New Season, New post

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So, after a winter hibernation it was time to dust off the kit, polish the blades and head to the traditional beginning of the re-enactment season in Britain- the York Viking Festival.

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For a lot of re-enactors this is not the first show of the year (taking place on the last week of February), but thanks to its size, atmosphere and Viking feel many of us consider this the kick-off of the season. The Yorvik show, as it affectionately known, is a multi-society event, hosted by Regia Anglorum and attended by several of other societies. Of these the Vikings are the largest one by far, followed other, smaller societies from around Britain and guests from abroad. The big plus of the event is a large trader’s market, where traders from across Europe ply their wares and many a re-enactor goes there to purchase new kit or get replacements, before the new season starts off properly in the second half of Spring.

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I myself have made a few purchases there this year, though I had to show some brazen cheek to get myself in… Having considered a meal and a cup of tea a more urgent priority, I have arrived at the market just as it was closing down and no one was allowed in. Myself and my good friend Sven the Short had to do a good bit of blagging, with Sven explaining how I arrived all the way from Poland for this (much more impressive than a town few hours drive away), while I looked doe-eyed at the Steward in charge… Let’s just say that after some shameless begging we were allowed in, followed by stares of righteous condemnation from those that were denied entry. But hey, since when did the Vikings bother with such things as queues or closing times?

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I have of course written about the Yorvik festival before. Some of you may remember that it lasts all week, with the final day being the culmination of the event. This was the day that we attended (as is the case with most re-enactors, there aren’t that many of them around for the whole week, but they descend en-masse for the final day, when the battles take place) and as every year the day consisted of a mid-day competitive fight, followed by a grand finale in the evening, where the re-enactors would recreate a story that serves as background for an epic battle. The theme of the grand finale changes every year- two years ago it was a war between the Norse Gods, last year it was the fall of Erik Bloodaxe and this year it was the invasion of the Great Heathen Army and the death of king Aella of Northumbria.

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I will only talk about this epic evening battle shortly, as from my personal perspective, it was not much of an attraction, fun as it was. The acting and talking bit at the start went on for too long to my liking, resulting in some 30 minutes of standing in the cold, awaiting a signal to enter the battle arena. Armies formed, and a mighty battle ensued, at which point, the real the fun began. This evening fight is purely for show and all that is expected of us is to stick to the script and give a good show, while trashing each other. We are not expected to take or make kills, unless the script calls for it, we know what will happen before hand and we can just have fun with the fight. It’s just that this year the fight was somewhat too short (the acting bit cut into it too much) and the organisers decided to use a lot of smoke machines, blowing smoke all across the battlefield. Whilst great for mood, it did not help the fighters (especially my group, who were right by the machines and could hardly see through the damn smoke). It was a fun fight and there was a great fireworks display at the end, but I’ve seen better show fights.

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The competitive mid-day battle was what the show was all about. As usual, we had 3 rounds, re-setting the battle each time. The armies consisted of Regia Anglorum (the hosts) on one side and the Vikings and other societies on the other, with numbers pretty much equal ( a fact hotly contested each year, usually by the defeated side’s grumpiest few or the winning side’s most boisterous few). As Regia were the hosts, it was their combat rules we were using when it came to the fighting (pretty much every society has different combat rules). Without going into details, Regia system greatly favours spears and results in armies consisting mostly of lightly armed spearmen supported by a few mailed swordsmen. The Vikings and other societies rely more on close-quarters and are not as adept in using spears en-masse or at a distance Regia warriors are most comfortable with (they use a LOT of long, two-handed spears). In previous years, many a battle was lost by the Away team by trying to win with Regia at their own game. The line would advance forward, then stop and engage in spear-range fight, which they would inevitably loose. Usually, one or two groups (usually Y Ddraig, my group) would try to charge past the spear-points and pin the Regia warriors in close-quarters, where it was us who held the advantage. This ended, more often than not, in one band of warriors breaking through the enemy line and then being cut down by their reserve, whilst the rest of the line were content with being poked to death by massed spears.

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This year common sense prevailed and an agreement was reached, where all the Away line would charge down the Regia lines and bring the fight to them on our own terms.

