BELL WEDGES---GENERAL

I have to agree that the French Bell Wedge tent is a very wonderful Pavilion. I bought mine last year (before Pennsic 24). Panther Pavilions delivered it to Pennsic and with the incredible heat that year I was still able to sleep until about 8 or 9 (however, being my first Pennsic I hardly ever got a chance to sleep that late). This year, when we had that terrible storm on Thursday, the only tent in our camp area which no one feared would be torn out was my French Bell Wedge. The darn thing was stable, and very dry inside. Just remember that it's important to have the ties tied close to the material for a good seal.

FiachaI fear the frame for a gher (mistakenly called a "yurt" by soft European city-dwellers) might overtax your present resources.

What might work well for you is a French Arming Pavilion. A geometric description of this item might be : take a cone, cut it in half vertically, move the two halves apart and connect them with planes. The tent floor is shaped like a rectangle that has two semi-circles appended on the ends of it. The door is an opening in the flat sides or IS one of the flat sides, held up by poles to make a "porch" awning, or just entered at the edge.

A frame for it is easy to build : Minimally, you could just use three poles, one going up to the peak of each semi-cone, and other connected between those two. OR you can use 5 poles to form a "swing set" frame, which would provide a completely "clear-span" structure, easier erection, and better wind resistance. You could probably even get away with just two poles (one at each end).

The flat sides are easy to sew (I'd suggest using a single piece for both flat sides so there's no possibility of leaks at the peak). Leave enough extra length so you can overlap the cones. Sew ties to the peak of the roof canvas to secure it to the ridge pole. Sew reinforced loops at the bottoms for stakes, and sew ties along the side edges to secure them to the end panels.

(Note that I prefer ties and sewn-on loops of webbing to grommets: I've seen too many grommets pull out of fabric.)

The end semi-cones are made by sewing together triangular pieces.

Don't forget to put "storm flaps" on the bottom of the wall. These are folded inside the tent to make a say foot-wide edge on the ground the inside the tent, and your ground tarp goes over this, along with chests etc. Keeps the wind and rain out.

Such a tent with a 10wx8dx8h foot center area and two 4 foot radius 8 foot high semi-cones at the ends would use a 25'x12' center canvas (note allowance for overlap) (300 sq.ft.) and the end semi-cones use 50 sq.ft of canvas each, for a total of 400 sq.ft. of canvas. This is 45 sq.yds of fabric, or 35 yds. of 45" fabric, or 27 yds. of 60" fabric (it's not clear what you mean when you said you had "30 yards" of fabric.). Since the pieces are all rectangles and triangles, there should be very little waste. If you use the "swing set" frame, this tent requires 4-12' poles and 1-10' pole. Using the simpler 3-pole arrangement only 2-8' poles and 1-10' pole are needed.

This tent uses no guy-ropes (you stake the canvas). It's a period design I'm told. It takes up only 130 sq.ft of ground space (well under the Pennsic limit of 250 sq.ft. per person). Provides about as much interior space as a 10x12 room does. During the day you can lift one side with poles to provide another 80 sq.ft of covers area, or you can sew a separate 10x12 flap onto one side of the center canvas to serve as both a "storm door" and fair-weather porch awning

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I wanted to let you know, that as helpful as the information on the page appears to be, there are some math errors.
A wedge tent that is 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall will have a swing set frame with sloping poles that are just under 9 feet long---not 12
feet.  The rectangle recommended for the wedge is enormous (too big). Also, the method of calculating the fabric for the cones is a mystery to
me.  I'm coming up with a larger figure, but I might be using a different method.--contributed by Barbara Handley
 

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BELL WEDGES--DOCUMENTATION/TIME PERIOD

At present I can find only one period depiction of a French Bell Pavilion. It is an illustration of a military camp in the late 15th C. from the Mittelalterliches Hausbuch, (Bodleian Library 247139 c 4), and can be found reproduced on p. 38 of Osprey Publishing's _Medieval German Armies 1300-1500_ by Christopher Gravett, (ISBN 0-85045-614-2). In it are two of these tents. The decoration on one consists of one set of indistinguishable arms, (heater-shaped), above the arch-topped doorway. The other shows two sets of arms flanking where the door would be on the backside of the tent. --Ivar Hakonarson Adiantum, An Tir.

