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Viking Age Fire-Steels and Strike-A-Lights

Dear Viking Answer Lady:

How did the Vikings start their fires? OK, a fairly basic question but essential for cooking, heating, surviving!

(signed) Hot To Know!

Gentle Reader:

Since matches did not become available until the mid-1800's, prior to that time people had to make fires in other ways. The two most common methods of fire-making before the advent of matches were friction and percussion.

The friction method is the one that most people think of when they consider primitive fire-starting. The classic stereotype is the ancient man rubbing two sticks together, although actual friction fire-starting used methods such as drilling (twirling a stick in a pre-prepared hole on another piece of wood, using the hands for the motion or a bow to twirl the "drill"), or the fire-plow (a hardwood stick is rubbed back and forth in a groove in a softwood board). The Old Norse language contains evidence that the fire-drill was known and used. There are two words in Old Icelandic that specifically refer to fire-drills. The first is bragð-alr "twirling-awl", used in Iceland for making fire, and the second is bragðals-eldr, the term for a fire produced using a bragð-alr. The word bragð has a fundamental notion of "a sudden motion", but also, especially in sports, it has the sense of "a trick or strategem," and the use of a bow-and-drill to make fire is certainly a clever trick. Since friction-method fire-making equipment is generally made up of wood and fiber, which don't survive well in archaeological contexts, the language clues can be the only source of information about this technology.

Percussion fire-starting is the method that seems most commonly to have been in use in the Viking Age: it certainly is the only one that leaves good traces in the archaeological record. This method utilizes a piece of high-carbon steel and flint (or other hard stone that experiences conchoidal fracturing to produce sharp edges, including quartz, quartzite, chert) plus a flammable substance that will ignite with a low-temperature spark and hold the ember well.

Exciting new evidence from Sweden has provided evidence that burning glasses made of lathe-turned rock crystal may also have been used to make fire.

Fire-Steels and Strike-A-Lights

The first ingredient for Viking Age fire-making is the steel. Steel fire-strikers are called fire-steels or strike-a-lights. Fire-steels are a very common type of personal equipment throughout the Viking Age, appearing occasionally in female graves, but most commonly accompanying male burials (Koch). The fire-steel was a piece of personal equipment, which could be carried hanging from a belt or in a pouch with other fire-making equipment (Roesdahl, From Viking to Crusader, Catalog #61, p. 244).

There are two major types of firesteels evident in Viking Age archaeological contexts. The first type are found throughout Scandinavia, and have a basic C-shape, often with the ends curled in an ornate spiral. Most also have a thicker "hump" on the inside surface of the long side. This type of fire-steel allows the user to hold it in the hand with the long, straight edge facing outward to strike the flint, while protecting the fingers and providing a good grip. This same basic type of C-shaped fire-steel continued in use until the development of matches, although the curled ends and the "hump" are distinctive features of the Viking Age examples.

Some Examples of C-Shaped Fire-Steels from the Viking Age

Fire Steel from Berge - Borgund parish - Norway
Fire Steel from Berge, Borgund parish, Norway

Fire-Steels from Århus, Søndervold, Jylland, Denmark
Fire-Steels from Århus, Søndervold, Jylland, Denmark

Viking Age Fire Steel from Keava hill-fort - Estonia
Viking Age Fire Steel from Keava Hill-Fort, Estonia

Viking Age Fire Steel From Raisio - Ihala - Mulli abode - Finland
Viking Age Fire Steel From Raisio, Ihala, Mulli Abode, Finland

Fire-Steel from Kangsala, Juvenius, Finland
Fire-Steel from Kangsala, Juvenius, Finland

Birka Grave 139 - Fire-Steel
Birka Grave 139 - Fire-Steel

Birka Grave 925 - Fire-Steel
Birka Grave 925 - Fire-Steel

Birka Grave 727 - Fire-Steel
Birka Grave 727 - Fire-Steel

Birka Grave 872 - Fire-Steel
Birka Grave 872 - Fire-Steel

Birka Grave 750 - Firesteel and X-Ray Showing Actual Structure Under Corrosion
Birka Grave 750 - Firesteel and X-Ray Showing Actual Structure Under Corrosion

