Opening Ceremony 2016 Viking Valley, Gudvangen, Norway; Live! – Revisited

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Opening Ceremony 2016 Viking Valley, Gudvangen, Norway

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Welcome, welcome, you are all welcome. So good to see you all gathered here for the opening ceremony of this the 14th Viking Market here in Gudvangen Viking Valley.

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You are safe here, welcome; you can relax and enjoy yourself, even though you will be spending the day among huge, hairy, heavily armed Vikings.

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We are glad to have you here eating our food, drinking our mead, looking at our stalls.

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Yes welcome, so relax you will be safe here – it is when we visit you that you need to worry.

“And we won’t be emailing, there will be no polite email asking if it is OK to visit. We will suddenly be there but you will know straight away. You will be well aware we are among you.”

This is a very special place; there is something magical about this valley. Everyone says so. You begin to feel the effect of being here straight away.

These Vikings here, as soon as they step off the ship they calm down, which is unusual I assure you. All the time they are here they are friendly, easy-going and peaceful – well most of the time.

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Look at me. When I am at home I am a wild, dangerous, rampaging mad thing.

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“Me too.”

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You will enjoy yourselves! Do you hear what I say, and can you see the shine of sharpness along the edge of my axe. You will enjoy yourselves!

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Besides, we have many things on our stalls which we want you to buy. We have been to many lands and learnt many skills; old, well-tried, traditional skills. We will enjoy showing you; try not to be nervous when you generously show your appreciation.

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Yes, we have sailed to many nations. We have landed on a wide range of shores, seen people of many types – and robbed them, traded with them, I mean traded with them, yes, traded.

“Can we ask where you are all from?”

“Spain.” “Poland.” “Canada.” “Ireland.”

“Ah, those are the places we robbed.”

That’s where we got all these things we are selling.

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“Hey, stall holders, lower your prices.”

Yes visitors we will sell your things back to you quite cheaply.

“And you will be safe here. Adrian remind them how welcome they will be, and how safe.”

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Yes, yes, safe, yes. We have sworn an oath, an oath. We wanted to reassure you so we oathed an oath, and when a Viking makes an oath they make an oath and the oath that they oath is an unbreakable oath which we have oathed; an oath is an oath is an oath. Let it be known that we have oathed.

“What is an oath?”

A promise; and a promise is a promise and…

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“Don’t start that again.”

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No, right, of course, but we did; there is a ritual and a belief. To make that oath the first thing you have to do is – spit in a barrel.

“Spit?”

Well we skipped that bit.

“Yes well we are selling lemonade and mead to you. So we thought it best not to spit in the barrels. Or talk about it even…”

No sorry. No spitting. The barrels are fine!

A promise is a promise though, and it has to be kept. We worry about where we will go when we die.

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Oath-breakers have to walk through a river of gushing ice. This ice is formed into axes, spears and knives – then, you step out – to be kept in a tower made of living serpents. Bitten and sprayed with burning poison for ever and ever and ever and ever.

Or until Ragnarok; the end of the world.

“So we keep our promises; enjoy.”

If, you enjoy hearing of the old mythos – watch out for the ravens…

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A shadow will flicker over you. As you look up, the second raven will fly in from the world waters, by you see the third raven it will be too late. There it will be upon the mast of an incoming ship; a ship so terrible you will quake at the sight of it. The Vikings are coming, and they are no ordinary Vikings. These are Njardar. Njardar Vikingslag.

We are coming to you and charging onto your land. Hear the roar. See the gleam. A huge army of huge warriors are upon you. These are the best (the Mayor of Aurland himself said that we were second in exports and visitors and soon to become first, so it must be true). It is like the sky itself is filled, and they wait, with weapons high, only for a command to charge. Step forward the chieftain; Olafr Reydarsson. When he speaks we listen. He is big! Very big!

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Well, his beard is big anyway. He will give the command; the word and we will all, roaring, act upon that word.

The word is…

“Welcome; you are all welcome to come and visit us in Gudvangen. Everyone is welcome, except those who do not make others welcome. Come visit.”

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And so they do, in their thousands, from all over the world.

We have had a battle though, a long, hard fought battle – a battle to build.

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As you step though those gates into the fourteenth Viking Gathering here at Gudvangen you step back into the past. Now. The long battle is over. Now. As you step through these gates you are stepping into our future.

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By the fifteenth Viking Gathering there will be a Viking Town. It is a two year project with the first row of Viking houses ready by May – I have put my name down for one of these already.

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Here is the first of the timber being delivered now…

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You will be able to take part in the Glima wrestling…

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With hardly any risk to yourself….

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Hear Galda upon the holy hill…

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Learn leather skills with Hamish, or buy his bags from Annabelle…

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Visit Lady Chaga…

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Be warned; slavers are in the area and you are at risk…

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And it is no use complaining, we know that now.

But no, no, no, do not worry, as we have promised, you are completely safe here, well, until six o’clock. Once the market closes at six all promises are off!

“Oaths”

Don’t spit when you speak!

Oaths. Off.

Vikings will become Vikings again.

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You will be greatly at risk – unless you buy a tunic and a pair of boots and stay here.

Then you will be welcome.

“Welcome.”

Before we actually open the market and get on with selling you your treasures back, there is one rather tricky thing which must be dealt with.

“Don’t tell them Adrian.”

No, we must.

“There is a rumour.”

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A terrible rumour.

“It has been whispered over and over as people come through the gate.”

We are now going to deal with that rumour.

“People have been saying that they have heard that a group of tourists with plastic wrist bands came here to visit and were never seen again.”

Never.

“Never.”

Never

“It is true!”

Never seen again!

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They bought Viking outfits and became part of this marvellous experience.

“Now we must warn you.”

This may happen to you.

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“This valley is such a wonderful, unique place that once you have visited you never wish to leave. Many choose to stay and be here forever.”

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This we must warn you of.

“But there is a greater risk, a great and terrible sadness and yearning which may come upon.”

Yes.

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“If you do choose to leave here you will regret it forever.”

You will always feel that you are not where you belong and will feel terribly, terribly sad that you did not choose to stay.

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“Terribly, terribly sad.”

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“Now, finally, we welcome you with one piece of explanation about what you might expect here, here is the secret – it is all about love.”

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“We will be opening the market again tomorrow.”

And this worries me greatly.

“I will be wearing my helmet. It was a wonderful gift to me and is an accurate reconstruction of a Viking age helmet.”

And why does it have a figure of a boar on the top?

“This is to signify that I command a team of specialist warriors.”

What kind of warriors?

“Berserkers.”

And you are wearing it tomorrow? This worries me greatly. I have pledged to always stand by your side. To dress appropriately and be there in the way that you need me whatever you ask of me. What does a Berserker wear?

“A small fur collar.”

And that’s it!

“Yes.”

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Right I will have to get my outfit ready then.

“It worries me as well, I don’t think I will be standing next to you tomorrow.”

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(“And if you blog about it tomorrow Adrian, do not do a drawing.”)

Thinking about it, I will make a great berserker. If you put all the fighters and all the wrestlers in the field ready I will be able to beat the lot of them, I will clear the field.

If I come screaming across to them wearing nothing but my berserker outfit they will scatter. I will see off the lot of them.

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They will run.

“So will I!” “Enjoy yourselves today, because tomorrow is berserker day.”

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We now declare the Viking Market open!

“This is a marvellous experience, with Vikings and visitors from all around the world, none of the differences you might notice elsewhere matter at all here, all beliefs, all life styles are for elsewhere; here everyone gets along and shares the wonder which is Gudvangen.”

So it is spoken by Olafr (Georg) and this is the world.

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naming

Naming Ceremony photos and footage

Aurland Photography

2015 Opening Speech (more moving)

Skaldic Pieces

Future Skaldic Plans

To Become a King

Saying Thank You

Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.

$3.00

Visiting Viking Attractions: An Idea Swap; revisited

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Visiting Viking Attractions: An Idea Swap – one of my most successful blogs, here revisited, which celebrates the uniqueness of such as Norske Høstfest ND, UWGB Viking Festival and of course, my other home, Njardarheimr Viking Town, Gudvangen, Norway – lots of ideas…

(Book mark it or save the URL now for you will want to come back and back.)

So, here I am back in Blighty. Bit of a rest-stop before it all starts again.

This isn’t a travelogue,

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The journey there by Christof

I have a feel for something a little more intellectual; an idea swap. There are ‘transferable models’ out there and we are the experiencees.

I have called this the ‘first draft’ because I just know you all have ideas to share.

When I say all, I mean Viking related peeps; if you are coming from other directions or none Viking ‘attractions’ OK well we would like to chat with you too you poor little things.

Think of this as a Birth-Product for we know there are ticket buyers out there and we want them in – and besides, gosh, we are engulphed by our own enthusiasm.

You hobbyists you.

Er, sorry, Vikings. x

Right.

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Tindefossen by Christof

While I was at Njardarheimr my good friend Christof took me to the

Voss Folkemusuem

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(link below).

It was a wonderful experience.

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Gaius Cornelius Tacitus wrote of the concept of farms as a commune, Karl the guide in Njardarheimr says so, and so does my friend Susan who lives on er, well a farm.

An expanded community almost in the same way as villages in Britain etc.

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The farmhouse gets longer as we add people on. The square of the building becomes, er, squarer. The farm.

A Viking-age cultural development still relevant today.

Voss Folkemuseum came from such a community development.

We had a lovely time there. It wasn’t ‘populated’ like Gudvangen is, but on the other hand it felt good to be free to roam. We shared the experience and did so in our own time and in our own space.

Not all of the things we spotted and liked on the farm would have been used in the Viking age, yet share them I shall. You may know otherwise, or ideas may come from them.

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The Journey back by Christof
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One such thing which I loved was the work-stool; a stool yes, but with an extra bit to slot tools in, be it crafting or carving.

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Another item of furniture I loved to see, but they were probably 18th or even 19th century, were the giant cradles or cribs which were for adults; sort of like box beds and wonderfully decorated.

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They were free standing but reminded me of the fitted double-bed bunk (with the cute foot-hole ladders) you find in your typical ‘Viking Hus’.

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Skipping over to the Njardarheimr town for a tick, I am reminded of the words of a visitor, (from Hungary). He was very moved by the sight of the bedroom in the chieftain’s hall as he recalled that he had slept in one just like it as a child. Except that he said it was higher because the potatoes were stored under it.

Back to the farm:

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Containers:- In Viking areas we tend to have buckets and bowls aplenty but I was struck by the widespread selections of larger containers. Huge amounts of water would be required on a daily basis. There’s a lot of sauerkraut. Liquids would need storage. Drinks would be fermented.

Ale or wine, mead, all would need barrels, big bowls, large kettles, massive buckets, (massive).

In medieval times they fermented lighter ales as a way of purifying water.

All that water would need transportation too.

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Veiw from the farm by Christof
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We enjoyed going upstairs, exploring different levels, down into the dark. Such activities may be less practical in Viking age constructions although, surely, they had barns and other farm buildings.

I will talk further on this in the Viking section as this idea of exploration can be developed for children’s activities.

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The big one for us was saddles, they had almost too many! I believe they were circa 1750 and onwards but they reminded us of Norwegian saddles of an older period. Viking-age saddles and tack would be a great addition for Njardarheimr.

Another feature I noticed was the rounded edge planks which retain some of the shape of the tree trunk; walls made of such were very atmospheric.

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They had chickens. We got chickens. Although I note ours are more free range. That I guess is to do with the fact our place is populated (and cockerels wake people up). More on the widespread songs of the cockerels when you get to the Njardarheimr section below.

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We loved the photos; grainy old atmospheric images full of folks of such character. These often are sent in, copies offered, bequeathed. They are of the age of course, plus they didn’t have cameras in the Viking period that I know of. Vikingesque areas could have displays. All the attractions we are looking at have distinctive areas which are more modern; cafes, galleries, ‘meerkats’, lots of methods.

There could be scrolling big screens in cafes and dining areas.

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People like to send in photos and footage.

They like to do art too. People, artists, kids. Send us that stuff.

Why not even an international arts display.

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Bethany aged 7

More scope on this below.

This is an area which not only would benefit from a touch of research to see what there is out there; it also could be a good cooperative venture with ‘sister’ places.

Talking of display areas; the farm had a separate children’s area, well, it was one of the actual buildings and it was set aside for activities (not actually moved aside of course).

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Bethany aged 7

One thing that struck me as being a great idea in there were the benches and tables. They were lower. How empowering. You go in, there are things on the tables, the kids sit down. No having to be lifted up or being supervised climbing on. They sit straight down. They weren’t so terribly low that it was too uncomfortable for the adults but were low enough for most children.

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Sadly I only have an image of higher benches
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On the tables were a couple of sets of cut outs. One set was historic figures to dress up. I was reminded of the dollies I used to cut out for my sister from her Bunty comic. And the others were buildings to cut out, colour and glue.

Great for those underused Vikingesque areas.

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The Jorvik Centre in York has a great selection of activity sheets; colouring in, quizzes, games, which also might be useful as a transferable model.

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Some of the photos of the farm depict children in period costumes. So there must be dressing up opportunities and presumably re-enactment days too.

The management for the farm museum expressed interest in working more closely with Njardarheimr.

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Note stone bases and grass rooves

This could only be a good thing. Co-promoting comes to mind, perhaps forming sister sites. Certainly visits and sharing ideas and issues would be useful and could also be used as reason for media coverage.

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Norsk Høstfest, in North Dakota was an amazing experience. It is a gigantic festival with 1100-plus stalls / display areas and many stages. The whole thing has a Scandinavian theme, and I am going to concentrate on the one area – The Viking Encampment of course.

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There are three areas within one; to the right as you enter from along the covered walkway there is the stage, café and activities, to the left of this is the village, (again all indoors), this area has around a hundred stalls and tents all providing activities, sales or displays, there is an outside area too.

(Tim has kindly corrected me here, as my perception doesn’t reflect the accuracy of the way it is all organised – “The building we use is two different areas, the Viking Village and the other is the Tromsø Cultural Village, where the stage is, but we share the performers and presenters on that stage,” thanks Tim.)

I understand there were fight re-enactments outside but I didn’t see any of that myself, I did see tug of war.

There were two forges demonstrating bead making which was captivating to watch,

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Alyssa Harron and freind beadmaking at Hostfest Viking Village
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and a food area. I was fascinated by the different foods being made although I didn’t get to try any. The blacksmith display area showing different stages of the process of working with metal was intriguing and the blacksmith kindly let me share images with you all.

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(Tim has kindly reminded me that the blacksmith with the ore display is Daniel Kretchmar (Danr) and the other Minnesotan blacksmith is Doug Swenson.)

People visiting were certainly interested, the crafters indoors were all kept busy demonstrating and interacting.

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Sorry not got Chris in his outfit
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The friendly Norwegian Forest Cat was very popular.

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I had a small area in this section for storytelling to small groups when I was not on the big stage and True Thomas had an area in the children’s activity space, (“He paints images directly into the mind.”).

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The stage itself had a big screen and had a constant flow of acts and films. I was delighted to see the film on the Stamford Bridge tapestry which I had recommended. There were moving presentations on the Sami culture and concerts by Sami singer Stina.

There were samples of foods to try, I would have liked to have seen a more café-bar style with a menu widely available so visitors could drink, dine and watch shows.

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I loved the alternative pallet seating.

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Felt making was very popular, as were all the activities in the children’s space, (might it be better to say ‘family space’? I enjoyed being a kid again).

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Troll Island was a highlight for me, and a very transferable concept. I love models and this was a model of an island, intended as a display base, but I enjoyed it in its own right. Perhaps if Gudvangen were to take up such an idea we could have a model of a fjord settlement.

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I found all the trolls delightful and so did everyone. If this was to be utilised in our settlement in Norway there would need to be some adaption. IE eyes made of natural materials or beads. Imagine what could be done with beads. Another way to adapt this would be to have kids create buildings, fences, structures; clay, sticks, natural materials. Possibly populate this village with little clay people and animals.

Folklore and troll would be great to talk about at such an attraction and would influence the model making.

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Imagine the films and photo shoots that could come of this.

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That’s my kingpin idea that is.

It is worth noting that the Vikings got very well looked after, drinks constantly available and hot food turning up a couple of times a day; this was none Viking and in an area not open to the public. It was quite nice to sit and mix away from the hubbub; lots of networking going on.

I got biscuits and gravy with creamed potatoes and beans. There at times was such as pizzas, fried chicken, hotdogs, lots of salads.

They had set aside time to be available, to check on how we were all doing. Yes we were very well looked after, lifts to and from, including to go shopping.

The main reason they were free to support participants was because all the work was done. What I am saying here is that they were very well organised and had been working ahead for a long time. I got a distinct impression they were very good at learning from the past, “Ah yes that situation….”

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This all gave time to laugh.

UW-Green Bay Viking House

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I was excited to get to see the grindbyggning, (built and then later donated by Elspeth and Owen Christianson) and there it was in the grounds of a very large beautifully rambling university.

It is a phenomenon. It is a marvellous piece of work. It is more than this. It is a concept. It is a hope. It is a symbol. It is a way of being.

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It is real atmospheric inside.

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I am quite staggered by it. Yes it is wonderful, but it means so, so, much more than itself to everyone involved.

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When I say involved, gosh, I don’t just mean the local Uni community, I don’t just mean the local community who want to make mead, I don’t just mean the myriad of groups and funders, I don’t just mean us crafters, I don’t mean historians, I don’t just mean the head of history, I don’t just mean the original gifters, nor the whole host of internet observers, I mean…

Oh, I don’t know what I mean, because the future hasn’t happened yet. I do know you will all be in it, and I do know there is a future, I know in the depth of my heart that it will be even more wonderful than it is now, even more magical, even more participatory, even more… (OK you get the idea). I do know I want to be there.

Here.

Want me to tell you an individual story of involvement to get you all wound up? There’s loads of those.

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Mariah the Jarldriss in Waiting. She does so much. She does so much with her car. She does so much with her cauldron.

Do you know, I think I might want to suggest that everyone steps back at this point because she is bubbling.

Who knows what is coming next. I am not even sure that Mariah knows. It is all going to happen, and you are all going to be drawn in.

Historic joinery is not what it is about. Mariah is. No calm down Adrian, people are. All the people. The enthusiasm. The village in the mind.

It is happening.

Skaldic skills are growing fast too. As well as doing shows in the house, er, hus, we had a ‘Share’. A story circle. Adrian’s Alþingi.

We created our death poem for Bragi to recite when we head to Valhalla (or the Viking-age afterlife of your choice).

Then everyone told tales, all sorts of topics were covered and different periods in history. It was fascinating.

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Pig

One of our friends, who came to everything we did and is now a regular participant, made notes throughout each telling. She had gone away armed with ideas. I am sure what is coming out of her at ongoing gatherings is totally different from the source (me) as all our minds work in inimitable ways, and she is a wonderful, unique individual. I was thrilled to hear Professor Sherman describe her recently as Erica the Viking House Skald.

There are people who should be thanked for this amazing experience, (See I still can’t quite bring myself to say it is a building, because it has grown beyond). Elspeth and Owen Christianson, two people who have a farm and they had a building and it came here, simple yes – wonderful too. There was a lot more to it than that. Their marvellous creative genius and generosity propelled a sense of Vikingness into thousands to come.

There is a wonderful guy to thank, he generously funded the process, making the establishment here possible.

There is a university to consider.

There is Professor H Sherman. She is what did it, made it what it is; it happened.

These are no sticks in mud. There is Heidi.

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If you happen to walk by Green Bay in your travels of the world make sure you go by Heidi. Go explore the very concept of Viking heritage. There is a concept of Vikingness and it is called Heidi Sherman. No sorry I got a bit carried away and ended up that I have got it a little muddled.

There is a historic building. There is a complex of structures (three to date), there is a community. There is an invitation. (It is Heidi who makes it all happen.)

Wander by and discover.

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Go meet the Jarldriss (Apparently students named her – Jarldriss Flaxblood Soul-breaker, but at least we can be thankful we are not students)

When I talk later about the way ‘Chieftainness’ has developed in Gudvangen; the way respect has played such a great part. When I talk of such, I will be talking of here.

Georg once received a letter through the post addressed to The Viking, Norway, he got it.

When I talk of such I am also talking of here – UW Green Bay.

