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

.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tdb-samples.jpgVisiting 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.

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.fm overhead

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

The farmhouse gets longer as we add people on. The square of the building becomes, er, squarer. The farm.fm 01

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

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.stool

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.beds

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’.steps

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.no sword

Back to the farm:

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.bowls barrels and cauldrons

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.

farm view
Veiw from the farm by Christof

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.path

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

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.cradle

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.

They had chickens.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.

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.screen

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

People like to send in photos and footage.dried fish

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

Why not even an international arts display.

beth viking 07
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).

beth viking boat 07
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.

great feast
Sadly I only have an image of higher benches

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.bunty cut out

Great for those underused Vikingesque areas.

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.colour ship builder

Fight-of-Vikings-coloring-pageSome 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.

stone base
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.

 

Norsk Høstfest,hostfest banner 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.

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.stage

(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,

host beads
Alyssa Harron and freind beadmaking at Hostfest Viking Village

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.bs 03 him

bs 02 bladesbs 04bs 05bs 06bs 07bs 08bs 09bs 010bs 011bs 012flint(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.

christopher heth
Sorry not got Chris in his outfit

lathechest makerThe friendly Norwegian Forest Cat was very popular.nf cats

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.”).true th

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.stage 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.

I loved the alternative pallet seating.more seats

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).felt lady

felt 01

Troll Island was a highlight for me,island one 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.island 02 Perhaps if Gudvangen were to take up such an idea we could have a model of a fjord settlement.harbour darkened

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.box seat

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

Imagine the films and photo shoots that could come of this.troll 01

left island 03troll 02troll 03troll 04That’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….”

This all gave time to laugh.tim

UW-Green Bay Viking House

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.skaldic poster

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.

It is real atmospheric inside.langhus

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

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…lh dark me

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.

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

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.

deer
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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is heidi-and-me.jpg

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.

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

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.

And so will Heidi.heidi solo

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

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.

And that is not just wattle.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’.

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

It was a brilliant experience to do the National Railroad Museum;AdrianSpendlow_Ghosts-Trains and it was a sell-out – over capacity.full theatre 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.ron 2

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),dad uniform 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.

I mention blogs; they can perform an extra service. I wrote a twelve-blog series on how to be a storyteller (link below).to guy 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.

800px-LNER_Class_A4_4496_Dwight_D_Eisenhower_at_NRM
800px-LNER_Class_A4_4496_Dwight_D_Eisenhower_at_NRM

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.

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

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.carpe-jugulum-poster-wat-1_3_orig

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

There were of course the classes. There were classes mixed together.poem to class 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.

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

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.Indigenous Sami

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.

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).a960b1c536e2a1960b64c978eedf95a

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

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.krauka 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.pots and weave

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.

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

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.georg

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.

There is another factor. Thousands of people love him.light on stage

So it works.

It is wholeheartedly, overwhelmingly, undeniable.

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.monika marcin einar

You care and people care about you.

This is lesson to be learned Numero Uno.

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.skaldic corner

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.

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.left table

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.

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.njord gud

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

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

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.

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

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.

There are also people living here for periods of times for various reasons. These are the Freemen.tablet lady 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

Ravn runs Ravnstova (link below)ravnstove as a more of a professional service; outfit commissions, textile salesravntove – as well as demonstrating dying and candle making.dye spiral dyingConner 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.cockerel close cockerel loomKarin comes with her kids to live and share.dying pale

madderThere 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.”

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.viking girl

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.half temple

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.’

Oh alright – I admit – Georg was right.rune board

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.

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.to the kitchen

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.

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.mixed media impro

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.

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.outdoor table

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

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.coin

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.

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.dragon_brooch_pin

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

Representatives from Viking attractions I am sure would be welcome in Njardarheimr, not just as ‘Freemen’, also to demonstrate skills and share information.boast-218x198

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!

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.kitchen

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.

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.mixed media impro

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.si

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.

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.steamy cauldron

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.

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.received_2080291925573466

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.

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.real fire

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

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.basket half

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.)

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.ramslork

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.

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

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.

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

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

I am very pleased to say that the great tour guide Mal Dickson, (some will know him best as Malcolm McAlister), has arranged to create a follow up to this guide. He has gathered ideas from others to compile a list of suggestions.

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.no sword

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

https://nationalrrmuseum.org/

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

 

Advertisements

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.

Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.

