Thursday, 28 March 2013

Viking Visits Part two

Following our trips to the Jorvik Centre and Dig, we returned to York for the Jorvik Viking Festival.
 This is actually a huge, annual event which takes place over the course of a week, however we only attended the festival on the last day.
 We thought we'd start off by visiting the re-enactors' markets, but on the way there we encountered a group of Danish vikings having a bit of a scuffle.
 It seems that one of the warriors had insulted the other's dress-sense and the insulted party had decided to respond with his sword.
Now, usually I would attempt to calm matters down, or at least remove the kids from the vicinity, but the vikings had chosen to kill each other behind a rope barrier and, as every museum-goer knows, you mustn't cross those, so we had no choice but to watch the battle instead.
 Once it was safe to proceed once more we headed on, Ellie now toting a big bag of tat* and a shiny red balloon, which she had appropriated from some Danish ladies who had been standing by, seemingly quite unfazed by their ancestors' behaviour.

The first of the re-enactors' market was in a large tent.
That is very nearly all I can tell you about it: apart from that, it was too crowded for me to make out much of what was on the stalls, or to form any impression beyond an intense desire to get out.
 At some point Ellie obtained a furry viking-style hat.
  The next market was much nicer.
Held at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, this market had a much nicer atmosphere, as well as the space to breathe it in.
 The stalls held the usual mixture of lovely things that no-one can afford and self-printed pamphlets (including some nice ones on viking handicrafts that I was tempted to buy for future use), as well as one stall full of period-appropriate fabrics.
We escaped the hall without buying Ellie anything and, after a quick stop for lunch, headed off to the main event of the day: the battle.

 As we arrived the Vikings had formed their battle line on one side of the field, while their Saxon foes were taking up a position opposite them.
 An announcer was making grandiose pronouncements over a loudspeaker, but apart from noting that Eleanor and Phoebe were far less disturbed by the armed hordes than they were by his booming, distorted voice, we paid him very little heed.
 We were watching the battle.
Once combat was joined, Ellie stood like a statue, apparently enthralled by the spectacle and the clash of steel.**
 Phoebe, on the other hand, paid little attention to the proximate bloodshed***, preferring to scamper merrily up and down, distracting me from the action on the field.
I'm told it was terribly impressive.
 What impressed me, was the fact that, after the battle, the combatants picked themselves up and walked over to the fence to answer questions and give the smaller audience members**** the opportunity to see that they weren't really hurt.
 Richard asked a few questions about local re-enactment groups, Eleanor was persuaded to ask a non-zombie related question*****, Phoebe tried to steal Eleanor's hat, and we all headed home.

We would have liked to stay for the last events: the fiery funeral of the defeated Viking leader, and a Viking banquet, but the girls were now beginning to flag a little, so we yielded to the inevitable and left.
 Perhaps we'll be able to stay later next time.

In the meantime, we might not have been able to attend the banquet at the festival, but we did hold our own Viking Feast
 Viking food******, Viking stories, and a Viking-ish******* song performed by Eleanor, made the perfect end to our Viking Project.
 I hope the next project is at much fun.

*Just adverts I'm afraid, they hadn't even included a fuzzy bug in an inappropriately horned helmet.

**She says she knew it was all pretend, I still think she just liked watching people die for her amusement: like a tiny, female Elagabalus.

***Obviously she knew the warriors couldn't get at her as we were behind another rope.

****Those neither bouncing around obliviously, or, to pick an example from thin air, wondering loudly if the Vikings were zombies now Mummy?

*****She settled for telling them that her Daddy had trousers like that.
I'm sure they were thrilled to hear it.

****** Trout (which I did not eat), green soup, viking bread, goat's cheese and oat-cakes, washed down with honeyed apple juice.

*******Ralph McTell's The Island.

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