For there is the same concept of love, respect and power developing for a pure and good soul here as there was twenty three years ago when my chieftain stepped onto the ground which got to became the Viking Valley of Norway.

A community of love and giving developed around my Chieftain. He became such a chieftain because of them.

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And so will Heidi.

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There is a Viking community growing, building by building, concept by concept, artefact by artefact, in the grasp of her delicate fingers.

I can see it.

Go now while it grows.

Go again once it has grown.

Vikings.

When we shape from wood we become.

Go see the amazing building and area now for there is far more to come.

Join us.

For we are Vikings.

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And that is not just wattle.

There were amazing responses to my activities and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, plus the company was smashing, I think perhaps the most valuable aspect was utilisation. My skills were studied, my background researched, my energy levels considered and then I was utilised. Often places have an idea of what they want and they get you in to do it. They will probably have seen my work and think, ‘We want that’.

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Here though more diverse aspects of my persona were delicately cherry-picked. I ended up doing all sorts of things.

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It was a brilliant experience to do the National Railroad Museum; and it was a sell-out – over capacity. I actually performed stories of my late father’s on what would have been his birthday. I was thrilled that my niece and her husband were able to come over from Rockford to be there as an enjoyable sort of remembrance.

dad uniform

Out there in the world of blogs and internetting Heidi saw that I was the son of a steam engine driver (who had written his memoires), and that I was also the son of York’s first ghost walker (my mum). So she teamed these aspects up to have me create a show. It was so fulfilling.

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I mention blogs; they can perform an extra service. I wrote a twelve-blog series on how to be a storyteller (link below). This was there beforehand for anyone to see, it was there for preplanning and it is there as a development area for the future.

Footage of my performances is to be shared. The ones from the jobs for Heidi have had great responses and the films of my show on trains and ghosts is to become part of a web feature on the high-profile Railroad Museum site. There is also talk that this will lead to requests for shows at other railroad museums and attraction across America.

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Think of the publicity such coverage brings in for the relevant attractions. Anything of this nature is worth considering for your attraction, word spreads and any diverse opportunities are, well, new opportunities which give the media the newness and fresh angles they thirst for.

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We need to ask – What skills and experiences do our workforce or potential workforce have to offer?

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I am reminded of the theatre group I work for – We Are Theatre, they too can see beyond what you are, bringing you opportunities to reach a greater potential. Something challenging and new to you that as you start doing it you realise it is a just right thing for you.

This is one of those transferable models I keep banging on about.

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There were of course the classes. There were classes mixed together. There were suggestions of themes. There were adaptions. There were interactive activities. Half a group listened to a story and then the other half came back in and listened to me; they then had to tell each other the tales they had heard.

While each group was out they had to jot down aspects of the Volsung Saga which went in a hat and then I improvised a story around a character.

We had discussions and skills and techniques which could be utilised after I had gone.

We will adapt further in the future.

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I also did a show in the library theatre, thus bringing in different parties and individuals. This allowed me to cover different themes.

Indigenous Sami

Something we would like to expand for future visits is interaction with Native American parties. The comparative work between different cultures and different perceptions was enriching and enlightening. There is loads of space for a similar interaction between Vikings and Sami people.

Another thing which will come from this is a coach trip to Finlandia (I didn’t know that was a place, I thought it was a vodka you see in duty free.) The very first Finnish Viking festival in the US. I am thrilled to be joining a coach to go and perform there.

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A lot of the people who visit Gudvangen are exploring roots, and connections, or links to past life experiences, and many other inspirations. Here so too. In Green Bay though there seems to be more of a feel of organised groups, societies. For example, the fascinating group the Sons of Norway, (more women than men I noticed).

Other attractions could foster this sort of visit. Events put on especially for certain societies. Research needed.

I am very grateful to good friend Rob Wildwood of jelldragon.com for introducing me to Tim of Norsk Høstfest in North Dakota and Heidi of UW-Green Bay Viking House it has all lead to so much, especially great relationships.

Njardarheimr Viking Town, Gudvangen, Norway

This is our Chieftain’s dream, alright so it has been massively supported from the outset years and years ago, and it is a marvellous cooperation of local businesses and investors. This place isn’t funded by Government, Unesco, the council, charities. This is the Chieftain’s dream made real by the spirit of those who bought into the idea with their hearts.

grethes house
Grethe-Iren’s house
krauka
pots and weave

What is it. There has been a market (or festival if you like) for at least fifteen years, there have been events, there have been visitors. Now. It is a Viking town. In an amazingly short time a town has been built. A small few people have found the way to make this happen. It was a massive battle to get permission and atone opposition, but it has happened.

If you go visit (and politely ignore the hidden half-built entrance way part) you will think you are seeing a full town. No there is as much again to come.

It will double.

cheif

Winter and summer our chieftain has watched every step, (and the hotelier has watched every digger and crane – he won’t thank me for that).

georg

Why is Georg Chieftain? Well, a long time ago he decided that if he was going to be making this thing happen then he had better declare himself Chieftain.

Why is he still Chieftain?

He is not Chieftain because he is strong.

He is not Chieftain because he is tough.

He is Chieftain because he is loved.

That love is strong.

He will tell you himself that it is all about love. He feels it strong yes.

light on stage

There is another factor. Thousands of people love him.

So it works.

It is wholeheartedly, overwhelmingly, undeniable.

monika marcin einar

The aspects of Chieftainness which I have alluded to in earlier sections. Those of you who do so very marvellous at running festivals and attractions do not always realise, or admit to your selves, that it is love which is the lynch pin.

You care and people care about you.

This is lesson to be learned Numero Uno.

skaldic corner

This brings us to; please have this sword syndrome. “I have made this sword, please will you have it” Georg’s home is filled with gifts and collections. An accumulation of respect and service.

Carpets, ceremonial bowls, gods and horses.

I mainly mention this because I foresee how this can develop elsewhere.

Let us see some of the items to help us see how that other hall across the pond might become adorned.

left table

One thing I have found to have far reaching effects is our incense burner. Coming from Poland for a pre-visit to bring Georg the gift of this beautiful piece of brass work, the lovely couple brought him the very first one from the mould. Modelled on one found in a boat burial in Norway it will have been used by Asatru (or Pagan) Vikings and then later in Christian ceremonies, it had originally come from a middle east area so will have then been Islamic. So this ceremonial device has been used by three main belief systems.

When it was the big market I went around to each tent or stall and explained that my Chieftain had instructed me to utilise the pine, charcoal and myrrh fumes to bless each area. As I swung the burner upon its chains everyone was visably moved and emotionally effected by the experience.

We parade. Each morning we parade with drums, chants and horns around the tents and buildings to the stage for the opening speeches. Incense wafted along as the burner was carried by Christian, Asatru and Islamic people in turns.

tdb emb gold dragon 02
Toni DB’s work

I have even told this story via video link to an Islamic leader upon the request of his cousin.

njord gud

People are finding their roots here in all sorts of ways, here at the home provided for us by Njord; the fjord is dedicated to him and this is thought of as his land. He oversees us from the seashore and every year his statue is blessed with mead and recited to.

This is the longest, the deepest, and in one place, the narrowest fjord and a tall runic stone is planned to dedicate these facts. We plan to proclaim.

serpent stone
A smaller sone
corner

Njardarheimr is populated. People actually live in the houses (and some other onsite accommodation btw). This is a living village.

I am telling you about all this to help each other get fresh ideas so all attractions can develop. I am not telling you all of this because I am any sort of expert, and certainly not as any type of official spokesperson. Indeed I ask now that you all react. Send me ideas, further info, news and developments. Let us all help each other.

einar

When it is the market it fills up even more with several hundred Vikings in tents.

You can come.

There are those of us who are employed here. Working in reception or retail, delivering historic walks and in the case of Georg and myself, presenting the great hall and telling stories.

tablet lady

There are also people living here for periods of times for various reasons. These are the Freemen. Robin for example comes over from Californian for a week or two at a time, lives as a Viking, crafts as a Viking and generally chats to people.

robin witch
Striking a dramatic pose at an event in California
ravnstove
ravntove
dye spiral
dying
cockerel close
cockerel loom
dying pale

Ravn runs Ravnstova (link below) as a more of a professional service; outfit commissions, textile sales – as well as demonstrating dying and candle making. Conner and Audhild create jewellery and other metal-works on site and have a stall to enable them to ‘thrive, survive and live Viking life live’. Jenne weaves and supplies food. Karin comes with her kids to live and share.

madder

There is also the Viking group with many members Njardarlag, they come and live and work and entertain – and all as volunteers.

Freemen.

Get that concept into your head.

(Well, in a gender-neutral way)

As well as many wonderful activities and offerings Karin and her two also bring the cats. A wonderful addition to our extended family. (More on animals later.)

Another category of visitors of course is the tourists – the mainstay, the raison d’être.

throne
The Chieftain’s hall all ready for stories

They are what brings in the money. When I say the place is all about the people, it also includes the tourists – you get some amazing people. Folks can be massively affected by visiting us.

When a Mexican teenager sits back down and says, “You are the best thing about my whole summer in Norway,” you know you are doing something right.

“We are going back to Minnesota and going to have a long hard think about how we can make our lives as fulfilling as yours.”

viking girl

Another wing is what we call VIPs – this mainly just means that they have arranged for a private dining. There are other aspects to it, they might want to come after 6 when there is just them. They might even want Einar of Wardruna, or stories from me, or Krouka playing. They might want a big party. Torill is willing to be open minded, enthusiastic and adaptable.

half temple

There is another type of visitor lined up. Residential parties. Part of the new building program (it might be all done for all I know) is what is being referred to as Warrior Halls. Two great big halls where groups can come and stay. These could be organisations, reenactors or school parties – as long as they will live like Vikings, (during opening hours at least). There can be whole programs of activities for them.

Oh I am so excited about them because there are whole groups out there which deserve our contact and there are whole groups out there who wish for us to go and reach out to them.

Community is a timeless prospect.

While I am on new structures, I hear there is also going to be a stone round-house with a central fire-pit, I think it is being referred to as ‘the men’s place’, referred to, in a historic way. Is it possible that only men will use it? – Oh yeah like totally.

There will be developments in the arena of ceremonies, in the field of drama and the terrain of performance. I’ve seen plans for a more permanent stage facing the open playing area (see pics of the amazing Einar and uplifting Krauka) and many concerts will happen there, as well as in the huge Heidrun hall. I plan to do interactive dramas from that stage, where the audience act out according to my story points.

multi pre A

(We also do stories in many languages and this is linked to below.)

There is going to be a temple.

That was a statement which deserved its own line if ever there was one.

Now I know I have already stated that I am not in charge of anything. I have no power or valid opinion, beyond the fact that I signed myself up for a blog, but I will speak now: There is going to be a temple and everyone will be tolerant of each other.

temple

There is going to be a temple and everyone will be tolerant of each other.

It will be a place of celebration, so I understand. We often have weddings, blessings, naming days, funerals; moments of life. Well bless Gudvangen, it is going to continue happening.

It is going from a holy hill with a couple or three statues, and me announcing spiritual Galda; i.e. from the runic inspiration of Lars Magnar, to having a temple for him to call you into.

galda 01
My attempt at a simple Galda

There will be drama, there will be inspiration, there will be re-enactment, there will be the deeply moved, the past life, the happy to act, the incense swinger, there will be wonders to behold.

The entrance way complex will be completed real soon; with a café/bar, shop, display area and reception.

There will be other new buildings.

One day, one day, we will have a harbour.

I did say this blog is all about opinion from a verbose storyteller who has no power but just you stop and listen to what I say now.

ships painting

One day, one day, we will have a harbour.

The Skald he has spake.

Or was that spaken?

People travel from one market to one market to another; this itinerant lifestyle goes on in Scandinavia from spring to autumn (fall) with crafting-up going on in the winter, (I think it is addictive), I have a vision about this, (in my optimistic way); this will happen in America.

aldas bonfire cropped
Njardarheimr is open all year

Gosh for a powerless upstart I do keep wanting to proclaim about how I have spoken and therefore it will be. I guess that is the theme of this blog if you boil it down to ego. No, if you boil it down to Utopianism.

I have spoken.

Here I go again, carrying on…

Some of the stuff that works so so well at Gudvangen…

This is a blog about a writer / storyteller / personality (me) – who is funny: it is not a photo blog, there is text and it isn’t to supplement the art or photos, there are photos etc, they are not there to accompany the text, it is almost like they are separated ingredients ready to fry – but here for a first, and for a very, very, important reason, I am referring to a photo:- Write your name in runes.

A quiet stroke of genius. Write your own name in runes.

‘Now look I want to take credit for this because I bought the charcoal sticks.’ ‘No I brought the plank of wood – and the string.’ ‘I got the huge gift from the tannery we used some of for people to write on (with my charcoal sticks actually BTW).’

‘Now look will you two stop bickering in the Chieftain’s hut, it is like hearing some old couple.’

rune board

Oh alright – I admit – Georg was right.

It was a stroke of genius quietly put together and agelessly displayed, subtly offered.

Not only can you take part on the spot.

Not only is it done in a none modern way.

You can take a photo and take it away with you.

Think of it as a travel activity.

People love it when I suggest that.

Yes, Georg, it is a really great idea.

You can play Hnefetaflr.

The Viking Game.

tafl and oil
Note the hanging oil lamps – glass and iron

You can listen to me or Georg telling you how it is played.

Many just love to hear about it.

“I am duty bound to inform you that there are sets for sale in the shop as you leave,“ usually makes them laugh.

Some want to play.

Georg is very good at being the opponent to singles.

Some will sit down opposite each other and play and play and play.

It is a very good job that we allow people to stay overnight!

Just discussing and looking at the runes is a great thing, people are fascinated.

There is so much to say.

I am so glad we just have the time to talk – and to listen.

to the kitchen

We also offer a game, or just talk about it, that I only know from the medieval attraction in York; Barley Hall (You must go there – link below) so my name for it is of the wrong age, but, Nine Men’s Morris.

Folks like that.

There is a piece of leather on a table. ‘I got the leather and the charcoal to mark it up.’ ‘They are my precious playing pieces.’ – ‘Alright you two shush now.’

rune corner
See the iron candelabra

OK it draws attention – it is tic tac toe – it is noughts and crosses. It isn’t, it is earlier. You get three pieces each. The chances are you won’t get a line in three placements. Then you start moving the pieces one space at a time. It is really cookie.

We have the Lewis chess set (I am just randomly talking at this point so don’t think I am any sort of expert or even anything), I understand this is thought of as post Viking-age, but isn’t Lewis in Scotland, didn’t they have Viking kings till 1250ish. Way later.

to the kitchen
(Some interesting lantern set ups)

The Vikings knew chess OK.

And anyway, it is probably from India or China, or wherever it was Snorri says Odin and the rest of the Aesir arrived from (cough).

Anyhow – chess is very popular. You pop out, you come back, there are two people playing chess. You start stories. They never notice you.

They go on for absolute hours.

mixed media impro

Tacitus the aforementioned diarist spoke of runes from when he visited Germanic tribes. The Father of the farm chopped a branch and marked it with his own signs for the gods, (so we are sounding kind of pre-rune here), then he divined. So I have a bag of my own signs for the gods and I draw you one out.

I also offer rune readings, (Elder Futhark), and where people are happy for me to, I add in the crystal ball – scrying was of the period. The Jorvik Viking Centre have employed me to do readings for children, that was very interesting.

The runes could be compared to Ancient Egyptian symbolism; each has a meaning as well as a sound; Water, Birch, Riding etc.

The Jorvik Centre I believe still use the Elder Futhark, as do I, whereas in Njardarheimr the smaller set, the Viking runes are favoured. So one needs to decide. Runes are planned to be used for signage, so I will discuss this in that section.

outdoor table

More of an ornament or artefact than an activity but I just love Georg’s scales; especially crafted for him, and people love to see the engraved weights, they are a real talking point.

My chieftain has the aim, (and passion), that he will make some improvement every day, (perhaps that might be the main lesson of this blog?), and he had the blacksmiths create him an inverted L-shaped hook-stand to bang into his log-shaped table. On sunny days when we choose to bring all the activities outside this really allows the scales to look at their best.

Peter the highly-gifted bone-carver across the path has described us as a Viking-age theme park.

There are weavings hung down the walls, I would love to see them adorned with a couple of embroideries each. Such as the wonderful silks ones made by Nine Worlds Clothing, the best I have ever seen, (link below).

tdb emb better lady one
By Toni DB
coin

No I cannot talk of how great our coin minting activity is without tipping a ginormous hat to the Jorvik Centre. You have paid to come in, so extra revenue is a bonus, and we want activities don’t we, so you don’t charge a fortune. Having a path to follow helps too as so often you see people roaming, no dashing, straight past things.

Georg’s coin-making equipment is very popular. He even offers silver ones.

I cannot refer to the Jorvik Centre without talking about the flood. So we shall take a brief interlude from discussing the activities at Njardarheimr and visit York. I must tell you of what I heard. Now I am no news hound or anything, but if what I was told is on the button there are staff at the centre who deserve a medal. The reason it took so long to rebuild and reopen is that it wasn’t just floodwater that came up into the place it was something far fouler. The lower section flooded and I was told that a group risked their lives by going back down the stairs into the slightly higher section where the genuine artefacts were. Engineers took off a fire door and actually gaffer-taped it across the open doorway to hold it all back! It could have burst at any moment! The atmosphere must have been quite toxic too. Staff then saved all of the precious items.

I think we should tell the queen.

(BTW If I haven’t got all the details here I would be glad to hear more.)

One or two ideas come to mind from my experiences there. One activity I’ve been employed for is queue busting; from me that is fun characterful chat, others demonstrate their kit, and archaeology students demonstrate finds.

dragon_brooch_pin

I frequently enjoyed borrowing interesting jewellery from stalls and telling a story related to it. People would often go over and buy jewellery as a result.

All this ideas swap business suggests to me that there could be exhibitions of regional finds on loan from other establishments.

boast-218x198

Representatives from Viking attractions I am sure would be welcome in Njardarheimr, not just as ‘Freemen’, also to demonstrate skills and share information.

Back to the chieftain’s Home in Njardarheimr, Gudvangen, Norway and how it came about. It is real with objects in a home not in cabinets, with people in the beds!

kitchen

It has a kitchen. We are especially grateful to the volunteer joiners who created this area. When you train in your craft in Switzerland or Germany you pledge that once you are qualified you will travel away and work for food and lodging (I think for two years). These wonderful people created many great things including the kitchen and the Hnefetaflr table.

Oh and the skittle castle. That has gone down great. Georg carved wooden figures to stand on it and folks love it.

We plan a larger castle for next year, to go in, and I am hoping to be able to paint it.

Other games include Kubb, Knutlegg and tug of war. I am not going to mention the Loki run.

tactic-kubb-utomhusspel
Kubb

Oh yes and axe throwing, (not hatchet catching) and archery.

Then there is fighting. There is competitive fighting, (in twos), there are battle enactments and there are choreographed shows. There is also Glima the wrestling of course.

That leads to dressing up. There is an area with mail and helms and weapons where you can don them for a photo. There is also an area with play weapons; wooden swords, shields axes etc.

dolls
Or dolly dressing

Georg made me a three-metre spear and I started doing shield wall re-enactments with kids. They would line up against an imaginary enemy with me behind holding the spear between them. That was great fun and made for great photos of us stabbing warriors and horses.

Dressing up could be massively expanded. I would like to see more wooden weapons, a couple of saddles to sit on and lots of clothes for people to borrow. Fun for all ages and lots of memories to be made.

I also wondered about having a photographer. Perhaps a photo wall offering pics as you are leaving (like the ones when you come off a roller coaster).

Having a blacksmith’s shop on site is a marvellous thing. A great team of smiths too. We can all work and develop together.

All the kitchen fittings were created here. Hooks, nails, hanging oil lamps and bowl candle holders are all transferable ideas. Nails, it’s all about nails.

There is a great display of wares hung in the blacksmiths; fish hooks, knives, dozens of objects – nails! I love nails.

The annual market brings in hundreds of Vikings and of course many more visitors. Huge arrays of skills and crafts and goods come to us.

A whole series of events are programmed, worthy of far more attention and publicity. Entertainments, demonstrations, dramas. We also have always had a series of courses available. These can be a way to make it more financially viable for visiting experts and add massive value to the visit; needle-binding, storytelling, fight skills, many skills are on offer.