I don't have my notes with me, but I'd try looking either in _Tensile Architecture_ or _The Tent Book_. I've got a picture of a bell-wedge labeled as a 12th Century French pavilion, which, from the size of the mailed soldier in front of it, is about 10' high, and 12-14' long. In the picture, the ridge-pole extends out through the ends, which is good, in that it gives you someplace to attach, storm-stays (Normally, the fabric of the tent holds it up.) and bad, in that it forces you to put dagging across the top, to keep water out of the holes. If you build one, make sure you put enough overlap across the door-flaps to keep out water, even with a side-blowing wind. I screwed that up, on mine, and it would have been awkward to fix, so I solved the problem by selling the thing. Mine was planned to be 14' long by 8' deep. The usable space inside is actually about 12x6. This is spacious for 1 person, and adequate for 2, camping sca-style. If you're going by the way modern-tent-makers rate them, it sleeps 4. I used a mere 24 yards of 35" Sunforger marine (fire, mildew, water-resistant) canvas for the shell, another 3 yards for the dagging, and three plastic tarps for the floor. >archives there is a description of one style which sounds similar, but I can't tell if it is the same)? Or has anybody purchased one, and could they tell me anything about its shortcomings or advantages? It's only got 3 poles, and if you skip the ridgepole, 2. This makes it much easier to transport than a Viking tent. The high profile means you can stand up comfortably, or that you can string a clothes-line between the uprights, but not both. I have trouble with the stakes around the base of the tent pulling from wet ground, in the wind. Bigger and/or more numerous stakes should solve this. It's possible for one person to put it up, but not easy. It's not really efficient in terms of useable space inside compared to it's footprint in a campsite, especially with the stormlines out, but that's only a real problem at Pennsic. The point where the bell-wedges meet the ridge has a whole-lot of awkward seams. If the ridgepole extends though the canvas, you can just leave the points flapping, and cover the whole mess with dagging. If you're going to put more than one person in it, go with a 10x16' tent, instead of 8, so you can sleep comfortably across the tent, instead of longways. Use 4 external storm-lines attached to the ridgepole, and put small tent-pegs every foot around the perimeter, with big ones at each corner, and centered in the bell-section. I used 8' 2x3s for the uprights of mine, and 35" Sunforger marine canvas (mildew, fire, and water resistant) for the membrane. Two 6 yard lengths sewed together sideways formed the wedge, and two 3-yard lengths cut diagonally and sewed back together formed each 1/2 bell. The crosspiece was cut to fit (about 69") the result was an 8' x 14' oval footprint, with usable space about 6'x12' inside. Spacious for 1 person, awkward for 2, Usable by up to 4, with planning and tolerance. The total used about 24 yards of canvas, with no floor.

A FRAME

A FRAME---GENERAL

My a-frame tent design makes a 9.5 foot square. This way it only needed two lengths of "boat-shrunk" fabric for the roof, any thus only one seam to be sealed. I suggest making the end an equilateral triangle for ease of calculating the door panel shapes. It ain't exactly easy, but I did it. My frame is 5 pieces of 10 foot "2x4". The ends have shallow slots for the uprights and ridge to fit together, as well as holes for the entire joint to be tied together. The uprights have holes at the bottom so the frame can be staked down without the fabric. The same holes are used for "x" crossbracing ropes along the sides. This frame is strong enough to climb on. Do not screw up and let it fall on anything you like when you untie the crossbracing ropes. Thick saplings would be more period, but I had "2x4" available. I will guess that 2" saplings are appropriate, but you definitely do not want "closet rod" from a lumber yard. A 5 oar frame makes it a Viking tent. A 5 spear frame makes a landesknect tent. Mine is ..uh.. a tent.

Having been using this type of tent for something over 20 years....

My ends are 8-foot equilateral triangles, so that makes the end flaps what you've calculated. It is, however, a good idea to allow them to overlap a bit. You can also drill holes (about 1/2") in the bottom board, stick a rope loop through the hole, put grommets near the edge of teh flap and tie the loop to the grommet to keep the flaps closed. For heavier weather, have a row of grommets all the way up and either lace the flaps shut or otherwise fasten them together.

