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

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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

 

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Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – (some of it is a bit grizzly).

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Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – (some of it is a bit grizzly) – (Please share, like and add comments).

hood-02There I was sat in the centre of the park by the river in my Hobb outfit, (which is basically a dress and tights), with a huge black cloak with a huge black hood; waiting. I was waiting to suddenly start in a deep scary voice. ‘Long long ago!’

I could not see ahead of me because of the big hood, but eventually I heard a group approaching and saw their feet gathering around, ‘Long long ago!’hood-01

Luckily it was the right group!

Jules Montgomery of Barmby Moor School had asked me to be there to meet her group, or rather groups. They had teamed up with Garton on the Wold School for a trip to York to go around Cliffords Tower.two-towers-cut-to-one

There was only room for one of their groups at a time, so they were to split up and spend an hour in there and an hour with me.me-09d

Life with the Normans was Jules’ suggestion and, as they had been studying the topic, plus would be hearing the relative history of the tower, I thought I better be a bit different to all that. Jules suggested tales of the Normans from the local perspective.special-one-03

Hence Hobb’s view.me hood.jpg

Long long long

Long long long

Long long long ago (the hood was off)me-09i

There used to be a great tower here upon a hill.two towers cropped to wood.jpg

Do you know where it was?

“There!” “There!” There!” they all point.two-towers-cut-to-one

Oh, no, you’ve got a new one.

In my-a-days it was over there. I point to where the Eye of York is now.

This one wasn’t there in my-a-days. It must be from your-a-days. What do you call it? “Cliffords Tower.”two-towers-cut-to-one-flipped

Oh no, what did you call it that for?! You have called it after the enemy.clifford

Clifford was one of the nasty bad guys from that horrible place over the mountains; the place of the red rose.mountains

Ah, I think I know why it got called that. It is a joke.

When they caught him they hung him. They hung him from the tower and left him there.hung

For a long long long time, is that enough longs or should there be more?

“More!”

For a long long long long long long long time, is that enough longs, er, yes perhaps so.

A long long time he hung there, and people would look up as they passed and say, ‘Hello Clifford.’hung

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha…

Well perhaps it isn’t funny now-a-days, but it was then.

‘Hello Clifford!’hung

‘ Ha ha ha ha ha ha,’ is that enough ha ha’s or should there be more?

“No!” “No more!”

After years of folk saying, ‘Where are we going fishing?’ Down past Clifford’s tower ha ha ha ha ha – it all wore a bit thin, but the name stuck.

That is what I say about it and I should know because I am Hobb.

Hello. “Hello.”

Let me introduce myself I am Hobb, Hobb the pigman. pig hut.jpg

Not that I have got any pigs, but you know how you all have a pig in your house don’t you. “No.” “Yes.” “No.” Well some of you have. Everyone did in my-a-days. Not in your-a-days but in my-a-days. And you know how you would get fed up of them around your feet? And would push them out of the door, so they were all wandering about in the street. Well I felt sorry for them all and I have them all round at my house. I am always warm on a night, and I am never short of company. People don’t tend to like me very much, because of the smell, but the pigs like me, so that’s all right.

clipped faded.jpgThey was a tower here, a big castle on a hill you know, long long long before that-there William feller came here. The Saxons built it, or the Angles or both of them. That one was destroyed. The Vikings came and the Vikings destroyed it. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Is that enough Viking laughter? “No.” Everybody then; “Ha ha ha ha ha ha.“just-you-02-coloured

Well there I was in The Globe in Shambles having a glass of porter, and then I went across the street to a pub called The Globe and had a glass of porter. I like the Globe, but the porter isn’t as good, I don’t like The Globe but the porter is far better there and it is only across Shambles so I popped back into The Globe for another, while my pigs waited outside.globe

It wasn’t so bad. We all got nattering and chatting and we got onto the Vikings. There was Ragnar you see, long long long long, shall I? No, OK, just the one long then, long ago there was a Viking king called Ragnar. Ragnar Hairy-breeks; he of the hairy trousers. He stormed through Europe taking town after town, city after city. He came to Paris, oh, he took his army with him of course, he didn’t do it all on his own. Paris was a bit trickier. A big strong city. paris.jpgSo he put the place under siege. That’s where you don’t let anybody out and you don’t let anybody in. It tends to make you hungry does that, but more on that later. For now, let’s just say that they had a lot of food in there; they managed to survive for two years. Eventually they gave in because they were very very hungry, very.