Adrian Spendlow

 

 

 

There is a strict no swearing policy and definitely no entertainment allowed, in the vibrant, friendly, (and gay friendly), little pub by the York Minster; The York Arms.

You may feel like swearing though if you were to use the stairs. you will be on the floor. As the stairs only lead to the private accommodation it will serve you right for either not paying attention or for being up to no good. The stairs are guarded. You may see the figure of a previous landlady or you may not. If you do you may have a moment to consider how elegant she is with her flowing hair and long gown. Whether you see her or not you will feel her presence. Just in the instance of a strong sensation of anger at your intrusion you will feel her push you very hard. You are on your way down. All in the back bar will see you and definitely hear you as you crash to the floor by the serving hatch. You may still be conscious but are unlikely to be able to run, or to even get up; so you will be apprehended for your crime. For the crime of interfering with the privacy of the lady on the stairs. She keeps her fellow residents safe.stairs

Even less friendly is the ghost across the road, he is running away, running away to cause trouble. Especially if chased. Especially on the eve of his death, death, death.

 

 

   

Tortured, hanged, drawn, quartered and then burnt over and over again. No wonder he causes fires if disturbed.

Yes we have left York Arms and across from there you can see, you guessed it, the Guy Fawkes Tavern (formerly Youngs Hotel). You have passed the main doors of the Minster and more poignantly St Michael Le Belfry. That’s where we are coming from. That’s where the ‘guy’ (sic) was christened. Contrary to what you may have heard of late Guy was his real name. It isn’t now, but it was when he was christened. Guy Fawkes. He was a hero. A hero of Catholicism; a servant of the Pope. Remember remember his whole world was Catholic; the whole of Christendom as they referred to it.

The British (*spit*) protestants were anti-Jew and anti-Catholic, quite an austere lot altogether really. Mr Fawkes was following a Papal Bull – a holy command.

Britain was up against the world and the Pope issued instructions to do whatever you could to destroy the new faith.

Guy was a hero in Spain and his righteous valour caused him to be awarded the more fitting first name of Guido, this he preferred and this we shall call him from now on.

 

 

Guido the terrorist, globalist, servant of the Pope, soldier, did not blow up the houses of parliament, he did not try to blow up the houses of parliament, well he did yet it is not the purpose of his endeavours. He was just a distraction so the King’s boys could be abducted and brought up Catholic. The future of the throne was the main intent.

Thus it is that on a certain date, (Remember remember the ‘fourth’ of November), his angry restless spirit appears to storm home from St Michael Le Belfry to his birthplace, through the tavern to the read annex where he was born.

His storming figure has been seen in the residential area. Two women told my mum of their experiences there. This was the fourth of November, the eve of his death. This is, of course, a death which has been re-enacted countless times.

The fifth of November is Bonfire Night and upon every bonfire, (originally fires of bone), is placed an effigy of Guido Fawkes. No wonder he is angered into haunting as his horribly cruel death is venerated over and over again culminating in explosive cheers and sizzling bones. Everywhere they dance to his death, everywhere except St Peters School. He is an old boy of St Peters. So, it is told, that they never burn a guy – they burn a gal. Victims of their ritual burnings are said to have included Victoria Beckham, Maggie and Katie Price.

 

 

The year the two women saw him that rule was planned to be broken – St Peters school planned to burn a guy, ‘the’ Guy, their Guy. No wonder he stormed home.

“Excuse me,” cried one of the ladies as they ran down the stairs from the residential area, “There is a strange man upstairs,” “Yes,” added her friend, “an intruder.” The bar ‘guy’ ran upstairs and sure enough there was the intruder, a sinister figure in a long black flowing cloak. “Oy,” he half turned towards the bar man’s call then marched on. On into the end of the corridor. On, right through the wall.guido The office beyond burst into flames at just gone midnight – November the fifth.

There are ghosts in this ancient city and my mum knows that for sure. She met many of the witnesses. She worked for the author: John Mitchell. He wrote Ghosts of an Ancient City. It is still out there and it started it all. Not the inventor of the ghost walk though. The original ghost walks were invented by…

My mum’s pals.

A gang of them. They got together and chatted and the next thing mum knows the phone is ringing. “You know how you were the researcher and met all the witnesses first hand?”

“Yes.” Hang fire here comes the invention of ghost walks…

“Why don’t you take us on a walk round York and tell us the stories where they actually happened.” Now there are eight or nine companies doing ghost walks every night of the week.

