A VIKING A-FRAME STYLE PAVILION This article was originally published in The Compleat Anachronist #26, and is reprinted with the author's gracious permission. To inquire about this article, email the author at kballar@unm.edu .


During the ninth and tenth centuries, a Viking camp for a long stay on shore included items such as wooden tubs, various tools and implements, a cauldron and other portable cooking equipment, plates, trays, and oil lamps. The Vikings also erected elaborate tents. I have constructed two A-frame style pavilions over the years and have adopted a study, creatively anachronistic, resemblance to the Viking tent for use in the SCA. Since many have asked me how this pavilion is constructed, I will try here to explain and illustrate as best I can my adaptation.

THE BOARDS--Do this step with each board THE PIPES--Choose one of the pipes to serve as the center ridge pole. You will need to set the eyelet screws 2-1/2" from both ends of the pipe.

THE FABRIC--(Example: 60" material) Over the top: Measure two lengths of 5 yards plus 6". Sew these together lengthwise using a double seam for strength. Fold under 1/2" on both ends. Then fold under 2-1/2" and sew down to form casing.

BACK PANEL--Measure two right triangles slightly larger (1/2") than the dimensions, as in Figure 6. Sew together along side "a". Hem edge "c". Sew the triangles onto the main piece along one edge 'b". Do not sew over casings and at the center--do not sew all the way to the top of the triangle.--leave about 2" on both sides at the center. The best way is to measure from the bottoms up and pin--adjust to center before sewing (see Figure 5). Fold under raw edges at the casing end and the top two inches and sew to avoid raveling.

FRONT PANELS--Measure two panels 1/2" larger than the dimensions in Figure 4 (sic) except make side "a" 1-1/2" wider. (Mira's note: Make sure that you have enough fabric for a good overlapping so your door will close completely) Hem each side "c". Fold under side "a" 1/2", then fold under 1" more and sew down. Measure nad secure pieces of velcro at equal distances apart down each side "a" (Figure 6). Remember that in order to close velcro, place one side of a dot on the rigth side of the material and the matching piece on the wrong side of the material. Sew the sides "b" onto the main piece of material, similarly to the back panel, and hem any raw edges that are left.

At the center of the top point of the main piece of material, place an eyelet large enough for the eyelet screw to screw into but not through, 1/2" from the edge of the material. When you then attach the material to the poles, the material will not shift on the top ridge pole.

ATTACHING MATERIAL TO POLES--TOP:  Slide the top ridge pole through the space left at the center top of the front and back triangle panels.  Screw the eyelet screw through the eyelet in the material into the hole in the pole (see Figure 7).

Bottoms: Slide the poles through the casings. Place a pipe cap on each end.

THE ROPES--Securely tie the rope in the middle to the top ridge pole to the outside of the eyelet screw (the pole end side, not the material side). Place the ends of the material toward the inside of the material through the hole left at the top of the triangle.

We are now ready to set up the pavilion. Hopefully, by following these stps, you will have your pavilion standing very securely. The cross tension in the setup of the ropes makes it very stable when staked down. It will be wobbly until then, so at least two people are needed to set it up--one to hold it steady while the other puts in the stakes.

The tent can also be erected without stakes, for indoor sites, or when on hard ground, by tying the ropes directly to the pipes at the corners. It is less stable, but stable enough not to fall down easily.

This is just the basic design, and decorative board cutting at the top can be easily made with just a little adjustment of the materials needed.

NOTE: I've tried PVC pipe. It will break with heavy winds, and lighterweight conduit tents to bend with the wind and the weight of the cloth. It's even better if a 1" pipe is used for the top center pole when heavy material is used.

NOTE: I've used just heavy cotton material on both tents I've constructed and have never gotten wet inside. The most was a light mist during heavy rain. The angle seems to shed water well.

NOTE: A more period way would be to substitute wood poles and secure with pegs, as suggesting by the drawings in Algren, Bertil, et al. The Viking, Crescent Books.

Mira's comments--For more information on A-Frames, check out the following links:

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