They gave in, and they gave him all their treasure; gold, jewels, crepe recipes, everything.crepe.jpg

Trouble was, most of his Vikings said, ‘We quite like it here, we have got used to it, we think we’ll stay.’ camp 02 coloured.jpgThat left him with a smaller army when he came to Britain and it left France with a load of Vikings who would later turn into Normans, or their off-spring would many many years later. Many.away

So along here came Ragnar and died terribly at the hands of a Saxon king, but that is another story for another time.

Those ones he left behind though, many many years later their children’s children’s children’s ch, you get the idea. The king’s army, the king of France (as we call it now).king

Along came a Viking, well a few. The leader of this army was a big guy, you might call him Rolo, or Rolf, he said he was called Hrolfr. Ganger Hrolfr in fact. Ganger means walker.

ganger..jpgHe ran mainly, very fast, and right at you. He was so big that no horse would carry him; his feet trailed along the floor when he sat in the saddle. So he ran, with his army riding behind him. Well, not when they were on a ship, then they sailed. There were ships full of them. A hundred ships they say, with a hundred men in each one they say. How many is that? “A thousand?” “Ten thousand?” “A hundred thousand?” I will tell you how many and you will repeat it after me. How many? A lot! How many? “A lot.”100 ships.jpg

They went in by river and then they travelled the lands. Till presently they came again to the great river around a great bend far from their ships. saine.jpgThere across the waters was a huge army. The king at their head. His army was far larger. He was about to call for a charge to ride across the river and kill these invaders with their tall leader when he heard his own army talking behind him. ‘Those fellers over there are from the North.’ ‘They are Northmen.’ ‘That is where our forefathers were from.’ ‘We are kin.’ ‘Family.’ ‘We can’t fight them.’two armies.jpg

The king heard this and thought that he had better change his plan. ‘What is it that you want?’

Ganger Hrolfr replied, ‘All this. All the land at this side of the river.’

The king was not happy with this but felt he had no choice, ‘This you can have as long as you swear allegiance to me.’

‘How would I do this?’ called Ganger as he strode across the river with his strongest few.

‘You must bow down and kiss my foot.’

‘I will bow down to no man,’ cried Ganger. He turned to his mightiest warrior, ‘Would you do this duty for me my good friend?’

Tor Eric stepped forward with a wry grin, (that is a bit of a smirk if you didn’t know). He walked forward towards the king who was sat before him on his horse. Tor Eric took the king’s foot, he didn’t bend, he lifted the foot quickly to his mouth and kissed. The king flew off his horse. king-fallAs he crashed to the floor Hrolfr laughed loud, as did his warriors, their whole army behind them across the river could be heard to be laughing wildly. The king’s men were not laughing; his close knights were reaching for their weapons and stepping slowly forward. The king laughed. The king stood, and laughed and laughed. His knights looked, looked back at Tor Eric and Hrolfr, and then they laughed, a whole army behind them laughing and laughing. Both banks of the river were filled with wild loud hearty laughter.

Hobb laughs, the teachers laugh, the children laugh – a timeless hearty laugh.