Story circles come fondly to mind, something we could bring back in the stone roundhouse perhaps. These tend to draw in teenagers and young adults too.

mixed media impro

A new development for me at the 2018 festival was improvised storytelling, or perhaps more like poetry. Great musicians and percussionist joined me while I pulled one of my signs of the gods out of a bag and then we made up a piece with music and word and song. Wonderful experience.

si

This year I noticed that lectures were added to the repertoire. Women’s lives, Women at war, Viking-age music, and the Viking year were on offer.

As promotion improves and these activities are planned well ahead the amount of people who come especially for a certain course, show or lecture will greatly increase.

The historic walks are a brilliant feature, they are actually referred to as guided walks but I appreciate the history side the most; you come away from these historic walks with a greater understanding of the concept of Vikings.

steamy cauldron

I do wonder if these will change in the future, as the place becomes busier, (it is going to get packed out), that there will be members of the village stationed here and there strategically around all the different features and sites with visitors going from one to another. That is just a thought I am throwing in the pot and would develop on from what is already offered.

Visitors are international so guided walks aim to be so too; currently there are tours in Norwegian, English, Spanish, French, German, Latvian and Russian available most days throughout the busy season and I believe this will increase. I guess the majority of people who visit are able to speak and understand English so it tends to be more common.

Should there be Meercats? – Meercat is the nickname for freestanding information boards. I like the idea and think people will appreciate them and not think of them being out of place and out of time because they are expected and useful. I know Georg prefers the idea of only signs in runes to be more in keeping with the timelessness of living Viking style in the nowadays.

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That thinking has led to the ideas of a treasure hunt, spotting runic inscriptions, plus a printed guide which tells you which runes to find for which feature.

The place has become more popular due to people developing an understanding of the place and getting the idea of how long they could visit for. As tour operators start to offer longer schedules and as publicity gets out to the people who may plan to come more and more effectively, people are able to stay for longer.

real fire

It is a genuine experience coming to Njardarheimr. It changes people. One thing you hear sometimes is, “Is that a real fire?” Many people have never seen one before and now suddenly they are being invited to sit by one. They can make bread to eat. They can mix with Vikings.

People take photos. People can be encouraged to share their photos and footage with the online presence. This is an area which could be greatly increased.

More could be done with art work, exhibitions, there could be art competitions, poetry competitions. All with galleries displaying them, both on line and in the reception area. Folks could pop in and out of the café/bar and end up watching for hours.

Just some of the ideas which have been bandied about.

The walls of the Heidrun hall could be filled.

tdb emb blue creature
By Toni DB

This could even be tied in with the problem of guided tours in bad weather. Do you know when you go out for a meal, in a Greek restaurant, or a Thai place, right, and they have like 3D artwork on the walls – this makes me think that there could be relief images of the areas of the town along a wall so talks can be done inside. IE of the god statues., and the weapons

basket half

Highlights of activities must be the pottery and weaving via Marcin and Monika. People love their time there learning and they love the things they get to take away with them.

I am just doing some math – hang on – I am, nearly there with a new idea – just before going to hit publish – hang on – I am thinking – 3D displays – experts on pottery and weaving – put them together – what have you got!

Moving along…marcins pots

I understand there is someone in the Green Bay area who does wattle and daub and I was thinking that might be something to be developed ‘ower ere’. Living sculptures, archways, and fences from something like willow are also exciting.

We’ve talked of large containers for storage, preserving and brewing etc, I also was wondering about the idea of buried food; fish and venison. (Get your muslin and your spade and then discuss.)

ramslork

We have all already made a start on gardening. A great start. Collecting or buying plants of the period and of the area. So the outside areas are ‘growing’, becoming more real.

A thing that needs looking into is that it has been established that composting was done in the Viking-age and we might want to look into this. Of course this is a modern age and people living in the village will be concerned about the environment so will want to compost for the earth’s sake.

I love the peat walls which flourish with wild growth and greenery as do the rooves.

candle bowls

Ravn and others have demonstrated candle making and Holger has utilised old wax with moss to make candle bowls; wonderfully atmospheric.

Talking of composting leads to the topic of poo. We got chickens we have. In the future there may be more poo available as the range of livestock grows.

It is lovely when chicks are hatched, but a shock when they turn out to be male. I understand that currently there are plans to set up a second hutch in a different area. Residents will definitely be woken early, wherever their hut.

As I’ve said these chickens are free to roam and can be seen all over the town. This I hear, there is also a possibility of a different animal, I heard talk of there being a small friendly breed of Norwegian pig and two or three could roam around.

Cows would always be a no no because basically there would be far too much poo.

Cats we also have and as I mentioned above there is a breed of Norwegian Forest cat which might settle to roaming the town.

I wonder if sheep or goats might be a possibility in the future, or even deer.

We almost got rabbits, but at the last minute someone said that the Vikings only had hares. Personally I think no one would mind if we had rabbits, but would also like to know if hares might be a possibility, IE would they settle to wandering here?

(NB rabbits dont ever dig upwards, they dig down and along, so would proberbly stay.)

mini butter
I am running out of suitable photos; aren’t American little butter packs really cute

We do have horses visiting at times and this is something that would be popular as a more frequent occurrence.

Someone suggested pet polecats or ferrets in a hutch with a run, but that would have to be quite secure.

ships

These are all things that need to develop along with the gradual increase in visitors to be sure of adequate staffing levels.

Any other suggestions?

You may recall how I had enjoyed clambering up and about at the farm museum, it gave me the idea for a feature for kids. Children like up, under, in and over. A Viking style equivalent of a climbing frame or adventure park. A forest. Buildings. A fort.

mini outfit
Mini dressing up

Talking of dark places, I have always really liked the idea of a sweat lodge. The building of it and the idea. A hole with seated sides and a pit in the bottom. A bender cover of leather over saplings. A nearby fire pit where stones are heated which then can be rolled in using big sticks. Very exciting.

There is much scope for a program of online activities and all events would benefit by lots of advance planning; this would also help fill time on the rolling displays in the entrance or café/bar. Attractions could run features on each other. IE wouldn’t a film on Njardarheimr go down brilliantly at Norsk Høstfest (or film and talk).

An online feature on how to be a Viking would be brilliant.

Examples of stories also, so Vikings can learn, skills too. People pre-armed and able to contribute.

workshops
Workshops are always populat and could be prebooked
no sword

Many thanks to all who have supplied photos, especially my chieftain Georg who very kindly took images of many of the items I wished to talk about.

Gudvangen has a great set on how to fit in as a Viking. (“Everyone is welcome here except those who don’t make others welcome” Georg Hansen.) Policies have been developed on etiquette and authenticity of atmosphere so I am hoping to feature info on these in the future.

Thank you for reading all this way. I hope some of this is an inspiration for you and do enjoy the links below.

Adrian

All my own mistakes, I mean work.

Links

Adrian at UW Green Bay Viking House

https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/viking-storytelling/

University Wisconsin; Green Bay Viking House

https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/

And UWGB Viking House on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/UWGBVikingHouse/

Adrian’s Guide to Re-enactment

National Railroad Museum – Green Bay, Wisconsin

Norsk Høstfest Viking Village

http://hostfest.com/experience/viking-village/

Voss Folke Museum

https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/voss-folkemuseum/4832/

Aurland Photography (Mal Dickson)

Nine Worlds Clothing

tdb samples

Ravn Design

Back In The Day Reenactment Furniture

The Viking dream-life stories I

Sweat lodges in the Viking dream life blog string

The Viking dream-life stories latest edition

The Virtual Ghost Walk of York

We Are Theatre

Prose poems of the Gods and Goddesses

Adrian’s online tutorial – Storytelling is…

Multi-national Storytelling in a Nutshell

Barley Hall, York

Sons of Norway…

Jelling Dragon – Viking Crafts & Living History Supplies

Storyteller True Thomas

SigRun Viking Art & Design

Guntis Jakubovskis; Jeweller

Viking Comics Inc. featuring images from the Stamford Bridge tapestry.

Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project

Njardarheimr, Gudvangen Viking Valley, Norway

Adrian the Skald

Daniel Kretchmar – Blacksmith

Fjordtell, Gudvangen, Norway

Adrian’s Guide to Re-enactment

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Saying Thank You

Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.

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Visiting Viking Attractions: An Idea Swap, ‘First Draft’.

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Visiting Viking Attractions: An Idea Swap, ‘First Draft’.

(Book mark it or save the URL now for you will want to come back and back.)

So, here I am back in Blighty. Bit of a rest-stop before it all starts again.

This isn’t a travelogue,

mountain by kris
The journey there by Christof

I have a feel for something a little more intellectual; an idea swap. There are ‘transferable models’ out there and we are the experiencees.

I have called this the ‘first draft’ because I just know you all have ideas to share.

When I say all, I mean Viking related peeps; if you are coming from other directions or none Viking ‘attractions’ OK well we would like to chat with you too you poor little things.

Think of this as a Birth-Product for we know there are ticket buyers out there and we want them in – and besides, gosh, we are engulphed by our own enthusiasm.

You hobbyists you.

Er, sorry, Vikings. x

Right.

tindefossen
Tindefossen by Christof

While I was at Njardarheimr my good friend Christof took me to the

Voss Folkemusuem

carved name

(link below).

It was a wonderful experience.

fm overhead

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus wrote of the concept of farms as a commune, Karl the guide in Njardarheimr says so, and so does my friend Susan who lives on er, well a farm.

An expanded community almost in the same way as villages in Britain etc.

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The farmhouse gets longer as we add people on. The square of the building becomes, er, squarer. The farm.

A Viking-age cultural development still relevant today.

Voss Folkemuseum came from such a community development.

We had a lovely time there. It wasn’t ‘populated’ like Gudvangen is, but on the other hand it felt good to be free to roam. We shared the experience and did so in our own time and in our own space.

Not all of the things we spotted and liked on the farm would have been used in the Viking age, yet share them I shall. You may know otherwise, or ideas may come from them.

from stalheim
The Journey back by Christof
stool

One such thing which I loved was the work-stool; a stool yes, but with an extra bit to slot tools in, be it crafting or carving.

beds

Another item of furniture I loved to see, but they were probably 18th or even 19th century, were the giant cradles or cribs which were for adults; sort of like box beds and wonderfully decorated.

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They were free standing but reminded me of the fitted double-bed bunk (with the cute foot-hole ladders) you find in your typical ‘Viking Hus’.

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Skipping over to the Njardarheimr town for a tick, I am reminded of the words of a visitor, (from Hungary). He was very moved by the sight of the bedroom in the chieftain’s hall as he recalled that he had slept in one just like it as a child. Except that he said it was higher because the potatoes were stored under it.

Back to the farm:

bowls barrels and cauldrons

Containers:- In Viking areas we tend to have buckets and bowls aplenty but I was struck by the widespread selections of larger containers. Huge amounts of water would be required on a daily basis. There’s a lot of sauerkraut. Liquids would need storage. Drinks would be fermented.

Ale or wine, mead, all would need barrels, big bowls, large kettles, massive buckets, (massive).

In medieval times they fermented lighter ales as a way of purifying water.

All that water would need transportation too.

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Veiw from the farm by Christof
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We enjoyed going upstairs, exploring different levels, down into the dark. Such activities may be less practical in Viking age constructions although, surely, they had barns and other farm buildings.

I will talk further on this in the Viking section as this idea of exploration can be developed for children’s activities.

cradle

The big one for us was saddles, they had almost too many! I believe they were circa 1750 and onwards but they reminded us of Norwegian saddles of an older period. Viking-age saddles and tack would be a great addition for Njardarheimr.

Another feature I noticed was the rounded edge planks which retain some of the shape of the tree trunk; walls made of such were very atmospheric.

chickens

They had chickens. We got chickens. Although I note ours are more free range. That I guess is to do with the fact our place is populated (and cockerels wake people up). More on the widespread songs of the cockerels when you get to the Njardarheimr section below.

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We loved the photos; grainy old atmospheric images full of folks of such character. These often are sent in, copies offered, bequeathed. They are of the age of course, plus they didn’t have cameras in the Viking period that I know of. Vikingesque areas could have displays. All the attractions we are looking at have distinctive areas which are more modern; cafes, galleries, ‘meerkats’, lots of methods.

There could be scrolling big screens in cafes and dining areas.

dried fish

People like to send in photos and footage.

They like to do art too. People, artists, kids. Send us that stuff.

Why not even an international arts display.

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Bethany aged 7

More scope on this below.

This is an area which not only would benefit from a touch of research to see what there is out there; it also could be a good cooperative venture with ‘sister’ places.

Talking of display areas; the farm had a separate children’s area, well, it was one of the actual buildings and it was set aside for activities (not actually moved aside of course).

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Bethany aged 7

One thing that struck me as being a great idea in there were the benches and tables. They were lower. How empowering. You go in, there are things on the tables, the kids sit down. No having to be lifted up or being supervised climbing on. They sit straight down. They weren’t so terribly low that it was too uncomfortable for the adults but were low enough for most children.

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Sadly I only have an image of higher benches
bunty cut out

On the tables were a couple of sets of cut outs. One set was historic figures to dress up. I was reminded of the dollies I used to cut out for my sister from her Bunty comic. And the others were buildings to cut out, colour and glue.

Great for those underused Vikingesque areas.

colour ship builder

The Jorvik Centre in York has a great selection of activity sheets; colouring in, quizzes, games, which also might be useful as a transferable model.

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Some of the photos of the farm depict children in period costumes. So there must be dressing up opportunities and presumably re-enactment days too.

The management for the farm museum expressed interest in working more closely with Njardarheimr.

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Note stone bases and grass rooves

This could only be a good thing. Co-promoting comes to mind, perhaps forming sister sites. Certainly visits and sharing ideas and issues would be useful and could also be used as reason for media coverage.

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Norsk Høstfest, in North Dakota was an amazing experience. It is a gigantic festival with 1100-plus stalls / display areas and many stages. The whole thing has a Scandinavian theme, and I am going to concentrate on the one area – The Viking Encampment of course.

stage

There are three areas within one; to the right as you enter from along the covered walkway there is the stage, café and activities, to the left of this is the village, (again all indoors), this area has around a hundred stalls and tents all providing activities, sales or displays, there is an outside area too.

(Tim has kindly corrected me here, as my perception doesn’t reflect the accuracy of the way it is all organised – “The building we use is two different areas, the Viking Village and the other is the Tromsø Cultural Village, where the stage is, but we share the performers and presenters on that stage,” thanks Tim.)

I understand there were fight re-enactments outside but I didn’t see any of that myself, I did see tug of war.

There were two forges demonstrating bead making which was captivating to watch,

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Alyssa Harron and freind beadmaking at Hostfest Viking Village
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and a food area. I was fascinated by the different foods being made although I didn’t get to try any. The blacksmith display area showing different stages of the process of working with metal was intriguing and the blacksmith kindly let me share images with you all.

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flint

(Tim has kindly reminded me that the blacksmith with the ore display is Daniel Kretchmar (Danr) and the other Minnesotan blacksmith is Doug Swenson.)

People visiting were certainly interested, the crafters indoors were all kept busy demonstrating and interacting.

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Sorry not got Chris in his outfit
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chest maker
nf cats

The friendly Norwegian Forest Cat was very popular.

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I had a small area in this section for storytelling to small groups when I was not on the big stage and True Thomas had an area in the children’s activity space, (“He paints images directly into the mind.”).

stage

The stage itself had a big screen and had a constant flow of acts and films. I was delighted to see the film on the Stamford Bridge tapestry which I had recommended. There were moving presentations on the Sami culture and concerts by Sami singer Stina.

There were samples of foods to try, I would have liked to have seen a more café-bar style with a menu widely available so visitors could drink, dine and watch shows.

more seats

I loved the alternative pallet seating.

felt lady

Felt making was very popular, as were all the activities in the children’s space, (might it be better to say ‘family space’? I enjoyed being a kid again).

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island one
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harbour darkened

Troll Island was a highlight for me, and a very transferable concept. I love models and this was a model of an island, intended as a display base, but I enjoyed it in its own right. Perhaps if Gudvangen were to take up such an idea we could have a model of a fjord settlement.

box seat

I found all the trolls delightful and so did everyone. If this was to be utilised in our settlement in Norway there would need to be some adaption. IE eyes made of natural materials or beads. Imagine what could be done with beads. Another way to adapt this would be to have kids create buildings, fences, structures; clay, sticks, natural materials. Possibly populate this village with little clay people and animals.

Folklore and troll would be great to talk about at such an attraction and would influence the model making.

troll 01

Imagine the films and photo shoots that could come of this.

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troll 02
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That’s my kingpin idea that is.

It is worth noting that the Vikings got very well looked after, drinks constantly available and hot food turning up a couple of times a day; this was none Viking and in an area not open to the public. It was quite nice to sit and mix away from the hubbub; lots of networking going on.

I got biscuits and gravy with creamed potatoes and beans. There at times was such as pizzas, fried chicken, hotdogs, lots of salads.

They had set aside time to be available, to check on how we were all doing. Yes we were very well looked after, lifts to and from, including to go shopping.

The main reason they were free to support participants was because all the work was done. What I am saying here is that they were very well organised and had been working ahead for a long time. I got a distinct impression they were very good at learning from the past, “Ah yes that situation….”

tim

This all gave time to laugh.

UW-Green Bay Viking House

skaldic poster

I was excited to get to see the grindbyggning, (built and then later donated by Elspeth and Owen Christianson) and there it was in the grounds of a very large beautifully rambling university.

It is a phenomenon. It is a marvellous piece of work. It is more than this. It is a concept. It is a hope. It is a symbol. It is a way of being.

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It is real atmospheric inside.

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I am quite staggered by it. Yes it is wonderful, but it means so, so, much more than itself to everyone involved.

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When I say involved, gosh, I don’t just mean the local Uni community, I don’t just mean the local community who want to make mead, I don’t just mean the myriad of groups and funders, I don’t just mean us crafters, I don’t mean historians, I don’t just mean the head of history, I don’t just mean the original gifters, nor the whole host of internet observers, I mean…

Oh, I don’t know what I mean, because the future hasn’t happened yet. I do know you will all be in it, and I do know there is a future, I know in the depth of my heart that it will be even more wonderful than it is now, even more magical, even more participatory, even more… (OK you get the idea). I do know I want to be there.

Here.

Want me to tell you an individual story of involvement to get you all wound up? There’s loads of those.

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Mariah the Jarldriss in Waiting. She does so much. She does so much with her car. She does so much with her cauldron.

Do you know, I think I might want to suggest that everyone steps back at this point because she is bubbling.

Who knows what is coming next. I am not even sure that Mariah knows. It is all going to happen, and you are all going to be drawn in.

Historic joinery is not what it is about. Mariah is. No calm down Adrian, people are. All the people. The enthusiasm. The village in the mind.

It is happening.

Skaldic skills are growing fast too. As well as doing shows in the house, er, hus, we had a ‘Share’. A story circle. Adrian’s Alþingi.

We created our death poem for Bragi to recite when we head to Valhalla (or the Viking-age afterlife of your choice).

Then everyone told tales, all sorts of topics were covered and different periods in history. It was fascinating.

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Pig

One of our friends, who came to everything we did and is now a regular participant, made notes throughout each telling. She had gone away armed with ideas. I am sure what is coming out of her at ongoing gatherings is totally different from the source (me) as all our minds work in inimitable ways, and she is a wonderful, unique individual. I was thrilled to hear Professor Sherman describe her recently as Erica the Viking House Skald.

There are people who should be thanked for this amazing experience, (See I still can’t quite bring myself to say it is a building, because it has grown beyond). Elspeth and Owen Christianson, two people who have a farm and they had a building and it came here, simple yes – wonderful too. There was a lot more to it than that. Their marvellous creative genius and generosity propelled a sense of Vikingness into thousands to come.

There is a wonderful guy to thank, he generously funded the process, making the establishment here possible.

There is a university to consider.

There is Professor H Sherman. She is what did it, made it what it is; it happened.

These are no sticks in mud. There is Heidi.

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If you happen to walk by Green Bay in your travels of the world make sure you go by Heidi. Go explore the very concept of Viking heritage. There is a concept of Vikingness and it is called Heidi Sherman. No sorry I got a bit carried away and ended up that I have got it a little muddled.

