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Manx Camp Standards

By James A. Howell

Note: this article was originally posted on the Yahoo! Groups Manx Camp email list.


Ideal: All wool, linen or silk in period colors hand-stitched through out. (Congratulations on winning the lottery-can I hit you up for a loan?)

Wonderful: Mostly wool and linen blends, machine stitched on the main seams as long as it doesn't show, hand stitched hems, cuffs, and collars.

Acceptable: Well, it should look like there are at least wool or linen atoms in it. If you can't get wool, linen or silk do NOT use synthetics. This is a safety as well as an aesthetic issue. We work around live flame-synthetics burn too easily and melt onto your skin before they burn. Ask me and I'll find you something. The same stitching requirements as Wonderful. We should avoid plaids as much as possible because there is very little evidence that they were used during this period. A very simple stripe should be O.K.


Use Hald or the patterns from Norse Film and Pageant Society, Regia Angolorum or Thora Sharptooth's web page. There are also a lot of good patterns on Marc Carlsson's web page, just remember that the dates listed in the index do NOT necessarily correspond with more accurate data at the actual item's page. Or catch up with me and you can copy one out of my ring binders.

If you have any questions, especially about women's garb, post them here and someone will answer them. You should have a light under dress or tunic, a heavy overdress or tunic, and cloak or blanket of wool (everyone can get these-the Sportsman's Guide carries surplus blankets in a variety of colors for less than $20 each). For guys I would recommend two pairs of pants-one light and one heavy. Also I recommend wool socks- you'll be glad you wore them.


Ideal: All vegetable tanned leather. If dyed, only dyed with period type pigments—I've been intending to work with Betty some to see how cloth dyes work on leather, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet). All items should be sewn with natural colored linen or wool thread or leather thong. Did I mention I could use a loan?

Wonderful: All vegetable tanned leather or natural colored deer (or elk, or moose). If dyed then with modern dye (Feibings) in natural colors. I know for this period that they dyed bone and antler both red and green, so as long as it isn't too garish a shade it ought to be O.K. Sewn with linen thread or artificial sinew.

Acceptable: Chrome tanned leather factory dyed in a color close to a natural color for veggie leather, i.e. most of the browns and tans. Any other color just screams modern leather. with linen thread or artificial sinew. As for accessories, you would need a simple belt with a D style buckle no wider than 1" and a pair of period style shoes. These can be either turn shoes or moccasin style. Smoke and Fire moccasin kits are fine and they cost about $30 and can be assembled in a weekend or less.

Eating Utensils

If you want to bring your own eating wear, here are some guidelines:
Spoons: oval wooden kitchen spoons or just about any other wooden spoon is probably O.K. Avoid ones with glossy finishes or paint. Horn, bone or antler is O.K. if you have them. Metal spoons are rare and have very specific shapes-best to avoid them, even the ones I sell although they are fine for later periods.

Knives: single edge, rat tail tang (like a file) knives with either a symmetrical tapering blade or a clip point type (like a bowie knife) or straight backed with the edge curving up to the point. Handles of wood, antler or bone. Bolster (plate between blade and grip) and cap washer or pommel optional.

Forks: occasionally found in table size. Two tines, rat tail tang with wood, antler or bone grip. Rare luxury item.

Plates , Bowls & Drink Ware

Ceramic: Strangely enough, the plates that are made to be put under flower pots are fairly similar to period terra cotta plates. Plain terra cotta, glazed or unglazed is cool. Some white clay is O.K. I've been told that a dark green glaze is period but I don't know much other than that. Period style decorations on ceramics are very hard to find; mostly scribed lines, geometric forms and some stamped decoration. See me if you want more details-it's hard to describe pots in a useful fashion here.

Metal: There are some period metal drinking vessels, invariably in silver. I've seen some that were shaped like Jefferson cups but if you are going to try this then they must be high polish pewter to look like silver.

Wood: lathe turned is O.K. Again simple shapes and plain or oiled finishes. Gentle dished shapes with a solid base (turning foot). Norse woodworkers were quite skilled, and capable of turning very thin bowls. If it looks shiny, don't use it. No woven wood, monkey pod or dark exotic woods. Teak looks kind of like oiled oak so as long as it isn't a funky shape it should be O.K. Maple is great (can be found in gourmet and kitchen supply shops sometimes). A lot of their bowls have a projecting lip on one or both sides for a grip. Dough troughs are good with the lugs on each end.

Glass: an import luxury item-short tumblers, funnel glasses, and other simple shapes. Clear, green, blue and yellow glass is period, with the base color being usually clear or green.


We will have a food plan, but if you decide you want to bring some of your own... Snacks-jerky and kippered beefsteak, apples, pears, plums, cherries, any of the quick cheeses and cheeses like Havarti. No yellow cheeses. Flat breads, butter, honey.

Beef, pork, mutton, goat, salmon, cod or trout. From what I can tell, chicken was a luxury food, but other fowl (ducks, geese) weren't, mainly because the chickens were kept primarily to produce eggs. Veggies-onions, cabbage, parsnips, turnips, carrots (not orange though), barley, rye, oats (wheat is a luxury grain). I'm hoping we will have flat bread and maybe fresh churned butter (hint, hint). Oatmeal is cool, especially if you add apples, cherries, or cranberries and other things like hazelnuts. By the way commercially dried cranberries are available from Ocean Spray now. Honey for sweetener.

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