So that is even more descendants of the Norsemen settled in France. No wonder the Norman invasion fought so well!normans

Anyway I went for a walk. To be more correct, I took my pigs for a walk (Oink, wheet wheet wheee), they were fed up of being in the house, well, the hovel actually. Anyway, we went for a walk.pigs-drawing

So there I was in the ale house on the street of stone, the pigs were in the front yard and I was sat with a glass in the inne: Yee Newe Starre Inne. You might know it better as Yee Olde Starre Inne, but this was a long time ago when the Starre Inne was newe.pint.jpg

Sipping away at my porter and listening to my friend who was a porter, lending a tanner to my friend the tanner, and… – that’s quite enough of that, let’s just say there were a few of us. Then I was asked what I thought of the news, I wasn’t able to think about the news, because I hadn’t heard the news. Then I heard the news; the king was dead. My friend the Crier was quite upset about it, yes he had been crying about it all over town. I didn’t know. The pigs are so noisy you see. Edward? The King? That Edward feller? I asked. Yes I was told. Well, I asked, did he confess anything in the end, but nobody knew.elf table.jpg

Anyway I wasn’t worried, he was from down there and it wouldn’t bother us up here I reckoned. Some of my friends agreed. The one who was a Wait said we would have to find out in the end. Mostly though they were worried, because, it turned out, there were many coming who thought they ought to be king and there would be trouble. There would be trouble mainly round here, fighting and that, they reckoned. (One of them-there would-be kings is buried under that great big church you have, a Viking feller.) They were all going to be coming over here they said.Copy of minster and seven.jpg

What did it matter I wondered, as a king is a king is a king is a king, but I was informed I was wrong. The one that worried everyone was coming over from France to conquer. What was he called? “William!” No. Guillaume. That is French for William or any rate maybe William is English for Guillaume. We maybe should end up calling him William but for now he was Guillaume I was told. One of my pals said he was called Guillaume le Rude-word. I wanted to know what the rude word was and it was whispered in my ear. Goodness me that’s a shock. We can’t call him that. We had better call him a conqueror. Yes that would do it; William the Conqueror. Any way there was going to be trouble.battle.jpg

It was true. In no time there was talk of a big battle raging over a bridge just a little way from here. I was told I had to go, not to fight, but because I had pigs and they might need pigs. I couldn’t guess what they might need my pigs for, but I went anyway.Copy of bridge 03.jpg

It took a while; these pigs of mine are slow to shift. I had a switch and I switched it, the new one wasn’t any better but I switched with it anyway. There was a lot of noise and a lot of wandering off but eventually we got there. It was too late. It was all over.scene.jpg

I made the mistake of looking around, I shouldn’t have done it, I looked around. It was terrible terrible. You can be sure that when we meet in person for me to tell you all this there will be a lot of stabbing and crying and groaning and dying going on. For now though, just imagine. I wish I hadn’t looked.at worst.jpg

Then suddenly there was an army running at me.

group-03They ran right past me, ‘Come on, come on.’ What? ‘Come on, come with us.’ ‘We are running all the way to a place called Hastings, it can’t be far.’ That was going to be their downfall I thought, but I didn’t say anything. What do you want me for? ‘We don’t need you, we need the pigs.’pig-man-drives

I had no idea why they might want my pigs but I set off anyway. It was a long slow journey. Oink, oink, oink – switch, switch, switch – wheeet wheeet wheeee. We got there. It was too late. It was terrible, terrible, terrible. Slashing, and stabbing and crying and groaning and dying. All that was over. Well except for the odd bit of groaning maybe. It was all over. Imagine my face as I look around for a very long time. Imagine. That is how horrible it was.burning dead.jpg

We all know what that battle was called. “The battle of Hastings!” No. The battle of Hastings which isn’t the battle of Hastings because it didn’t happen at Hastings did actually happen at Battle. So it is the battle of Battle. Except if the village of Battle is only called battle because it was where there was a battle then it was just a battle. Then again if battles before the battle of Battle weren’t called a battle and they only started being called battles after there was this one in Battle it isn’t even the battle of Battle. It is called          .