There is a historic building. There is a complex of structures (three to date), there is a community. There is an invitation. (It is Heidi who makes it all happen.)

Wander by and discover.

hobb class

Go meet the Jarldriss (Apparently students named her – Jarldriss Flaxblood Soul-breaker, but at least we can be thankful we are not students)

When I talk later about the way ‘Chieftainness’ has developed in Gudvangen; the way respect has played such a great part. When I talk of such, I will be talking of here.

Georg once received a letter through the post addressed to The Viking, Norway, he got it.

When I talk of such I am also talking of here – UW Green Bay.

For there is the same concept of love, respect and power developing for a pure and good soul here as there was twenty three years ago when my chieftain stepped onto the ground which got to became the Viking Valley of Norway.

A community of love and giving developed around my Chieftain. He became such a chieftain because of them.

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And so will Heidi.

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There is a Viking community growing, building by building, concept by concept, artefact by artefact, in the grasp of her delicate fingers.

I can see it.

Go now while it grows.

Go again once it has grown.

Vikings.

When we shape from wood we become.

Go see the amazing building and area now for there is far more to come.

Join us.

For we are Vikings.

wattle

And that is not just wattle.

There were amazing responses to my activities and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, plus the company was smashing, I think perhaps the most valuable aspect was utilisation. My skills were studied, my background researched, my energy levels considered and then I was utilised. Often places have an idea of what they want and they get you in to do it. They will probably have seen my work and think, ‘We want that’.

train cooker

Here though more diverse aspects of my persona were delicately cherry-picked. I ended up doing all sorts of things.

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full theatre
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It was a brilliant experience to do the National Railroad Museum; and it was a sell-out – over capacity. I actually performed stories of my late father’s on what would have been his birthday. I was thrilled that my niece and her husband were able to come over from Rockford to be there as an enjoyable sort of remembrance.

dad uniform

Out there in the world of blogs and internetting Heidi saw that I was the son of a steam engine driver (who had written his memoires), and that I was also the son of York’s first ghost walker (my mum). So she teamed these aspects up to have me create a show. It was so fulfilling.

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I mention blogs; they can perform an extra service. I wrote a twelve-blog series on how to be a storyteller (link below). This was there beforehand for anyone to see, it was there for preplanning and it is there as a development area for the future.

Footage of my performances is to be shared. The ones from the jobs for Heidi have had great responses and the films of my show on trains and ghosts is to become part of a web feature on the high-profile Railroad Museum site. There is also talk that this will lead to requests for shows at other railroad museums and attraction across America.

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Think of the publicity such coverage brings in for the relevant attractions. Anything of this nature is worth considering for your attraction, word spreads and any diverse opportunities are, well, new opportunities which give the media the newness and fresh angles they thirst for.

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We need to ask – What skills and experiences do our workforce or potential workforce have to offer?

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I am reminded of the theatre group I work for – We Are Theatre, they too can see beyond what you are, bringing you opportunities to reach a greater potential. Something challenging and new to you that as you start doing it you realise it is a just right thing for you.

This is one of those transferable models I keep banging on about.

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There were of course the classes. There were classes mixed together. There were suggestions of themes. There were adaptions. There were interactive activities. Half a group listened to a story and then the other half came back in and listened to me; they then had to tell each other the tales they had heard.

While each group was out they had to jot down aspects of the Volsung Saga which went in a hat and then I improvised a story around a character.

We had discussions and skills and techniques which could be utilised after I had gone.

We will adapt further in the future.

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I also did a show in the library theatre, thus bringing in different parties and individuals. This allowed me to cover different themes.

Indigenous Sami

Something we would like to expand for future visits is interaction with Native American parties. The comparative work between different cultures and different perceptions was enriching and enlightening. There is loads of space for a similar interaction between Vikings and Sami people.

Another thing which will come from this is a coach trip to Finlandia (I didn’t know that was a place, I thought it was a vodka you see in duty free.) The very first Finnish Viking festival in the US. I am thrilled to be joining a coach to go and perform there.

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A lot of the people who visit Gudvangen are exploring roots, and connections, or links to past life experiences, and many other inspirations. Here so too. In Green Bay though there seems to be more of a feel of organised groups, societies. For example, the fascinating group the Sons of Norway, (more women than men I noticed).

Other attractions could foster this sort of visit. Events put on especially for certain societies. Research needed.

I am very grateful to good friend Rob Wildwood of jelldragon.com for introducing me to Tim of Norsk Høstfest in North Dakota and Heidi of UW-Green Bay Viking House it has all lead to so much, especially great relationships.

Njardarheimr Viking Town, Gudvangen, Norway

This is our Chieftain’s dream, alright so it has been massively supported from the outset years and years ago, and it is a marvellous cooperation of local businesses and investors. This place isn’t funded by Government, Unesco, the council, charities. This is the Chieftain’s dream made real by the spirit of those who bought into the idea with their hearts.

grethes house
Grethe-Iren’s house
krauka
pots and weave

What is it. There has been a market (or festival if you like) for at least fifteen years, there have been events, there have been visitors. Now. It is a Viking town. In an amazingly short time a town has been built. A small few people have found the way to make this happen. It was a massive battle to get permission and atone opposition, but it has happened.

If you go visit (and politely ignore the hidden half-built entrance way part) you will think you are seeing a full town. No there is as much again to come.

It will double.

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Winter and summer our chieftain has watched every step, (and the hotelier has watched every digger and crane – he won’t thank me for that).

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Why is Georg Chieftain? Well, a long time ago he decided that if he was going to be making this thing happen then he had better declare himself Chieftain.

Why is he still Chieftain?

He is not Chieftain because he is strong.

He is not Chieftain because he is tough.

He is Chieftain because he is loved.

That love is strong.

He will tell you himself that it is all about love. He feels it strong yes.

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There is another factor. Thousands of people love him.

So it works.

It is wholeheartedly, overwhelmingly, undeniable.

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The aspects of Chieftainness which I have alluded to in earlier sections. Those of you who do so very marvellous at running festivals and attractions do not always realise, or admit to your selves, that it is love which is the lynch pin.

You care and people care about you.

This is lesson to be learned Numero Uno.

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This brings us to; please have this sword syndrome. “I have made this sword, please will you have it” Georg’s home is filled with gifts and collections. An accumulation of respect and service.

Carpets, ceremonial bowls, gods and horses.

I mainly mention this because I foresee how this can develop elsewhere.

Let us see some of the items to help us see how that other hall across the pond might become adorned.

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One thing I have found to have far reaching effects is our incense burner. Coming from Poland for a pre-visit to bring Georg the gift of this beautiful piece of brass work, the lovely couple brought him the very first one from the mould. Modelled on one found in a boat burial in Norway it will have been used by Asatru (or Pagan) Vikings and then later in Christian ceremonies, it had originally come from a middle east area so will have then been Islamic. So this ceremonial device has been used by three main belief systems.

When it was the big market I went around to each tent or stall and explained that my Chieftain had instructed me to utilise the pine, charcoal and myrrh fumes to bless each area. As I swung the burner upon its chains everyone was visably moved and emotionally effected by the experience.

We parade. Each morning we parade with drums, chants and horns around the tents and buildings to the stage for the opening speeches. Incense wafted along as the burner was carried by Christian, Asatru and Islamic people in turns.

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Toni DB’s work

I have even told this story via video link to an Islamic leader upon the request of his cousin.

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People are finding their roots here in all sorts of ways, here at the home provided for us by Njord; the fjord is dedicated to him and this is thought of as his land. He oversees us from the seashore and every year his statue is blessed with mead and recited to.

This is the longest, the deepest, and in one place, the narrowest fjord and a tall runic stone is planned to dedicate these facts. We plan to proclaim.

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A smaller sone
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Njardarheimr is populated. People actually live in the houses (and some other onsite accommodation btw). This is a living village.

I am telling you about all this to help each other get fresh ideas so all attractions can develop. I am not telling you all of this because I am any sort of expert, and certainly not as any type of official spokesperson. Indeed I ask now that you all react. Send me ideas, further info, news and developments. Let us all help each other.

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When it is the market it fills up even more with several hundred Vikings in tents.

You can come.

There are those of us who are employed here. Working in reception or retail, delivering historic walks and in the case of Georg and myself, presenting the great hall and telling stories.

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There are also people living here for periods of times for various reasons. These are the Freemen. Robin for example comes over from Californian for a week or two at a time, lives as a Viking, crafts as a Viking and generally chats to people.

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Striking a dramatic pose at an event in California
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Ravn runs Ravnstova (link below) as a more of a professional service; outfit commissions, textile sales – as well as demonstrating dying and candle making. Conner and Audhild create jewellery and other metal-works on site and have a stall to enable them to ‘thrive, survive and live Viking life live’. Jenne weaves and supplies food. Karin comes with her kids to live and share.

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There is also the Viking group with many members Njardarlag, they come and live and work and entertain – and all as volunteers.

Freemen.

Get that concept into your head.

(Well, in a gender-neutral way)

As well as many wonderful activities and offerings Karin and her two also bring the cats. A wonderful addition to our extended family. (More on animals later.)

Another category of visitors of course is the tourists – the mainstay, the raison d’être.

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The Chieftain’s hall all ready for stories

They are what brings in the money. When I say the place is all about the people, it also includes the tourists – you get some amazing people. Folks can be massively affected by visiting us.

When a Mexican teenager sits back down and says, “You are the best thing about my whole summer in Norway,” you know you are doing something right.

“We are going back to Minnesota and going to have a long hard think about how we can make our lives as fulfilling as yours.”

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Another wing is what we call VIPs – this mainly just means that they have arranged for a private dining. There are other aspects to it, they might want to come after 6 when there is just them. They might even want Einar of Wardruna, or stories from me, or Krouka playing. They might want a big party. Torill is willing to be open minded, enthusiastic and adaptable.

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There is another type of visitor lined up. Residential parties. Part of the new building program (it might be all done for all I know) is what is being referred to as Warrior Halls. Two great big halls where groups can come and stay. These could be organisations, reenactors or school parties – as long as they will live like Vikings, (during opening hours at least). There can be whole programs of activities for them.

Oh I am so excited about them because there are whole groups out there which deserve our contact and there are whole groups out there who wish for us to go and reach out to them.

Community is a timeless prospect.

While I am on new structures, I hear there is also going to be a stone round-house with a central fire-pit, I think it is being referred to as ‘the men’s place’, referred to, in a historic way. Is it possible that only men will use it? – Oh yeah like totally.

There will be developments in the arena of ceremonies, in the field of drama and the terrain of performance. I’ve seen plans for a more permanent stage facing the open playing area (see pics of the amazing Einar and uplifting Krauka) and many concerts will happen there, as well as in the huge Heidrun hall. I plan to do interactive dramas from that stage, where the audience act out according to my story points.

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(We also do stories in many languages and this is linked to below.)

There is going to be a temple.

That was a statement which deserved its own line if ever there was one.

Now I know I have already stated that I am not in charge of anything. I have no power or valid opinion, beyond the fact that I signed myself up for a blog, but I will speak now: There is going to be a temple and everyone will be tolerant of each other.

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There is going to be a temple and everyone will be tolerant of each other.

It will be a place of celebration, so I understand. We often have weddings, blessings, naming days, funerals; moments of life. Well bless Gudvangen, it is going to continue happening.

It is going from a holy hill with a couple or three statues, and me announcing spiritual Galda; i.e. from the runic inspiration of Lars Magnar, to having a temple for him to call you into.

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My attempt at a simple Galda

There will be drama, there will be inspiration, there will be re-enactment, there will be the deeply moved, the past life, the happy to act, the incense swinger, there will be wonders to behold.

The entrance way complex will be completed real soon; with a café/bar, shop, display area and reception.

There will be other new buildings.

One day, one day, we will have a harbour.

I did say this blog is all about opinion from a verbose storyteller who has no power but just you stop and listen to what I say now.

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One day, one day, we will have a harbour.

The Skald he has spake.

Or was that spaken?

People travel from one market to one market to another; this itinerant lifestyle goes on in Scandinavia from spring to autumn (fall) with crafting-up going on in the winter, (I think it is addictive), I have a vision about this, (in my optimistic way); this will happen in America.

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Njardarheimr is open all year

Gosh for a powerless upstart I do keep wanting to proclaim about how I have spoken and therefore it will be. I guess that is the theme of this blog if you boil it down to ego. No, if you boil it down to Utopianism.

I have spoken.

Here I go again, carrying on…

Some of the stuff that works so so well at Gudvangen…

This is a blog about a writer / storyteller / personality (me) – who is funny: it is not a photo blog, there is text and it isn’t to supplement the art or photos, there are photos etc, they are not there to accompany the text, it is almost like they are separated ingredients ready to fry – but here for a first, and for a very, very, important reason, I am referring to a photo:- Write your name in runes.

A quiet stroke of genius. Write your own name in runes.

‘Now look I want to take credit for this because I bought the charcoal sticks.’ ‘No I brought the plank of wood – and the string.’ ‘I got the huge gift from the tannery we used some of for people to write on (with my charcoal sticks actually BTW).’

‘Now look will you two stop bickering in the Chieftain’s hut, it is like hearing some old couple.’

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Oh alright – I admit – Georg was right.

It was a stroke of genius quietly put together and agelessly displayed, subtly offered.

Not only can you take part on the spot.

Not only is it done in a none modern way.

You can take a photo and take it away with you.

Think of it as a travel activity.

People love it when I suggest that.

Yes, Georg, it is a really great idea.

You can play Hnefetaflr.

The Viking Game.

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Note the hanging oil lamps – glass and iron

You can listen to me or Georg telling you how it is played.

Many just love to hear about it.

“I am duty bound to inform you that there are sets for sale in the shop as you leave,“ usually makes them laugh.

Some want to play.

Georg is very good at being the opponent to singles.

Some will sit down opposite each other and play and play and play.

It is a very good job that we allow people to stay overnight!

Just discussing and looking at the runes is a great thing, people are fascinated.

There is so much to say.

I am so glad we just have the time to talk – and to listen.

to the kitchen

We also offer a game, or just talk about it, that I only know from the medieval attraction in York; Barley Hall (You must go there – link below) so my name for it is of the wrong age, but, Nine Men’s Morris.

Folks like that.

There is a piece of leather on a table. ‘I got the leather and the charcoal to mark it up.’ ‘They are my precious playing pieces.’ – ‘Alright you two shush now.’

rune corner
See the iron candelabra

OK it draws attention – it is tic tac toe – it is noughts and crosses. It isn’t, it is earlier. You get three pieces each. The chances are you won’t get a line in three placements. Then you start moving the pieces one space at a time. It is really cookie.

We have the Lewis chess set (I am just randomly talking at this point so don’t think I am any sort of expert or even anything), I understand this is thought of as post Viking-age, but isn’t Lewis in Scotland, didn’t they have Viking kings till 1250ish. Way later.

to the kitchen
(Some interesting lantern set ups)

The Vikings knew chess OK.

And anyway, it is probably from India or China, or wherever it was Snorri says Odin and the rest of the Aesir arrived from (cough).

Anyhow – chess is very popular. You pop out, you come back, there are two people playing chess. You start stories. They never notice you.

They go on for absolute hours.

mixed media impro

Tacitus the aforementioned diarist spoke of runes from when he visited Germanic tribes. The Father of the farm chopped a branch and marked it with his own signs for the gods, (so we are sounding kind of pre-rune here), then he divined. So I have a bag of my own signs for the gods and I draw you one out.

I also offer rune readings, (Elder Futhark), and where people are happy for me to, I add in the crystal ball – scrying was of the period. The Jorvik Viking Centre have employed me to do readings for children, that was very interesting.

The runes could be compared to Ancient Egyptian symbolism; each has a meaning as well as a sound; Water, Birch, Riding etc.

The Jorvik Centre I believe still use the Elder Futhark, as do I, whereas in Njardarheimr the smaller set, the Viking runes are favoured. So one needs to decide. Runes are planned to be used for signage, so I will discuss this in that section.

outdoor table

More of an ornament or artefact than an activity but I just love Georg’s scales; especially crafted for him, and people love to see the engraved weights, they are a real talking point.

My chieftain has the aim, (and passion), that he will make some improvement every day, (perhaps that might be the main lesson of this blog?), and he had the blacksmiths create him an inverted L-shaped hook-stand to bang into his log-shaped table. On sunny days when we choose to bring all the activities outside this really allows the scales to look at their best.

Peter the highly-gifted bone-carver across the path has described us as a Viking-age theme park.

There are weavings hung down the walls, I would love to see them adorned with a couple of embroideries each. Such as the wonderful silks ones made by Nine Worlds Clothing, the best I have ever seen, (link below).

tdb emb better lady one
By Toni DB
coin

No I cannot talk of how great our coin minting activity is without tipping a ginormous hat to the Jorvik Centre. You have paid to come in, so extra revenue is a bonus, and we want activities don’t we, so you don’t charge a fortune. Having a path to follow helps too as so often you see people roaming, no dashing, straight past things.

Georg’s coin-making equipment is very popular. He even offers silver ones.

I cannot refer to the Jorvik Centre without talking about the flood. So we shall take a brief interlude from discussing the activities at Njardarheimr and visit York. I must tell you of what I heard. Now I am no news hound or anything, but if what I was told is on the button there are staff at the centre who deserve a medal. The reason it took so long to rebuild and reopen is that it wasn’t just floodwater that came up into the place it was something far fouler. The lower section flooded and I was told that a group risked their lives by going back down the stairs into the slightly higher section where the genuine artefacts were. Engineers took off a fire door and actually gaffer-taped it across the open doorway to hold it all back! It could have burst at any moment! The atmosphere must have been quite toxic too. Staff then saved all of the precious items.

I think we should tell the queen.

(BTW If I haven’t got all the details here I would be glad to hear more.)

One or two ideas come to mind from my experiences there. One activity I’ve been employed for is queue busting; from me that is fun characterful chat, others demonstrate their kit, and archaeology students demonstrate finds.

dragon_brooch_pin

I frequently enjoyed borrowing interesting jewellery from stalls and telling a story related to it. People would often go over and buy jewellery as a result.

All this ideas swap business suggests to me that there could be exhibitions of regional finds on loan from other establishments.

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Representatives from Viking attractions I am sure would be welcome in Njardarheimr, not just as ‘Freemen’, also to demonstrate skills and share information.

Back to the chieftain’s Home in Njardarheimr, Gudvangen, Norway and how it came about. It is real with objects in a home not in cabinets, with people in the beds!

kitchen

It has a kitchen. We are especially grateful to the volunteer joiners who created this area. When you train in your craft in Switzerland or Germany you pledge that once you are qualified you will travel away and work for food and lodging (I think for two years). These wonderful people created many great things including the kitchen and the Hnefetaflr table.

Oh and the skittle castle. That has gone down great. Georg carved wooden figures to stand on it and folks love it.

We plan a larger castle for next year, to go in, and I am hoping to be able to paint it.

Other games include Kubb, Knutlegg and tug of war. I am not going to mention the Loki run.

tactic-kubb-utomhusspel
Kubb

Oh yes and axe throwing, (not hatchet catching) and archery.

Then there is fighting. There is competitive fighting, (in twos), there are battle enactments and there are choreographed shows. There is also Glima the wrestling of course.

That leads to dressing up. There is an area with mail and helms and weapons where you can don them for a photo. There is also an area with play weapons; wooden swords, shields axes etc.

dolls
Or dolly dressing

Georg made me a three-metre spear and I started doing shield wall re-enactments with kids. They would line up against an imaginary enemy with me behind holding the spear between them. That was great fun and made for great photos of us stabbing warriors and horses.

Dressing up could be massively expanded. I would like to see more wooden weapons, a couple of saddles to sit on and lots of clothes for people to borrow. Fun for all ages and lots of memories to be made.

I also wondered about having a photographer. Perhaps a photo wall offering pics as you are leaving (like the ones when you come off a roller coaster).

Having a blacksmith’s shop on site is a marvellous thing. A great team of smiths too. We can all work and develop together.

All the kitchen fittings were created here. Hooks, nails, hanging oil lamps and bowl candle holders are all transferable ideas. Nails, it’s all about nails.

There is a great display of wares hung in the blacksmiths; fish hooks, knives, dozens of objects – nails! I love nails.

The annual market brings in hundreds of Vikings and of course many more visitors. Huge arrays of skills and crafts and goods come to us.

