The Re-enactor Challenge – I did a sly one and put them all in a blog at once.

I was challenged by Chieftain-bro Georg and as usual I got carried away. Here is an album of pics from the past to share with you.

big hat smiles
Back at Barley Hall where the rat was more famous than I was.

The shop had been full of them till I started parading the streets, then people started running up to me and saying, “Where do I get one of those?” Pretty soon they had sold out.

I was focussing on doing my promotion work, but people kept coming up and stroking my rat. It was most often men, and they would stand and stroke it for far too long, until it became quite uncomfortable.

When I checked back in at the office and was asked how it was going by one of my bosses I explained that me and my rat got far too much attention from men. He answered, “Mmmm I think maybe I better get myself a rat.”

(When I left I bought him cute little white one with a bell and left it on his desk while he was out.)

Miracles do happen.

OK I don’t knw how I did that. Anders the Njardarheimr Blacksmith said will you try out these new axes to us all. I said that I had never thrown an axe and it was my first go. He said that was all the better. I think afterwards he rounded off the ends of the handles.

17 may 19
17th May 2019

As the seventeenth approaches I would like to say what great people the Norwegians are. Seventeenth of May is not just the date it is also the name of the Norwegian National Day. The parades are wonderful. there is a strong sense of pride, yet it is mixed with cheerfulness and a welcoming spirit.

This is my good friend Lynn, although twice I had people say, “Ah, this is your wife. I’ve been wanting to meet her. This was the day of celebration and they are going ahead this year, although they will all have to march two metres apart. Even in the Fordtell Banquet households will be sat well apart from households.

You are great.

begging jester
Yes, I did this.

DIG in York were holding a medieval event. I cant remember if I was storytelling or fortune telling, but they asked me to help with promotion beforehand. I am the best leafletter and promoter the world has ever seen. I agreed to dress up, but I didn’t expect this. I know it is not an authentic costume but I am reenacting in a way. (There will be quote a lot of that sort of thing as we go along.) I found a jolly jester creeped people out and they turned aside but if I looked miserable, not only did it draw their attention but they felt sorry for me. “Ow alright I will take one of your leaflets.” Generally they were laughing, but some people would take it seriously and shout, “Oh for god’s sake cheer up.”

Back to Vikings…

ade-and-emma jorvik 12
Heading off to the Jorvik Festival 2012

Emma and I heading off to the Viking festival, well we are probably going to the Kings Arms.

This is just outside my door at the time and will have been taken by Gramey Smith of GSmithMedia.

I notice it has been snowing, so there it does snow in England! A lot.

Adrian 3
Bridlington for We Are Theatre

This is me being the Sea King. I turned up early I swear I did, and in the right place too. I got a where are you text and they were all round the corner. “Hurry up and get changed. You are late”. – “Where am I going to get changed?” – We were in the middle of the seafront promenade. People were walking along with ice creams. Folks were sitting outside the pub. Crowds were in and out of the amusement arcades. There was the loud sound of the bingo caller coming over the loud speaker. I was instructed by our producer, “There is no time. Get changed here.” – But everyone will see.” – “Everyone gather round and block the view.” It was all the kids who gathered round, while their parents stood looking on in wonder. I undressed, and put on, well, a dress. A voice came booming over the speakers from the bingo caller, “Look outside. What on earth is going on?”

(Some of the best times of my life have been with We Are Theatre.)

Back to me being handsome…

and the horse
Note the Hnefatafl board

Out in the sun all summer. But as Karin says, you get a Viking tan; nose and hands. Folks all gather round, of all ages and from all places, “Hello, where are you from?” – “Israel.” – “Germany.” – “Palestine.” – “Sit down. Enjoy.”

Right opposite the chieftain’s area is Pete the boot maker (and amazing carver). He would be working a group just the same as me but then say afterwards that he really enjoys just the atmosphere and the funny voices and the reactions. He particularly likes the talking horse.

