Monday, August 01, 2016

The Long Journey

Over the many years I have been envolved in various medieval combat games, from SCA to LARPing. During that time I have fallen back into one persona that I have enjoyed the most. This blog is about being a Viking in those various worlds.

First off, what to I mean by being a Viking? Vikings came from the far north - what is today modern Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The people of Britain usually called them Northmen or Danes - rarely "Vikings". Viking was definitely more of an attitude than a people. Men went "a viking" - that is to trade, raid or settle a different country to the one they were born in.
The Vikings hit the shores of Britain in the late eighth century - giving the monks on Lindisfarne a hard time in 793AD. The campaign of raiding easy targets such as monasteries was to go on for a further 50 years or so.

In 865AD a "Great Army" arrived in the East Anglia which was to leave a trail of devastation throughout the country. This army overran the towns of York, Nottingham and Reading. Their progress south was halted at the battle of Edington in Wiltshire by Alfred the Great in 878AD. Alfred and the Viking King Guthrum arranged to share England between them, drawing a line between the Dee and the Thames to split the land creating the Kingdom of Wessex to the South and the Danelaw in the North. Over a further 50 years the Wessex kings would conquer the Danelaw which would lead to the creation of England. Many battles occurred in this period between the Saxons and the Vikings of the Danelaw.

Things then remained pretty quiet until the 990's when a new army of Vikings started to attack the south coast. Led by men with names such as Olaf Trygvassen, Sven Forkbeard and his son Cnut. The Saxons fought them off for 20 years - but the Vikings demanded more and more silver in exchange for them going away. This was a protection racket on a big scale - more than 100,000 pounds of silver would make their way to Scandinavia in this period. Eventually the Saxons could stand no more and in 1016 England found itself a colony of Denmark under the rule of Cnut. With the death of Cnut's sons the throne reverted to the Saxon kings - there would be attempts at the recovery of the kingdom in 1066, but the Viking age was effectively finished.

I am trying to recreate one of those first Danes who sailed west in 793 AD.

I am using authenticity guides from various sources in order to re-create this look. One of these is The Vikings, a rehistoric group from the UK.

Creating the look for a viking warrior isn't too difficult, as much research has been done. In the picture up above you can see me at a local LARP event, outfitted as a Hersir.

A hersir was a local military commander of a hundred and owed allegiance to a jarl or king. They were also aspiring landowners, and, like the middle class in many feudal societies, supported the kings in their centralization of power. The hersir was often equipped with a conical helmet and a short mail coat. Most would wield an iron sword, mostly augmented with a wooden shield. They were also known to wield one- or even two-handed axes. The hersir would always fight on foot, usually as part of a shield wall formation. Another formation was also used, the Svinfylking, which was a variation to the shield wall but with several wedge like formations pointing towards the enemy creating a zig zag pattern.

My helmet is a recreation from the movie Beowulf and Grendal. My mail coat is rivited mail from Historic Enterprises. Shield and sword are Foam Boffers. The tunic and trousers I made from patterns found on the internet and are reflective of a 7th to 10th century danish bog find. The leggings and boots are LARPish affliction.

In the title picture you can see a better image of the helm. and a padded jacket worn under a tartan cloak. The dagger at my waist is a latex one, as is the axe in my right hand. It's turned just enough so you can not see the blade- but it is there. The sword is worn slung on my back for ease of movement- not typical for the timeperiod.

Well, this is the beginning. Hope to post much in the coming days.

Thorwald Hrodgerson.


Post a Comment

<< Home