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This resulted in one of the best, hardest and most enjoyable free-fighting I have taken part in. No one likes an easy battle that’s over in a minute. This time, in each of three clashes that made up the competitive battle, we had a real fight on our hands, with neither side giving a quarter and all of the warriors coming back with a sense of a battle well-fought and a victory hard-earned (or a defeat that was by a narrow margin).

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Instead of talking through the whole of the battle, I will simply post a few links to some great videos, showing all the clashes- you will find the at the end of the article. There, better than any of my words can describe, you will see on your own, how the battle unfolded. What I will mention, is that the Vikings and Others did not do enough on their left flank- there were too few men there (especially in the last of the three clashes) and they did not advance or pressed the enemy hard enough. More men should have been moved from the centre, where they were not needed and more effort should have been made to get stuck in and push on. Other than that however, the Viking plan worked great and gave Regia a great deal of trouble. The Hosts did win 2-1 in the end, but  you will see yourself, how close the final clash was and how close Regia came to defeat. Especially after a few years of the Away team getting beaten flat each time, this felt great.

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I will tell you in more detail about the exploits of the right flank of the Vikings army, where me and my comrades from Y Ddraig fought. We formed the first line of our flank, with another group behind, ready to charge in after us. The plan was simple- advance, then as one bear down on the enemy, past their deadly spear points and into close range. Move as one, keep pushing and never stop, whilst killing as many opponents as we could. Once through their line, flank their centre and get them from the side and from behind.

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The plan was the same for all three clashes. Three times, me and my friends of Y Ddraig were at the vanguard. Each time we advanced towards the enemy, spears waiting. Thanks to discipline and momentum, we pushed on hard. All of the front line dispensed with spears entirely, this would be a closely-fought affair after all. All armed with hand weapons, our first task was to parry the spears and get them down. An axe is the best weapon for this, thanks to it’s shape and balance. Was I glad I brought mine with me… After pushing through the spears, we then had to keep going, until we were in reach of hand weapons. Then, we had to keep going and keep pushing to drive the enemy back, to make them lose their fortitude, their balance, maybe even fall over under the pressure of our advance.

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Some of us concentrated on controlling opponent’s weapons and parrying any attacks that came- I was one of those. My job, as an axe man, was also to pull down enemy shields and open them to attack. It is not an easy job to do under pressure and whilst under attack, but when your timing is right and when you keep with your unit and if you remember to keep your defences up- it works a cinch. The press of bodies was considerable, especially when our secondary unit charged in and we kept on going, without stopping.

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Three times it was us, Y Ddraig, to form the first line. Each time, we pushed past the spears and into the enemy line. Three times we pushed them back and hewed them down, forcing Regia to send reinforcement and deplete their reserve. Each time we pushed as far as we could, coming out on the enemy rear. We earned a lot of glory that day. It was not quite enough to win all three clashes- our left was not as lucky and whilst on the first clash it fared well, on the other two it fell and so what we had achieved on the right, was undone on the left. It was a hard fight and we fought well as a unit. Each time I pulled down a  shield with my axe a mate of mine would find a way to put an attack in at the exposed enemy. As I was holding down spears or weapons with my axe, others kept pace as a unit, allowing us to push forward. We all pressed hard, always keeping the enemy on the back foot. And once the lines broke, we stayed together, to attach the enemy rear. Regia fought back well and fought hard, putting enough resistance in the centre to keep it at standstill and fighting back our left, routing it in 2 of the 3 clashes.

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The battles were exhilarating. Win or lose, this was the most fun I have had at York ever. An OK scripted battle, successful market visit and a fantastic competitive fight. A good start to the season- now, time to finish off some kit…

As promised, here are some videos taken during the competitive battles (both are filmed from behind the Away team lines, mostly from the left wing perspective. Look for Y Ddraig on the extreme right, duded with white shields with red circles):

 

Videos filmed by Gordon Bailey, published on Ost Centigas channel. Photo credit to Jon Brownridge and Max William, from whom I have shamelesly pillaged the photos.

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Yorvik Viking Festival 2015

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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!).

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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!

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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:

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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!

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Raid on Lindisfarne!