Now back to Barley Hall…

andraea n me
Working with the lovely Andraea

We had some great times, here at Barley Hall working very hard.

I was lucky to start getting invited over to America to festivals.

blessing by douglas swenson
Photo by Douglas Swenson

Back at Gudvangen we have an incense burner it was presented to Georg my Chief-Bro by a wonderful couple of Polish crafters. It was modelled on finds from Norway and having origins in the Arabic lands. so, that burner was originally Islamic, then used by Asatru (What you might call Pagan or Wicca) and then I guess they may all have turned Christian.

So when we parade we are representing a simple multi-faith message of blessing.

Then I got invited to the amazing Norsk Høstfest what an experience. We have an great outside area with activities and then a huge indoor village full of tents and displays with a great stage and children’s activities and everything. (There are another thousand Scandinavian displays just along the walkway from us.)

I took along another burner, crafted for me by Marcin a Polish crafter who works at Njardarheimr, Gudvangen, Norway, and was delighted when a major star of the Viking stage Kari Tauring agreed to participate in a blessing. It went down so well with many people.

Another blessing back in Gudvangen.

blessing njord

The wonderful Torill (and her husband Olav) of the Fjordtell in the valley of Gudvangen brought about the whole Viking concept there. Inspired by the words of the future Chieftain no doubt. Their tireless imagination keeps the place in existence, even in such difficult times. Torill arranged for a sculptor to come and create this statue; Njord god of the sea routes.

Every year we have a blessing with a ceremonial parade and the sharing of a horn of mead. People step forward to visit Njord one at a time to share their hopes and promises.

The first year after Torill and I had written poems specially for the presentation someone came up with an idea. that we put the chieftain on a throne in the middle of the Viking village which is across the bridge from the hotel. then we get big strong warriors to stick poles underneath the immense statue and parade across. There is a picture somewhere of lots of strong people not only red in the face but red all over with eyes bulging.

Olav and Torill came to me and said this is a newly create tradition which we shall do every year, but we will parade to the statue not have it carried.

I don’t think there were any hernias but it came close.

Now to the darkness…

by andraea
Photo by Andraea

In the dark in the dark age village just outside York and the Murton Farming Museum. Here they have a village. The York University Medieval Society (Who later morphed into Vanaheim Vikings of which I am a member) hired the village and hired me as storyteller. What a great feast we had, in great company.

by jeff robshaw
Photo by Jeff Robshaw

From a show at the UWGB Viking House for a group brought in by Jarldress Heidi Sherman.

ceromony prep
Photo by Heidi Sherman

Here I rather dramatically prepare for the parade and ceremony on the holy hill. Njardarheimr Viking Village, Gudvangen, Norway has a recreated holy area upon the slight hill at the top of the town. We parade asking all to join, then gather to speak to the heart. There are parts for various faiths and an opportunity to step up and speak. It pulls in quite a crowd, as long as we pick the right moment when enough Vikings are free and there are plenty of visitors around.

Now for the plague doctor…

We are doomed, we are all doomed

Originally they wanted me to wear the mask as I handed out leaflets, but no one would come near me. I found that trembling as I reached out with the leaflet got the best results. If they just walked past I would say, “Oh well, never mind.” They would turn back and take one saying, ” Aw bless you.”

From time to time the staff who employed me would come out to check how I was doing, I would reach out as they approached and they would take one.

I was very cool to be seen with…

cool to be seen with

Then my storytelling corner in the Chieftain’s Hall.

corner by grethe iren

So many wonderful experiences. A family from Bergen came to visit; a mother and two girls. There was also a teenage who it turned out was on a visit with them. He had come all the way from Mexico. He wanted a story. He wanted another. He fired questions at me. He told me a story. Then the lady said, “He has been with us on a visit for 4 and half months. He came to us because he is obsessed with Viking Mythology.” Trouble is we don’t know anything about Vikings. He goes home in three days.” I told another story. An hour and a half they were with me. They got up to go. He rose up. He sat down again, “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me in my whole time in Norway.”