A whole series of events are programmed, worthy of far more attention and publicity. Entertainments, demonstrations, dramas. We also have always had a series of courses available. These can be a way to make it more financially viable for visiting experts and add massive value to the visit; needle-binding, storytelling, fight skills, many skills are on offer.

Story circles come fondly to mind, something we could bring back in the stone roundhouse perhaps. These tend to draw in teenagers and young adults too.

mixed media impro

A new development for me at the 2018 festival was improvised storytelling, or perhaps more like poetry. Great musicians and percussionist joined me while I pulled one of my signs of the gods out of a bag and then we made up a piece with music and word and song. Wonderful experience.

si

This year I noticed that lectures were added to the repertoire. Women’s lives, Women at war, Viking-age music, and the Viking year were on offer.

As promotion improves and these activities are planned well ahead the amount of people who come especially for a certain course, show or lecture will greatly increase.

The historic walks are a brilliant feature, they are actually referred to as guided walks but I appreciate the history side the most; you come away from these historic walks with a greater understanding of the concept of Vikings.

steamy cauldron

I do wonder if these will change in the future, as the place becomes busier, (it is going to get packed out), that there will be members of the village stationed here and there strategically around all the different features and sites with visitors going from one to another. That is just a thought I am throwing in the pot and would develop on from what is already offered.

Visitors are international so guided walks aim to be so too; currently there are tours in Norwegian, English, Spanish, French, German, Latvian and Russian available most days throughout the busy season and I believe this will increase. I guess the majority of people who visit are able to speak and understand English so it tends to be more common.

Should there be Meercats? – Meercat is the nickname for freestanding information boards. I like the idea and think people will appreciate them and not think of them being out of place and out of time because they are expected and useful. I know Georg prefers the idea of only signs in runes to be more in keeping with the timelessness of living Viking style in the nowadays.

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That thinking has led to the ideas of a treasure hunt, spotting runic inscriptions, plus a printed guide which tells you which runes to find for which feature.

The place has become more popular due to people developing an understanding of the place and getting the idea of how long they could visit for. As tour operators start to offer longer schedules and as publicity gets out to the people who may plan to come more and more effectively, people are able to stay for longer.

real fire

It is a genuine experience coming to Njardarheimr. It changes people. One thing you hear sometimes is, “Is that a real fire?” Many people have never seen one before and now suddenly they are being invited to sit by one. They can make bread to eat. They can mix with Vikings.

People take photos. People can be encouraged to share their photos and footage with the online presence. This is an area which could be greatly increased.

More could be done with art work, exhibitions, there could be art competitions, poetry competitions. All with galleries displaying them, both on line and in the reception area. Folks could pop in and out of the café/bar and end up watching for hours.

Just some of the ideas which have been bandied about.

The walls of the Heidrun hall could be filled.

tdb emb blue creature
By Toni DB

This could even be tied in with the problem of guided tours in bad weather. Do you know when you go out for a meal, in a Greek restaurant, or a Thai place, right, and they have like 3D artwork on the walls – this makes me think that there could be relief images of the areas of the town along a wall so talks can be done inside. IE of the god statues., and the weapons

basket half

Highlights of activities must be the pottery and weaving via Marcin and Monika. People love their time there learning and they love the things they get to take away with them.

I am just doing some math – hang on – I am, nearly there with a new idea – just before going to hit publish – hang on – I am thinking – 3D displays – experts on pottery and weaving – put them together – what have you got!

Moving along…marcins pots

I understand there is someone in the Green Bay area who does wattle and daub and I was thinking that might be something to be developed ‘ower ere’. Living sculptures, archways, and fences from something like willow are also exciting.

We’ve talked of large containers for storage, preserving and brewing etc, I also was wondering about the idea of buried food; fish and venison. (Get your muslin and your spade and then discuss.)

ramslork

We have all already made a start on gardening. A great start. Collecting or buying plants of the period and of the area. So the outside areas are ‘growing’, becoming more real.

A thing that needs looking into is that it has been established that composting was done in the Viking-age and we might want to look into this. Of course this is a modern age and people living in the village will be concerned about the environment so will want to compost for the earth’s sake.

I love the peat walls which flourish with wild growth and greenery as do the rooves.

candle bowls

Ravn and others have demonstrated candle making and Holger has utilised old wax with moss to make candle bowls; wonderfully atmospheric.

Talking of composting leads to the topic of poo. We got chickens we have. In the future there may be more poo available as the range of livestock grows.

It is lovely when chicks are hatched, but a shock when they turn out to be male. I understand that currently there are plans to set up a second hutch in a different area. Residents will definitely be woken early, wherever their hut.

As I’ve said these chickens are free to roam and can be seen all over the town. This I hear, there is also a possibility of a different animal, I heard talk of there being a small friendly breed of Norwegian pig and two or three could roam around.

Cows would always be a no no because basically there would be far too much poo.

Cats we also have and as I mentioned above there is a breed of Norwegian Forest cat which might settle to roaming the town.

I wonder if sheep or goats might be a possibility in the future, or even deer.

We almost got rabbits, but at the last minute someone said that the Vikings only had hares. Personally I think no one would mind if we had rabbits, but would also like to know if hares might be a possibility, IE would they settle to wandering here?

(NB rabbits dont ever dig upwards, they dig down and along, so would proberbly stay.)

mini butter
I am running out of suitable photos; aren’t American little butter packs really cute

We do have horses visiting at times and this is something that would be popular as a more frequent occurrence.

Someone suggested pet polecats or ferrets in a hutch with a run, but that would have to be quite secure.

ships

These are all things that need to develop along with the gradual increase in visitors to be sure of adequate staffing levels.

Any other suggestions?

You may recall how I had enjoyed clambering up and about at the farm museum, it gave me the idea for a feature for kids. Children like up, under, in and over. A Viking style equivalent of a climbing frame or adventure park. A forest. Buildings. A fort.

mini outfit
Mini dressing up

Talking of dark places, I have always really liked the idea of a sweat lodge. The building of it and the idea. A hole with seated sides and a pit in the bottom. A bender cover of leather over saplings. A nearby fire pit where stones are heated which then can be rolled in using big sticks. Very exciting.

There is much scope for a program of online activities and all events would benefit by lots of advance planning; this would also help fill time on the rolling displays in the entrance or café/bar. Attractions could run features on each other. IE wouldn’t a film on Njardarheimr go down brilliantly at Norsk Høstfest (or film and talk).

An online feature on how to be a Viking would be brilliant.

Examples of stories also, so Vikings can learn, skills too. People pre-armed and able to contribute.

workshops
Workshops are always populat and could be prebooked
no sword

Many thanks to all who have supplied photos, especially my chieftain Georg who very kindly took images of many of the items I wished to talk about.

Gudvangen has a great set on how to fit in as a Viking. (“Everyone is welcome here except those who don’t make others welcome” Georg Hansen.) Policies have been developed on etiquette and authenticity of atmosphere so I am hoping to feature info on these in the future.

Thank you for reading all this way. I hope some of this is an inspiration for you and do enjoy the links below.

Adrian

All my own mistakes, I mean work.

Links

Adrian at UW Green Bay Viking House

https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/viking-storytelling/

University Wisconsin; Green Bay Viking House

https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/

And UWGB Viking House on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/UWGBVikingHouse/

Adrian’s Guide to Re-enactment

National Railroad Museum – Green Bay, Wisconsin

Norsk Høstfest Viking Village

http://hostfest.com/experience/viking-village/

Voss Folke Museum

https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/voss-folkemuseum/4832/

Aurland Photography (Mal Dickson)

Nine Worlds Clothing

tdb samples

Ravn Design

Back In The Day Reenactment Furniture

The Viking dream-life stories I

Sweat lodges in the Viking dream life blog string

The Viking dream-life stories latest edition

The Virtual Ghost Walk of York

We Are Theatre

Prose poems of the Gods and Goddesses

Adrian’s online tutorial – Storytelling is…

Multi-national Storytelling in a Nutshell

Barley Hall, York

Sons of Norway…

Jelling Dragon – Viking Crafts & Living History Supplies

Storyteller True Thomas

SigRun Viking Art & Design

Guntis Jakubovskis; Jeweller

Viking Comics Inc. featuring images from the Stamford Bridge tapestry.

Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project

Njardarheimr, Gudvangen Viking Valley, Norway

Adrian the Skald

Daniel Kretchmar – Blacksmith

Fjordtell, Gudvangen, Norway

Adrian’s Guide to Re-enactment

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Saying Thank You

Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.

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Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV

Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV

I have already been there, in other writings, in other lives, and these are the times. I am stood between Siw-Alfadis and Blathnaid-Brigid whilst Bjorn-Ole surveys the sea from the promontory, we are in Njardarheimr in Freyr-An’ersh’s Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am here with my heart. I am at once really here and yet also actually here in this dream.

My Gudvangen Dream Life IV portrays me already in a Viking-style life in Gudvangen where I am actually living as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway; in this blog version everything of myth and legend has become real.

Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.

NB The names used are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.

PS Credits will be given for any writings.

PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there). A huge thank you to all those who have made suggestions and offered writings (there are loads half written up for the next one).

Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV

dis
ramslork

We use the name Viking yet we are different, we are from different worlds, different worlds of thinking. We are together; I do not think like you. I do not think like you. I am Vanadís. I am Díser of the earth. Creature of the old ways. I craft. I drag the iron from the very earth. I tell stories. I tell stories from my mother tongue. Far away. We are all far away. We are all here. See how the spring shoots grow. See how the hammer is protective. I sew the Troll cross. There is little time to practice to survive. I swing the iron. We practice with long shafts. I see the Ramslurk grow. I see the mists and their foreboding. The children play. The wolf sleeps. Dream people; for we are a commune. Ships come.

Our chieftain, Freyr-An’ersh, respected as he is, he welcomes, while we judge and consider. They bring more skills. We flourish. We are what you call Viking and this is where we lie. Tread lightly as you go for you walk upon our heart.

watch fire

Fires suddenly burn along the tall ways. Along the high edges of the fjord walls. The lands we hardly know of. Top side. Up there in the Sami lands; the seasonal lands of nomadism, they pay respect to us. They are watchers. They trade with us. They will come down soon as warmer weathers once faded lead to cold times before the hard freeze. They go somewhere else when it is all frozen solid. Some say they go to other worlds, some that they are always of those worlds and visit us through a veil, some that they cave-live for the winter, in the steep sides of uninhabited fjords where no one can observe their smoke.

They will come down for the final trade quite soon. Coming to us is the nearest they ever get to warm climes, and that is in the far end of autumn.

watch-fire.jpg

So the beacons burn. The ancient debt we receive for; the old old owing, yet how can we ever repay the repayors! They far surpass whatever it was in ages past that caused them to be owing to us. Yet the fire beacons burn when we are in need of warning. They watch from on high whenever they are in the heights of their seasonal hunting grounds. Their camps look down upon the fjord and they see ships come. So they light the beacon fires; one upon one upon run and light along the high ground; and we know, we know: of battles, or enemies, of returnings, of strugglings. A ship is coming, (or a leviathan). We shall not venture out to sea to see.

We shall watch. We shall prepare ourselves.

weapon pot

Bjorn-Ole stands the stock of blades and bows in the strategic places we have established. Our defences are in place.

kids tree

Poppa-Varg, Poppa-Volva and the other children climb Yew and Maythorn trees back on the higher ground.

Warriors; Tor-Gunlodd, Brunhildr, Ailbhe Connell and Frode-T’or climb cliff sides.

There is an expected returning. There is a ship we know and love returning just as we hoped that it would quite soon. Nothing comes. The beacon fires up high should have brought a ship or result by now. Our Viking ones are overdue. The beacons must mean other than ‘Here comes your brethren returning’.

Our thoughts are that, there is a complication. Perhaps enemies assail them. Perhaps they are all dead. Perhaps they are sinking on their way home.

We do not know and Thorfinn Asmundsson will no doubt regail us of the tale in a slash by blow way after the settling of them; the hopeful settling of them. We wish and hope for a safe fare landing together if all return and blood is staunched; the fettles calmed.

boat torch

A light, we see a light. Surely we do. Just a hint of a glimpse of a dot of a shine that amplifies within the mind into a massive talisman of hope. There is a ship coming, it has a light above. We peer in hope and anxiety. Down the long fjord we glimpse for real.

It cannot be an enemy shining one light. Many fires waved would be to intimidate us, but just one would serve as a warning and defeat the objective of the incomer; so this shall be our returning vessel.

One of our brave travellers must have climbed the mast with a flaming torch and is lighting the way. No, the light would guide them very little, it must be for us to see. They are letting us know that they approach. They must be a-feared that they may not make it, they are struggling. “Sail out, they are sinking,” cries Björk-Mari, “Board our vessel here at the harbour and sail out. Just enough to crew the ship, to row to their rescue.

“Yes,” calls Siw-Alfadis, “we may need room for them to board for safe return”.

The one light in the far far distance is standing now, it comes no nearer. “We must hurry, worries Jan-Robert.

Leif-Lasse leaps, “Row, row like the wind”.

man torch

“One of you must climb the mast with a burning brand so they know you are coming, to give them hope: for us to see also so we can hope,” Signy Volsungsdottir.

Long is the watching. Long is their journey. Small hands clench maternal hands. Our home ship is slowly nearing the returning vessel. Just in time perhaps we hope. But no. The far light is tipping. Slowly, steadily, heading lower. The mast is swinging. The ship is tipping. They are lost to us in some moments.

The home ship is nearing. Our hands are all gripping. We gasp. We cry out. We clench each other’s shoulders. They are, distantly from us, heading for the ice-cold sea. The nearer ship approaches them, it is traveling fast. They are rowing as hard and as sleek as they possible can. We fear that they will ram.

The one light steers beside the other light. We see the lower light lift. One ship has hit into the side of the other with its fast-incoming flank.

The power of the one ship arriving straightens the other. We see the flaming torch lift till both are the same height.

We can only guess the crew are pulled aboard. It seems that the lightened load of the suffering ship may well be enough to let her ride this stormed night.

There is no blood left in our fingertips, nor in our shoulders, or in our hearts. We can scarcely breathe for the holding of each other so very very tight.

“One ship is bringing both the crews and is pulling the other ship in too,” sighs Björk-Mari.

It is an age and an eon until those two ships near us.

The torch is gone from the mast of the rescued ship and eventually from the saviour vessel.

men cheer

Our cliff-top warriors cheer.

Eventually they are home. Their ship is home.

There is much blood.

It was a battle at sea. A swooping pirate of the waters has attacked and followed and attacked again. Our ship, the returner, was valiant and saw their ship adrift and empty. The binding which held them while the crews leapt from ship to ship in battle were unloosed. And the empty ship went far adrift before it eventually would go down.

It may have been better to keep it. For our far-travelled ship was much damaged. It made it as far as it did.

The ship is home. Both our ships are home. The long-journeyed crew are mainly returned. Safe and back and families are reunited.

All is good.

Not so.

d head

This ship which returned did not remove its battle dragon. How could it do so. It is not a trade ship which returns. It is a ship of dragonhead. A serpent thing upon our land. Whether intentional or not. It has been accepted here with sign of war. With sign of mystical beasts. Of other worlds. The Díser are enraged. They abandon us. The land is cursed. Cursed. We all are cursed.

The land is cursed. The Díser leave us. All last growth dies. The new growth in the spring of tomorrows will not happen.

juniper

Our chieftain must journey to the land of the Vanadís. We burn the herbs. The juniper for the visions. We shall all sleep. We shall dance, we shall tremor, we shall sleep and some of us shall journey to the realms of the Vanadís and we shall tranquil them. Standing with our chieftain as he bravely speaks. He steps forward and declares. He acts for us all and his true heart is read, “We ask of the earth to return to us growth and plenty”.

There is a cost. In old old tales we hear from other lands terrible costs are paid; the life of the first born, the servitude of the next borne or other such heart-wrenching promises. Terrible things. We promise a terrible thing. We promise that one shall go from our midst to ever-serve in the all-time forever as a Vanadís, returning only at will in the when-ever and at times of need and of love and of celebration. Always over there though in the forever of the timelessness.

We shall not choose who will go though. We shall wait till one is willing. We will tell this tale for generation upon generation, the Sami at the topper-most shall also tell. From our midst and perhaps from theirs too shall emerge a chosen one; chosen by their self.

And they shall go. They will be the payment for the return of life to this valley. The Díser shall be welcomed back. The earthy ones who inhabit our realm in a distant way shall be here and the Vanadís shall be in their realm. With our daughter or son. They shall be ever watching through to ours.

That serpent beast-head upon the returning ship has taken a terrible cost and payment shall be forever. (The one who eventually went is still there even in your time as you read this and they are looking down upon us all.)

Lo the freeze times come and there is chanting, throat music, names of old old gods and beings, remembered ones; chanting, casting, renewing.

pipe

Hear the visitation from above. Down the goat path they come; the Sami.

Olga-Stina leads the dancing chant for all to add to. “We sing to lead.” “We sing to enchant.” “We sing to mislead.” “We have pipes of metal to suck back our kindred’s brains in revenge.” “Follow us if you dare, if you are of evil intent.” “Look you follower, a sharp drop off a cliff.” “Come with us enemies, we will keep ourselves safe by leading you, come, come, come.” They softly spookily chant, chant.

sami logs

They come to trade. First. They come to work. They drag and dodge and massively bundled tree trunks dodge and slide and drag; behind, in front, by sides. They, harnessed, bring the wood they need.

They pile and build and burn and create charcoal, here in the flatter lands of warmer ways.

They bring the wood they need. They pile and build and burn and collect; resinous flowings. Twenty two trees for every trunk needed for wood work.

There had been a huge shadow behind each one of these shamanic nomadic visitations as they traversed down the steep sides in their ancient ways here in Gudvangen; with poles under arms they steered huge mountains to down here, to bring us furs.

There is, before they disappear for winter’s hard of hardest times, a trade, a final trade.

logs

What can we give them worth their trading, worth their skills, worth their service?

They have charcoal for their forging, resin for their building, praise and thanks for their service to us. They have worked well high above and have aplenty.

Survival.

The crunch and the green and the fruiting of the lower lands. We have lived a summer; they have lived a harshness.

We have a year’s worth of preserves for them. Some still fresh too. Some in sealed leather.

Food up there freezes, here it ferments, when buried (gravved) we dig for them and they guzzle like it is fresh; they chant and then eat more.

Have we a feast for them. “Come join us.” “Come feast”

“Talk of fermented, here is brew you yearn.”

yog

High nethers never yielded such dairy. Milk; they glug. Yogurt with honey they laugh and laugh with joy. This is a feast of many things, the largest of which is joy. Joy.

We have pledges to renew and enjoin.

Then.

Then there are bounteous gifts. You from the high lands have done us so much. You are promising so much. We will be united in the blessing of the land which the Vanadís have renewed. We shall be united in the pledged of promise to these Dís. One of you, one of us, will agree to go.

We have a yield to share amongst our two types of humans and a yield to share from our world to another world; the world of Dís. We commemorate this as promise. This is an eternal gift and true true all-world promise.

swords

Boots we have. Bounteous harvest too. Much-folded swords. Treasures; Coptic and Islamic. Gold in bent shapes, and coins. Coins with many pictures amongst them. Jasper. Jade even. Dying materials gathered for this trade. They ‘yeep’ at the colours they can make. They almost wee at the thought.

We give them arched strong bows.

spin

We cry now for they return the wool we shared. We have a holy gift for them we have held back, held back. Here first is the return. Wool. Uncarded it went and spun it returns. The Sami they spin.

They sit and they spin. They walk and they spin. They talk and they spin. They ride and they spin. They spin.

spin.jpg

Them Sami can spin,

We have bounteous return for them. We have worked hard over the years, over the seasons two results. One for us. One for them. We own, we have a result from our shared spinning. We have to give… A blanket.

A blanket.

Thus is the strength of our gift.