The second major type of fire-steel found in the Viking Age is one influenced by Eastern Baltic art. Some have been found in West Scandinavia, where they represent imports. The eastern type of firesteel has an ornate handle, usually of bronze, with a flat plate of steel attached at the bottom edge. The bronze handle many times represents two mounted figures, facing away from one another, although when less-skilled metalworkers copied this fashion the copies often became much less distinguishable. These fire-steels are used along with a long, narrow striking stone, and stones found with these often show a pronounced groove down which the steel was slid to create sparks.

Some Examples of Eastern-Type Fire-Steels from the Viking Age

Fire-Steel with Figures of Mounted Riders - Viking Age - Sweden
Fire-Steel with Figures of Mounted Riders from Sweden

Bronze and Iron Fire-Steel from Eura, Luistari, Finland
Bronze and Iron Fire-Steel from Eura, Luistari, Finland

Bronze and Iron Fire-Steel from Flemma, Tingvoll, Nordmark, Norway. Only the handle has survived.
Bronze and Iron Fire-Steel from Flemma, Tingvoll, Nordmark, Norway. Only the handle has survived.

Birka Grave 644 - 10th century Fire-Steel

Reproduction of 10th c. Fire-Steel from Birka, length 5.4 cm.

Birka Grave 644 - 10th century Fire-Steel (left), with Reproduction (right)

Striking Stones Used in the Viking Age

Old Norse has a term for striking-stones used in fire-making. Such a stone was called eld-tinna, "fire-flint, flint with which to strike fire."

Viking Age Striking-Stones

Viking Age West Scandinavian Fire-Steel Plus Striking Stone Showing Groove
Viking Age West Scandinavian Fire-Steel Plus Striking Stone Showing Groove

Eastern-Type Mounted Horsemen Fire-Steel from Tuna in Alsike, Uppland
Whetstone-like Striking-Stone with Groove Showing Use
Eastern-Type "Mounted Horsemen" Fire-Steel and Striking-Stone with Groove from Tuna in Alsike, Uppland

Feeding the Spark

When a fire-steel is used to create a spark, this spark has to be made to land on a substance which is readily flammable and which will hold the ember produced long enough for the fire-maker to start feeding tinder and building the spark into a fire. The 18th century method, and one used by buckskinners and recreationists today, is to use charcloth. Charcloth is cloth that has been made into charcoal. It is heated at high temperature in the absence of oxygen to drive off flammable solids in the form of gas, leaving a black cloth which catches and holds a spark, smoldering with a hot ember rather than flaming.

To make charcloth, a fire-proof, airtight container such as a can with a tight-fitting lid is needed. A small hole (1/16 inch) is made in the lid to allow gasses produced in the process to escape. Any natural fiber cloth can be used for charcloth, including linen or cotton. Small pieces (2" square or so) are prepared and placed inside the can to fill it loosely. Then the can is placed in an open fire. As the can heats, gases or smoke will begin to escape from the hole in the lid, and may even catch fire from time to time. When smoke stops coming from the hole, the can should be removed and allowed to cool completely. Opening the can while it is still hot may result in a rush of oxygen that can cause the hot cloth to burst into flame, and should be avoided. The completed charcloth should be black, but still fairly sturdy.

Other substances may also be charred and used as the spark-catching platform, including small pieces of "punky" or slightly rotten wood. In the Viking Age, apparently the preferred substance was called hnjóskr or fnjóskr, which is usually translated as "touchwood". Touchwood has a wide variety of names, but is technically a fungus of the Polyporus or Boletus family, especially Fomes fomentarius, Polyporus fomentarius or Boletus chirurgorum. Other terms used for this substance are amadou, punk, surgeon's agaric or oak agaric.

