Moesgard Moot – Viking holiday of a lifetime!

Image

I’ve been lucky to travel to some wonderful re-enactment events here in Ireland, in the UK but perhaps my favourite will always be the Viking Moot at Moesgard Strand in Denmark.

101_2628

This wonderful event, just on the outskirts of Arhus, has been running for many years, and is possibly the oldest viking market in Europe. The site is small; a field surrounded on three sides by an ancient forest and on the fourth by sea……. and the most wonderful beach!!!

       101_2824

Every July a hoard of vikings descend there for a week of viking fun and frolics. During the week as you sit in the campsite there is the sound of battle from the woods as the warriors train to perfect their skills before the battles over the weekend.
But there is also the market, where you can buy jewellery, hand-dyed wool, bone and antler trinkets, swords and many of the things that no modern day viking cannot do without!

     Image

The event is invite only due to the limited space in the authentic viking camp, but those who are invited travel from all over the world to be there. Fingal Living History Society from here in Ireland  have been regular visitors over the last few years.
The battles can be tough; there is no quarter asked and none given. The atmosphere as the battle looms is such that as you stand at the edge of the battlefield and listen to the sound of the approaching army as it makes it’s way through the ancient forest, you could understand what it felt like all those years ago as the vikings approached your village……. Run!!

     Image       Image
It is a very emotive feeling; some say that these emotions are amplified by the location of the site – all four elements are there; earth, water (the sea is adjacent to it), fire from the cooking hearths and the wind coming off the sea.

And then there are the Horse people. They have been bringing their Icelandic horses to the event since the beginning!!
These tough beautiful little horses are the descendants of the viking horses; bred to carry weight over long distances. They differ from most of our western horses in that they have an extra gait, which makes the long distance riding much easier. Riding them is a unique experience; I’ve ridden Thoroughbreds, Irish Drafts, Connemaras and other native breeds but I have to say that they are among the most comfortable horses to ride….. once you get over the fact that they are only about 14 hands high and have very short necks!!
The horse people put on displays over the weekend to show their riding skills and the Icelandic’s breed attributes.
They have recently started a new part of the show where they take some of the horses into battle against a small group of fighters.I was lucky to have had the pleasure of riding one these wonderful horses in 2010; I hope I get another offer to ride one again in the future………

Image

Image

I have so many happy memories of this place, and one thing is always the same; I don’t want to leave at the end of the week!

What Aine did next…….

Image

Thinking back to that day in Birr Castle, it’s hard to believe that viking crafts would become such a part of my life. Audhild taught me some of the basic stitches and left me to my own devices (the teaching part was complicated by the fact that she was left handed and I was right!!) I’d knitted when I was younger, but this was a whole new concept. Nalbinding is done with short lengths of wool that you felt together, and there is only one needle. And that needle looks like a darning needle!!!

Perseverance is the key to many things. We packed up on the Sunday evening and I went home to that well known viking search device – Google! I found this wonderful site https://sites.google.com/site/neulakinnas/home

Every question I had was pretty much answered! There were videos I could watch and replay…… now I was truly hooked…….. and so I spent the winter making stuff. Still use the site as there is so much in there………

This is one of the hats I made that winter – like a little tea cosy – warm and snug,

Image

A

Where to start?!!

I guess it all began when I met Bob!

When we met he forgot to mention he was a viking re-enactor! He asked did I want to join him and his friends in their adventures! ‘Fine’, I said, ‘but I ain’t doing fancy dress!!’

Before long I realised there was more fun to be had in ‘fancy dress’ than sitting on the sidelines. So I asked a friend to make me some viking clothes and next thing I was having a viking wedding at sunset on a beach at Moesgard in Denmark! Wonderful memory…….

Time went by, and a friend decided to show me how to Nalbind. That’s viking looped  knitting to you and me…………
I agreed and we spent a weekend in her tent awning at Birr Castle with Audhild teaching me. Great fun  – from there I read everything I could about nalbinding and taught myself more of the stitches. Someone asked if my wool was naturally dyed? No but I though I could try that too!

That was three years ago – and now I find myself looking at plants with a different perspective. Not that they are pretty or things like that……. now I want to chop them up and put them in my dye pot!!! And the weeds that had a been a bane when I loved gardening are now my specials that give glorious colours!

Been a great journey so far and looking forward to seeing where it takes me next……..