 

 

Yes my mum was in on it at the beginning but she didn’t know that my sister Ginny was too. John Mitchell ran experimental groups which would have several lasting repercussions. It is only in the last couple of years that it has come out that they both attended these groups.

The library at St Olavs is dedicated to John Mitchell, but his chief work was undertaken while he was teacher, and later ‘head’ at the ancient school of St Peters.

People from all walks of life were invited to experiential workshops with experiments, practices and discussions.mitchell

Mum listened to voices among white noise, talked to the dead, discussed the power of visitation with the then late H G Wells, held vigils late into the dark, felt upturned wine glasses fill with power,

“So did I,” proclaimed my sister, “with my teacher.” Her teacher from Mill Mount School for Girls had recruited her for one of John Mitchell’s projects. Light in the dark; wisdom for the believer.

From all of those groups came the search for witnesses, from these came a book, from this came the ghost walks. From those decades of ghost walks came an invitation for me to tell ghost stories to young people. Ghost stories in St Olavs school in the John Mitchell library. I told stories but not for long as you will see.

 

 

I did them ‘the worst thing about doing ghost walks’. The worst thing about doing ghost walks is – there is always someone on my ghost walk who knows a better story than me! It is just not fair!

Take the lady who told me of coming home from work late. It was a large terrace house which had been split into two and her and her husband had the top part as their apartment.

She was late home. Work were keeping her. She managed to let her husband know. She would not be in till 19.30 but he would have a meal ready.

She got off work not as late as expected and headed home. She let herself in and started up the stairs, as she neared their apartment she heard voices.

There was someone talking to her husband; it was a woman.

There was a woman inside her home. She could hear her voice. That woman was in her living room.

She burst open the door. There was no one there.

She could still hear voices. They were in the bedroom.

She crept to the door; she burst it open. There was no one there.

They were in the bathroom. She could definitely hear them talking. She burst open the door.

 

 

There was her husband looking in the mirror and shaving. As he slowly looked round, she asked, “Who were you talking to?”

He answered haltingly, “I, thought, I was talking to you.”

Then he was staring to the side of her – to – behind – the – door. She peered around the door and there was a young woman. She was dressed smartly, but rather old fashioned; her full-skirted black lace dress had frilled cuffs and a ruff at the neck, “I must be in the wrong house.”

The young woman walked out and around my friend and past her into the lounge. They watched as she opened the main door, they heard her clunk down the stairs. They heard the front door open and close. They came to their senses and ran after her.

They ran down the stairs. They got to the door – it was locked. Locked, twice, and both bolts were across and the chain was on.

By they had it open the woman was gone. They locked up and went back up into the lounge. He flopped in one chair and she in the other. They stared for a second then one said, “She was as real as me and you.”

Then the other said, “But,” and then they both said at the same time, “She didn’t have any feet.”

Yes she was as real as me and you but she disappeared from the ankles down.

After a few more such tales as this it was time for the kids, and boy did they know tales.

 

 

They frightened each other; the girl with no face, the lover who turned out to be long dead, the figure you just know is right behind you, the building no one ever goes in and no one ever returns from, the ribbon around the neck which must never be removed, the fingers in the trunk, the light over the gravestone, the warrior who slowly turns towards you, the romans in the cellar, the roman in the Minster, the angry figure. They frightened each other.

I reminded them of whose library we were in. John Mitchell would certainly be listening, he spent his life trying to discover the truth about life after death. He was York’s man of ghosts, now his school’s pupils were telling ghost stories in his library, of course he was listening, and going by the bristling tension we had created, of course he would be proud.

 

Click links below to see previous editions

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Request to receive emails to keep up to date.

I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/

See also my Nordic Prose poems of the Gods and Goddesses series…

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

 

The twisting details of the brick-work and the aged woodwork seem to be seen in full detail despite the lack of lighting.

Shiver if you will in these ancient streets and wayfares.

Do not step on the cracks, as they lead down below these old flags to layer upon layer of deathly past.

Impossible mists climb down among the yellow lights to amplify the darkness of the forth-coming archway.

Amalgamation of structure covers centuries and has only one thing in common, amid the various quaintnesses, is its lack of straightness.

Leaning in and over, meanwhile tilting and steadily shifting, erstwhile attempts at formality house the living amongst the dead.

