Hello and Welcome, to my account of the 31st annual Yorvik Viking Festival which took place in York in February 2015.
This was the first reenactment show of this season, and will also be one of the biggest. In Yorvik, reenactors gather from across the UK and Europe, for w whole week of living history displays, markets, talks, lectures, workshops and battles.
The numbers of people attending were in the hundreds- and that is not counting the public.
The event itself is a great one, with plenty to see and do- I myself only arrived for the last day of the festival (drat you work!) when the culminating battles and events took place.
My first steps after arriving, were to the market, where I purchased myself some new shiny things (shoes, spearhead and a pouch). So many pretty things and never enough money to spend!
After the purchases, and a brief lunch, time came for the first battle of the day- a series of three competitive clashes, where the best side would win. Just look at the photo below, to give you the idea of the numbers of warriors involved:
But I am getting ahead of myself! Before the battle, there was the muster, and a parade through the York town centre, with scores of Vikings terrorising the innocent bystanders, and occasionally stopping to take a photo with the kids (large and small and even some actual kids!).
Only once we have all arrived at the battlefield, did the real fight begin. As you may be aware, an event of this size will draw many different groups, from different societies, or even countries. Each reenactment society will have it’s own rules and regulations- so the first order of the day was to agree upon a set of rules to be used (done of course well in advance of the festival by the organisers). As always with a large group of people, used to different sets of rules, problems will arise- I could go on for eternity about rules differences and attitude of warriors/groups. Instead I will have just a small grumble- mainly that the societies were not split evenly, leaving one side very outmatched, and that there were many safety, honesty and attitude problems from one side (which shall of course, remain nameless)- suffice to say, battle could have been organised better. Nevertheless, it was huge fun to be a part of and to see this many warriors clash and actually be in the thick of it was reward enough!
After the competitive battles, came the time for a brief respite and a bite of food- before the main event of the day, a recreation of a mythical battle between the Vanir and the Aesir Gods from the Norse mythology, which focused on the events of the great war between these two factions.
Battle was played out at night, with torches and spot lights lighting the battlefield. It was fully scripted and purely for show, with warriors encouraged to make as much noise, clamour and be as “showy” as possible.
Result? The battle was amazing, lasted for a long time and with assistance of special effects, music, narration and many enthusiastic participants it turned out to be an incredible experience- easily the best show fight I ever took part in.
There is a series of videos on YouTube, showing highlights from the battle:
All credit goes to the user Jonathon Cox, who kindly uploaded the videos.
Once the battle was over, we got to see the wonderful fireworks display, before picking ourselves up and preparing to celebrate the night away with ale, song and laughter. First show of the season done, and I am looking forward to the rest of it!
Credit for photos goes to Allan Harris, Gina Self and Trudie Jayne Blade.
Until next time!