"...Late in the Festival, those of us on the Varangian Loop pooled our resources to hold a Middle Eastern feast. In my yurt at dusk we covered the carpets with food and filled the tent with people. We had bread baked that day in a stone oven, river-caught trout cooking on the fire, fresh goat-cheese flavored with flowers from the fields. Later, to the music of drum and harp and pipe and zills, Valeria danced for us, round and round the fire. I felt as though I had slipped into a manuscript page, glimmering with gold and firelight. Through the work of many hands we had stepped inside the picture, brought it alive, made it our own. There can be no finer work."

from the first Festival of St. Hildegard,
as recorded by Raven Qara ton.

The Festival of Saint Hildegard is an annual ten day celebration of medieval life. It takes place in June at Windwardkeep, near the modern town of Klickitat. The Festival promotes the study, development and utilization of arts, sciences and technologies known to exist prior to the 14th century. Students and instructors alike can work on projects over several days, share notes and learn new processes and techniques. Those who attend the Festival share hospitality during leisurely days and camaraderie well into the fire-lit nights.

The Boke of Dayes is an attempt to capture the events of Festival II, 1994. It is a combination of a daily journal kept by H.F. Davenport (a Regent of the University who is otherwise known as Lao), and papers submitted by many of the instructors who were kind enough to share their time and skill.

The Boke of Dayes is published by the University of St. Hildegard, 1994, 355 Wahkiacus Heights Road, Klickitat WA 98628.


Friday, Egil's Eve

The three of us were the first to arrive at The Keep. We had come for the Household Moot, and to prepare our permanent encampment for the Festival.

Plans for this year included a permanent shower, trenches for underground food storage, and a cooking area separate from the main fire pit. There were also plans for excavating Barak's Norse long tent so that he could have a sunken floor for more usable space.

After the general layout had been agreed upon, clearing began. Brush and debris were raked into a ring which would serve as the enclosure to the camp. The tools we had brought (shovel, hatchet and rake) were equally matched in strength by the bracken that we were trying to clear. When our rake met its demise, the squires journeyed to New Bingen, to procure more suitable tools.

My task was to repair our long tents. Most of the metal grommets had torn through the canvas, and there were no doors. One of the tents had been caught in the wind, and had suffered a rent in the roof. The squires had cleared a space large enough for me to work, and so I set to it. By the time I unpacked tents and tools, they had returned with thatching rakes and reports that we were still the only guests of the Keep to have arrived thus far. Thoughts of Robinson Crusoe were brought to word and bandied about for a time, then each of us resumed our separate tasks.

The thatching rakes made short work of the squires' labors. Their attention then turned to unloading the carts, gathering water and firewood and setting camp. We shared a meal of bread, meat and cheese, and shared a fire as the sun set. I then retired to my tent, pulled a bamboo screen across the unfinished entry, and went to bed. My last recollections were of watching the fire as it danced through the screen, and listening to the distant howling of coyotes.....


Egil's Day

The Sea Raven Clan of the Glamfolk are here! They arrived, unbeknownst to us, upon the previous eve. I introduced myself, and informed them of our whereabouts. My greeting was met with an invitation to dinner that night. We compared notes regarding the Moot, and decided to devote the daylight time to building and development of our respective sites. There would be many evening hours for talk.

I spent the day replacing the metal grommets with leather ones on Barak's tent. The soft rain that we awoke to continued off and on through the early part of the day. The squires took advantage of the cool weather to dig a food trench in the cooking area. Large enough for three food boxes, lined with wood and lidded, it would help keep our perishables cool during the week of the Festival. We talked about the tent excavation project, and decided to wait until the communal projects were completed.

Watt and Aliena came to visit. They too had arrived back home the night before, but were unaware of the other camps. Watt left and returned a short time later with a kidder's saw. From this point on, limbing trees would be a major project. Clearing the lower tree branches greatly improved the area; walkways became less hazardous; campsites became more spacious and airy; branches became available for burning and weaving into perimeter walls.

The squires went off to talk to Watt. A ride was offered to the Glamfolk camp. There, the Glamfolk planned to bury an insulated metal chest for their household food storage, and to build a root cellar over the top. They are indeed a most ambitious tribe! Thorwald, head of the clan, accompanied Watt and the squires into the forest to chop wood. My feet remembered that the road was not nearly as long and arduous as it first appeared, and I enjoyed a quiet midday walk back to Varangia.

The men arrived back at camp with logs. By the end of the day, the squires had delighted me with their ingenuity! Logs and boards had become three kitchen work tables. A hollowed oak ring became candidate for a fireside storage bench. Another log was designated as the entry marker to the camp now known as Frashureburg. Gwydian hammered flat one end of a tent pole, which he then put into the fire. It worked well to burn runes into the log stave. Later on, one of the Glamfolk came up to view the handiwork that their camp had inspired us to.