Impassable infrastructure passable easily for spirit – echoes of earlier denizens.

Angled byways call into question any semblance of accessibility leaving behind away from this city all concept of normality.

Ghostly accessibility is superior to the earthly footway.

Watch it visitor, spooky York is wonky.

 

 

The Dead

(a round by Adrian Spendlow)

 

Just west of here amid the mists

No step aside; a stumbling list

Simply twist here to find

A tear within the veil

Timeless as the instance of awareness

Solid as old stone’s transience

Always within the wanderer’s perspective

Those who are not of your precious now

Who your hope of logic flaunt with firm avow

A promise you will one day know

There you will reside, you hear it said

For you will walk among

 

                                         AS

 

Click links below to see preivious editions

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Request to receive emails to keep up to date.

I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/

See also my Nordic Prose poems of the Gods and Goddesses series…

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

 

wonky 01 sketch on wash pencilled enhance wetted pre ironed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.

Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.

Adrian Spendlow

#2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

 

As we head towards our second collection of ghostly encounters we roll away from the Theatre Royal towards a small arch in this broken section of the City Walls (They are called the Bar Walls really but you are probably a tourist).

Pause here for a moment and look up at the guest rooms of the Exhibition pub (Actually tourists will later benefit from my simple guide to York further on in this feature). Do you see a face? No? A full figure of a man? A guest looking out in their underpants, or possibly sometimes without their underpants? Let us go in and find out a little more.window man

When I did go in there was a very enthusiastic welcome from (I think she was called Christine) Christine, who was thrilled to be able to share her experiences for you all; I have never seen someone so happy to tell of being scared half to death.

 

Not that the man in the window was totally scary, or at least not initially. She simply told her two workmates that one of them ought to get up there and tell the guest to put some clothes on when viewing Yee Olde Yorke. There was no need, it was explained to her, because there were no guests, they had all checked out that morning, there was nobody upstairs.

She found this cranky and interesting and not at all scary, well not until she checked the rotas and saw that she was on chambermaiding duties.

She saw no one upstairs and felt no presence so decided that the ‘guest’ was a different spirit to the one in the kitchens.

She did see him again but only from outside, and increasingly without any undergarments. It was the kitchen spirit who was unsettling however.

She remained pleased with herself. This seemed to be because she had a deeper experience than the other staff. Yet her experiences were always eventually verified.

Everyone picked up on the atmosphere in the kitchens especially after she had noticed it. Older staff acknowledged that there had always been something uncomfortable.

Like her those who had been there longer had problems with things going missing, crashing noises just as one was swinging in the door, or at other times things being found smashed.

 

It was Christine who saw things smashing first, well only by a split second. Her and one of the guys went in via the swing door together with arm-fulls of dishes.

“Look at that,” there was a butter dish hovering in the air.butter The instant her mate looked up to see it too it dropped out of the air. It smashed in the sink.butter rough She went on to see such things often.

It was her also who would notice when the spirit moved through into behind the bar. “Oh oh” was more or less all she would say, then things started to happen. Almost empty shelves would fill by the next time you bent down to add a pint glass. An upside down wine glass slowly sliding up its rack to crash to the floor. glassesThere would be a spate of such occurrences then things would calm and the kitchens would start having problems.

There was also a problem in the public area but Christine felt this was a different presence. When she was tidying up at ‘yucking out’ time she would find one of the wooden table tops to be swimming in beer. She would sort it, move on and look back to see it a-swim with ale again.

This went on over several weeks and then one evening she noticed a glisten and stood still to watch as the table top filled up with beer all on its own, as if the beer was welling up out of the wood itself.table

 

 

As I watched this table anxiously and while we are ‘sat here’ in the warm let us cast an eye down the road to another haunted establishment.

Just along Bootham and down to the left on Marygate, there are two places to tell of actually, down near the bottom is the Jorvik Guest House where a figure is often seen in the building; in rooms and in the bar, perhaps all the more spooky for its hazy dark appearance.jovik hotel

Back up the way towards the main road I will tell of a ghost which is so clearly seen it is often not thought of as a ghost.

The Coach house hotel is the haunt of a soldier.squaddie times two In First World War trench gear he is most usually seen in the bar-room off to the right. At the far end of the serving area. How people generally react is to point out that the re-enactment guy was before them. Staff will say there is no one there and if customers get up from the left ha nd restaurant area sure enough there is only them waiting to be served.squaddie two

As I am about to scare you about one of the letting rooms I am sorry to say I have forgotten which room this concerns, so when you stay there you will have to take pot luck.

