Ken's Bamburgh Journal
Fieldwork 2006

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Yesterday I caught a ride over to the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory with a guy named Mal, who also wanted to see the special English Heritage-sponsored presentation of Viking re-enactors. It was in the year 793 that Vikings first raided anywhere, according to surviving written accounts, and it was Lindisfarne that they attacked in that case.

The re-enactors had set up numerous Viking-style tents within the ruins, and apparently go for 100% authenticity wherever possible. Therefore their presence was most impressive, with many working craftspeople using replica tools, wearing period clothes, etc. There were no eyeglasses in sight, although they did stick to English and used blunted weapons in their mock battles.

The presence of kids from infant to late teens in period costume, as well as several dogs, helped a great deal to set the scene. This group, known as The Vikings, apparently has a small but growing contingent in the U.S., so I'll have to check them out. They say that in October, for the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings, they're going to have a massive number of people showing up. Apparently this happens every 5-6 years, when the anniversary falls on a weekend (as this year). That would be something: well over a thousand re-enactors - in full authentic kit - camping out and mock fighting for a weekend, and doing so in more than a dozen languages (they have large groups in just about every European country coming over).

Pano of Viking Encampment

Pano of Lindisfarne Abbey ruins

Vikings vs. Saxons

A large embroidery in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry, detailed enough that I recognized individuals on it who had fought in the mock battles

All the re-enactors wore linen or wool; here's some flax plants partially beaten into fiber (I've never seen this level of work in a re-enactment group before)

Flax ready for spinning (the spindle in the image above has its thread leading into this pile)

All my ducks gulls in a row

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