Donnerstag, 28. Mai 2015

The megalithic tomb at Münzenberg

It is hard to describe this. After a great weekend at Münzenberg re-enactment fair we decided we wanted to visit the "Heiliger Stein" megalithic tomb near the village of Münzenberg. This is not just an archaeological site to us, but a very special place. I do not want to bore you out with energetic place jibberish and esoterics. But I guess the pictures DO talk.
Before we made for the short bimble towards the ancient tomb, the site of a mass burial, we had a bit of an orientation at the trailhead.
All was silent except for the wind in the grass  and the cry of a buzzard above.

The sky was high and it felt like the ground came up to greet us.

Bugloss (anchusa, in German: Ochsenzunge). You can use the root for dyeing wool and bone.
A scenic view towards Münzenberg castle.

Then we came to the hill and the tomb lay before us.

Near the site grew this hawthorn. Seemed appropriate to me ;-).

We all had different ways of asking that place. Erich and Danuta simply enjoyed each other´s company and were in for some sightseeing. Daniela was enthused and joyful about the fact that there are places like this in Germany and simply stood there enjoying the vibrant energy of the place, as the magic troll and I did. When the others had already made for the way to the car, we left a flower and a rock there, a poem and a thought. Two brown partridges passed by. A falcon flew by. There were spirals and meanders of light and power emanating through us. We held each others hand and simply enjoyed the silence and peace.
We left the place. We will be back.

Battle, science, friendship and love: #Münzenberg reenactment fair 2015

It is a traditional family event: Each year at Münzenberg castle, around Whitsuntide, we visit the re-enactment fair, where the axe hits the helmet and so many nice people meet. The magic troll is somewhat of our attire chancellor;-) and took care we all were geared up adequately;-).
The castle of Münzenberg dates back to the medieval ages and impressively overtowers the city and the surrounding landscape. What is most impressive, however, is the view we had from the highway: A massive amount of radiantly white tents spotted the hillside. And there´s a story with a morale. Let´s start it like this:

Once upon a time in a land far and far away, as far as the region of Wetterau, there was a small re-enactment fair. It was not a big one, but with a pedigree of quality, and it was beautifully situated in an ancient castle. The people who made it had fun organizing it, it was a meeting point of many different friendly people, and brought money to the commune of Münzenberg, and many a visitor. The pubs and restaurants prospered, and all would be good.

But there was a directive of fire prevention lurking in the darkness, and whetted its fangs. And there was a clerk doing its bide. So the fair was first subject to many very absurd trials and stipulations, and then, it suddenly became questionable if it could take place at all.

But this was not taking into account interhuman solidarity in the re-enactment community. They just rolled up their sleeves and organized the fair on private ground. Triple the size every year.

No fee for the community, but an event that draws ever more attention, and a clerk who is laughed and mocked at.
My beloved gave me a new tunic and some Thorsberg pants in a beautiful colour combination, and I can´t thank her enough for all she does for me. But I guess we do all we do to each other for each other. And I just love her. Period....;-)
We were a bunch of strange and quality people just to start with: Daniela, a friend of ours, Erich and Danuta. Thanks to "da fatha";-) for driving us around and the quality time!
On Saturday the place was not that crowded, but a lot of people still.

Many, many booths were inviting our inspiration.

Knives, of course...
But also very quality fittings. I will make some of those Birka box fittings soon!
Hand-Forged pans anyone?
The place was full of atmospheric booths.
And colours and weird and wonderful things like this not quite period steampunk boar;-).
We loved that green possibles pouch made out of an Aga toad, and the knives were aall made out of Damascus.
Felt caps-well made and bargain priced...
On one booth we found a load of arcane chi-chi, but extremely well - made and refreshingly weird.
Shillelaghs and wood spirit hiking staffs... it´s becoming an obsession!
...not so wood-spirit, but still;-P...
....nice ideas galore!

Amulets made from real materials, no polypropylene here!

Wood and copper, burl and stone, bone and antler...

..wand and cross and stone and amulet..
..wayward, wild and wonderful...
weird and classy,
glassy rock crystal,
...and then towards one of the smithies, Kovex ars.

Art wherever you looked.

Browsing the aisles makes one build up an appetite, so off to the tavern to meet with quality people again. Good food was in abundance those days, roast pig and cheese noodles, and Jurgen, the tavern´s landlord contributed with his delicious dark ale, wine and fresh grape juice. Dude, it was three days of feasting-thank you for it!
Erich and Danuta were contributing a lot to the very cozy atmosphere.
After the meal we fetched us some Arabian mokka and some sweet morsels at the Dattelschlepper´s.
I guess he does a bit more for intercultural ambassy than many imams...;-)
Enter the weirdos... Kauz and friends played a match of Bruchenball, a predecessor to football that seems a bit strange to modern spectators but still was a lot of fun to watch.