--Hal

Hal Ravn, West Kingdom Wilson H. Heydt, Jr., Albany, CA 94706, 510/524-8321 (home)

After several unsuccessful attempts to remember, I finally brought in what little I have. This is from 'Guide to the Viking Ship Museum': Tents and 'camp beds' seem to have been normal accessories when travelling by ship. Probably most of the crew slept out in the open when the ship was in port, but it seems likely that the more prominent persons on board were provided with beds adn with a tent to protect them from wind and weather. Frames for two tents and for a house-shaped booth were found in the Oseberg ship, as well as beds. The Gokstad ship had one tent and six beds, one ornately carved, the others plain. The reconstruction sketch shows one of the frames from the Oseberg find. Only the animals' heads were visible when the sailcloth had been stretched over the frame. The tents and beds from the Oseberg find are so damaged that they cannot be displayed; copies of 3 beds stand on the gallery above the entrance door. The verge boards from the Gokstad tent hang over the small boats, and at the bottom of the '4th wing'. The text seems to imply that these tent frames are in addition to the wood/bark covered burial chambers that were erected on the ships (they are discussed in another section of the guide). Not exactly an extensive reference, but at least it points to a primary source. Cheers, Rick C.

I am very pleased with my tent. I had no wind problems at Pennsic, and I counted one single drop of leakage. My stakes are only 6 pieces of 18" rebar, and when I placed them wrong, the two middle ones came loose, and I didn't notice for days, so it actually worked with 4 stakes.

tk> Does anyone have a source for instructions/patterns for building A-Frame Pavillions?

Are you referring to something vaguely Viking flavored? Or something period documentable? Or something else entirely. If vaguely Viking then your frame will be based upon several other factors, the width of your canvas, the length of the side walls and the height of the A determine the floor dimensions.

I would use the width of the fabric, determine how long I wanted to make the tent, 10-16 foot would be about average, from there figure the number of full panels and then add or subtract a panel to get to a width you can work with. You will need three cross bars (front to rear) and two triangle supports (the frames in front and rear). Let the length of the two vertical pieces of the triangle be determined by the finished length of the canvas panels. You will want a casing of some sort or some way to attach the ends of this panel to the cross pieces at the bottom. I am hearing that having that piece sit a few inches off the ground and the use of a mud flap helps keep rot down. You want to attach 2/3 triangles to each of the 4 sides of the tent as door flaps. You want these to cross over themselves to help keep wind and rain out. I have seen people use 1/2 triangles and just but them in the middle but that always seems to gap a bit and be difficult to tie. You will cut the bottom braces to keep the long ends of the tent from settling. Size it so the tent is tall enough for you as well as wide enough and so that rain can't puddle in the canvas walls. Once you have determined that size, then cut the doors to fit. Make sure you anchor the tent as I have heard of Viking tents rolling away in big winds.

This video shows you step-by-step how to build a simple modified 'A-Frame' pavilion. The modification is an additional support that allows you to open one side to create a good field-side pavilion. (contributed by Lord Finnr Mathie of Dreiburgen) This video is available for $14.95 + $2.50 S&H from Dark Knight Productions, 8662 Garfield St. Riverside, CA 92504. (Or ask your local merchants to carry it) California residents please add 7.75% sales tax (that's $1.16)

I had an a-frame tent for years. Having a middle eastern persona, I covered the front of it (which was about all you could see, since we were packed so closely) with a large sheet of heavy cloth out of which I had cut a keyhole door. I edged the door (for stability), painted 6 sided Arabic stars around the door, and hung gauzy material in the opening to keep out flies and prying eyes. I completely obscured the mundane parts of the tent (I'd wrap and tie the material around the frame itself) and was a pleasant representation of my homeland in Morocco. And it was fun to make, to boot!

RE>Viking Tents--long poles

Well, in answer to your question about how I dealt with the long poles, I made the struts and stuff from 5/4 stock of various sizes (5/4 x 6 for the ridgepole with two 5/4 x 4 pieces glued on to form the "pole" part at the top) and made each pole, strut etc. with timberframe joints so that they could break down for travel and transport and go together quickly at a site with pegs or, in the case of the struts where I needed a clamplike action as well as a peg to keep the joint from slipping, I made wooden bolts and nuts out of dowels, balls and, in some cases, wooden toy wheels. It has all worked very well in the Viking tent for three years and I have utilized the same methods in a Saxon tent version using the same canvas for trips when I don't want to take as many pieces of lumber. It all fits with my other equipment neatly in our Mercury Villager too (the first set, a bit less rugged and detailed, was made to fit in a Volvo's back seat!).

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