The touchwood fungus is shaped somewhat like a horse's foot, with a diameter of from 6 to 10 inches. It is soft like velvet when young, but afterwards becomes hard and woody. It usually rests immediately upon the bark of the tree, without any supporting foot-stalk. On the upper surface, it is smooth, but marked with circular ridges of different colours, more or less brown or blackish. On the under surface, it is whitish or yellowish and full of small pores; internally, it is fibrous, tough and of a tawny brown colour. It is composed of short, tubular fibres, compactly arranged in layers, one of which is added every year.

Touchwood was collected in Europe in August and September, chiefly from oak and beech, the best being from oak. The substance was then prepared for use by removing the exterior rind and cutting the inner part into thin slices, which were washed first in weak alkali, then in water and then beaten with a hammer and worked until they become a soft, pliable felt-like material that could be easily torn by the fingers. For making tinder, the felt-like material was charred in exactly the same way that charcloth is made, and then soaked in "strong urine" where it was boiled for several days. Urine contains sodium nitrate, which is very similar to the potassium nitrate ("saltpeter") found in gunpowder. The difference is that sodium nitrate tends to be more hygroscopic (absorbs moisture more readily) than saltpeter.

The charred "felt" made from touchwood can be kept smoldering with very little heat. It is thought to have been used to transport fire from one place to another before matches were invented. It was certainly in use in Neolithic times, and was one of the substances that the "Iceman" carried with him. The Iceman (sometimes called Oetzi) is an incredibly well-preserved 5,000 year old Neolithic man found in 1991 in a glacier near the border of Austria and Italy. In his pouch was a black felt-like substance that upon examination proved to be touchwood. Also in this pouch were "several small sharpened flint stones, a small drill-like piece of flint, and slender bone-tool" - an early fire-making kit. Volk observes, "The fungus must have been very important to the Iceman for him to carry it in a special pouch for such a long distance" (Volk; Peintner et al. 1998).

There is an interesting mention of touchwood in Eiríks saga rauða ch. 4:

En er hon kom um kueldit ok sá maðr, er ímóti henni var sendr, þá var hon suá búin, at hon hafði yfir sér tuglamöttul blán, ok var settr steinum alt í skaut ofan; hon hafði á hálsi sér gler-tölur. Hon hafði á höfði lambskinns-kofra suartan ok við innan kattarskinn huítt; Staf hafði hon í hendi, ok var á knappr; hann var búinn messingu ok settr steinum ofan um knappinn; hon hafði um sik hniósku-linda, ok var á skióðu-pungr mikill; varðveitti hon þar í taufr, þau er hon þurfti til fróðleiks at hafa.

(A high-seat was prepared for her and a cushion laid under her; that was stuffed with hen-feathers. She came in the evening with the man who had been sent to meet her, then she was dressed like this, so that she had a blue mantle fastened with straps, and stones were set all in the flap above; on her neck she had glass beads, a black lambskin hood on her head with white catskin inside; and she had a staff in her hand with a knob on it; it was made with brass and stones were set above in the knob; she had a belt of touchwood, and on it was a large skin pouch, and there she kept safe her talismans which she needed to get knowledge.)

It is unknown whether the touchwood belt described here was intended for use in firemaking, or possibly uncharred and kept as a medicinal (the material is an excellent styptic, used to staunch bleeding), or whether this is another fantastic element in the costume of the prophetess, for touchwood will sometimes glow with luminescence when decaying.

While true touchwood does not grow in North America, apparently other shelf-fungi from birch trees will work as well. Experimentation with various tree fungi, using the preparation methods described for touchwood, should determine which fungi in your local area will work best.

Fire-Making Kits

Fire-steels are not usually found in isolation: they are almost always accompanied by pieces of flint, and are often packaged together with both flint and tinder in a small leather pouch as a fire-making kit (Koch; Raisio Archaeology Archive). In Old Norse these kits are termed eld-virki "fire-worker, fire-making kit, tinder-box".

Fire-Starting Using Flint and Steel

The term in Old Norse for percussion fire-making is drepa upp eld, from the verb drepa, "to stike, beat, knock; to produce by a blow or blows", thus drepa upp eld is "to strike up a fire."