That’s where I was anyway           .

pigs drawing.jpgThere ahead of me was a huge army running right at me, this was a horrible terrible army and they were running right at me as I said. I hid. I hid behind my pigs. But because by now I was starting to get an idea of why they might want my pigs I hid the pigs. Once I had hid the pigs in the ditch I hid among the pigs. The horrible army hurried past.Copy of misty wood.jpg They were led by William somebody… “William the Conqueror!” No. The Malet. Him and all the knights and their retinues were a great army and they were being sent north.

falling flames 02 up painted 03.jpgIt is said they went and crushed York. Crushed it. Then they went back down a bit (which was rather a long way round to do things, but they were new to Britain) and they went to Nottingham.cracks

They went there to crush that place too but I don’t think they managed very well because Nottingham has another name. What is it? “We don’t know.” The City of Caves.oski halls 01.JPG

By I got there with my pigs people were starting to come up out of the caves blinking. I was glad they were alright. I was also glad they were blinking because they didn’t see my pigs.blinking

I did meet someone else, someone interesting; the Pig Woman, but that is another story for another time when you are older.tricked.jpg She did tell me something though. She said that Malet had been ordered back to York to take charge (See I told you they did things in a long way round sort of way).

So I went back to York.blurry walls.JPG It wasn’t so bad. There was plenty of work. Well there was mainly plenty of work because there weren’t that many people left.mum-n-dad-coloured The people who were left were very very cross. That Malet feller got us all working though. Well except for the one or two who ran off to send messages about the terrible horrible things that had happened.oski-away-version-one

There were walls and gates around the town, but not across the river. The river was surrounded by marshland as well. So we had to dig in it and get all the muck and mud and rocks and clay and pile it up. We didn’t know why. Well not until they started building on top of it. A castle, a great big castle. Now there was water all around it. That water would become known as Kings Fishpond in later years.harbour

There was a huge draw bridge to get in and they all lived up there looking out at us.draw bridge.jpg

Some of those quietly cross people who hadn’t stayed to dig mud had gone to meet other people and make them cross; livid might be a better way of putting it. They all came here for a fight. Out across the Vale of York they were steadily gathering. The farmers, the Northumbrians, the Scottish, the boy king, so that’s Saxons and maybe Angles too, maybe even three or four Jutes, and one or two Picts perhaps, some Celts or Irish anyway and at last – the Danes. And we, snigger, were all set to let them in.door knocker.jpg They all were in this together and they were far more than cross or even livid.

William was worried but it took them all so long to get together that he had time to send for William; the other William.

He turned up with a huge army and he saw them all off. We were all alone again (oink).

He was horribly cruel, torturous even, you can be sure that if ever you invite me to your group to tell this I will be torturous to be sure.

For now just imagine the screams.oski small.jpg

He built that tower over there at the other side of the river in eight days flat! “What tower?” It’s flat! Well it was over there back then in the back-then-i-days.two-towers

The Danes came back!wild creature.jpg

We all joined in!

3000 Normans died.

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King William is said to have said something about God’s Splendour, but what he meant was he was going to kill us all. And he did. Well, no or I wouldn’t be here to tell you. That’s what he said though.

Next thing we know, we can’t get out and they are all around the place.

We got very hungry.Copy of apple side.jpg

This is the bit where I got to find out just how horrid children’s imaginations can be, because I asked them what they would have to eat. Yes there was sausages and chicken nuggets and Macdoodles (we only ate the box actually), and pigs – No, I hid the pigs on Barmby Moor just in timepig wall.jpg – we raided all the butchers on Shambles, we drank everything in all the innes and wayside places, birdwe caught birds out of the air and ate them whole cat(we won’t mention the puppies and kittens because we don’t like to talk about it). palet.jpgMud, leaves, grass, slime, there was nothing left.

I asked for volunteers and a few came forward. To be eaten. I crept up on them from behind all ready to kill them and eat them, well we had been hungry for like a year or something. I was baring my teeth and raising my claws to swoop and there was a shout.stupid guy.jpg It was coming from outside the walls. ‘If you surrender we will be nice.’ Well something like that. ‘We have lots of scrummy things to eat.’ ‘Come on out it is all alright really.’

surrender.jpgWe went out and it wasn’t alright. They were horrid, more horrid than you can imagine. Screams and mess and chopping and stabbing and burning and searching. I don’t think there was anybody left.door flames.jpg

That wasn’t enough for him.