I recreated the Mythology of Sutton Bank above the North York Moor…

cross pointy end show
Please note it is not called the North Yorkshire Moors.

The white horse which leapt off the edge turned to stone half way down. Some who fell in the lake below found a while village under there and were led to a rushing underground stream which flushed them out on to the moor. I didn’t try it.

This is a popular place for walkers, and up at the top of the climbing road is the Sutton Bank Visitor’s Centre. A fort high up here resisted the Romans. It is now the highest spot to go gliding from. It can be seen for miles across the Vale of York. It was they of the centre who commissioned me. I had an assistant, from the theatre group I work for. He only just got his car up the long high climb. He parked up and went into the Sutton Bank Visitors Centre and said, “There is a really steep hill there you know”.

The Late Great Dave Restless digitalised me in my very first outfit.

Sometimes enacting isn’t about being yourself at all or even being real….

dnd team
Me and my team

This isn’t the whole team around the table this is just me and my followers if I recall rightly. I am the lead figure (as in leading), I am Sponge Pencil. I think we were in search of the Breadman, he who runs all things.

Moving on swiftly…

Publication1 (2)
That’s more like it, fairy dancing

I was actually trapped in a fairy ring at one point. Being commissioned to create a medieval themed performance for a wedding can be a dangerous thing.

Now roman age…

Photo by the late great Dave Restless.

Dave also filmed this performance. I am in the actual roman bath in the Roman Bath Museum in York, or should I say Eboracum.

Last I heard the film is still on show as you walk around the museum.

Dave also mixed the image with the words of the piece and it is here for you to see.

Roman In Steam by Flavius
I am Flavius Agricola

The farm upon the hill held a gathering and feast for Joloblot the Viking mid-winter.

T’or Erik and I, I think this might be the only game of the match off that I won.

The latest one was pretty good too. After sharing Christmas together Heidi and I went to the January Blot and got married.

I was at Galtres Festival…

giddy viking by danny
Photo by Danny

I had an enormous chair in a our own marquee. the whole place was decorated by Ruthy and team. then a selection of specially created props were displayed to choose from. Ruthy painted their faces after they had chosen from a list. They picked out a prop each and I created a story from the selection. Their faces turned them into the cast and they played the parts.

We were a great team…

hobb trap with ruthy
The Hobb Trap

Ruthy stands in protection as I dare to open the Hobb trap to see what is inside.

Now over to Denmark…

gods poster

The Mythology Festival in Jelling booked us to create this show. Gods Bless Ya!

gods b
Gods Bless Ya!

Here I am with the amazing Alda as she sings with Sigrun’s goddess models in front of the stage. Sigrun had created all the costumes for the Goddesses such as Skadi. Alda and I wrote the show and performed, as models took turns to parade and react to our lines.

gods bl

Then on to Hel

lady hel

A village had been set up nearby for refugees from Syria. They were invited to join us for free, once tickets had been sold. So a whole host of the audience had not been long in Denmark and had escaped a war-torn country in small boats. When we did Alda’s Rise up song and I Called for everybody to get up and move like zombies, they all joined in! Lady Hel Herself was a big hit when it came to photos afterwards.

Now on to God of War

gods of war
God of War presentation

It was all a big secret up until the day. This was the launch of the new version of God of War and gamer bloggers and vloggers gathered in force. One of them has 30 million followers. As well as sampling the new game in a darkened room they had to take part in many tasks to earn points. so they would come in in small groups and listen to a story then be given a bead to show. Most filmed me two. It was a one day event and I was flown in specially.