It will be spring-time and gone by you know this yet here is the winter gathering. The fire. The mjord. The time of tellings. Of sharings. “We gather now and hear,” declares Poppa la Princesse Une fois.

clear sky

“Let me tell you of a clear blue sky,” our Sami friend now relates, “and then of a terrible sudden downpour; from an empty sky it came, till in a blink, well everything was soaked and covered. Then the strange thing happened. In that instant out of the warm blue it froze. Everything frozen. A bush, the rocky mountain side, for I was not quite at the top. The stream, the moss upon the stone. Everything was silver. Completely silver. Even myself; I had to shake, twist, to break free from it and drop thin sheets down upon the ground. In the time it takes for chick to hatch it was gone and everything was wet and damp. The sky was just as blue and clear as ever”.

climber

“I have been down below there, nearer the dim waters – in the almost always dark,” relates Finley Mac with his woman by his side, “As we sailed out I saw things, well, a thing; it was big and it climbed. It climbed so far then it leapt. As slopes turned to crags it needed to leap to gain purchase, but all of this was fast, very fast indeed. I don’t want to know what I think it was, I don’t want to hear myself say it aloud, but it was grey, it had long arms, long legs, a big knobbly head. I almost wish I hadn’t told you”.

“Indeed, it was huge…bigger than a tree and then it climbed in no time,” Linnea-Ingeborg whispers, “Hundreds of feet it jumped and he told me late one night in the sleepless dark how he saw the space between land and sky where the dark bulk left the ground…”

“There was something on the way back,” says Olafr-Andreas whilst staring outward.

“Who looked out, we were sinking!” wonders Frederick Steinsson.

“No there was something.”

A few listening shudder and quietly groan; they were obviously looking too.

wings

“It had wings,” continues Olafr-Andreas, “No it was wings; wings of shadow, yet with strength. There was nothing else though. Just the wings. They were slow and strong and ponderous, and they were close to the steep stone sides; low over the water. Travelling forever.” “Wings.”

“There was something else terrible travelling back with us!” outbursts Kjell-Toffe, “A man in a skirt!”

kilt

“It is a kilt”, proclaims Collum McCull.

“Well, you are from the far north, even norther than the north lands; just below the ice,” spells out Johnson.

“You are Pictish,” points out Patrick.

“It is better than Elvish!” chips in Myrull-Ylva.

“Or silky!” remembers Olve-Daan.

“Or from the realms of rain, begorra,” winks Ragnhild.

“We renamed your Pictish land after us doon forget; Land of the Scots, doon forget that means Irish,” laughs Blathnaid-Brigid.

“Irish? Eh, O, OH, Aye?” laughs Collum McCull.

“Ah yes the land of little men and rainbows,” adds Lars-Eirik.

“The place where the women came from!” Blathnaid-Brigid interjects, “The scribes”.

“That is another story,” adds Add ri An.

“Hex yer, hush noo, ahn look yee tiv the skirt of the monn will yeee,” winked Inga-Idun.

“Take the blame you sailors of all Viks,” declares Hin-Mann, “All the north and all the northern lands are of the Viking in ouradays, look not to stilltocomeadays or longgoneadays I ask you to awaken promptly. All is Norse, deal with it”.

“Kjilt inne Norske Yeh,” laughs Meretha-Silje, “Pleat the material. Look yeh at hoo affluent you look. You are a Viking if you are terribly proud.” “Aifter you.” “Aifter you.” “What yer doing pushin in yer grunta?!”

I heard the dying words of Atle, “it started here”.

Eermm ok… once upon a time”, starts Björk-Mari, “there was a very commanding Viking chieftain named Hrollr. His village was very powerful and other chieftain would travel from afar to pay his respects in the hope that Hrollr and his army wouldn’t wage war upon them. They would bring Hrollr their most prized treasures from raids from all over the world! One day, a Scottish chieftain by the name Glnockie came to visit and he brought with him the most exquisite wool from the Highlands. Hrollr was mighty impressed with the quality and beauty of the tartan and ordered his most prestigious seamstress, Njaela to stitch together a tunic that he was going to wear during a blot and in honour of Glnockie.

plad

Njaela was ecstatic at such honour bestowed upon her and immediately began cutting the fabric, despite it being dark – so she sat down by the fire and began her work. As she was almost finished, a tiny spark from the fire caught the fabric and in front of her eyes, half of the tartan vanished before her. She knew that the chieftain would certainly have her blood-eagled for this, so she called upon Loki to help her.

Loki had travelled far and wide in his eagle-guise and had seen many strange things however, he quite fancied seeing the two chieftains at war so he began telling Njaela a tale of how the most powerful warriors in all of Midgard wore “half skirts”. Thinking that this would surely impress the chieftains, Njaela began sewing a “half skirt” and added, bedazzled it, with jewellery and a bag with the most beautiful hide she could find.

The next day, her chieftain, Hrollr, called upon her and asked her to show him the tunic. When he saw the “half shirt” he almost exploded from rage until Njaela was able to explain to him that all the greatest warriors that Loki had seen in Midgard, wore those but that this one was the most exquisite of them all. Upon hearing this, the chieftain put it on and entered the feast, presenting his “half skirt” to Glnockie.

Glnockie was so impressed by the “half skirt” that he immediately asked Njaela to make him one too – which she of course did! Upon arriving back to the Highlands, Chieftain Glnockie became a fashion icon and all the clans in the land followed suit.

The Vikings however, quickly discovered that the cold didn’t agree with the half skirts, so the trend never really caught on here.”

“Or so it is told.”

chinese 01

“I came here from even farther away,” tells Bjorn-Ole, “My family were traders and travellers so I was born and bred upon the road and have never seen my homeland. I learnt of the letters though, and so I have written. I sent my ancients letters in a message to be sent to my grandparents in our faraway land”.

“Ah yes I have seen those pictures that you write which are like complicated runes,” adds Nils-Harold.

chinese 02

“They are our letters. I dimly remember how it is done from being a child and Add ri An commanded that I should send word. I will never be able to visit as it is so far away and I am a Viking now. If I could visit I would take sore eyes to my grandparents, but as it is I have sent the letters at the command of the Skald. He said I should say that they could congratulate me on being a good soul who knows their own path and is strong. I told him (didn’t I Add ri An) that I would be too blushed to say so even in writings. Yet he commanded it and Blathnaid-Brigid she also insisted that it be so. Mind you she also suggested I ask them to send us some silk!”

“Let the truth be known at your homes Add ri An told me and I admitted that his command was my command (‘Wise old man that you are,’ I added with a wink)”
“Hahaha he agreed reluctantly what a great honest skilled respected wise man he is who is strong and we are proud of. and he eventually agreed to say. Ah no come to think the wise bit was about me,” laughs Add ri An, “Say that a wise man said, that’s me. He promised.”

“What a noble errand indeed,” is the final word of Blathnaid-Brigid.

“Eh, it’s a good yarn,” smiles Teresa-Linn.

“I recall that when I came here I asked what the white stuff was on the tops of the mountains and now I am sending word of how well I am thought of here.”

“Your grandparents will have sore eyes,” adds Lis-Ravn..

“Wood-smoke fills us, fills this place, it will clear it will clear.”

“Tears are smoke,” acknowledges Tyra av Rafnsblõt.

“Tears are smoke and a sea trip will cheer us,” states Linnea-Ingeborg..

We sleep and as we wake we see the distant Sami climbing. These creatures are fond of welcome; fearful of a goodbye.

fish

So, after feast leftovers are filling us to break our short sleep fast we recall the pledge of line and net to cast.

To net and line and catch and gut and clean and work together.

“A fishing trip, a boat outing, a pleasure to cruise among the fjord walls which in places never feel the step of man,” announces Linnea-Ingeborg.

boat

“Lars-Eirik claims to be the only human to have stepped ashore at every one, (he does fish from his dugout often),” laughs Loke-Daan.

“Pale skins may have stepped there, but often it is as if my feet are the first ever human feet to stand a being tall upon these hidden inner lands, yes,” says Lars-Eirik.

Skirts are held. Arms are held. Ship bows are held.

And tensions, as we gaily step, are released.

This is a ship trip.

The waves skip.

More coming in than river ripples outwards. They bring a mix of clemency.

And we are ripping out.

A turnabout, we feel the drift, the tide within the turn within the burn; is going out. We row anyway. Sails in fjord waters are for gentle sessions or sheer emergency. We seek wider pass where half-rig will tender bob us on. While we sojourn.

Light twinkling on the facets of the stone sides gives a promise of spring,

“And while we idle,” muses the Johnson, “let me intrigue with a riddle…”

“Ooo yes we like a puzzle,” enthuses Svanvhit Smedsdottir-gjenfødt.

“I riddle…”

I am your ally on the hunt

But do not walk with me

Lest I be warning to your quarry

Eye glaze and there is quiet for a while.

Some know.

Others will think longer.

“I shall tell my tale,” says Bjarki, “For this journey reminds me of many,” he says as he sits and spins.

“I went to Hildrgard, beautiful Hildrgard,” he glances fleeting to the side, “and I told her – I had made a lock and attached it to my dwelling at the other side of the by, then I untied the key from my belt and offered it to her.”

“He clearly was asking me to move in with him,” chips in Hildrgard from her rowing perch.

“But you wouldn’t would you.”

“I moved in,” she added, “I said I wouldn’t be with you because you had nothing.”

“I cannot help being an orphan; a victim of chance, war and plague.”

In a stirring of mail across towards the prow T’or-Gunlodd asides, “Balder wasn’t there for you was he.”

“No T’or-Gunlodd there was no sense of family for me,” agrees Bjarki

“Never-the-less,” states Hildrgard, “your uncle left you the house, the small house. The blacksmith Svanvhit Smedsdottir-gjenfødt taught you how to make the lock and you still owed her for the iron, not to mention for the lesson.”

“I pledged to pay the blacksmith in the same way I pledged to pay you; a future promise.”

“I wondered how you could ever repay of an equal value to such pledges. Then I learned you had arranged to go Viking.”

“So Hildrgard, you arranged to move in.”

“I agreed to move in on my own, then, when you returned, if you didn’t return dead, I would let you in if you brought treasure.”

Bjarki turns to the crew, “I came back with nothing. Nothing but an agreement to go again.”

“That wasn’t good enough, but I did admire your determination. I couldn’t agree to anything until after your return as you had no skills.”

“I used to watch my mother spin.”

“And on this ship, I asked him, there are times when you just sit?”

“Yes, yes.” Bjarki eagerly nods as if still in that moment.

spin

“Then, I said, take this wool and this spinner and then we will see.”

“Few of us returned alive, all of us with nothing.”

“Except you, you returned with sacks of yarn. It was nearly enough for me to let you in, but not quite.”

“Then you had another idea, and I had planned another adventure.”

“I asked, when you are in foreign lands, do you sometimes sit by a fire? You said you did so, so I said, if you return and you have dyed this yarn I will accept.”

yarn sacks

Bjarki looked proud, “I returned with blood-red yarn…”

“And treasure as well my love.”

“Armour and two swords!” beamed Bjarki.

“And arrows.”

“I made those.”

arrow

“And now you are my beloved Bjarki Famed Fletcher.”

“And father of three!” grins Bjarki.

Everybody spins.

“I am looking forward to the goat hunt in the spring,” smiles Tove-Marie.

“I less so.”

“Why would that be Add ri An?”

wolf

“I clambered the old path by the Galda Cave and through the forest came a whole pack of wolves. They were running, running wild for the sake of it. They brushed right past me. One stopped, she was a large silver-grey she-wolf. She hissed breath in and out of her teeth and it sounded like, “Rieka Sølvulven runs with wolfs,” and then they were gone.

Among the very mixed reactions is a sharp intake of breath everyone looks round, they are relieved to look away from Add ri An.

wolf shadow

Olafr-Andreas speaks, “As I was about to die upon that tied battle ground at sea I saw a shadow of that famed she-wolf and the tide turned – the tide of the battle that is – I heard the shadow as it fell upon him say, May you feel the burning of a thousand suns as they rise at one upon you. And then I stabbed”.

The eerie silence is broken, “Perhaps once the returned ship is repaired it will be time to build another,” suggests Leif-Lasse.

Myrull-Ylva speaks, “This can be a good opportunity to be a fighter Viking for a big and rich chieftain. Maybe he will allow me to go to Gardariket also. Then I will fight for the big sultans and be rich me too. And then, I can go wherever I want after that. And get my own army of ships and Vikings. I can see me standing there with the big kings and chieftains, with sword of the best blacksmith in our known world.”

cheif

“I am a big rich chieftain,” proclaims Freyr-An’ersh.

Happy laughter bursts from all.

“Back to enjoying the boat trip,” Linnea-Ingeborg.

“We are not doing much fishing,” adds Poppa-Varg.

They all laugh and look around.

As the boat gently bobs, their chieftain Freyr-An’ersh adds, “It is enough to know we have worked so hard. That we have enough of everything. To be thankful to those who gave. We move onward in our town in happiness they earned for us. Parties are not the only way to happy. Nor are stories. We are a story. We are taking a boat trip and it is fulfilling. While there is light enough.

Take time to feel the bobbing of the rhythms.”

wave

Poppa-Volva chips in, “Oh look it is time to turn back!”

“Hahahaha”

“And so we return to sleep till spring,” adds Thorfinn Asmundsson.

“Ha you wish,” musters Tyra av Rafnsblõt, “This is when the work starts”

spring

“Oh I long for spring,” sighs Blathnaid-Brigid, “Where I am pleased to know we will witness little miracles growing all around. I am sure we will, I am sure we will, and am so very excited.”

Footnotes and Credits

The element of the story where one ship props up another in a fjord rescue is based upon the real-life memories of my sister-Norn Sigrun watching out for family members returning upon a fishing vessel; hers is an extremely moving tale to hear.

Thank you to my chieftain Georg for the story of the dragon head and the Vanadís.

The traumatic effects of burning the fruiting juniper branch come from the book Legal Highs.

The riddle is the first of a few I shall feature and come from a small book of Vikingesque riddles by highly skilled bone-worker Peter Merrett (and I am sure many of you will wish to add comments below).

Thanks to my good friend Grethe-Irene for her tale of the warrior Viking.

The natural phenomenon of the ice rain in the Rockford area was brought to me by my niece.

Thanks go to Judson, Atle and Holly for discussions on kilts.

My Viking ‘Dream-life I

My Viking Dream-life II

My Viking Dream-life III

Storytelling is…

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Saying Thank You

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Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

What is a Skald?

I could look it up, and perhaps I will, but there is almost no need of history, we are history, we are re-making it as we go along. Let ‘What is a Skald?’ be answered by what is needed of me.

Some of you are, like, yes but what is a Skald? I am storyteller to the chieftain so we can start from there.

Fame and respect I suppose. A storyteller and or poet would be noticed and enjoyable. They would be thanked loudly as well as being responded to as they go along. So it was with me I guess. I did many a performance in many a place before I was asked to be Skald. Poetry and story and most importantly, a mixture.

So audiences were aware of me. Any passing chieftains would be able to see that appreciation shown by the crowd at a glance. They would hear the applause and sometimes even cheers. They would hear laughter – but I do maintain that I am funnier over here in Norway than I was back home in Yorkshire.

There needs to be a little more than this when that chieftain comes along. He needs to like what he hears, to see where the performer is coming from with an air of expectation.

More than this though, they need to jell. So it was with Georg and I. We got along with mutual respect and anticipation right from the start. Not that we are alike, or at least not in every way; our views compliment each other. Also, as Georg says, we ‘look right’.

Not that the role is exclusive, parts of the job can be stepped into by others at times: storytellers, shamans, musicians, hosts, all play a part as happens.

Georg saw me perform at the Jorvik Viking Festival (many times in fact) and through that he invited me to go to Gudvangen.

My performances were a mixture of poetry and story and were tailored to fit the occasion, and the needs of the festival organisers. This arrangement is a happy compromise which also requires an effort to acknowledge the needs of the audience.

So it was in history and so it is that history repeats itself.

Yes, Skald, or Skalt, means poet. One needs to be a poet, experience shows however one needs to be so much more.

The praise poems are needed of course. Special occasions are marked, battles also. In this Viking town rather than just celebrating past battles the Skald needs to support in current ones; fighting the corner in more gentle or subtle ways than the battles of axe-wielding of old. One may also need to help bury the hatchet.

Other roles such as ceremonies we shall come to which often require poems; ‘poems of a purpose’ beyond the topic of the role of the chieftain.

I think my chieftain (or would-be king) continues in the role not just because of the massive levels of respect and expectation from thousands of supporters but also because it is fun.

One must have fun, one must also take ones role very seriously. I know I do. I couldn’t write for the job if I didn’t have a massive respect for the man, for his role, for our societies, and for all who come here.

I am not alone in the role, Georg has several singers, poets, tellers around him – I throw myself into the role and try to take up every challenge. I try.

I take my ‘job’ very seriously, that way it leads to a whole load of fun.

I am sure the Skalds of old had fun, I am also sure they were storytellers. It is said that their panegyrics (praise poems) were quite complicated. The main elements of skaldic verse ( to keep this brief and simple) are: beat rather than rhyme, resonance, assonance, alliteration, consonance and that uniquely Norse metaphoric construct the kenning. The naming-word structures kenning were chiefly used to refer to stories from the Norse belief system which we most often refer to as the myths.

It is believed that the Skald utilised a combination of skaldic verse and story; partly to enthral, partly to impress.

A poem would be spoken, not all of it would be understood so the Skald would look impressive, they would then tell the story or stories which related to the kennings, so being entertaining and explanatory they would now repeat the poem and the listeners would understand it and they could be impressed with themselves.

Some say there was vanity involved, even so far as to say that we only know of the myths / belief system because such as Snorri could feel immortal because we could understand his poetry.

I know that I am immensely proud of being humble and it is the only reason I have been so exceptionally successful.

My main topic here shall be my diversity within the complexities of the role it is an echo of the past in the present, and the skalds certainly diversified.

Beyond the many aspects of the role there is also the fact that it has come about through the natural occurrence of events to be perpetually entwined with occurrences of the past.

We are a rock. A bridge. A ship. A hog-back stone. We are a Heiti – A short replacement of description by metaphor.

We are a time-talker – death-spanner – eon-kin; we are interlinked by our use of kenning.

Our very panegyrics: our words of praise unite us across time.

We are the ‘sound’ from the Proto-Germanic skalliz = sound, voice, shout. The Old High German skal for sound; a skalsong was a song of praise.

Be aware we also have cross time connections in the field of mocking, insulting, word-sparing, with the current English word scold coming from the same root.

For good or bad as a skald you will be an influence, usually for the good of course. You will be an influence and may diversify further into other roles.

You will join the ranks of the keepers of culture and history and of old this often led to other roles.

Becoming a clerk or a scribe was common; a record keeper. Some became preachers, then, as of now, are different faiths and different groups. One now might be led into a role within a re-enactment society’s management, back then skalds would become representatives at a Thing; at the All-thing. You are a skald you are a prominent figure.

One thing is for certain, there were stories to tell, there was a wish to listen, be captivated, to learn. I am very glad to say there is still a place for story today; still a place for old tales and tradition always. Being the skald can definitely lead to stories being told.

One should come to this role through respect. I understand that in some societies, especially in Britain, one has to endure tests – it all sounds a bit Greek to me.

Back in the day, (The Norse day – our heyday), one might be tested by circumstance and be seen to rise above. Perhaps one may even take part in a skald-off – the old mock fights of mocking words, where you make the other look so bad that you rise to the fore – not for me that one, (unless pushed).

In many a re-enactment society to tell stories there are tests which one must. Forgive me if I have details wrong but it goes something like this… Apply to be a member, pay up a fee, arrange to go to the annual training weekend, do the village test, and acting test, three appearance tests and the skald test – you are now a skald. I would place the emphasis on ‘a’ skald and would better describe this as being tested to be a storyteller. There are other ways yet this is one way.

To become ‘the’ skald however this comes from respect.

By ‘the’ I mean the chosen representative of a leader or group; it may be a queen requiring great praise, it may be your local Vikingslag for berating the loser of a scrap or a skirmish. Be it live action role play or at a Viking activity centre it is best not to look at the role as a rank, a qualification or an employment; you deserve the role.

You will be busy.

We shall need to write and or memorise skaldic verse or stylized words for the sake of the occasion, achievements and celebration, (I use a leather binder rather than memory).

We may well help others; story circles, workshops, shares, we may even organise a vote to choose skald of the festival, of the market, of the year. We can create storytellers.

There shall be collaboration; with visiting dignitaries, event managers, business owners, societies. There will be creative collaborations with musicians, drummers, singers, chanters, marchers, actors – with bloggers, vloggers, media, artists, weavers.

