Viking Travel Course – Part One
I am thrilled to be part of the team taking a group from University Wisconsin to Norway for a Living History course where we will develop skills and deepen knowledge in a sharing and encouraging way. the group of Students, graduates and others will be traveling from UW Green Bay in the US of A to Norway to visit Viking sites and live as Vikings in a recreated town.
The students will be reporting via blogging, vlogging and social media as part of their course, as will the team, so this is the start of my personal contribution looking at it all from the point of view of the storyteller.
How did I come to be part of this, some might wonder? Those of you who know of my work and travels will not be too surprised at this development; I am Skald to the Chieftain of a Viking town. As a full-time storyteller I travel widely, especially in the Upper Mid-West of America and in Norway. It is through these travels and performances that I have become part of things at the Viking Hus in the grounds of UWGB.
We are about to start recruiting students to become part of this adventure and hope to be taking up to 20 of you along with us. Who are we? Professor H Sherman, Head of History, UWGB, Katie Walkner, Professor of History, UWGB Manitowoc (and myself as Instructional Consultant). We are lucky to have Jemma Lund, Assistant Director of Study Abroad as part of the team, she will be the ‘Michael Collins’ to the ‘Buzz’ and ‘Neil’ of the lucky two instructors who will be heading off to walk the Viking way; Jemma will be coordinating from the UWGB end of things.
The students will each create a Viking outfit to take along and will learn and demonstrate a skill from a selection offered.
Our journey will be mid-May through to mid-June 2020 and the itinerary will be something like this…
Fly into Oslo, Norway to visit the Ship Museum, the nearby Folk Museum and to include the stave church there. We also plan to visit Viking Planet before heading off to Borre to be guided around the burial mounds and the Midgard Historic museum. A picturesque train journey over the mountains will lead us to Bergen to visit Hordamuseet and then a further journey of train and ferry will lead us deep into the Sognfjord for our stay in Gudvangen. Here in the Viking Town of Njardarheimr we will live as Vikings.
Freemen, Freewomen and crafters there will offer skill training in a wide variety of topics so that each of the students will learn at least one craft or skill and will then demonstrate for the many visitors. We will be active participants in all the shared experience of Viking life there, this will include events and activities as well as time with the Chieftain, the ‘Skald’ and other guides.
Future blogs will include useful links to creating your own Viking gear plus an on-line guide to all things Viking. Stay tuned for details and photos of the many skills you can learn and discover how you too can contribute to the development of Viking Valley.
For further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a walk around our town (The link includes how to play Hnefatafl too)
Click here for Viking Travel Course – Part Two
What a great night at the Sons of Norway meeting here in Green Bay. We were thrilled to be asked along and really enjoyed the wide spread of nordic offerings. There is a film below showing all the huge range of delightful dishes, but this blog perhaps ought to be renamed; Gas Station Delight.
When we were invited along and heard that everyone was bringing along dishes I thought I had better think up something which was unlikely to already be taken. Hence:-
Gas Station Delight
Wherever you go in Norway if you were to stop at a Gas Station it is highly likely that the first thing you saw as you walked into the store would be the Hot Dogs. As you are being served your Dog they often ask, “Do you want shrimp sauce on that?” It therefore is a Norwegian delicacy.
So I recreated it. This was all for fun but it turned out to be really enjoyed by many who tried it.
This basically is a shrimp and hot dog salad. I am thrilled that I have been asked for the recipe. So here for the forthcoming Sons of Norway newsletter is the magical ‘how to’ of my new Norwegian tradition. (If you are in Wisconsin and want to know more about Sons of Norway in Green Bay pop in a comment and I will give you contact details – BTW there are S.O.N. groups all over America.)
I bought good quality cooked hot dogs and sliced them quite thin and then I mixed them into the salad. In Britain I would describe the salad as a prawn cocktail and it is easy to make. Mix Ketchup (Tomato Sauce to you fellow Brits) with mayo till it is nicely pink (if it is leading to red you have too much Ketchup). I decided not to use garlic mayo in case there were some there who didnt’ like it. I bought a pound of shelled ready-cooked shrimp and snipped them small with scissors (If the tail is on take it off first) . Actually I snipped them off the tail shell bit and dropped those bits in a bag to freeze to make a later fish stock. I added a little thinly sliced cabbage but you might prefer onion if you are racey.
I told you it was simple. It worked really well.
In a Pickle
I also added a dish of surkal (Spelling?) of my own design. I knew there would be some Rodkal (Spelling?) there, indeed there was a great version on offer. I had seen a celebrity chef show when at my mum’s in Scarborough (check pronunciation) where they made instant pickles so I thought I would give it a go. I will be playing around with other variants using different fresh veg and perhaps herbs and spices now I know it works, but here goes…
I thinly sliced cabbage, and dropped it into boiling organic apple cider vinegar then turned it off and popped the lid on for a while. It really worked
Do feel free to make suggestions of future additions.