Here is another time in Gudvangen at the Market there among the fjords…

red hat (2)

Let me tell you a secret, the hat is not mine. I took it with me to Norway but it wasn’t mine. The night before my flight I did a corporate gig at Barlehy Hall in York. this rather drunk executive of some company or other kept taking hats off the costumed statues and swapping them with mine. Every story I had a different hat on. It was rather distracting. I was up very early so as soon as the gig finished I changed and threw everything into my costume bag, to throw into my case when I was home. When I unpacked in Norway I had this hat. Much later when I had finished touring telling stories and running workshops and returned to York I was booked to tell stories at Barley Hall. There on a dummy was my black hat so I swapped them. Nobody ever believed when I said, “That hat has been to Norway”.


Among moody skies within the walls of the fjord at either side of the town, you might expect me to be telling stories or teaching, but no I am on guard. Well that’s how it looks anyway.

Now for something pretty weird…

Yes I am a unicorn of the winter. (Photo by Angela Jones)

But it isn’t winter, it is mid June, and here is ice out in the wilds of Norway. Well just off the road actually. Georg says, let’s go for a drive and we went around a few places, but the first stop was just two kilometer inland from the fjiord waters and up a small bank. It was a red hot day and yet there in the bank just a few meters up, was a hole in the ground. Georg reached in and there was a snap. He came out with this large icicle. Where’d dat come from!.

As we were leaving he was going to take it away, Angela said he couldn’t as it would be bad luck, so he threw it back in. You could here it going tinkle tinkle tinkle all the way down. The hole was full of ice.

helheim ivar husdal
Ivar Husdal sent in this picture.

He tells me that if ever I snap off another one I will grow two icy horns and be stuck with them forever.

Talking of horns I can now reveal a truth……

horns by angela
Horns! (Photo by Angela Jones

Vikings did have horns! they just didn’t have helmets.

When this pic went out on social media someone got quite cross about the fact that Vikings definitely didn’t have horns on their helmets. I pointed out that I didn’t have a helmet.

Promoting a medieval week at DIG…

how gallant by barbara hudson

York Archaeological Trust commissioned me to tell stories whilst pageants were going on outside. They asked if I would do the promotion beforehand. I agreed but never expected to end up in a costume like this. Have we been here before?

This might be the least authentic outfit I have ever had course to wear, but by golly don’t I look gallant.

Back to Minot in North Dakota…

hud thief

I am supposed to be modelling the hooded top I had stolen from someone to see if it suits me and should I get one to keep? When I look at the picture though, all I can see are my amazing trousers.

My patchworks. When Vikings get crafting there always seem to be left overs, and I think there always was. so the natural thing to do it to make use of them. so when there were quiet patches (sic) between stories in Njardarheimr I would sit sewing bits together. Once folks cotton on (geddit) to what I was doing they got all excited and started bringing me bits to use.

I was thrilled to wear them while storytelling at the massive Scandidavian Festival too.

One of the greatest things I’ve ever done…

international storytelling

Creating Multi-National storytelling. These mini shows in many languages are performed at the Gudvangen market every year.

No the greatest thing I ever did was to hand it over to Annabelle Heaseman. I write her a new set of shows each year and she gathers performers from all nations (And one or two imaginary places).

janina skuttle carlstad and john fletcher
Janina Skuttle Carlsted and John Fletcher.

While on the big stage we then announce that I am doing improvised storytelling in the chieftain’s hall and all are welcome. We have had some great sessions. Someone draws one of my mythical carvings from the bag and then I do a poem or story off the top of my head while musicans weave in and out of my words. The pics shows the events we did where I turned up with Don Shaw (Who can be found with a chicken elsewhere in this blog and the great couple in the pic. Enchanting.

In one impro I was howling like a wolf and we heard an echo. We looked out and their in the door way of the hus opposite, howling, and straining at her leash was a tiny chiwowa.