True flint and steel fire starting is a low temperature method of spark-based fire starting. This means that the orange-colored sparks generated by steel on stone are cooler than the white hot sparks generated by modern, ferrocerium-based sparking tools often sold in sporting goods stores or by the Boy Scouts. To start a fire using the Viking Age flint and steel method, you need flint or a hard stone, steel and tinder.

Not all steels work: high carbon steels, tool steels and knife steels will work if tempered or case-hardened. The steel does not have to be in the classic "C" shape of most Viking steels, though this is a handy configuration that ensures a good grip and protects the fingers on the striking hand.

When you strike a spark, you are shaving tiny pieces off the steel with the sharp edge of the flint. The sparks come from the steel, not the flint. When flint (silicon dioxide) is struck against steel, it is hard enough to detach particles from the surface of the steel. The friction energy of the strike is enough to heat these steel particles so that they burn in atmospheric oxygen to form Fe3O4, the grey oxide which used to be called "smithy scale." The harder the steel, the smaller, and hotter, the pieces will be. The sharper the flint, the more sparks result. Old steel files are said to be excellent steels for percussion fire-making.

To use this method, experienced percussion fire-makers make a small "nest" of tinder, which can be a variety of easily-flammable materials, such as flax tow, shredded hemp rope, dry grass, shredded fibrous tree-bark (very often juniper bark for the Vikings), etc. This "nest" should be about the size of a hen's egg, and should be both dry and near to hand. The actual fire should be laid with small kindling, ready to have the burning tinder "nest" inserted into it.

Although most modern flint-and-steel fire-makers strike the steel with the flint, apparently in the Viking Age the actual method was to strike with the steel in the dominant hand. In the opposite hand, the flint is held, with the touchwood or charcloth held on the top of the flint, near the edge. To create a spark, strike down the flint with the steel at a shallow angle, using short, choppy strokes. Sparks fly up in this method, and lodge on the charcloth or touchwood above. Once a spark catches in the char and an area of red ember begins to develop in it, drop the steel and gently tilt the char up into the "nest" of tinder, and begin to blow on it gently, perhaps holding it in such a way that the smoke won't choke or blind you. Once the tinder bursts into flame, place it under your kindling and proceed building up your fire as you would with any other fire-making method.

One refinement on this technique suggested by B. E. Spencer ("Making Fire with Flint and Steel") is to add a candle to your fire-making kit:

"Nothing is more frustrating than doing a good, woodsmanlike job of getting a flame in your tinder on a cold, wet day when you are really looking forward to that fire, and then not being able to get damp kindling to catch. A simple trick can avoid this problem. Carry a candle in your kit. As soon as that tinder bursts into flame, light the candle, then proceed. In case the kindling is stubborn, hold the candle flame to it, and it will catch. A steady flame over a long time will succeed when the short duration flame of the tinder will not."

Fire-Starting Using a Fire-Drill

As mentioned above, our best evidence for Viking Age friction-based fire-starting comes from terms surviving in Old Icelandic texts that specifically refer to fire-drills: bragð-alr, "twirling-awl", and bragðals-eldr, "a fire produced using a bragð-alr".

It is certainly possible to make a fire using nothing but a rounded, dowel-like stick (the drill) and a flat piece of wood with a notch cut into one side (the hearth-board). The drill is placed at the point of the "V" notched in the hearth-board, then twirled rapidly between the hands to produce friction at the drill point against the hearth-board. Eventually, charred sawdust begins to be formed, the hearth-board chars beneath the dust, and, with enough persistence and friction, eventually a coal forms from the hearth-board wood and drops down through the V-notch, beneath which tinder is waiting.

The serious drawback to the hand-twirling method of firemaking is that it's extremely laborious. It also can blister the hands, since a constant downward pressure has to be maintained on the drill, and the drill has to be twirled with a high enough speed to create the coal. An early refinement on this technique was to have two or more people work cooperatively to achieve the fire: twirlers can trade off as they become tired, and the person not twirling can apply downwards pressure on the drill by using a piece of stone or wood held down against the top of the drill (a "socket").