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The Vikings first arrived to Lindisfarne, also known as the Holy Island, in 793. Ever since Viking reenactment started up, they have been coming back, although now they are not pillagers, but performers.This year, on the first weekend of August I had the chance to take part in this fantastic show, held in one of Britain’s most beautiful corners.

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The island is very spectacular. The historical and natural beauty are amazing. For me, the especially interesting bit was the tidal causeway, connecting the island with the Northumbrian coast. When the tide is down, the road is exposed, and island can be reached- but when the tide comes in, it floods the road, and the island is cut off. The natural environment of this place is truly unique.

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But enough about the environment! Time to talk about the show itself. The Viking village was pitched in the ruins of the priory, where the fighting arena was also set up. It was there, that the spectators would see the Lindisfarne raids reenacted before their eyes, over Saturday and Sunday.

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The usual Living History set up was put in place- craft demonstrations, authentic food, and reenactors talking about the life at is was at the turn on the 8th Century. The monks of Lindisfarne were also present, to tell the visitors about life in the priory:

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The main part of the show, was the story of Lindisfarne, and the start of the Viking Age. The peaceful life of the monastery was ruined by the Vikings, who came over to plunder the riches of the priory. UNder the leadership of Ragnar Lothbrok, the Vikings came to Lindisfarne and, after killing the monks took all the treasure they could carry:

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Historically, the Vikings returned home, and then came back for more, only to be faced by an army of Northumbrians. Some of the locals were taken as slaves, and the brave Northumbrians decided to free them as well as punish the Vikings for their raid on the Holy Island. This is where the history ends, and the show takes over. Great battle ensues, between the Vikings and the Northumbrian Saxons, which the Saxons manage to win, after a great struggle. The last surviving Viking is taken prisoner, and forcefully baptised, before being put to death:

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As a “show fight” or a “display battle”, this battle had a pre-determined result- the purpose here was to entertain the public and provide a jolly good bash for the reenactors. Such battles usually follow very similar scenario: first, the taunts and insults are exchanged, both sides make noise and try to intimidate each other. Than, the lines clash fiercely, usually two times, with plenty of big blows, noise, screams and impressive fighting. Lines then separate and prepare for a third clash, in which the loosing side will withdraw and loose men, as if they were loosing a battle. Sometimes, the two sides will separate one last time, and clash yet again, at which point the loosing side will be killed to a man, or routed of the field. THe trick here, is to make this all believable and entertaining. Also, the “loosing” side must remember not to fight too well and make their rout look believable. Conversely, the “winning” side must remember not to make the fight one-sided and that some casualties, or occasional setbacks are necessary.

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It is after the “Show Fight” is over, when both sides have a competitive re-fight, during which warriors fight only to kill and the best side emerges victorious.

Side note- it is essential for warrior to stay hydrated! No one realises how important water is for armies, until they take part in a half-hour battle themselves…

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That was the battle of Lindisfarne- there was of course the traditional Kiddie Vike, when the children were allowed to take on (and, quite rightly wipe out) the fearsome Viking Warriors, as well as individual combat competitions and weapon displays.

It was also during the Lindisfarne Festival, that two of my good friends have tied the knot, and were married during a traditional ritual of Handfasting- presided over by Konungr himself, the president of the Vikings Society. All the traditions were observed, the gods were invoked and the mead was shared between all those in attendance. It was a wonderful and touching ceremony, in which I had the privilege to be involved. Dear friends- live a long and happy life together, and may all your dreams come true!

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And that is all from Lindisfarne Festival 2014- I shall be looking forward to coming back next year, and to buying more of the delicious mead they brew on the island!

Photo credit- whenever the photos were not taken by myself, they were taken by Y Ddraig’s keenest photographer, Baggsy. Thanks a ton Bags!

Kelmarsh- History Live!

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So, last weekend I have attended my first ever Major reenactment show- Kelmarsh History Live festival. It was an amazing event, there was so much to see and so much to do, it felt like the standard 24 hour day was much to little.

Not having a car, I have managed to catch a lift, with a few good friends from Y Ddraig- Thorstein, Thorkell and Yngvar ( I am using authentic names here). After a merry drive in Thorstein’s fab Ford KA, we have arrived at Kelmarsh on friday evening, just in time to pitch out tents and go for a quick visit to a local supermarket, for supplies.