He sent troops all over the place. Took all the food, broke all the farming things, burned all the farm houses; the land around here and as far up as Durham was a desert. Nothing grew, everyone starved. It all turned wild. Imagine if you will all the weeds and hedges and trees taking over and nobody anywhere. The Harrying of the north. A wilderness was all that was left and a wilderness is nothing.Copy of hockney tree.jpg

William built two new castles here, filled them with troops, and then left and never bothered to come back here again. There was nothing to come back to.

Everyone listening to this – lower your head – turn – and slowly quietly walk away.

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Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – by Adrian Spendlow

Footnotes:

This story follows research of history and folklore and is told as Hobb would understand it.

I hope to recreate the live atmosphere of dramatic storytelling, but of course a whole lot of the acting out, the facial expressions, the sound effects are a little lost – for instance, the moment of the child who volunteered to be eaten will be forever lost on you unless you see this live. Thank you to the child I hardly met.

There were, at one point, two inns on Shambles opposite each other and both called The Globe.

Porter was a strong dark beer.

Tor Eric is a popular Norwegian name rather than the actual name of the warrior. Pronounced approximately as Tour Eeirik, Tor is of course the root of what a British person would describe as Thor.

A Wait was a musician, they marked the hour and sometimes called the news in the way a Town Crier would.

To this day there is a whole network of caves under Nottingham and you can go on a tour. Perhaps they were a good place to hide even in the days of William.

My art work is intended to illustrate the story in an impressionistic way.

A more complete story in an historical format will shortly be available as a download, for now we do have a history download relating to York…

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Also try the Viking Comic Book  and History links at the top.

 

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From York’s Medieval building Barley Hall I bring you – The Nosegay Blog (My first ever blog)

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We are safe here at Barley Hall, my nosegays will stop you turning purple, and my visitors will keep me informed. Fore-armed is fore-warned and I sought to defend my position with knowledge. There was little need, for every visitor had something to impart. lyndsey and bruniYes I did have plenty to say at the start of my summer holiday stint but this was nothing to the array of facts and anecdotes. Soon I was passing along the wisdom of one to another and I will gather here some of the best of this.wizard

Some of my newly gained knowledge is debatable; this does not mean it is necessarily untrue, just that there will be debate. The very room I am in has become a convoluted topic. Refer to the notice boards for what is perhaps the definitive answer even though many in the discussion would disagree. Even the name, “No, it is not a parlour” – A solar; sit in there in the sunlight and treat this place as a retreat. A place to craft for joy, a place to make all which is beautiful: here you can write and some say learn.

jewelsA few have disagreed that the parlour was a place to receive visitors. Although another interjected that one visitor would be invited in here among the family; the tutor – here we would learn our letters and our lessons. Rhetoric, logic and astronomy are among the topics which would be enabled by this. nasaBut nay, this was not the reception say many who contributed to this on-going discussion. The way in was the proving point of this camp of thought. You entered via the stairs; from there you would be in Lord Snawsell’s bed chamber. Here in, it has been read, was his office and softer furnishings.

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Me at Murton Park Viking Village, York (Photo by Andraea)

So therefore this is where he would meet with you. The logic of this is in the access and the fact you would feel you had been welcomed whilst at the same time you would be aware that by being in his realm he retained power. There is logic in the aspect of access too it is argued; from there to get to the parlour one would have to go through Lady Joan’s personal chambers and then get in the way of the busy journeyman all down the long hall.

Not cb 03everything I hear, as I say, is definitely right and some things I hear are definitely wrong.

Barley Hall is loved, many revisit, many discuss, many compliment and recommend, but not all feel this way it seems. A passing hen party definitely didn’t like the look. As I was returning from a visit to DIG my way into the alley was blocked. I stood back to allow the party-wear ladies to leave the alley and they stopped suddenly. Looking up the street, “Oh we’ve been this way” – “We’ve been here before” – “We’ve been up there” – “We’ve been up there” – “We don’t want to go that way again” – “We’ve been this way”. Eventually they turned back and I had a path ahead of me, a slow path.