Many early fire-makers learned to further improve the fire-drill by adding mechanical advantage to the technique. This was done by use of a bow. A fire-bow is similar to the type of bow used in archery. The cord of the fire-bow has a loop made in the center, through which the drill is placed, and the bottom end of the drill is placed against the notch in the hearth-board. Now the fire-maker holds pressure down against the top of the drill with a socket, and by "sawing" the bow back and forth twirls the drill rapidly. The fire-bow greatly improves the process of friction-based firestarting, since the twirling stroke is now much longer, one person can both twirl the drill rapidly while still holding downwards pressure on the drill, and less effort is needed to produce the fire.

Fire-Starting Using a Burning Glass

Archaeologists have discovered rock crystal optical lenses, along with unworked rock crystal, half finished beads, and well-made faceted beads, in Gotland, Sweden, including at the Viking harbor town of Fröjel. These lenses are believed to have been produced in Gotland by turning on a pole lathe. The rock crystal is thought to have been imported into Scandinavia, possibly brought from the area around the Black Sea.


Rock Crystal Lenses from the Viking Harbor Town of Fröjel, Gotland in Sweden.

Scientists investigating the elliptical lenses were startled to find that these Viking lenses give an imaging quality comparable to that of 1950's aspheric lenses:

"In the light of these results we must rethink our ideas on optical knowledge in the Middle Ages." said Olaf Schmidt from the Aalen University of Applied Science. "It seems that elliptical lens design was invented much earlier than we thought. Then the knowledge was lost for nearly a millennium." (Oliver Graydon, "Medieval Lenses Exhibit Modern Performances")


Lens from the 11th to 12th century, with light path analysis

As can be seen in the diagram above, this type of lens enormously concentrates light, making it quite effective as a burning glass. It is thought that such lenses were used to burn out wounds, light fires and serve as magnifiers for craftsmen.

According to archaeologist Dan Carlsson:

"... it is very clear now that raw material of rock crystal has been imported to Fröjel, to be used for making both faceted beads and obviously also rock crystal lenses. This kind of lenses were used mounted into necklaces, but they could also have been used both for burning lenses and for magnifying glasses. Where they got the raw material is still a matter of discussion, but probably got if from the area around the Black Sea." (Carlsson, Fröjel Excavation Report 7, 18th of August 1999)


Diagram Showing Use of Rock Crystal Lens to Start Fire

Fire-starting using a rock crystal lens, as with any type of burning glass, relies upon the light of the sun. Lenses which are thicker at the center than at the border, such as these Viking Age rock crystal lenses, have the property of concentrating solar light to a very small, hot point. This property can be used to light fire to wood and other combustible material. Dark nights and dreary, overcast days would require other methods of fire-starting.

Borrowing the Power of the Thunder God

That fire-making was important in Viking society is certainly undeniable. For cooking, for warmth, for light, the fire was an indispensable part of civilization. It is unsurprising, as a result, that we find the fire-steel has a religious context as well as its practical one.

One aspect of this religious focus appears as small amulets in the shape of a fire-steel found in graves, often with Þórr's Hammer amulets:

The mystery still winds itself around these tools, for there are small amulets shaped as fire-steels, found in sets together with amulets in the shape of Thor's hammer Mjølnir (see Skalk 1971:3). As the god of thunder, Thor was ruling the lightning. The man who struck the fire [borrowed] a little of his power (Koch).

Viking Age Bronze Fire Steel Amulet from Sweden
Viking Age Bronze Fire Steel Amulet from Sweden

According to Finnish folklore, "fire-steels contained magical powers. They were used in spells with which e.g. evil supernatural powers and lightnings were held away" (Raisio Archaeology Archive. Fire-Steel - TYA 619:273).




Bibliography

Many thanks go to Juli Kupperman (Jórunn Eydísardóttir), who kindly forwarded me scanned pages from several archaeological reports detailing fire-steel finds.