Then, of course, there are the speeches, welcoming, declaring open, creating an atmosphere, thinking of fun ways of saying things – attempting to capture the essence of the atmosphere but also of what my chieftain will want to put across.

People should feel good – my chieftain’s golden rule is everyone is welcome except those who don’t make others feel welcome.

Then our chieftain shall speak and I shall have made everyone aware of how important his words shall be – I can put them in a nutshell for you though – It is all about love.

There is the blot or versions of same. This can be a ritualistic ceremony where everyone involved is deeply moved with the connection to the Aesir. The Asatru are the followers of Odin’s family, they are his family.

Such ceremonies are similar to many activities which many British would describe as Pagan.

A simple ceremony can be formed at an opening to bless and celebrate – this is often a mixture of light-hearted and or sentimentally moving. We fill the horn with mead and pass it round, as it circulates each person takes a sip (or gifts a little to the earth if they don’t drink alcohol); as I say these can be endearing and powerful or as simple as ‘Skol’!

One highly jocular comment seemed to be extremely popular when I was in the circle, “Cheerio Miss Sophie.” – this is seen by Norwegians as quintessentially English and yet, for years, was completely incomprehensible to me.

Everyone is welcome and ‘everyone’ is a wide-ranging set of people. – there is almost every belief here and many reasons to be here; Pagans may feel a connection to the place, Asatru to their gods, Muslims might be internally connecting in their own way, Jewish… – you get the idea.

We all have reasons for being here too, from the tourist to the re-enactor, from the site owner to the child of the drummer, traditionalists and newcomers, outsiders and originators, we can all get something out of this, and the nearest I can come to summarising is – timelessness.

There are specific ceremonies, ie funerals, naming days, blessings, weddings, initiations. How are these done? – By everyone sharing their expectations and wishes, to ensure that these elements are included.

You have jobs beyond the grand occasion, newcomers should feel welcome, they should not feel unsure, they should be guided and befriended. – Keep an eye out for them and point them at the right person (possibly yourself).

New ideas will come and you will seek to be encouraging and informative.

Off-shoots of my role have included, contributing to newsletters, blogging, arranging tapestry presentations across the globe.

The biggest thing perhaps is the parade; the background to it and the resultant ceremony.

Background indeed, often an aspect hardly noticed IE there are drummers and pipers hanging around wondering what’s going on. The film crews will be arriving in about five minutes. “Could you drum so they hear which way to come?” “Maybe blow horns when they are in sight?” “Could you be at either side so they walk through?”

To the chap with the three-metre spear, “Could you accompany the chieftain and I so you are his honour guard on the stage?”

“You warriors, when I hold up my hand for silence for the chieftain could you run in front of the stage roaring and clash your weapons to your shields?”

“Galda man, when the shields have been clashed and the horns have been blown could you make one of your spiritual screams?”

“The crew won’t be set up in front of the stage for ten or fifteen minutes so we all could parade around the full camp following our chieftain.”

I shall call onlookers to follow us so we have a crowd from the stalls.

So, everybody marches.

Being adaptable and able to respond ably to commission are vital skills.

People need to get there too. How is the place represented? Can you improve upon what is out there? During the course of writing this blog several people have enquired upon how to visit my chieftain’s town.

The getting there is a story in itself and can be made very entertaining, especially if you make it seem of the Viking age.

I was lost at a huge place with many stalls, all selling odours and alcohol, water was highly priced. I became lost in this accused place and passed many many gateways all leading to other worlds. When I found the right gate and donned Freyja’s feathers I landed in a place of many tunnels – no wonder you people believe in dwarves.

I am from the new lands and have returned to the old stone to remember they ways.

The narrative of the day is also important. Letting people know in a fun way what to expect and what they can take part in.

Activities can be acted out see………………….

I of the new lands must admit to forgetting the old ways – we no longer have grass on our rooves – we have done the terrible deed of missing with the others – Saxon! Angles! Even Parisii!

I may have an advantage; being fluent in English as the world of the Viking is multinational and English is a common tongue, giving me advantage of a Norwegian speaker slightly, possibly, maybe.

We have told multinational stories in over twenty languages and dialects. See Norway in a Nutshell.

Viking Saga in a Nutshell – As performed at Gudvangen Viking Market 2017

On the topic of tangential roles I have recently been asked to write a story to accompany every product on a Viking website.

My own blog keeps me busy with its various strings. This blog is part of the Storytelling is.. string. There is also a series of prose poems on the Gods and Goddesses. Plus another string on my many visits to Gudvangen; this set or series has recently been widened to include My Viking Dreamlife which mixes reality with myth and folklore.

The roles and off shoots I have described are the main elements defining the Skald in a timeless way through the needs of the community. As it must be so shall it be and so shall it always be in the before.

And that I show I ended up with a blood brother and living in a little hut next door.

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

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Saying Thank You

Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.

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Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

A film team from France were creating a documentary about the Cheiftain of the Viking town in Gudvangen, Norway and I was asked to write a poem in my role as skald to be part of the film…

Njardar Viking Town

Look around

What brings you here?

Dream-creator

World-shaker

Love-bringer

History-maker

Community-seer

Remove-fear

Happen-here

Team-steer

Freedom-father

Gudvangen-leader

Gift-sharer

All-carer

Past-weaver

Peace-caster

Doubt-killer

Hert-filler

Originator

Let love and growth sustain

All because of

Our Chieftain

A man who has no power

And no official role

Who makes things happen by the hour

And gives this place its soul

Let me say it here again

May your gods be thanked for

Our Chieftain.

AS

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Saying Thank You

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My Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time III

My Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time III

I am already there, stood between Patrick and Bjork-Mari, in Njardarheimr in Freyr-Anders’ Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am there in my heart. I am already there and in this dream.

My Gudvangen Dream Life III sees me already in the Viking-style life ahead of me in Gudvangen where I will be living (and blogging) as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway. Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.

NB The fictitious names are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.

PS The innocent will be protected until the group decides upon going to war. (The time is now.)

PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there).

Strongly recommended: Start with Viking-dream I and Viking-dream II

Dream-time III

In the mist-morning when the thumps of white are so dramatic forming shapes balanced in the air; blink and the solid realness of it is, over there. It was here. It was this shape. It is, *blink*, up the mountain, down the path, here in the garden.

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It is morning I think.

I still hear trees creak. Waterfalls thrum. Even shadows cast an echo.

And this is war. Today we shall go to war.

We wake for war.

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The thick lamb broth of the yesterday is still warm we won through there.

Breakfast is thick and fast and hot. The breath steams.

We do not wish to have to tell you how to feel but a raven flies in.

Siw-Alfadis thinks they see a raven out to sea coming this way.

“It can’t be a raven,” says Olafr-Andreas, “that’s an omen”.

“And a myth,” rejoins Blathnaid-Brigid.

“Do not say Odin’s ravens are a myth,” gleams Siw-Alfadis, “for the two ravens watch us”.

“Not the two ravens,” recounters the Irish born maiden, “the three”.

“The three, the three, the holy three,” dances Janne-Annhja.

“We are before your holy ghost and the Draugen still climb from the sea in fear of Ran and her nine waves,” Bjork-Mari leans seriously forward fixing the eye.

“It is the nine,” intones Siw-Alfadis.

“The nine,” is the stern echo from Teresa-Linn.

“The nine,” we all confirm in solemn depth.

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“The nine!” a thin voice cries, and a nine-pointed star shoots from the hand of Bjorn-Ole into a doll hung upon our sacred dressed tree.

We all laugh at the leap and throw, of the far-travelled adopted one who took a name and life in service, “Nine not three”.

“Two not three for that is the number of the ravens,” claims Blathnaid-Brigid, “The stories they tell us of the ravens”.

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“I know of the three ravens for I am from the new lands where they still tell the old tales.” Johnson doesn’t rise for his scraping-sheet is upon his knee and the sharps hurt the feet of the one to follow there where they fall.

“Wise is the chap who cages three ravens. For such a karr will have their guidance. When one has sailed beyond the fjords and heads out south…”

“No, no, one should never leave the fjords”, proclaims Tor-Gunlodd, “Yes, I know Bjorn-Ole is from far away but that was over land; I know Blathnaid-Brigid is across the seas, but surely just in sight and not that far, for all she is a Celt.

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“There are lands a year from here and many drown who seek to come from there and many more who seek to leave here,” insists Johnson.

“To be sure you are all wrong, wrong for there are words of marvellous lands far far beyond the lands of my home, beyond the green. Magical lands we can never enter at all at all at all”.

“Stop it now Patrick,” laughs Teresa-Linn.

“Enchanted isle beyond enchanted isle forever ever ever on.”

“You stop it too Blathnaid-Brigid,” scolds Freyr-Anders with a smile, “Well just for now sweet wild thing. Let us hear of the ravens of Jorvik”.

“Not of my lands at all,” says Johnson.

“Not at all at all at all at all,” chips in Patrick.

“Stop it I said,” laughs our Chieftain.

“Not of my lands, not of the lands of ice, or the further lands of ice which lie to us by saying they are green.”

“Send you poor farmers to Ireland and you rich sons to Jorvik we know we know we know,” says Patrick.

“No there are further lands.”

The circle hush.

“How dare one say such a thing,” queries Frode-T’or.

“There are the old tales,” whispers Tone-Irene.

“They sailed,” says Johnson, “or so it says, the word. Take three land birds of the feather dark with you and guard them well. After a few days let one go. It will wing back to where you came from and you know you will still have far to go.

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Let out the second later and there is still no land, it circles. You know you have come so far. It settles on the mast. There is no land for it to fly to. A few days of hopeful sailing later you let go the third. Oh how we rejoice, it flies forward. It smells the land, a new land and new place, a new found land”.

“This is where I say the tales are wrong, you don’t need three,” stands Blathnaid-Brigid, “The one on the mast would smell the land ahead and fly forward. All you had to do was feed it now and then, to keep up its energy, and it would fly. You don’t need the third”.

“So it is with all stories,” wonders Leif-Lasse.

A raven lands at their feet.

Siw-Alfadis looks down with a slight tremor of the face, “Methinks this was the blink of dark of shadowed sky I spied a while back flying in, it traversed the walls of high stone over fjord waters and I say it came from sea; it is an omen.” She turns to look at us.

“A warning,” agrees a serious-faced Bjork-Mari.

“The enemy are coming,” resolutely Frode-T’or states.

“See how it pecks of the remains of another bird which died, the entrails of a smaller thing are no longer on the wing yet take shape,” says fixated Siw-Alfadis.

“Ooooooh, oooooh,” shamanic-like Linnea-Ingeborg foresees, “Raven is a warning as it flicks at guts of littler dead thing. It says they, the unknown, sail this way”.

“The enemy,” repeats Bork-Mari.

“Yes, yes, yes – Prepare for war!” cries Lars-Eirik.

“Visitors come, stands Freyr-Anders, “it is true, but from within the lands they come to see. To see how we live and eat and fayre.”

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“Then let us go about our lives,” says Brinhild as she starts to walk.

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The sweat lodge beckons.

“I have kept great stones hot,” quiet Kjell-Toffe guides.

Clothes are falling as we walk behind him.

Behind the blacksmith’s near lowered bathing bank an entrance beckons. Before this leathered structure a fire; it burns long and slow and all since yesterday. Broad, lasting, logs, so slow are cossetting the dampened stones. Huge stones. They are dry now, hot, extremely hot; long strong poles await.

We do not follow commands from Krell-Toffe, in words; in strong actions, he leads, we follow. An arm jerks here, and stern look there, we follow. Grasping those poles and as with his poised strength we bolster, lean and slowly keen the stone from burn. They roll at last the stones. Bigger than a sheep, heavier that our heaviest man. Kjell-Toffe heaves now and we follow lead. The stones lead on and roll into the delve, they roll right within the lodge.

We dug here, set stakes around the shape of egg and laid damp wood shapes around the curve. The bending of the stakes a roof formed to leather clad. A carving of the centre forms a station for the in-rolling stones. They roll there now.

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We are naked and we form a shape of egg around as we sit. The stakes above are clothed. The tent hut of skins surrounds and darkens. A leather kettle is dipped into and a churn of water dampens stones. The effect is immense. We are bathed. We are boiled. We are cleaned. We are naked. We are babes. We are calmed and quietened.

Gradually we share out quiet thoughts.

“So when the war comes, who will wield what? Wonders Frode-T’or.

By we leave we are battle ready.

The visitor they did come.

They sit upon banks and await amusement.

“Welcome but stay safe,” in our language and their own calls the statuesque Tone-Irene.

“Yes stay back and stay safe,” repeats Bjorn-Ole in our words and then in his mother tongue, “for one of you could be my mother”

Youths and maidens refresh them.

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Our great chieftain Freyr-Anders seeks to quieten them. They see. They see into his beautiful dark eyes, he raises an arm. Then. Upon his hand lands. A raven.

From the sea another one. We turn to run.

We turn to run for arms.

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For look, see sails.

They are close. The harbour they can have. Too late to set the fire lines. The harbour they can have. Their ships can land.

Those who ran far and fast now return with arms.

We stand between the boat houses, between the high fences.

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Bjorn-Ole the far-child trade-swap from a land of silk he says he is not of the size to wield a shield or long long spear; as they near he lifts his chosen weapon from his ancestry, a slender spear-shaft he has crafted to a slim long curve-sided blade. “Stand in your lines, with this I raise.”

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“I too have slashing blade,” our chieftain proclaims, and it is raised. “From a king of long gone.

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This is my king blade, but I will take a shield.” A shield so large it rests upon the floor, he reaches over, wielding slashing blade and hopes for war.

Upon his head the helm of boar.

A wildness over comes us.

“Take up your stand of arms and form a line,” he commands.

Johnson of the madness still has no clothes. He takes a shield and axe and says his head is dead and he will surely soon be, “Let it be a glory morning”. His skin is blue.

Nils-Harold wears fur, I need no shield but I will bare upon command. “With this blue board and this sharp steal I stand here. Rooooar!”

Brinhild will not stand with shield. “And I too frail,” states Ingerlill-Nairaa, “so we will stand at spear”.

“I stand nearer,” cries the tall strong blond Tone-Irene and takes a shield and large axe.

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Thirteen stand at front; fifteen behind.

Axe and flat of sword are banged at shield, “Ooooodin”. Feet are stamped in surety, “Ooooodin”.

“Come on invaders.”

“Come on in, if you can.”

Bang bang – Bang bang.

They land, unboard, do not take a charging course.

They disembark some more.

“They, have horses,” spies Inga-Idunn.

Mounting now they ride this way.

Behind us children cry.

Smokes fly wisping hints of home at us.

We are firm and fierce and yet afeared.

“We die today!”

“Yaaaaaaaay!”

“Oh Yaaaay!”

Tone-Irene, Lars-Eirik, Kjell-Toffe, Siw-Alfadis, Olafr-Andreas, Patrick, Lief-Lasse and Nils-Harold form to either side of the chieftain; his wall of blonde strength. Fire and raven-haired fill the ends.

Behind them fourteen take up long spear, they raise, they place a foot upon the base and lower slowly to shield bearer’s free shoulder.

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Man and horse is each like a single monstrous beast, long shining claw of steel once waved is set back in sheath. As they ride a bow is lifted from side. They charge up close.

The long spears run in until each wielder is right behind their shield-bearer.

The horsemen stop just short of spear heads; their arrows fly.

Beaded jewellery shatters as Inga-Idun drops stiffly backward, Kjell-Toffe screams as chain links of shoulder shred and redden, and in the centre, the dead centre, an armour piecing arrow splits the largest shield and chieftain cries; pinned to shield and propped there while a pool forms round his boots.

His shield wall freezes in dread and are falsely cheered, are fooled enough to rally, by, the dying words of Freyr-Anders, “We stand and fight”.

The enemy reach for a second arrow. A stone is hurled, the central rider is now faceless under helm.

As Bjorn-Ole switches back to his curved blade-stick rest of riders turn and flee.

Only to re-group, draw hand weapons and charge.

Long spears laying flat to the ground, as the horses near are suddenly raised.

They stop in time, all but one. Tove-Maria hits home., the rider dies, the horse twists. Tove-Marie sets both feet but she is dragged, gripping every slip. She is through her fellow fighter’s wall and in the middle of the field.

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At last she lets go as a dozen arrows fill her young frame.

They turn and ride upon us once again. As spears raise you can see they pull back; a false charge: except for two they increase in speed – an axe in one hand a smaller axe in the other. The long spears stop their beasts the riders release. Dead horses stop in their tracks, riders fly on. Through the air they go, swinging down with their axes, hitting shield tops as they arc down. Two shields, one on each side of the chieftain, are pulled forward and two of us are now bereft of shield. These two of us are crushed by flying warrior; Siw-Alfadis and Lars-Eirik are broken.

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As one axe -man swings into the thigh of Janne-Annhja, Bjorn-Ole pierces him with his slashing stick. Janne-Annhja, close to death, snatches the curved sword of her up-propped chieftain. Freyr-Anders, (thus realising he is dead and held in place by arrow through shield), and in the moment of her own dying kills the second axe-man; she has time for last words, “Our chieftain…..”

Two figures dash screaming through the shield wall, one naked-blue one draped in furs, out into the field; Nils-Harold and The Johnson pull down three from horse back to kill them before being stripped of life themselves.

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Jan-Robert and Brinhild take up fallen shields; the wall still full. They may not hold for long the full charge is racing in. Our six remaining spears are raised, and hit! Each has boot against the base and their long spears as levers lift the enemy to the sky.

A heavy screech of noise and impossible flight of thrashing limbs hovers momentarily, for the soon to die below – it darkens.

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The many are dead, it is like a new dawn for the stunned laid around, then one horse pitifully tries to rise.

All remaining horses run, in search of goat path, a few take riders with them.

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Two are sliced into by high leap from silk-road child Bjorn-Ole before another makes him into two.

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Patrick lifts his defence rune shield, “A last stance.”

Linnea-Ingaborg runs, “Come run.” Ingerlill-Nairaa follows her.

When Bjork-Mari sees they run to the fire she understands and follows too.

Not the youngest of our fighters survive, but the biggest, strongest, most experienced do; Kjell-Toffe, Olafr-Andreas and Loke-Daan run to Patrick’s call and in a circle facing outwards with two weapons each foresee one last fight.

Bjork-Mari follows the lead of the other women by taking up a firebrand; she runs after Linnea-Ingaborg to stand on harbour, torches high.

The last mob of axe men angered, mad, encircle our small group and weapons clash.

Three torches high, “Leave us with no further fight or see ships burn”.

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“Fight on, fight on!”

Ingerlill-Nairaa leads the women now, “Then let this burn”. Torches tip into the nearest ship as warrior smites at warrior.

The ship bursts faster, higher, than expected igniting our unused defence; the fire-lines. The harbour burns.

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Three women aflame are falling, screaming, drowning, gone.

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The flames race on, backwards to the way of their plan. Right back to boat houses bursting everything in flames. The boat house each, the warring parties each in one mad burn.

All are dead, the city falls. Nothing is left. Amid the blackened field the figure of the dead chieftain grimly stands.

All are dead, the end. Dream-time recollections end.

And in the sweat-lodge I, Add-ri-An, awakens. Gentle noises all around. I run out of the hot dark to look upon the field of death.

Within this dream the tourists on the bank stare on, awaiting spectacle. The boathouses and the harbour pristine stand.

Snoring from behind me makes me realise my comrades slumber on, and it is all a dream – a dream within a dream.

A raven lands.

The chieftain joins me and raises arm, a second raven lands upon his hand.

“An omen,” Siw-Alfadis joins them.

“The enemy,” calls Bjork-Mari.

There in sight on fjord water sail in ships; the ships of war are coming here.

The wild blonde shield wall forms, the sides are filled. The long spears lay upon their shoulders.

From the ships come foreign axe men, they lead off horses. They mount and form a massing line.

Our chieftain steps forward to the centre of our shield wall to address one and all, perhaps for one last time, “I, Freyr-Anders, chieftain of Gudvangen,” he raises his sharp curved sword, “I bid you,” we all can see the shine in those darkly commanding eyes, “Welcome! Welcome, welcome, welcome.”

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How the horse men laugh and ride about us grasping raised arm after raised arm as they slowly pass. Kjell-Toffe and Inga-Idun are each clasped by arm by riders, who firmly grip and swing. Then suddenly their two lead figures have a standing friend upon the horse with them. Kjell-Toffe and Inga-Idun arms in air stand as their mounts encircle, echoing words of our great chieftain, “Welcome, welcome.”