The Jorvik Viking Festival…

jorvik fest chair pointy cropped

Specially made chair and backdrop it was a wonderful experience, I was asked to perform many of the poems I had written with groups over the many times I had worked for them. I have gone on to write Viking related poetry ever since.

just good friends by jr
Performing for the Jarldress at her Viking House

Back when we were just good friends.

pot of peace jeff robshaw
Photo by Jeff Robshaw Sons of Norway

Or perhaps we were relaxed in each others company and hit it off straight away.

We later went to a Sons of Norway feast and each person had made a Norwegian dish. I wasn’t going to be left out so I made a very typical food stuff.


The place to be when it is the Jorvik Festival is the Kings Arms with good friends – unless it floods then you might want to be somewhere else.


Or up a mountain over looking the Norwegian Viking Town.

Or anywhere really.

But I better get bck to work.

lets us begin

We are about to parade to the opening ceremony of the Market, as we do every day that week. Here we see Rune and Liga on percussion, and Arnt on The Chieftain’s Horn. There of course is the chieftain himself, we will lead the walk together and as we go many others will join. There we will tell of all that is happening, and say special words. They are waiting though for me to shout Oooooooodin. We have visitors from afar who bring Arabic produce, so we will start he march with the shout, “Saladiiiiiiins”.

We are safe here in our town. We are well guarded.

marie and liga
Maire, Liga and supporter are at the gate
marie at petes
(Photo by Peter)

Everyone needs time off so the two of us pretend to be bone carvers.

Back to Barley Hall, well a connection to the place.

me darren and virginia (2)

I worked for Darren and he knew I could fit anything into a story. So when he and Virgina got married they got me along to the church to tell a story based around all their interests. It is the first time I have told a Viking story which included Transformers.

I enjoy telling stories though.

me quirky

As my Godson Marc says, “Old Rubber Face.”

Let me tell you what the world is like…


It is round and flat with sea all around and it joins with a great tree which spans all the worlds. this is where I live most of the time; Midgard.

Up above us are the gods…

mythos woods

and there is a sign for each one of them.

Photo by Chloe, CGI by Carol

Jelleylegs the dancing pirate takes a break for a Turkish coffee.

Speaking of legs…


There are 21 different ghosts to be seen here in the Black Swan, Peaseholme Green, York one of them is just a pair of legs.

Phot by Espen Winthers

Oh I miss that hat.

But not this next one

punch and judy
Sandra Noble and I taken by We Are Theatre

Otherwise it was a brilliant outfit. What a fantastic experience (Being hit on the head by Sandra we had such a laugh and went down great. Although I do recall we were crouched in the bottom of the Punch and Judy box for like ages and ages. Plus the turn around time was so quick that we were getting changed in there ready for our next acts.

Back to Norway…

school 01
Photo by Tove Gulbrandsen I think)

This was a school in Bergen.

The shrunken treasure I think. The tiny sword is available to feel – “Don’t touch it’s sharp!” “Anyone else want to try?”

I confess to using props a lot.

shield wall
The Shield-wall by Adrian Spendlow

In Gudvangen we watch the fjord waters for ships approaching.

Then to the River Ouse…

story world

I was ‘Boatman’ for a project on the river barges. Each section had a story to go with it and the childen picked one, so eventually we created a full river scene. That way the story unfolded differently every time. It was all based on research interviewing the boat people.

This below isn’t me.

tor erik
Figure by Tor Eirik Stalheim. Boots by Marcin Mizerski

Although I think it is supposed to be.

I am open to gifts of further apparel.

Vanaheim training at York University

Your gotta keep training.

During Lockdown I run around the house like this all the time. I don’t think Heidi is too keen.

vanaheimr scar sarah murray

And here are some of the amazing Vanaheim team on a ‘fishing’ trip to Scarborough.

Vigdis Sveinsdottir

And so we parade with our great chieftain.

Thank you for exploring my pictorial journal.

Here is what I should have done…

Every day take an image taken from your life as a re-enactor and publish it without explanation then appoint someone in turn to continue the challenge. 10 days, 0 explanations, 10 photos, 10 nominations .
Today I nominate…