Sit there at the mirror if you will, the chances are you will feel the presence of someone else sharing the long, cushioned, stool with you, look around and there is the indentation of them.

 

Slightly less common, although commented on by guests a few times a year, look up, in the reflection you will see the lady who shares your passion for long well-brushed hair.reflection

Ask to change rooms if you will, but one of the other rooms has a spirit who sits on the bed in the middle of the night – at least the mirror lady doesn’t wake you up – sleep well.on bed

Up behind the Exhibition and across the road is a building with a grizzly tale to tell, I am just waiting for the ghost stories to emerge.

The bakery shop there was the scene of something ghastly. A customer was selecting a pie when something dropped down on to it – it was blood.pie

The residents of the flat above resided no longer. They lay dead. The story is that they had been taking benefit cheques off other residents and one had had enough of going without.

The flat was re-floored and re-let; the bakers reopened – nobody went in.bakers

Back to hauntings or at least monstrous beasts but first torture along the way.

The Board Inn – The Hole in the Wallholeinwall – we are heading down the alley at the side of there but let us mention the ancient torture chamber reported indungeon the cellar and the steps upon the stairs; the loo stairs. I am among many who hear footsteps behind them on the way to the loo. The many who see a door open ahead of them and feel there is someone else in the loos with them. Listen, someone left.

 

All these ghosts. This is York. An ancient place. Battles and sieges. Famines and wars. Jealousy and rages. Poverty and power.war etc

There are more dead under the earth than there are people walking above on the surface. Small wonder that their essence comes seeping out from between the flag stones.under

It is not the dead we are concerned about just now it is becoming dead. Being scared to death. Jinxed. Hexed. Summoned. Cursed.wo

We are stepping down into the realms of the Black Dog of Death.dog

It is an ancient beast and it is down this alleyway, or the next, or the next.hole It is a sign you are about to become dead. Whenever it is reported seen there are simultaneous reports of death, or near death, or injurious states – down alleyways – read the reports.013

People have seen the hound of our alleys since the long-ships. Word of the dark creature slinking ashore litter the tales of remembrance of the Norse.longship

This dog is far older of course even than that and it is among the dead. Burial mounds, deathly places, battle scenes, aftermath, anywhere there is death.flame eyes

York city sits upon death, it venerates it – thus we have the barguist beast.dog two

Nip not down a ginnel, turn not from the main-way, stay in the light. The barguest beast gleams its red eye tonight.dog three

Oh yes, listen here for those rules of York…

 

And here for the poem on the dog of death…

 

 

;

cat dog

Click links below to see previous editions

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

Request to receive emails to keep up to date.

I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.

Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.

Adrian Spendlow

Heralding a Great Show

 

You don’t tend to notice any metaphysical atmosphere in these particular passageways you are where you wished to be; you are a thespian. Carrying large holdalls of make-up and costumes up the steep twisting stairway here is more about destination. It is a convoluted route to being on the stage; for you are climbing to the theatre dressing rooms. The excitement of your prospects tends to lift you; you are climbing to dizzy heights.008

This is the Theatre Royal, York and it is a tennis court.010 Plays take place in this tennis court but that is what it is. Back in the year which in this modern age you can look up for yourself it started out that way.

“Can we have a theatre here?”

“No.”

“OK then we will have a tennis court.”

The population of York and far and wide were invited to the tennis court to watch King Lear.

“You are putting on plays.”

“This is a tennis court.”009

(NB I chose King Lear as it is often described as impossible to stage in a theatre but this was in a tennis court.)

 

The winding stairs were built afterwards.004

Some of the rooms those stairs lead to were there already it seems. The reader is leaping ahead now and deciding we are about to hear all about the existence of the Theatre Royal’s Grey Lady,012 well the reader is wrong, there are two ghosts in the theatre, both are Grey Ladies; yes there are two of them.022

Pray for a good death, live a good life; a fair one, even so a trick of fate, a cruel wickedness, can lead to centuries of wailing.