Viking-dream I and Viking-dream II

(and here is the Ghost walks of York series)

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Saying Thank You

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My Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time II

My Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time II

I am already there, stood beside Bjorn-Ole, in Njardarheimr in Freyr-Anders’ Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am there in my heart. I am already there and in this dream.

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My Gudvangen Dream Life II sees me already in the Viking-style life ahead of me in Gudvangen where I will be living (and blogging) as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway. Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.

NB The fictitious names are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.

PS The innocent will be protected until the group decides upon going to war.

PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there).

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Dream-time II

We sun-down sat and shared our thoughts and sometimes-news. We brewed this filling of the horn which refreshes when tipped. We clink and watch the fjord walls as shadows fall. “It is alright to compost guys.”

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We are greeted by this as we clink because time is fluid here; both in the moment and within the greater context. We are living Viking-style.

As perfectly as maybe, research however nods its head in the far ahead in when we came from. ‘It’s alright to compost.’

We have gardened and consulted, learned and conferred. In the dream-time reality of a future T’or-Gunlodd relates how a Culinary Archaeologist tells of little gardens; hut-side herbals: Vegetables adjacent and the soil was different. The soil was different.

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We pledge, as of tomorrow, to start a compost heap.

We start now in celebration to mark the storage spot by standing there to relieve, (Tove-Marie squats higher up the bank), “Aaaaaaaaah,” sighs Bjorn-Ole for all of us.

Jan-Robert makes a ritual of this by his jocular ritual statement, “We moisten this pit for future growth and state the place to heap”.

As for what they determined was growing in that rediscovered composted hut-side little garden; it was turnip. We will not grow those. (‘Call them turnip, swede, kohlrabi what you will, no’, says Olve-Jeppe.)

This Viking-style reality would be just a bit too gritty a reality if all we had to eat was turnips.

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Eel, we are excited about. (Lars-Eirik and T’or-Gunlodd are the most excited and early rising on this.) Eels we want, and other hunter’s produce brought to us. We will make a stew of pine tips once we are made sure of safe types by Tone-Irene.

For this homely garden though we will start with Olve-Jeppe’s herbal plants.

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I am already there, stood beside Bjorn-Ole, in Njardarheimr in Freyr-Anders’ Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am there in my heart. I am already there and in this dream.

My tribal associates don’t seem to mind bees, (a part of their modern minds tells them there should be more of them), but not wasps. We run in fear of these. Well, most of us, I don’t. I watch as they jump and dash with hands fast flourishing.

“You must be mad”, Olafr-Andreas sternly tells me, “or not from here.” he laughs.

“How could I be the Skald and not know about the death of Fearie?”

“The death of Fairy?”

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“Of all the Fey; the world of Fearie.”

Nobody believed in them anymore so they dwindled.

I do not believe this myself because I still believe in them and often see them, as does Tone-Irene.

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Not enough believed in the long-ago though and all Fearie dwindled badly, especially the little cute gossamer-winged stereotypical ones. Gone. Dead.

Or as good as dead.

Their spirit moved on. Lived on. Befitting their wishes went on. Went into another creature.

Every reader knows what is coming next.

A wasp.

Whenever you see a wasp you are seeing what once was a fairy.

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Every morning a pretty little fairy gently wakes. He / she is so so glad to be alive, so happy, quite giddy, excited; Oh sweet plans to fly around and frolic. Maybe paint some pansies, have a dance, – Oh how happy to be a fairy. Wait, there is no longer such a place as faerie. There are no longer fairies. What is this thing I am! It suddenly realises it cannot do any of those things it planned. Not a fairy, no – A wasp – Oh it is very angry.

Very, very, angry, always will be – that is why they sting.

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This all may be a dream but I don’t make stuff up, I hear it from the eons since of old tales.

Kjell-Toffe the rock breaker returns from rolling giant stones into the sweat-lodge. Newly built, it is for him and Lis-Ravn to try it first. We all shall try it in a future dream-time. For now it is the place of the lovers to explore.

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As moon-shone silverfish entwine they are star-struck, with their love moments living on in the vividness of all their neighbour’s knowledge, dreams and imagination. Oh how they love.

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The faces in the fjord walls change at night, Blathnaid-Brigid tells us. Things appear which were not there at day. The faces become quite stern and angry in the winter time, but now they are just a little more mischievous. There are caves up there that haven’t been up there before.

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Loke-Daan tells us there is a path up that steep side; the goat-herder’s path, but most of us would rather not try it. As he drops his heavy load of chopped logs besides the slowing embers he agrees that we are all probably best staying right here this evening.

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Tove-Marie finds the driest and slimmest of the logs to rebuild the fire for supper-time and mentions the bounty in the sack she has besides her.

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Brinhild opens her wicker back pack and with a proud smile opens a muslin wrap to show an enormous fish, “One of the local fishermen gave me it.”

Loke-Daan tells Add-ri-An he now knows what we are having for our well-earned supper

“More wine?” shouts out Siw-Alfadis.

No, his plans are for us all to share the huge fish given to us by the gods.

Tove-Marie jumps up from her task at the fireside, “You haven’t seen what I have yet.”

A leg from lamb still hung with tatters of smoked meat, the one left from the hanging Fenalår.

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Loke-Daan comments, “You have had many visitors.” The leg of cured lamb which can also be cold smoked to add to its storage duration in these warmer climes of the southern half of this long thin nation, is hung at the tent flap ready to welcome callers.

Each passer by is welcomed to call for a slither of the chewy tasty meat.

“We have the bone now,” says bright blonde Siw-Alfadis raising her drinking horn in confirmation.

Which of these foods would the party rather have, the bone or fresh fish? It is decided to crack the bone and boil it. The thick dark broth will be very warming and filling. There will be more than enough for us all to feel full and still enough left for breakfast. Later there will be an attempt to build the charcoaled logs around it so it is still warm for breakfast, but that is a task which is not always won.

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“What of the fish?” asks Linnea-Ingeborg, “The fat fresh fish”.

I will be delighted to leave it to rot,” exclaims Brinhild.

She shall make Grav Fisk.

It has been gutted to avoid expansion of the juices within and she has rewrapped it in the muslin. “I have a marker over there where the last fisk was buried. I shall bury it there for three months to rot.”

“Lovely” exclaims the whole camp at once.

The previous burial will be ready to dig up and we can dig that out in a few nights time.

Bones tonight, rotten fish at the end of the week, it is a rich time we have,” laughs Bjork-Mari.

So, we shall be digging up some of the older Grav Fisk in the next dreamtime as well as exploring the sweat-lodge and building a Viking Dream long ship, or at least starting upon it, or at least starting to plan for it.

Read on

Viking Dreamtime III

Or start back at the beginning:

Dreamtime I

Here’s some different themes:

Storytelling is…

Viking Gods and Goddesses

Mini-Saga

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Saying Thank You

Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.

$3.00

Dream Village of the Viking Lore

Dream Village of the Viking Lore

I never imagined the darkness of this wooden house when I first dreamed myself here; in this night now of being here I never expected such a dread as there is – frozen to the edge of a bench bed. No sleep. No waking. No listening. I know the sounds are there and I know which beings reside in my mind.

It is morning. I am spinning from the bed and bouncing towards the new light. Hrimfaxi’s dew wetting my feet as I drop clothes down to the waist and drench myself in the mountain’s waters. They well back up naturally from this man-drilled hole. Dark depths echo in the torrent I bathe with. I am awake in this ancient life force like I never have been in wakefulness. Beings sent me these feelings and I am braver in a day.

I shall leave the embrace of being a Viking in the Viking hut in this Viking market in this Viking village in this Viking history. Leave the sense of becoming for a while and go dress up as a person. Adrian is going fishing, a strange mix I have planned of this dream in this moment. Not being a fisher before I have planned yes, for in the store back in the real Scarborough was a telescopic rod and reel which would fit in a suitcase easily; the collection of additions life-collected by my brother-in-law who has neither never fished either are with me in this adventure too. With thanks to him I pick up my knapsack.

I have walked this riverside path of the steep-walled fjord before in a realer reality and in this there was more light then than in imagined semi-anxious realities of now. Then I had walked high from the surface along cliff edges and looked down. There was a ripple in a circle as if a fish had jumped, this was a powerful ring however, it had a white water wave as a wall, ever growing across the waters, until the whole circular wave was as wide as the wide river itself. There was something large down there. There was somewhere very deep where something lived and breathed. There was a very real creature in here.

I headed there now, if one looks back at this point they see along the line of the slender river with its clearer shallower waters that feeds these deeps that there in this world and not so is the serpent being. It drifts in and out and weaves in and among and looks at me from its slow journey down wall-side way and knows I recall its visitation to my mind. When a winged serpent speaks inside your brain you recall well its words that I would be safe, safe within my very real fear; well-deserved fear would serve me well but I should not yield to it for I would return from my adventures with success in my heart. “Go young soul,” the wyrm bellows, “Go hunting deep.”

So it was that modern man me journeyed some way from sight of dwellings, away for sounds of morning, away from this dreamed up reality of Viking worlds and before anything of man could sail its large journey up these fjord waters I had them all to myself – and it was fearful.

Others have clambered down this narrow rocky cutting to be closer to the waters and others had seen the depths. I was in timelessness and sat upon a rock.

I decided to dredge-fish, this was a term I probably had dreamt up, but I wanted something big. I telescoped out my compact fishing rod for the first time and the line spun up along its length as it stretched and hung there ready. I drew out quite a length and fixed a sizable lead weight to the line. Then at the very end I tied a lure; a large plum creature of rubber with its curled barbed teeth of hooks – sizeable indeed. I was after something large. Something fat. For I had myself to feed and I had people to greet and welcome. For serpent whispers had foretold that I would return.

I held on to this prediction for the fears of my imagination were welling up from before time and threatening to become real for me.

I cast. There was a dull thrum as if Nidhogg’s entourage were driving the air with their wings. Ploop. The line was far from me and it drilled down. When I felt that it was at mid-depth I started to steadily wind. The strong weight held the line at this depth and the lure was moving.

There was movement, there was impeding darkness, it was a gloom of age and ancientness not of anything of difference between day or night. This was a thickening of the air a density of existence and I was engulfed.

Substantial silhouettes were forming in the drowning flow and things were coming up towards me. I felt a presence behind me. Huge stretched high-eared shapes were mixing around each other and lankily looking down towards me in awareness. Live stone was thumping the path and filling all senses. They were right behind me. The water broke.

Mantatee creatures were milling in the water, filling all space. In my mind they were climbing and changing as they rose out. Bellowing painfully to the ears and opening toothed maws these Draugen-beings were filling my awareness. The stone things pressed from behind. There was one short moment of life left to me in which both sides considered their actions and their reactions to each other when snap the rod twitched suddenly and dove downwards. Another reality of dream was with us; the catching of the fat thing from the depths.

I was alone in my battle, and battle it was, I feared I may lose the rod, or the fish at least.

I had to let it swim, let the reel spin. I slowed it, held it, reeled it, let it spin. I slowed it, held it, reeled it, let it spin. As I tired I felt the beast did.

Oh how the air burst as it was filled with fish. The thoughts of the presence of other beings was dispelled and I was along in a battle of death.

It was round and tall and fat and golden green in a pale sheen. Even its exhausted flips in the air were almost enough to pull me from the rock. I flipped back and it shot over the rocks to land in a hollow a mere rock away from the waters. Thrashing it was. With line still attached I dripped my rod to the bank and hurriedly put on my strong thick gloves.

I grasp its gill. My Njardar knife is in my hand and I stab downwards, the neck is pieced, I twist down and sever the head.

As I got the thing I consider using these remains for deeper fishing bait to catch an eel to later jelly. I decide this is for another journey.

Partway back along the ledge I think to stop and hide the thing. I return in Viking garb and travel back to the village with it hanging over my shoulder.

There is a crowd round as I fillet. Half is hung over the fire to smoke and the other two fillets are in a pan to cook.

Will there be more I am asked from the crowd. I tell them, as I also tell you, that yes. The bees crowd around my head and whisper darkly that I must share with you all again and tell you of bees and beings and life in the dream of being a Viking in a Viking hut in a Viking village.

For it will come to pass.

Viking Dream life II and Viking dream Life III

Storytelling is…

Viking Gods and Goddesses

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Saying Thank You

Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.

$3.00

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Viking Saga in a Nutshell – As performed at Gudvangen Viking Market 2017

Viking Saga in a Nutshell – As performed at Gudvangen Viking Market 2017

See ‘how to’ at the bottom for ways to turn these shortened sagas into performances

038 sig sword up

Sigurd the Warrior

034 sig sword

The warrior thrust his sword – into his scabbard

035 sig horse

Mounted his mighty horse – and rode through the night

009 rode all night

And the next day

008 ride all night

And the next night

036 mountains

Ahead was an enormous mountain

037 cave

In the mountain was a huge cave

038 sig sword up

He leapt from his horse – and strode in

084 up tunl

Up a long high tunnel

087 to enor cave

Towards an enormous cave

010 pile of gold

In the cave was an enormous heap of gold

007 dragon on pile

Upon the gold was an enormous dragon

039 dragon

“Roar”

089 crouch fear.jpg

He crouched in fear, “I cannot kill this thing!”

013 two raven

Two birds landed on his shoulders and whispered,

090 dig what.jpg

“Dig a hole” “What with?”

092 with sword.jpg

“Dig with your sword.” “Why?”

094 leap in.jpg

“Just dig, dig, and leap in!”

039 dragon

The great monster awakes

012 wait in hole

Sigurd the warrior crouches down with his sword

095 d flies out.jpg

The monstrous dragon flies out through the tunnel

096 s stabs

Sigurd stabs, stabs, urg, hu, arg, p,dumph

011 dragon head

The dragon bites, RRRRaphnth!

097 haha 01.jpg

Sigurd slices, “Hahahahahahaha!”

098 haha 02

“Hahahahahahaha!”

Sigurd Awakens Brinhild

034 sig sword

Sigurd the warrior raised his sword

025 neck slice

He sliced right through the dragon’s neck

026 ring

And from its claw he took the cursed gold ring

099 seeks.jpg

“I will go and seek my fortune”

010 pile of gold

“Hang on, I already have a fortune”

028 sadlebag

He filled his saddlebags with dragon’s gold

030 sig rides

He rode away on his horse which was afraid of nothing – nothing

076 man horse 01 flipped

Nothing

029 terrain types

Forests, swamps, mountains

0100 on mount.jpg

Upon a far mountain is a tall tower

0101 in flames.jpg

Surrounded by flames

0102 leaps.jpg

The horse leaps

024 sig leaps

Through the air

031 sig through flame

Through the flames

0103 dismounts.jpg

Sigurd dismounts inside the tower

0104 asleep.jpg

Laid asleep upon a stone bed is…

0105 most beaut.jpg

The most beautiful woman he has ever seen

027 sleeps

She was unclothed

0106 in arms

He took her in his arms

0107 kiss.jpg

He kissed her

0108 awake

She awoke, “I love you”

0109 will you.jpg

“I love you too – will you marry me?”

0110 ring on

He put the ring upon her finger

026 ring

The cursed ring

0111 beginning of.jpg

That is just the beginning of a story – where

0112 ev dies 01.jpg

Everybody dies

For the Love of Freyja – and the Walls of Asgard

054 god war flipped

The big boss god of all the Viking gods?

047 odin 01

OOOOOOOOOOOdin

048 odin 01 flipped

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOdin

049 asgard

His city was in ruins

050 asgard flipped

Ruins

044 h stranger

Along came a handsome stranger

045 h stranger flipped

“I will build the walls of your city for you”

078 hs 02

“And all I want in return is…”

0114 str the sun.jpg

“The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as my wife oooooo”

0120 sun 04.jpg

“Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as my wife oooooo”

069 odin 02 flipped

Odin said, “You want what!”

0115 ev the sun group 01.jpg

“Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as my wife oooooo”

070 odin loki heads

That is a lot, I will ask Loki

057 loki 01

“What does he want paying?”

055 odin and loki 01

“Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as his wife oooooo”

059 half a year

“Only if he can get it done in less than half a year”

068 odin 02

Odin told the stranger…

0116 sun 01.jpg

“But will you still pay me “Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as my wife oooooo”

046 hs and horse

“And can my horse help?”

060 horse mountain 01

“Hahaha what good is a horse? It was a magical horse

061 horse mountain fly

It flew down and picked up a mountain

065 hs brick 01

The stranger used it as a brick

062 horse mountain fly flipped

It flew down and picked up a mountain

066 horse to hs brick

The stranger used it you get the idea

067 hs brick to wall

He will get it down in time and then we will have to pay him

0118 sun 02

“Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as his wife oooooo”

071 loki turns horse
072 lady horse 01

Loki turned into a beautiful lady horse brrrrrrr

075 man horse 01
074 lady horse 02

The stallion followed her

077 into magic wood

Into the magical woods

078 hs 02.jpg

Now the stranger wouldn’t get the job done in time and he wouldn’t get paid…

0119 sun 03

“Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as his wife oooooo”

079 off to biff

He threw off his handsome disguise and became the rock giant he really was

0121 goes to biff.jpg

He went to biff Odin

080 odin to biff

But Odin biffed him

081 biffs giant

He biffed him so hard he flew all the way back to the land of the giants

0122 nearly wall.jpg

The walls were nearly finished and Odin didn’t have to pay…

0123 ev group flipped.jpg

“Everybody all at once” “The sun, the moon and the beautiful lady Freyja as his wife oooooo”

Loki

058 loki 01 flipped

The god of mischief

0124 trickery.jpg

Trickery

0125 cruelty

Cruelty

0126 she screams.jpg

“When the goddess awakes see how she screams”

0127 l laughs 01.jpg

Loki laughs “hehehehe”

0129 l laughs 02.jpg

“Hehehehehe”

0130 shape change.jpg

He is also a shape changer god

0131 creatures.jpg

(say to the cast,) “Say the names of four random creatures or things”

056 odin and loki 01 flipped

The gods had had enough of him

0132 throw ch

They threw away his children

0133 throw snake 01.jpg
0134 throw snake 02.jpg

The giant snake they threw into the sea, “Roar, sploosh”

0135 wolf in

The monster wolf into the ground “hoooooowl”

016 hel falls

His putrid, rotten daughter down to the underworld

014 hel

Scream!

0136 poison face.jpg

Burning poison was dripped on Loki’s face

0137 all scream.jpg

“All scream together!”

0138 her ship

“See my daughter fly her ship of the dead”

0139 kill all.jpg

“And we will kill you all!”

0142 haha 01
0143 haha 02.jpg

“Hahahahahaha” – “Haha”

0140 l dies

That is the end of Loki’s story, in which…

0141 ev dies

[Say to the cast] (“All say together, “Everybody dies” on the count of three.) 1 2 3 “Everybody dies!”

Ragnarok

0151 end of world

The end of the world, where everybody dies

0152 gods monsters etc

Gods, Monsters, wolves and slaves

015 all fight

Everyone fights together until they die

0153 dd we ment

Did we mention everybody dies?

0154 cos do

Because they do

033 yg wave

The sea rises up and swallows the land

032 yg lightning.jpg

Lightning strikes the great tree

017 yg falls

The great tree falls,

0155 eek.jpg

eeeke, creeeeak, vrooooompht, budoumpht, budoumpht, budoumpht

0156 bdumpht

budoumpht

019 yg twig

One branch

019 yg twig

One branch remains standing free of the water

018 yg

The bits of the old world gather around the branch

020 lithr babe

Two figures climb down to this new land

0150 l and l

Lith and Lithrasia

021 babe

New life begins, cradled in their arms

0157 old gods.jpg

The power of the old gods rises from the sea

023 yg old gods.jpg

The light of life and hope

022 l and l arms

We raise up our arms in wonder and say, “aaaaaaah”

Njord; the god of the sea

0158 he leads.jpg

He leads us

0159 guides.jpg

Guides us

0160 stare

Stare out to sea with him

0161 under is terrible g.jpg

For under the sea is a terrible goddess

0162 twisted.jpg

Ran! She is wicked and twisted

0163 swings

She swings her net and catches sailors “aaaaaaaargh”

0164 wander.jpg

They wander her home forever

0165 ccold

“I am cccccold.” – “I miss my familyyyyy”