Putting Up The Pennsic Camp Gate

The Østgarðr provincial camp at Pennsic features a decorated entrance gate which needs to be put up and taken down each year.


You will need the following gate materials, which are kept in storage near Cooper’s Lake:

  • The decorated camp gate arch (cut from a 8′ x 2′ piece of 3/4″ plywood, painted, with attached lettering cut from the same stock).
  • Two wood posts, each 8′ long of nominal 4×4.
  • Two metal post anchors, with a socket to hold the 4×4 post and a two-foot-long cross-shaped spike. 
  • Two decorated seahorses (cut from 3/4″ plywood, painted).

You’ll also need these tools, which are not provided:

  • A mallet or small sledge hammer, 3-5 pounds.
  • A cordless screwdriver (or a manual screwdriver and a lot of patience).
  • Six screws, 2″ or longer.


Start by laying one of the 4×4 posts along the perimeter of the camp where you want the gate to go.

Position the anchors at each end of the post, using the post to ensure that the anchors are square to each other, and that their outer edges are eight feet apart.

Using a post to position the anchors.

Use the mallet or sledge to drive the anchors into the ground. There’s some wiggle room, but try to make the anchors as vertical as possible. They don’t need to be completely buried, but the spikes should go at least 75% of the way in.

Placing a short piece of firewood in the post socket (or laying it across the top) makes it easier to pound on the center axis of the anchor and drive the spike in evenly, but make sure that you can remove the firewood when you’re done!

Then lay out both posts with one end against an anchor and the other pointing into camp. Lay the arch across the top, making sure that its outer edges are squarely aligned with the edges of the posts.

Attaching the arch to the posts.

Drive three screws into each side of the arch to secure it to the posts.

Gather some assistants to raise the gate — one person on each side and one holding the arch should be sufficient.

Coordinating your movements, lift the arch, pivoting both posts to vertical, and then lift the posts up and place them in the anchor sockets.

The posts may slide in easily, or small variations in the posts or anchor alignment may cause them to stick and require some wiggling and additional downwards pressure to sink into place.

Finally, place a seahorse on each side and use a single screw to hold it in place.


To take down the arch, start by removing the seahorses.

Get some assistants to help you lift the two posts and pivot the arch to the ground.

Remove the six screws securing the arch.

Loosen the post anchors by giving them a few side-to-side blows with the mallet in each direction, then wiggle them out. If they’re really stuck, you may need to use something like a fencepost as a lever to pry it out.

Pack all of the materials away for use next year.

[Update, August 2023:] For this year, we drilled 3/8″ holes in the top of the two main posts, and used those to hold a pair of portable holes constructed by Brandr, which supported a pair of ten-foot telescoping poles each flying a six-foot standard with the seahorse and motto, “First Among Equals.”

On Facebook, Ateno of Annun Ridge provided some historical context about the components used in the gate, which are something like two decades old: “Lassar made the seahorses for lan and Katherine and they had presenting tables at the top hoof level. Years ago. Good to see them still being used.” And regarding the arch, “I, Lassar, Edward and Barthalomu the bewildered did the letters, again years ago.”

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