Dinner with them was delightful. Their hospitality was unmatched by any other of recent recollection. We surveyed the results of their days' labor, and found that they had been successful in burying their chest. They outlined their plans for the next day. We shared stories around their fire until well after dark.


Warmer weather brought a day of rest and plans for the next two weeks. By the squires hands was the shower finished, nestled into the base of the grandfather fir that skirted our kitchen. They expanded the walls to the west to provide additional tenting space. The Frashureburg rune log was finished and put into place. I marked off an adjoining area which was to become Birka. We talked about the sites for castles and war games. Towards day end, we broke camp, stored tents and supplies in the food trench and shower, and traveled again to New Bingen for lunch. A very large dish, which would enable the University of St. Hildegard to offer classes for college credit, was raised onto its base, and pointed towards the heavens. Then, being well met and fed, with our chores complete, we began our long journey home.



Friday, June 10

We are among the first to arrive for the Festival. We pay our tolls to the gate keeper, and make our way to Frashureburg.

Our encampment has remained fairly intact since last we were here. The tent canvases have acquired a cast of mold, and our food storage trench has become home to a family of mice. Goats knocked the cover off of a cask that stored utensils and a fleece; the contents are waterlogged, but do not appear to be damaged. The perimeter fence is still standing, and the weather is clear. We unload the cart and set up camp.

The tent repair project continues. The rent in Gwydian's tent is much easier to repair standing at the kitchen tables than it is kneeling on the ground. The roof finally repaired, the first two tents are set up. As I busy myself with attaching doors to Barak's tent, I watch quizzically as the two squires, Malcom and Gwydian, carry a number of bricks from cart to kitchen. My repairs are interrupted with the presentation of a brick stand for my fire wok! With the addition of a grill, we now have an off the ground cooking fire large enough to serve half of Varangia. My terse comments about being interrupted are replaced with promises that no further ill words would be spoken, an agreement which they are most glad to hear!

As I continue to chase needle with thread, the squires chase snakes and lizards while unloading crates of foodstuffs, tools, carpets and furniture. I have not yet completed the doors as the sun starts to warn of dusk; the squires set up the final tent with the doors pinned on as best as catch can. We spend the rest of the evening caching food, filling oil lamps, gathering water and firewood, and carving the rune staves that will mark the road into Frashureburg.

At nightfall, Raven arrives with her clan. After a hurried tour of the encampment, a bustle of activity ensues in an attempt to erect her ger before darkness envelopes all. The lattice framework is set, the canvas walls are wrapped round, the door lintel is lashed in place, and the door with its appliquéed chasing beasts is hung. By this time it has become impossibly dark, so Raven decides that the sky will be their roof tonight. The stars are out and glorious; and though Raven's people lay in their beds, I think that they sleep not much for gazing.

Saturday, June 11

My eyes are rewarded upon waking by the sight of a Tibetan, making tea for her master. It is a quiet morning, clouded only by the smoke haze of a fire brought from its bank to frugal flame. I look out over Birka, and decide to make it ready for tomorrow's textile classes. I spend my morning limbing trees, digging up dead lilacs, building bough fences. Sunjan arrives just as I finish clearing a corner of Birka. We decide that the newly made clearing is an excellent location for her gear.

Raven solicits the assistance of a dozen people to assist her with raising her roof. The poles are willows, collected from a riverbank grove in southern Oregon. Gwydian volunteers to stand in the center of the ger, in order to support the roof ring on a forked pole. The rest of us spear the sides of the ring with the poles, and fasten the looped end of the poles to the top of the lattice wall. There is a great trial in getting the bent beams into the ring with equal and opposing tension. After two attempts, the roof goes up, and the canvas is pulled over the frame and tied down.

At the same time, Sunjan is repeating the process with her ger. Whereas Raven's is natural wood, Sunjan's lattice frame is lacquered red; her roof poles are dowels, designed to marry with the roof ring at the hands of a single person. Her walls are brown felt, held to the latticework with rope. The door to her ger is a kimono quilt. She shows off her newest acquisition: an Oriental rug, all wool, large enough to cover most of her floor, that she found on a street corner before the rag men did! Just as I congratulate her on her find, she discovers that she has left her roof felt behind. I tell her that the stars are abundant here. She chooses a tarp instead, but will enjoy the evergreen canopy until this evening.

The tinkling of bells heralds a visit by the New Bingen sheep, about fifteen in number. They are followed after a while by their herdswomen, Katerina and Tamara, who bring me a sprig of yarrow. They are both well, and look forward to the Festival. A sheep shearing is slated for Tuesday.