Now for the footage and fun photos…
Ah, I’ve found a pic of my pickle, it’s on Heidi’s plate here…
Here is footage of the wonderful S.O.N. supper, including Gas Station Delight
My fave Gas Station – Joker in Gudvangen, Norway
It is a family business…
A fun and friendly family
Back to Green Bay, and that supper.
There was some jealousy…
And some anxiety
But back to recipes – and this time proper British!
Here’s a how to…
“Chips! Proper chips!”
(I snip off a bit and drop it in first, when it starts to fizzle it is time for the rest.)
If you can leave them till they are sticking together all the better, but don’t risk burning them.
They are best drained before serving.
So don’t invite too many people!
You might prefer ketchup or mayo, I do know you must add lots of salt (Himalayan) and ground mixed pepper corns, but the real way is with Maggie (Hydrolised vegetable protein), splosh it on.
If you look at the powers of Odin; at the songs and runes, you see a different image than you would imagine. His words, his gathered powers, are for the betterment of all.
(Filmed in the Viking town of Njardarheimr, Gudvangen, Norway as I walk towards the ceremonial area.)
Thanksgiving, made possible by only one word…
By only one man.
Those pilgrims they landed they tried and they struggled. Nothing worked. They really suffered. Nothing grew, all the seasons were wrong. They came down with all of the infections which were just like at home but different, different enough to do them real harm. They even tried hunting, but even that was diferent than they had known. This was a new country where God had made things other than they had believed would be possible. As many laid sick and indeed dying, they gave it one more try. A small band went out looking for game and they met with something totally unexpected. This is the word. This is the message. America listen. This is the word. “Welcome.” This is what they heard.
How could that small band of travelling originals know one word of English, “Welcome” but they did so. They cautiously walked towards the struggling settlers and spoke the one word of English they knew “Welcome” all this way from the homeland.
This was the moment which gave America English. This is the reason that as new settlers arrived they heard English. All along the coasts were settlements where it was the language and new arrivals from Germany, Poland, Spain, The Ukraine, from the known world heard and adapted. English was the first language they heard.
This was the word of Squanto.
For that welcoming band (that small ‘nation’) led the poor settlers to another tribe than their own. They took them to a ‘nation’ where Squanto lived.
It was Squanto who took them in, who travelled with them, who settled with them for a while. He taught them how life was different here. They gathered seeds because of him. They learned the lore. The lore of this land the Americas. And they thrived.
In years to come, they would be all along the coast, coastal settlement to coastal settlement; welcoming the new arrivals in English, just like the tribal band before them, “Welcome” “Welcome” “Welcome”
This was the doing of one person, one person on this earth; Squanto.
Many, many years before, other strangers had come, they had come from Spain, they had come to take, and they took him. Squanto the slave had to work; had to work on an alien vessel, a huge wooden sailing ship, doing menial tasks. Hard they treated him, and hard he worked. Then came the time that they traded him. To yet another alien vessel, in an alien world, at an alien port. From America to Europe.
From there he sailed with this new crew to another world. To a port, as he learned they called them. To the port of London. More beings in one glimpse than he had ever seen in his life.
But he saw his life ahead of him and he jumped ship. He left. He escaped. He survived. He learned the language. English.
Time went by and he had what he needed to know. The ships that landed here could go anywhere. So he asked and he asked, and one of these ships said yes. The captain agreed, yes he was going to the ‘new’ world and yes he would employ him.
All Squanto required in payment was nourishment. Nourishment and hope.
The journey was long. And it was hard.
The shore, at last, was before him. The captain was true to his word. Squanto was free.
He was not bitter. He had learned. And he knew one word more than any other.
Long was his walk, hundreds of miles, but he got down that coast, till he started to recognise where he was…
And was he welcomed, he who had come back from the dead, all these years gone.
As an older wiser man, he taught all around him. The only way to survive in this ‘new’ larger world was to welcome. To welcome.
He taught this word to all who came near him.
And those settlers, all those years onwards were welcome.
All along the coast of America his one true word echoed. “Welcome.” “Welcome.” “Welcome.”
Be thankful and be welcoming.
For this is Thanksgiving.
Storm; a poem written while at Njardarheimr Viking Town in Gudvangen, Norway…
Creatures of the Norse – Animals of Norway and creatures thought of as mythical are collected on these decorative cards, which one do you identify with?
I created these for Angela, my fellow storyteller at Njardarheimr Viking Valley in Gudvangen, Norway. The idea was that visitors can pick one and be inspired and a selection can be used to improvise a story.
A show based on medieval folklore especially created to perform at weddings.
Originally commissioned by Linsey Marie Davis, with special thanks to J Michael Lang.
(as filmed at Barley Hall, York.)
(Cover photo taken at the wedding of Jesse and Hannah in Stillwater, Minnesota.)
How To Play Hnefatafl – the King’s Table or Viking Game
The Crafting Ones – A Viking Skills Poem