In the meantime, I have managed to take a quick photo of the campsite, which was really huge and jam-packed full of reenactors (there were two camp sites actually – “plastic” and “authentic”, both huge and both lots of fun):

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We have pitched our tents just before dark, and just in time to enjoy beer and snacks, before tomorrow. Also, just to make my point, my tent is not a “Hovel”, regardless of what Yngvar says. It may not be a “Love Palace”, as there are only two tents in Y Ddraig to have earned that name, but I will not have my tent insulted thus!

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In the morning, after we woke up and recovered from last night’s merriment, it was time to kit up, and get ready for battle! This year, our group was to take part in two battles, one called the Battle of The Standards, fought between the Scots and the English Normans, and the second The Battle of Stoke Field, fought in 1487 during War of the Roses. No actual Viking Age battle for us, but it was no obstacle whatsoever. In the first battle we appeared as Scottish rabble, and in the second as Irish Kern and Gallowglass mercenaries (after appropriate kit modifications of course).

First came the Battle of the Standards, where we would fight against Normano-English scum, in a suitably undisciplined and mob-like fashion. Unfortunately, the Scots have lost the battle and so we were destined to die or rout off the field. We fought hard none the less, and being a rabble proved hugely entertaining! WE screamed, we taunted, we were shot at with arrows, we charged down hill and run back when met with stout resistance, than charged again, until defeated. The only downside was the lack of fighting spirit from the Normano-English side, who were reluctant to advance or turn on their savage side. If only the fight was competitive, we would own them… One can dream, right?

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And, after a quick change of kit (only 30 minutes before the next battle!) we were ready to play the part of Irish mercenaries:

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This time, unfortunately we were yet again on the loosing side, as the York followers were beaten by the Lancastrians. Regardless of that fact, we still had huge fun, me especially, as it was my first time fighting against Medieval reenactors, who use different weapons, different armour and different rules. The battle was immense fun, with tonnes of shouting, charging, retreating, and facing off against men so heavily armoured, they seemed like actual tanks. Plus, we were peppered with arrows, shot at with cannons and hand guns, and even charged by cavalry! And, in the midst of it all, young members of Y Ddraig shouted defiantly their mysterious warcries (Euthanize!!! Forth Eorlingas!!! For money, money, more money and grapefruit!!!), while fighting savagely until their eventual deaths.

And, once the battles were done, and we have had our rest, it was time to explore the event. There was so much to see, so much to do! Trading stalls, lecture tent, beer tent, every possible kind of reeactment, from Romans and World War II to Victorian prisoners and the Suffragette movement. As soon as we were able, me, Yngvar, Thorstein and Thorkell went on a shopping/tourist spree amongst all the chaos:

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What have we seen, what have we heard, what delicacies have we tried? I could talk for days and days, and still not finish. Let us just say, we have seen it all, and still wanted more. Two days of glorious battles and incredible shows, visiting stalls and enjoying the amazing event that is Kelmarsh History Live.

And then, there was of course, the Saturday Beer Tent party, with live band, endless beer and cider, fancy dress and several hundred (or did we reach over a thousand?) reenactors having jolly good time. Cue Star Wars cosplay, 80’s dress up, mandatory man in a mankini, mosh-pit full of mead-crazed Vikings and all sorts of party craziness, carrying well into the night. Only one word describes it- epic.

I can only look forward to the rest of the season, and hope I can have at least half as fun as I had at Kelmarsh. Huge thank you to all involved, high-five to Thorstein for giving me and the rest of our gang a lift, and massive thanks to Baggsy for taking all the great photos of our group when I was too busy swinging an axe. Hail!!

 

 

 

 

Beaumaris- the show that (almost) didn’t happen

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So, the last weekend I was invited over to attend a minor show, organised by a University reenactment group in a beautiful castle called Beaumaris on the Welsh coast. I have managed to hitchhike a lift with one of my friends and we went off to the show nice and early.