Steingrim has not yet arrived, and so the Hero of St. Hildegard's Tournament is postponed. Raven teaches us about salves.

The squires are building again. This structure appears at first to be a hitching post, but evolves into a shield wall. At its completion, Steingrim arrives. Rafen (my alternate persona) wants to be a Duke, but the strawberry leaves that she tries to stick into her hood keep falling to the ground. The situation is remedied when the Tibetan and a friend weave a strawberry leaf chaplet for Rafen to wear.

I use our new shower for the first time. What a wonderful, invigorating sensation! A firm, clean floor, sturdy walls, hot water, a cool breeze. Sensing the faintest rustle of pine needles overhead as they release their balsam fragrance to scent the steam---dissipating, then settling again---aaahhh! Then it is off to the Glamfolk camp, to share again their stewpot and hospitality.

It was there that we had occasion to meet Mistress Gwynydd from the Kingdom of the Middle, and Ian, hailing from Atlantia, who had come to live at the Keep. It was interesting listening to their tales of customs of other kingdoms, happy that I live in An Tir. We survey the root cellar project, in which the chest is now fully enclosed, with stairs leading down, and the rest of their foodstuffs in crates along the walls. The door has not yet been built. They are now engineering the process for covering their cooking area with the sail from one of their ships. The stone cook fire that they built last year is now augmented with tables and cupboards of every degree. This encampment will always bring me awe and delight in discovery.

Sunjan returns from an early evening walk in the forest with report of a discovery---bones strung from the trees near a downed fence of the Keep. She brings what appears to be a thigh bone with her. If there are bones on site, Sunjan will find them. We will talk to Watt tomorrow.

Sunday, June 12

Today's edition of the "Windsong" is in runic script, courtesy of the Glamfolk. Classes include goat herding, milking, games and armored fighting. Steingrim teaches archers how to carve their own wooden long bows, a project which lasts well into the afternoon.

With Sunjan, Raven and the Tibetan's help, Birka is now cleared. I move on to the O'Quinn's encampment from last year. Trees are limbed, firewood stacked next to the stone oven, lilacs and pinecones cleared for their imminent arrival. There I am happened upon by Fiacha, who spends most of the day working with me to clear the fighting center of Varangia Loop.

Watt investigates the bones discovered by Sunjan. It turns out to be the remains of Blackhand's encampment from the previous year. The bones were strung together as a sort of wind chime. Thus is the mystery solved!

Raven and the Tibetan go to the river to gather grasses. They return with many armloads of yarrow, St. John's Wort, and mullein, which soon cover the floor of her ger. One of her more delicious finds is mock orange. I accept a branch and hang it from my candle chandelier, where it lends a soft fragrance for the next two days. I hope to gather yarrow on the morrow to strew in similar fashion. Malcom and Gwydian have also gone to the river, to gather fish for dinner.

Kate and Dublin arrive, bringing with them a gentle rain. They decide to join us in Frashureburg. Kate brings her tripod and fire dogs to the main fire pit. As they set up camp, I strew pine needles in the kitchen. The needles and the rain work together to keep the dust down. Our encampment continues to improve. The squires return, having fed fish rather than gathered them. We'll have ribs for dinner tonight.

The Tibetan has a name, Yetsuen. She busies herself with the construction of a silk kite. Fiacha shows her how to lash the cross pieces together. Yetsuen shows off her new kite to our Norse neighbors, who are as curious about the color of the silk as they are the construction.

The Norse neighbors also have names, Raifnir and Sava. They have set up camp just outside the wall, at the fire pit of last years Frashureburg. They are fairly new, unassuming, quiet, courteous, and a welcome addition to our fire.

Life in Viking times is made more real by those who have gathered here: Dublin carves a horn spoon; Gwydian carves a wooden replica of a bird-head bead; Sava sitting on her Viking chest, embroidering knotwork. Conversation springs from the materials at hand. We imagine following herds of sheep, lying in wait for their horns to fall off, in order to painlessly procure enough horn for Raven, that she may someday make herself a laminated horn compound bow. Duncan asks Kate about the leg of lamb they have brought for a meal, how soon can he have the bone for a knife handle? If he can find pitch and charcoal, he can make a period adhesive. We have charcoal to grind into dust, and set off to find pitch.

Dusk and the bonfire brings about the recanting of the tale of Egil and Loki, and of the natural disasters that are an invariable result of that combination.

Life in Varangia is good...

center of Varangia Loop. Watt investigates the bones discovered by Sunjan. It turns out to be the remains of Blackhand's encampment from the previous year. The bones were strung together as a sort of wind chime. Thus is the mystery solved! Raven and the Tibetan go to the river to gather grasses.