It's been 949 years since the Battle of Hastings when Harold Godwinson was killed and William of Normandy took control of England. Still, some of us are determined to change that outcome. We get our chance in October 2016.
The 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings will feature an international reenactment on the original battlefield. The 2006 reenactment saw over 1600 combatants take the field. 2016 may see over two thousand foot soldiers, archers and cavalry engaged on Senlac Hill. Vikings of North America will be there and you can be with us.
Preparations are already beginning. There is still time to get your kit and equipment together. Contact the nearest VNA group for more information or start your own group and work directly with our Combat and Authenticity Thegns for training and guidance.
Whether you are a Norman supporter or a frustrated Saxon, don't miss this opportunity to stand your ground, sword in hand, on the original battlefield with the largest number of combatants involved since Harold and William faced off nearly a thousand years ago.
Many a fifth grade rebel has relished the opportunity to point out that Leif Erikson was in the New World long before Christopher Columbus. But how many of those fifth graders know what proof we have of Leif's visit?
In recent years, the evidence for the presence of Scandinavian explorers in North America before 1000 A.D. seems to grow every month. We have long-house foundations at L'Anse aux Meadows and tools for spinning wool at a time when native Americans wore only animal skins. We have copper-alloy boat rivets when the native cultures were only working with stone and bone. The Kensington "runestone" goes in and out of favor but there are lately other indications that Scandinavians explored and traded deep into this continent.
The Vikings of North America reenactment organization was formed to share knowledge of these amazing explorers and to fairly represent the peoples we collectively refer to as Vikings. We cultivate all the skills needed to survive in the Viking era and we share what we have learned freely with anyone interested. Our goal is to educate ourselves and others about the challenges these explorers and settlers faced and about the historical realities of life in the Viking age.
We are guided first by archeology, keeping our representation close to the recorded physical culture left behind in Viking era settlements. We have strict rules concerning the fabrics and dyes used in our reenactor clothing and the use of metals, bone, leather and fur. We disallow modern items that would "break the spell." Our aim is to provide an accurate and educational portrayal of the Viking period, with an emphasis on the daily life of the period. And now and again, we have a little fun reenacting the more warlike aspects of life in what was a formative period in European history.
There are many ways to participate. Some simply enjoy studying the Vikings and participating in informed discussion. Others are experimental archeologists with their own "need to know"--a passion to learn about textiles, paint, weaving, woodworking, blacksmithing and even iron smelting. Many enjoy living in a Viking period encampment, experiencing firsthand the challenges of daily life in a former age (even if only for the weekend). And some are looking for the warrior life, recreating Viking combat and reliving great battles. If you want to get involved, get in touch with your nearest VNA group or join us on Facebook.
Many of our members are available for school visits (in character) and our groups can add education and thrills to your local festivals. Contact us to find out who is available in your area. We were all once fifth graders, too. The difference is that now we know what Leif left behind--spindle whorls, ship rivets, ring pins--and we can probably pull one out of our bag to show you.
You may think that this heartfelt prayer has come down to us unchanged across centuries to give an accurate picture of the terror that the Vikings inspired in the Saxon people of England, but as evocative as it is, all of the evidence points to a more modern source - the phrase was used in the introduction of his book "The Vikings" by Johannes Brøndsted (Harmondsworth/Penguin, 1960), but there is no evidence for it before this time. Indeed, as the knowledge of historians and archaeologists improves year by year, the image of the Viking Age as a time of abrupt violence is becoming merely a footnote, and the enormous cultural heritage of what is known as the Viking Age is coming to the fore.
While the Society concentrates mainly on the 10th Century, we also do events that are set in the wider period from 790 to 1066, with the appropriate modifications to dress and equipment used. Our aim is to provide an accurate and educational portrayal of the Viking period, with an equal emphasis on the daily life of the period, and on the more warlike aspects of life in what was a formative period in European history.
Unlike other societies who insist that new recruits (some of whom may have many years experience in Viking-age re-enactment) act the part of Thralls at their events for a undetermined 'trial' period, The Vikings do not enforce any starting rank or behaviour on recruits. If you want to join and dress as a wealthy Thegn, this is perfectly acceptable as long as you have the right level of kit and costume. This is reflected in the common use of the equal term 'Warrior' for all those who fight regardless of how long they've been around, how they are dressed or what sex they are.
Not only do we do get new recruits dressing as rich Thegns but the reverse is also true. Some of the lowest looking ranked folk on the LH are often the senior group leaders who just want to get on with cooking dinner.
Members of Vikings North America,
This is the most current version of the Authenticity and Village Guide Book. It is meant to be a framework for the individual groups to conduct independent research, tailor research to the local groups' needs, and facilitate shared research between the groups.
Vikings North America covers a large geographic area. The focus of Vikings North America covers three hundred years, many cultures, and the entirety of Europe. It is nearly impossible for one person to be an expert is every facet of life within our overarching focus.
I encourage individual members and groups to narrow down their scope and focus on doing one thing very well. A persona with accompanying kit displaying the material culture should be fleshed out by good, current research. To this end, I ask that as you research and make improvements, please document and share your research with other members of Vikings North America.
At this time, I am also soliciting opinions of the members and Group Authenticity Officers to suggest changes to the current guides. This will be open until the end of the calender year. At which point, the guide will be updated and edited.
I thank you all for your continued support of Vikings North America.
Society Village and Authenticity Officer