inclined, I’d love to hear more about the metalsmithing.
One thought on “Yeavering: the evidence”
Thanks for sharing the Yeavering link!
I work for Ildanach Studios with Master Metalsmith Curtis Rowland. We do mostly wholesale recycled copper jewelry, but sometimes we get to play with special commissions or personal projects. Old techniques are better and more personal than high-tech, in our opinion. The studio is full of hammers, anvils, mandrels, sunlight and music.
About the forensic metalsmithing – we research how something was made and try to recreate it with the same techniques and materials. It’s kind of taking research papers and archeological suppositions to a practical, tangible level.
For instance, the technique for making the fancy foils on the Sutton Hoo helmet and on mead horns is called Pressblech. We’ve made master dies of medieval and modern designs by carving waxes. Then we cast them in bronze and hammered out the designs in thin copper, bronze or silver.
Another project a couple years ago had to do with studying and recreating 18th century European craftsmen’s apron hooks. I read about them on a wood-working blog (Lost Art Press) and contacted the owner saying I could make him one. I ended up designing two and selling them at the Woodworking in America conference. Obscure market, but fun.
Last spring, we cast reproductions of Roman coins for a writer-friend to hand out to fans at Cons. The coin is significant in one of her book series.
My latest project (still in the thinking and dreaming about it phase) is to make a better handle and fittings for my new longseax. The blade is beautiful, Damascus steel, but the simple handle is plain poplar and not at all flattering.
(Shameless plug: Ildanach Studios – Loveland, CO
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