The place was beautiful, the castle was amazing and the show itself- despite having barely any public and being only a minor event- was a mountain-sized heap of tremendous fun. And to think that it was almost cancelled… Before we begin- most of the photos included in this post were taken by Mr Gary Phillips, to whom I extend my deepest gratitude for making these available. You can easily reckognize which ones they were, as they are the quality ones!

So, on with the show! Here we are, after three hour drive, arriving at the castle gates, only to be told, that the show was cancelled, because there was no Risk Assessment send over… The panic, the anger, the frustration! Eventually the problem got sorted and as it turned out the Assessment was send over indeed, only it got lost somewhere… Phew! (and bravo castle, bravo…)

So, we could finally unload, gear up and enter the castle.

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All the equipment got put away, and we were ready to begin. There was an added bonus, as we had a medieval reenactment group attending the show, which would put up their display alongside our own. We were planning to get an inter-period battle going, but these plans were foiled by… RAIN!

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The rainfall was so heavy, that it made inter-period fight impossible, as it would have been simply too dangerous to do. At one point, we even considered calling the whole thing off, as we were wading in water up to our ankles. Fortunately, we got a bit of luck in, and the rain stopped. The Vikings were, of course, first out to do the fighting, and in the absence of public, we have fought just for the sheere fun of it. Duels between individual warriors, small warband competition and a few Combat Circles followed:

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Once we were tired, and the ground dried up some more, the medieval group went on to the arena, and this time, since there was actually come public around, gave a proper display, showing their weapons, armour and giving a bit of a talk, as well as a drill and combat display.

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And, once they were finished, it was time for us, the Vikings to make a display of our own. In a truly Viking style, we have stolen the show completely, and gave the public enough excitement to last them a fortnight (raise your horns and drink to the Vikings- hurray!).

Starting off with talk of weapons and armour, we then moved on to Viking military drill:

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After which, we had showed them how the weapons work in practice (by the way of display duels) and gave them a taste of shieldwall battle as well. We fought, we hacked, we screamed and charged, and the public (however small it was) cheered and enjoyed themselves to the point that only free beer would have made it better (ok, maybe it was not THAT amazing, but it was really good, I promise). Also- if you have spotted a guy wearing Norman/Crusader outfit, award yourself ten points- he will crop up more in the coming pictures, and yes, it is our show and we can include any kit we like! Obviously, we did point out to the public, that he was wearing Norman outfit and that Vikings DID NOT look like this.

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When our show was finally done, we have stayed on for a few more rounds of Combat Circles, both individual and as teams of two. I honestly cannot remeber how long it took us but it must have been an hour of clashing. About which none of us had any complaints at all, if anything, we wished we could stay on for longer!

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The great thing about visiting places like this and being with people you have never met before, is that you get to learn a lot. In just one day, I have faced opponents, with vastly different fighting styles, some of which I have never faced before. As a warrior, it is incredibly important to fight against as many styles as possible. Only through this, one can gather the experince necessary to truly excel in combat. I for one, have learned quite a few new tricks and counter-measures, and seen some very interesting developments in fighting technique, especially in the stance and the way the shield is held in relation to one’s body. It was a very valuable experience, as is any show with this amount of fighting going on.

All in all, it was an amazing day, during which I got to meet some really great people, learned a lot of new thigns and had immense fun, not to mention the exercise! I thoroughly recommend for you visit the beautiful castle of Beaumaris if you can, and I will look forward to my next show!

Big thank you, to all the people who attended the show and made it happen- you gus deserve a medal. Until next time!

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The Rhuddlan festival, part 2

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As promised, here is part two of my story from the Rhuddlan festival- and this time, I will be talking about the fighting that took place over the two days of the event.

We have had immense fun, the battles were fierce and closely fought, each side’s warriors displaying great skill and showmanship, as well as wonderful team spirit! The castle would open to public at 10 a.m., then at 11.30 first fight of the day would commence. It was a skirmish between the Welsh and the Saxon troops, under the walls of the castle itself. The Saxon vanguard would first cross the bridge, that spanned the moat around the castle walls:

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The Saxons would fight over the bridge, and push the Welsh defenders back, as more and more men would cross.