What quite leads to age upon age of mischievousness is not so clearly understood unless it was loving a building too much.015

‘The’ Grey Lady roams the place and is seen often and word is out on her that if she is seen there will be a full house; that the show will have a successful run. This legendary advantage is evidence in itself that she is seen quite often, not because there are regular full houses, but that when a member of the acting profession is upset because of the sight of her the joke is on you to be told, “Don’t worry it is a sign of a good show.” Thus the legend continues in an unhelpful way by making fun of the poor sobbing thespian who is scared to go backstage;016 to stand in the wings, or to look out into the audience.

 

For this is where she is; if you are stage left you will be wondering, as you await your cue, who the mature lady is, so still in concentration upon you from the distant stage right.021

If you are due to come down on a wire she is in the rafters, (do not go down a shoot from centre stage whatever you do), if you look out at the audience seeking to meet the eye of a safe looking face don’t be too sure that they are still alive.

For these are places she is often seen, by actor or audience member alike, (or perhaps I am being over inclusive simply to increase interest), no, it is so.

Marie of the theatre staff told me of seeing the Grey Lady in all of these places and a guy in a pub told me too.

To bring you back into the realms of believability this is a ghost tale which goes back in popularity to well before ghost walks. It is as old as the theatre, well no, as old as the Grey Lady.

I sat at that pub, in the beer garden, telling my sister of a commission to collect ghost stories for broadcast when a guy across the way overheard. He had been in the post of Domestic Services Coordinator for the theatre and he had seen the Grey Lady.017

 

There had been a huge response to their advertising for more cleaners and it was decided they would all have to sit in the stalls. They set up an interview area on the stage and worked their way through. At last mid-afternoon his assistant said they had finished and being a thorough chap, he pointed out that they hadn’t finished as there was still the lady in grey who was sat further back. His assistant said everyone had gone and he insisted the lady had been staring at him from the back all afternoon.018

“There is no one there.”

“Yes there is,” he stood up and pointed, no there wasn’t.

She is mischievous though, which leaves one wondering on her reason for haunting; if there is a reason for the sight of a ghost. Perhaps yes, she loved the place too much and could not bear to move on upon her death.

For she is seen at performances and rehearsals and makes her presence felt;014 lights go on and off quite frequently. Staff will be extra sure they have made every safety check upon locking up for the night. As they look back upon wandering away there is a light shining. (I note there are never reports of taps running or doors unlocking or anything which may endanger the fabric of the building or the surety of future shows.) 019

 

Yet when they plod back up those narrow stairs they find that the light in question is no longer on and as they work their way back down another light now is.

There is a more definite reason for the other famed haunting – she doesn’t know she is dead.025

For those of us with an awareness of spirit there is a blatant sense of despair. Most of us are sensitive in such places and are affected though not all people know why they react the way they do.

I would like to think that I knew that the story behind the experience was true but I knew the tale before I went in there and picked up upon it though.

The walled-up nun. Several different folks who may each describe themselves as clairvoyant mediums have reported the same or similar.005

Well they all match up to the long-told story; she was bad.024

 

Actually she may well have been a victim; a modern view might well have seen a situation thus. Even in some present day societies the dark ages concept of a woman being ‘tainted’ by the actions of a man still have currency – the word ‘despoiled’ comes to mind.

You can tell your dates and places, you can look at the history of consensual respect – she had sex.023

The man, for it was a man, doesn’t seem to be haunting anywhere, so probably wasn’t walled up or castigated – she was.027

They may have slipped tit bits through a crevice to prolong her existence but be assured she was in the dark, her ability to move was severely restricted, there were no facilities, no warmth and there certainly was no hope. This was a dead woman breathing.020

She is dead now, she is not breathing, she is still in existence. Admittedly, as a ghost she is steadily, very slowly, dwindling. There is as nothing of her left in fact except the despair and (multiply those type feelings a tenfold and then you come up with a word for it): She is bad.

 

It is just a story.

Go in that dressing room then.

The one next door is identical; rows of mirrors with lights: 028

The acting profession are famed for being protective of their space. Their ‘slap’ is laid out and this is their mirror with a chair demarking their area – Do not go near. Now go next door.

They are all down one end and they are sharing one or two mirrors. They may not be fully aware of why they are so close together and do not feel too comfortable being expected to have to explain to you.

Hey, you go up the other end beyond where the old wall of so long ago crosses the room.

Let us leave the Theatre Royal behind us and go seeking some fresher air – and possibly some hope.

Click to read the whole series:

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #1 The Theatre Royal

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #3 Tosh Alleyways

Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #4 The Burning

I highly recommend: http://www.ghostwalkyork.co.uk/