Barley-Hall window view
The view in the window (minus the peacock)

As they noticed the large window into the hall for the first time there were sounds of disapproval from one of these revellers. “Oh dear, I wouldn’t want to go in there” – “And I wouldn’t want to eat that” – “No, it looks awful in there” – “Ancient!” – “It’s like a museum”

Although most people are entranced by the peacock upon the table, the hen party in search of a meal and another drink were not the only ones to not fancy eating a bird which had been cooked and then repacked in its raw skin. “Never do that” visitors inform me, “Never mix cooked and raw”. “They certainly hadn’t heard of health and safety!”

Nosegays keep us safe, or at least perfumed. Gay meaning ornament back in the day; they were about the smell. Many report on the vast amounts of information on the medicinal, spiritual and nutritional uses of herbs; that is not a major concern when it comes to nasal orientated ornaments. It is all about the smell, the logic I am instructed, is that if the smell carried the disease you didn’t want it up your nose. The miasma must be refused access and to follow logic, if your nose was full of sweet smells then how could the horrid miasma get in! So visitors tell me it was not just about masking the smell, it was about keeping you safe.

If you wanted to be really safe, what better than a plague doctor mask. Fill that with herbs and strap it on. While you were feeling ultra-safe as a result of this constant experience of the sweet and beautiful you might want to go all out and get yourself a job.

plague doc 01 close up
thats me that is

Plague doctors are in demand it seems. An explanation of this which was given to me was that all the doctors were gone – in one way or another. It was a well-paid job I am told – while it lasted.

Not much in the way of skills was needed, according to some, all you needed was a stick, a big stick. With your mask on off you go, and prod people. Then all you had to do was tell them whether they are going to live or die (if in doubt go for the die option). The strange thing is, whatever the answer, they would thank you. I considered these offerings and discussed with other visitors. It is not so strange when you think, as I was asked to do, on the history of medicine. Throughout Europe ‘knowing’ was often more important than helping. ‘How long will they be?’ – ‘Will it be quick?’ – ‘Have you anything to make it easier?’ Another suggested this was still the main focus in many tribal cultures around the world.

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These ‘sticks’ are actually hand-made tent pegs found in the woodpile at Gudvangen, (Photo by Tove Gulbrandsen), put you could prod with them

I decided there and then, that once all my visitors had made a nosegay I was off to get a stick; the income would be most welcome – while it lasted.As not everyone wants a nosegay I will be here a while yet. Not that they are to be sniffed at, if you see what I mean. Much a sniffing and a pondering has there been.

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Thats me sniffing that is, honest

Deciding of what aroma, of what herb one is holding a bowl of. Lavender is spotted by most, thyme only by a few and lemon balm by only one chap. Rosemary is spotted on sight by most, although one or two, including a rosemary grower, thought it was pine. The one which is most evocative is actually a flower rather than a herb as such. Some love it, most are reminded, reminded of something. A Greek flower which is gathered as a healing tea, camomile, just flowers, childhood memories, the bottom cupboard next to the pans; we were taken places. I was put off this bowl for quite a while when a girl said it smelt of hamster bedding. This smell was removed for me a little later by the power of suggestion; a lady said it made her think of her grandfather’s pipe tobacco. Now, whenever I hold the marigold bowlMarigold_AAS_1989_Golden_Gate in front of me I am transported back to my childhood and the hint of sweetness within a heady aroma which would erupt into the room when granddad opened his pouch to stock up his pipe with baccie.

So far there are no reports of the plague coming to me from my visitors. No one has been spotted to be turning purple, well except for Mr Purple himself, but he is upon his bicycle platform out of the way anyway. bike theif 08 14The next edition will feature live frogs, alternative universes and elephants tusks among many other oddities of conversation. Remember when recalling this blog so far, it is all absolutely true – that people have told me these things.

Your tales and opinions can be added into the mix for discussion too. Be in touch.

Adrian

Here is the link to the exciting second half…. Nosegay Blog Too

For bookings and enquiries please visit www.adrianspendlow.co.uk

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