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After the initial push, there was a brief parley, during which Saxons explained, that they are raiding the place in retaliation for the local Welsh king’s breaking the peace and burning of an English town. They demanded the king’s head, but were refused by his commander, and battle followed.

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Notice, how tight is the Welsh shieldwall. Our counterparts worked wonderfully as a unit, and it was very difficult to break through, or push them back. The whole fight however was scripted, with a pre-determined outcome, and so, for now we concentrated on fighting for a good show, rather than competition. In the course of the skirmish, the Welsh were pushed further and further back, and it looked is if they might be overcome, until timely reinforcements arrived, and the day was won. First victory of the day for the defenders of Rhuddlan!

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And, after the scripted battle, we had a competitive re-fight, where the best side won. This time, our forces stayed on the offensive all the time, and kept pushing the Welsh shieldwall back. It was a short but brutal fight, and our side has emerged victorious, inviting some rightly earned Boo!! and Hiss!! form the onlooking local audience, for beating their Welsh kinsmen:

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Then, there was a weapons display, warband competition, and a chance for the children in the audience to face the ferocious Vikings in battle, and show them they way back to their boats. Finally, at 3 p.m., there was time for the main battle of the day- the recreation of the historical battle from the year 1062. It was a scripted battle also, followed by a free-fight. In the scripted battle, it would be the Saxon invaders who would emerge victorious, as per actual events. And in the re-fight, as always, the victory would go to the better side.

The scripted battle started with a brief skirmish, when light Saxon troops would clear the field and chase the Welsh defenders behind their defensive palisade:

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This would be followed by another parley, during which treats, insults and urgings to leave the field would be exchanged. From the Saxon side earl Harold Godwinson and his trusted Huscarls, and form the Welsh side, the castle garrison commander and his bodyguard took part. After the parley broke off, it was time to storm the palisade, which the Saxon force did two times, and were repulsed:

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After the third storm on the palisade, there was yet another brief parley, and another opportunity to hurl insults at one another, in true Viking fashion. Then, the gates opened, and the Welsh went forth from their position, confident in their abilities. They pushed our men back at the start, but once the initial momentum was lost, they were put on the defensive, and the Saxons pushed back, with all the ferocity they could muster. The Welsh defenders, as per the scenario were defeated and cut down, after a long and brave fight:

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And then, of course, there was the re-fight, where the outcome would be determined by skill, discipline and quality of warriors as well as some decent luck!

This time, both sides faced each other off on the field straight away, and marched onwards without parley. Both groups had decided to split into two separate flanks, mostly due to the fact that the trees interfered with our shieldwalls. The Welsh side was strong on the offensive again, and pushed hard, killing some of our men instantly and forcing us on desperate defensive. Our line held however, as they did not push their advantage to the full and hung back, losing some men in the process. Things looked pretty bleak for our side at the time, but we did not give up hope and fought hard to stay alive.

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Our opponents pushed us hard, but our line held, and we did not break. After the initial losses we have managed to avoid further deaths, and slowly  brought the result back. It did not seem like it from our perspective, but we were almost even by that time. We were however, very close to loosing, and if only few more warriors would fall, all would be lost. Battle descended slowly into chaos, as men fell and gaps in the line became bigger. It was only when we killed some most senior warriors of the opposing side, we have been able to go on to the offensive, and started gaining an advantage.

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Our side has defended itself ferociously and fought fiercely. Thanks to great discipline and some skill, as well as few lucky strokes, we have now gained the upper hand over our opponents. We now pushed on, killing more warriors, until only a couple remained. By then, even though there was only very few of us left, we could secure a victory.

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And so, we have managed a win in the free-fight, but it was very close to a loss, and we have only averted disaster by the skin of out teeth. The Welsh reenactors fought well, they were skilled and disciplined. They did not manage to break our line, and lost a few too many men by holding back, instead of rolling over us while they had the clear advantage, which enabled us to turn the battle around. It was an amazing fight, and great show for the public too. Well done to everyone involved, and congratulations to my fellow members of Y Ddraig, for being on the winning side each time over two days.

This festival was a great and fun event, I have learned lots, discovered how much more there is left to learn, and I have seen some truly inspiring battles. All in all it was a show to remember, and I am so very looking forward to the rest of the season!

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