  • "A Fire-Steel from the Late Iron Age." Keava Website. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Contains an illustration of a fire-steel from the Viking Age found at Keava hill-fort, Estonia.]

  • Alebo, Hans. "Förhistorisk eldgörning." Populär Arkeologi (4:3) Lärbo: Sweden. 1986. pp. 30-33. (see p. 33, with reference to "Eld med stål och flinta").

  • Arbman, Holger. Die Gräber. Birka: Untersuchungen und Studien. Vol. I. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien. 1943.
    [See Tafl 144 for pictures of eight fire-steels from Birka graves 139, 644, 727, 750, 776, 872, 925 and 1062.]

  • Arne, T.J. Das Bootgräberfeld von Tuna in Alsike, Uppland. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien. Monografier. 20. 1934.
    [See p. 40 and Tafl XVII for a description and illustration of an eastern-type bronze-handled fire-steel and its accompanying striking-stone.]

  • Brain, Marshall. "How Flintlock Guns Work." Lycos Zone How Stuff Works Webpage. Accessed 18 May 2002.

  • "Burial Rites and Personal Property." Viking Age in Finland Website. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Two clay pots and a bronze-handled firesteel with two horsemen from Eura, Finland.]

  • Carlsson, Dan. Fröjel Excavation Report 7, 18th of August 1999. Fröjel Discovery Programme Website. Accessed 20 June 2003.
    [Photographs and discussion of Viking lenses found at Fröjel.]

  • Carlsson, Dan. Fröjel Excavation Report 8, 23rd of August 1999. Fröjel Discovery Programme Website. Accessed 20 June 2003.
    [Photographs and discussion of Viking lenses found at Fröjel.]

  • Carlsson, Dan. Fröjel Excavation Report 8, 23rd of August 1999. Fröjel Discovery Programme Website. Accessed 20 June 2003.
    [Photographs and discussion of Viking lenses found at Fröjel.]

  • Cleasby, Richard and Guðbrandr Vigfusson. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd. ed. Oxford: Clarendon. 1957. s.v. bragð-alr, bragðals-eldr, drepa, eld, eld-tinna,eld-virki, fnjóskr, hnjóskr

  • Crona, Malin. Pärlor från det vikingatida Fröjel: Materialsammanställning och diskussion kring tillverkning, handel och proveniens. PDF Document. Fröjel Discovery Programme Website. Accessed 20 June 2003.
    [Contains details of the manufacture of rock crystal beads and optical lenses from Fröjel.]

  • "Eldstål Med Ryttarfigurer." Statens Historiska Museum Photo Database. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Elaborate Viking Age bronze and steel fire-steel from Sweden.]

  • "Fire-Steel (TYA 283:21)." Raisio Archaeology Archive. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Contains an illustration of a fire-steel from the Viking Age found at Raisio, Ihala, Mulli abode in Finland.]

  • "Fire-Steel (TYA 619:273)." Raisio Archaeology Archive. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Contains an illustration of a fire-steel from the Viking Age found at Raisio, Ihala, Mulli abode in Finland.]

  • Geake, Robert. "Cooking and Warmth." Surviving the Outside Website. Accessed 8 March 2003.

  • Graydon, Oliver. "Medieval Lenses Exhibit Modern Performances". Opto & Laser Europe Issue 56. November 1998. Fröjel Gotlandica Viking Re-Enactment Society Website. Accessed 20 June 2003.

  • Koch, Eva. "Fire: Translation of a paper printed in Skalk no. 5/1990, in the version edited by Skalk." Accessed 15 May 2002.

  • Grimbe, Jannika. Ovala eldslagningsstenar - vad har de använts till? (PDF). Institutet för Forntida Teknik (Institute for Ancient Technology Website). Accessed 20 May 2002.
    [Experimental analysis of strike-a-lights, oval stones, common in pre-Viking Scandinavia.]