Then we were in for a real sport..

In the fighter´s lounge the athletes prepared for their matches, putting on their armour.

Situated nearby was the booth of Adam and his friend from We had a chat and some nice blacksmith´s tech talk. Adam is the one making that high-quality plate armour. He cold-forges the armour from spring steel and tempers the steel to about 38 - 45 HRC, making for a good compromise between flexibility and resistance to chipping. Durable plate armour is a matter of survival in full-contact blade sports. You would not want your armour to break in the fights!
I was very fond of the blades on display, too. They are, for the most part, made from plain but very sensible spring steel. selectively hardened.
The walking hatchets (Ciupaga, Sokyra or Fokós) were either made from spring steel or three-layer laminate.
Also a great approach was this leather-covered lorica segmentata.
I was very fond of this Hurbuck - style seax. Spring steel with a selective temper.
Another seax out of Damascus, saw steel and rebar.
..and a dagger out of the same steel.
Adam proudly presenting the works of his friend.
Dude, forgot your name, but it was a jolly meeting! Hope to see you in Solingen!
While the fighters were gearing up...
...we met this guy who asked us where the toilet was.
Looks like a good time? ;-D
...daresay it was!!!:-)

At Silke´s booth we came across a load of lovely, hand-made lanterns, hand-painted and lovingly made.

Silke sold them for 45€, which is waaaaaaayyy too cheap for the amount of craftsmanship!
Then it was off again to the fights. Look here for an impression of the 2014 battles. This is not a stage show!

 It was very atmospheric to have the opportunity to watch the preparations, and while this might look as if there are some bullies on a rampage, it is actually a sport. I am fascinated, of course, but not necessarily by the violence. It is way easier to teach a child to solve quarrels and arguments by talking if you can show her or him what the alternative is. It is somewhat funny that reenactor´s kids tend to be quite calm and able to take responsibility and to solve problems non-violently, while many so-called "normal" visitor´s kids are more of a catastrophe to say the least. We encountered one hysterically squeaking and thrashing around wildly just because of excitement. No reenactor´s kid we met did that. It´s not a theory, but an observation.
The fights were illustrating one fact: That it is not that easy to even observe what is happening. In a real fight there is little to no eloquence and no romantics at all. It´s strike or get struck. Violently. Swords and axes simply broke, armour dented and was torn off. One axe broke along the blade, simply cracked right up to the eye! Fighters used two handed axe blows to the head to bring down the opponent, and the sound of screaming metal was almost too much to bear. So much for romanticism of a battle or dual combat.
Those gaols and guys charged full-tilt at each other. What was most intriguing, however, that when not whacking the whatnot out of each other, they treated each other with respect, almost care. Many of them suffered from the severe blows their opponent dealt them, and their opponent was  the first to help them! Be it removing the helmet or just handing over some water, or helping them get up, they helped each other, and even if they hit each other hard, the back area was a place of many hugs and gentle talk. Funny.

On Monday, there was a whole different aspect of re-enactment to experience, and one you do not see that often. Andrej tutored passers-by on medieval mathematics and architecture.
He offered very detailed insight into medieval bookholding techniques and calculation techniques.
Reenacting the late medieval period before Renaissance, his presentation was of extremely high quality, from the buttons up.
He demonstrated the techniques of medieval masonry masters in construction and geometry with the knotted rope.
He also gave literary founding to his presentation, which is a very agreeable deviation from the norm.
Here he refers to the "Buchlein von der Fialen Gerechtigkeit" (Matthias Roritzer, Trier 1486).
He also hinted of the book of Adam Riese and referred to the Geometria Sacra. We also talked about Peter Johnsson´s theory of the application of geometry in sword construction, and while he was not agreed, he begged to differ with actual arguments, not polemics. This is definitely enough stuff for many different posts and discussions, suffice to say for now that to say I was inspired would not do the discussion any justice. He illustrated that medieval society was everything but primitive.
He had this chest made from mountain pinion. This is a detail of a "rather primitive" medieval lock he demoed.
Hidden pivots anyone?

This chest would have been found in a farmhouse, and would have been deemed rather primitive;-).

When we got home, we had a nice supper and a beer and relished in a day of many great impressions and an event that quite certainly will see us back!

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