Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Viking Flat Pack Furniture

Who watched the Vikings? You mean, you haven't seen it? It was basically the greatest thing on TV that I saw this year, and was pretty historically accurate to boot. (Caveat, caveat: as far as I can tell, and I'm by no means an expert on the Vikings).


The Vikings were raiders.  And what they used for raiding were longboats. As this 12th century painting shows, there wasn't a whole lot of room in these boats for anything except people.

Detail from "Miscellany on the life of St. Edmund". Obviously, the crowded effect is a little exaggerated.

However, raids generally took more than one day.  Longboats have many fine qualities, and their shallow draught allows them to manoeuvre in water as shallow as one metre, which was particularly effective for raiding. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave that much room for things like camping equipment, but here's where Viking ingenuity really came into it's own. 

This (a replica, but based on those from Viking graves) is a flat packable table and stool. 

Yes, the Scandinavians had flat packing WAY before IKEA. So how does it work? Instead of being nailed together, each piece is drilled with a hole and provided with a corresponding lug. The lug was attached to the piece by twine, so it wouldn't get lost. When you needed it, you put the pieces together, inserted the lugs and it was done and pretty much steady as a rock. When you were finished, you just yanked out the lugs and put it away again.

Genius! I hear you cry. Indeed. But wait, if there's a table AND a stool, how can we tell them apart?

Well, it seems the Vikings thought of that too:

 There's an "S" (in the Viking runic alphabet) on the stool pieces

And a "T" on the table pieces. 

I feel like an IKEA joke now would cheapen this awesome artefact, so just pretend that I made one. It was the best IKEA joke in the world. 


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