  • "Hänge." Statens Historiska Museum Photo Database. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Left-most pendant is a bronze fire-steel amulet.]

  • Muma, Walter. "Bow Drill Pictures & Movies: Techniques and Tips." Tracker Trail Website. Accessed 8 March 2003

  • Nerman, Birger. Die Vendelzeit Gotlands. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien. 1969-1975.
    [See Tafl 245, item 2029, a broken fire-steel with curled ends.]

  • Peintner, U., R. Poder and T. Pümpel. "The Iceman's Fungi". Mycological Research 102 (1998): pp. 1153-1162.

  • Petersen, Jan. Vikingetidens Redskaber. Oslo. 1951. (About fire-steels: pp. 433-438).

  • "Råstoff, reiskap, våpen og smykke: Eldstål og stein." Gamle Naboar Website. Accessed 15 May 2002.
    [Viking Age West Scandinavian fire-steel plus striking stone showing groove from the steel.]

  • Roesdahl, Else, and David M. Wilson. From Viking to Crusader: The Scandinavians and Europe 800-1200. New York: Rizzoli. 1992.
    Buy this book from Amazon.com today! Buy this book today!

  • Schmidt, Olaf, Karl-Heinz Wilms and Bernd Lingelbach. "The Visby-Lenses". Optometry & Vision Science 76:09 (Sep. 1999). Fachschule für Augenoptik (FSAO) Website. Accessed 20 June 2003.
    [A scientific evaluation of ten lens-shaped rock crystals from Gotland, including detail mapping and mathematical modelling of the surfaces, which reveal that at least some of these lenses represent an optical system comparable to the quality of modern aspheric lenses.]

  • Sempel, Sandy, Fröjel Gotlandica Viking Re-Enactment Society. June 20, 2003 Correspondence from the Yahoo! Groups "Norsefolk" List, Message #10280. Accessed 20 June 2003.

  • "Setting things on Fire." Ydalir Vikings Living History Website. Accessed 15 May 2002.

  • Smith, Michael. A description of how to light a fire by rubbing two sticks together using the bow drill method. Accessed 1 December 2002.

  • Spencer, B.E. "Making Fire with Flint and Steel." Bob's Black Powder Notebook Webpage. 1997. Accessed 6 June 2003.

  • Thunmark-Nylen, Lena. Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands II: Typentafeln. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien. 1998. ISBN 9174022873.

  • Volk, Tom. "Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for December 2001: Fomes fomentarius, the tinder polypore, also known as touchwood, punk, hoof fungus, or Amadouvier." Tom Volk's Fungi Home Page. Accessed 15 May 2002.

  • Whitehouse, David. "Did the Vikings make a telescope?" BBC News Online. Wednesday, 5 April, 2000.

  • Woodgate, J.M. "Energy & Forces: Striking Problem." New Scientist.com Website. Accessed 18 May 2002.

  • WOV 512 - Strike-a-light, Bronze and Iron. "Only the handle with two riders is preserved of this strike-a-light of Eastern origin." Universitet I Trondheim, Norway. Location of find: Flemma, Tingvoll, Nordmark, Norway. World of the Vikings CD-ROM. York: Past Forward Ltd. 1994.

  • WOV 1461 - Viking hall reconstruction with fire. World of the Vikings CD-ROM. York: Past Forward Ltd. 1994.

  • WOV 1528, Strike-a-light, iron. "This strike-a-light is of a common Viking design." National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki, Finland. Location of find: Kangsala, Juvenius, Finland. World of the Vikings CD-ROM. York: Past Forward Ltd. 1994.

  • WOV 1530, Strike-a-light, bronze & iron. National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki, Finland. Location of find: Eura, Luistari, Finland. World of the Vikings CD-ROM. York: Past Forward Ltd. 1994.

  • WOV 1566, Strike-a-lights, iron. Forhistorisk Museum, Moesgård, Denmark. Location of find: Århus, Søndervold, Jylland, Denmark. World of the Vikings CD-ROM. York: Past Forward Ltd. 1994.

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