If the title of this post has induced horrendous visions of being stuck on a bus with Cliff Richard singing, have no fear, this is actually about something far less terrifying; a long hall full of armed and marauding vikings. At the beginning of August our society held its annual weeks holiday at Murton Park. The group has attempted to hold a week-long event there since the first one in July 2004, 10 years ago, and also during the event we had our 11 year anniversary as a society and celebrated it in our own unique way as you will see.
We stopped in another house this weekend, as our is still undergoing some work on the roof and daub, and with the kids along, it was much easier to simply stop elsewhere.This is a picture of the house we stopped in on the first holiday, and you can see how long ago it is, as there is a rare straw bale, the house didn’t have a porch yet, and most importantly, Anlaf still had hair!
Here is the same house now, which you can see has a convenient porch and deck outside, which is very useful with the kids.
We brought a lot of things to stop the full week, and set out the inside as best we could.
There is something quite satisfying about stopping in these places for a longer period, as you get the opportunity to slide into a more natural pattern of eating and sleeping and it becoming ‘normal’. The only problem is, as with most holidays, just as you are getting used to it, its time to come home again.
Either way the kids enjoyed the week in their usual fashion, Hakon spent a lot of time fighting and joking around.
Ragenleif… well she did her own thing as usual
We got on with a few jobs on the village, such as shingling the backside of our house, fitting the remaining shutter, and Al gave us a great hand by building out and trimming the eaves on the front of the house. Osric and Snorri also got a lot of daubing done inside Snorri’s house, and on the side and front of our house, Osric being watched here by Hakon and Ragenleif.
During the week Odin also got a bit of a haircut of salad leaves, like a larger version of an cress-haired egg-man!
We also get more opportunity to wear many of the different and elaborate outfits we have made over the years. Here is Katla in her Viking style strap dress and accessories with Ragenleif.
Here is Einar ad Hakon showing off their dress, Einar in a copy of the Viborg shirt, with linen trousers and winingas, with a belt and seax.
However, where the real beauty and mystery of the village comes to life is at night, by the light of the fire.
By firelight everything seems more enigmatic. One can put aside reality and be drawn a little into the atmosphere. The fire flickers, and shiny objects glitter and sparkle in the dark. The dark corners and shadows draw a veil over the dirt, dust, and any authenticity inaccuracies just like snow does, and the imagination and the senses seem much more alive in the dark.
It is a wonderful place to take photographs, though with the low light it can be quite tricky. Any attempt to artificially light the place looks awful, flash or any lighting of any other kind can easily destroy the wonderfull shadows and the yellow glow. Yet there is precious little light to capture images without graining and blurring, and often I resort to putting liquid wax or oil onto the fire to produce a bright flare for a few seconds to allow me to use a slightly faster shutter speed. If you notice anyone a little dazed looking on the photographs; now you know why!
We also tend to let the children stay up until they fall asleep, and often they will play viking and other ancient games, like Katla and Hakon here playing pick-up stones, a scene I can almost image all those years ago; a boy and his mum playing a game by firelight.
After the cooking is done, everyone gets together for the evening meal. The cooking and the meals are a great opportunity to use known viking ingredients and suggested recipes and attempt to investigate some of the possible tastes of the tenth century: Lamb and onions with leaf salad and beetroot, onion soup and bread, bacon, boar, and barley, vegetable stew amongst other treats.
Of course, in such an environment, it would be rude not to same some fine brewed ales and meads as well!
I’d like to pick up a final point I mentioned briefly earlier, and it is a point I have also heard echoed by Professor Neil Price in his Messenger lectures at Cornell University about firelight and shiny things, notably metalwork. You can see on this picture of me, the effect the brass, tin, and silver of my belt buckles, strap ends, seax sheath fittings, and arm rings have in a dark hall. You can also see how the tin sheet on the Tating ware jug, and the tinned studs on the iron-bound box glow. To people in the 10th century, this would seem as enticing and enchanting as it does to us, perhaps even more so.
I’d also like to introduce you to two new looks Einar and Snorri are trying, entitled ‘Blued Steel’
It was a shame to leave, but we had a good trip, with more progress on the house, some good feasts and chats, and even a sneaky trip into the Yorkshire museum and the Jorvik centre to check out some of the real stuff again. We will be back again in early September for a birthday celebration, and another great banquet!
June was one of our last normal weekend of the year, from here on in we have an Epic weekend where we hope to completely remove the roof of our house and replace it, with clipped point shingles, a full week long holiday, and a birthday celebration banquet. Mostly we just enjoyed the weather.
We did get a few tasks done. The edging board on Snorri house was rotten and had been removed, so we decided to paint up a new one as a repair.
Roarr also managed to get the rest of the Odin post at his shrine, carved and painted. unfortunately we only took pictures of the work inprogress, and didn’t get any finished pictures of the edge boards fitted, or the shrine painted up after carving, so we will have to take some next time.
It was a nice weekend, but I for one am getting excited to start some serious building work on our house. We have most things ready for the re-roofing in July now, and I shall add a post soon with everything we have ready, and some of the things I have been preparing at home ready, and a few ‘before’ pictures for reference!
These are a few pictures from the Bank Holiday weekend we had at York at the start of May, enjoying the Jorvik sunshine. It is a little late going up, but as we are off to York again this weekend, I have managed to get it posted before it is superseded by a new set of pictures!
Katla and Ragenleif outside our house
“Make it into a sickle,” we said. “@*%#,” he said.
Ragenleif and Hakon outside the long hall
The middle of the village, my favourite place
Hakon showing off his tunic
A wonderful Viking-age scene, until you realise what they are looking at… we have to lapse a little sometimes, we need a bit of quiet time, and they are still very young!
Magnus’s turn to bend metal
Furry hat time
It was a lovely sunny weekend, and the kids loved it. As I mentioned we shall be at Jorvik (based at the Murton Park Museum farming) this weekend 30-1st, though I’m not sure the weather will be quite so good, but nothing can suppress our fun! We will also be there on the weekends of June 14-15th and July 12-13th. You can see all the weekends we shall be there on the museums website here: http://www.murtonpark.co.uk/whats-on/
The last few post have been somewhat nostalgic, but that is primarily because I want to put some regular post up, and have been meaning to scan and post these pictures for some time, and figured now was as good a time as any. These ones were old print out from a 35mm camera, so once again some are a little fuzzy, and they are also quite old, though they have been kept in the dark and in an album, so haven’t faded too much. I haven’t cleaned them up with photoshop, as I haven’t had time, and it wasn’t really worth it, but they are quite fun none the less, particularly if you know the site, as there are a few small, but noticable differences, with most the buildings having been rebuilt, or so heavily modified or repaired they don’t look much like that any more.
I believe I was about 18 when I took these photos, which makes them about 17 years old, roughly, and it was my first ever reenactment event as part of the Dark Ages Society, the first group I joined.
This was where I slept, the platform in the house next to the longhall, before it was rebuilt
The second longhall door
The Hall side of the village, looking at the back of magnus’s house
The house next to the longhall
some of the smaller houses, near the longhall, most of these have not been changed and are still the same as they were then
What was to become Ulfar and Svanas, and finally Osrics house
The house next to the longhall and the town bell
The village from the road, I used to do odd collages like this with pictures to make panoramas
Another view of the village
The house next to the longhall
Inside the house next to the longhall
Looking down the village to the open area in front of the hall
The little village
Inside the longhall
Another view of the outside of the longhall
cooking in the longhall
Looking back towards the main part of the village
The gate and open area behind looking towards the hall
A finally me in my first borrowed viking gear!