Herred of the Viking Society

Grimbols Tannery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was Hael friend.

To brave this stench, you must want to buy some leather, well come this way, I do hope you have brought good coin and plenty of it, the leather is not cheap.

You seem surprised?

Then allow me to explain…

Now, take a look at that belt you wear… just a thin piece of leather, of animal hide, but the value is not just in the hide itself, its in the time and process of turning animal skin into leather.

Let me show you the the way my father tanned hides and his father before him and I, still today. This is a skill that has been in my family for many generations, more than I can remember.

Now, naturally it all starts with the animals, sheep, pigs, deer to name a few. They may come to me to slaughter or from a hunt, where I will skin the animal and  butcher the meat to return to our Lady Aelfina and her household.

Once I have carefully cut the animal skin and removed it from the body, and  believe me my friend, this is not work for the weak or unskilled, I then soak it in water for two days to soften the skin and to wash it.

I then pound and scour the skin to remove the fat and flesh using my fathers  fleshing tool, carved of bone. As you can see, I am getting quite old and my body now suffers greatly with my labors.

You did not come here to hear of my ills, forgive me.

My father taught me two methods for the next stage, which is removing the hair from the skin.

I prefer to soak the skins in urine for many weeks, in that pit over there, this makes removing the hair with my dull knife, a lot simpler. Of course, urine is easy to obtain, I collect a fresh stock of urine everyday.

The other method requires leaving the skin to rot for a few months and then dipping it in a salt mixture, but obtaining salt is not easy, not to mention expensive.

Next I soak the skin in animal brains and water, if I cannot get enough brains, and believe me there is not many of them going around in this village, I will use animal dung mixed with water, and then work the skin with my feet for hours every day until it has softened.

Are you well, my friend? you look a little grey…the air here is not so fresh, not that I can smell it anymore, however my wife continues to remind me of it.

Once the skin is softened then it will be time to start the long tanning process.

Take a look, my friend, at these pits. I have stretched out the skins and here they will soak for the next year or two.

What are they soaking in? you ask.

A mix of dried Oak bark and water, the bark releases tannin into the water that tans the leather. The bark is best when it has dried for two years.

Of course, you cannot just leave the skin in this mixture and leave it for two years…oh no, there is much more to it than that.

For a start, each pit has a oak bark and water mixture of different strengths. This first pit has a weak mixture, if I was to put the skin in a strong mix first, the skin would tan on the outside and not soak through the leather. So as you can see, this cannot be rushed. Over time the skin will move into the other pits, each getting stronger.

So here we are my friend, the leathers you see drying, are for sale… have a seat and lets trade.

Oh, do you need to pee?