A year in the Life of a Viking Reenactor: March

Welcome readers and all-round wonderful people to the amazing and fun hobby that is being a Viking reenactor. Thank you for returning to read the next instalment of A Year in the Life of a Viking Reenactor for our group Vikings of Middle England. In case you have forgotten since February’s Edition, we are a Viking re-enactment, living history and combat group based in Leicester, UK!

The time is March, the spring flowers are starting to bloom, and you join us at an exciting time of year! With our first two shows of the season coming up, preparations for them are well underway.

If you have not yet managed to join us in person to see what we are all about, coming to one of our events is a great introduction. Wander around our living history camp. Strike a coin or two. Head over to the merchants table to examine the riches before you. Watch the intricacies of material fibre being woven before your eyes. Perhaps enjoy the glint from our silversmith stall. Or even just wander around and perhaps discover something new.

Join us on the battlefield for weapons demonstrations and examples of combat techniques. Smell the wood of the shields as they take a hammering and hear the clang of our weapons clashing in hopefully the bright sunshine. (Real fire not guaranteed).

A busy merchants stall at our event in Boston Lincolnshire, 2018.

In the background there is a lot that needs to be done to pull off a successful Viking reenactment event. It starts months back to plan the events calendar, reaching out to contacts within historical circles to find out if a mutual collaboration can be arranged. For some, these organically fall into place, others often need an element of negotiation be it as to expenses, date and the expectation of both parties as to what type of event to put on. Especially if it is a new booking and the organisers want to hire us as their event entertainment. (By the way if you are reading this and you would like us to play a part in your event please send your enquiry to

When these events have been fixed in place a site visit is organised. This looks at suitability of the area allocated to us for both the living history camp and the combat arena if required. If it is an outside venue, water availability for consumption is a consideration as well as the delicate matter of (ahem) latrines.

On confirming the event our committee (group leaders for membership, events, authenticity, combat and treasury) need to communicate to the group all the details through social media postings and our weekly training and meetup sessions, giving members all the info needed to maximise attendance on the day.

Calligraphy practise by Viking re-enactors at Leicester Guildhall, March 2024

Another essential task for this time of year is the annual van check! I would be remiss to speak about life as a Viking reenacter without dedicating some time to an unsung member of our group. That is to say our van, that carries all the clubs equipment to and from the events and, you might say is as well travelled as any recorded Viking.

The stages for this are:

  • Check no birds or animals are currently nesting in the engine – it has happened believe it or not.
  • Take said van for its MOT and service.
  • On successfully passing the latter, start loading up for the events season ahead of us.

The loading usually is quite a social event with many hands making the job easier. We all go through the club’s kit assessing its suitability for the season ahead. Setting aside items that are in need of repairs, checking to see if anything has gotten miss placed. At a show, if the gods were displeased with our performance and rained down on us as we were packing away, that can very easily happen!

In instances like this it is quite literally a race against time to get everything packed down and stored in the dry. 1) so that the van is not overloaded weight-wise and, 2) our tents are likely to survive until the next show without the fabric weakening and going into holes.

Carrying out this annual check means our kit lasts longer and problem areas are identified before becoming major issues: come rain or shine we are well prepared for a successful event season.

After the show itself, a well-earned trip to a on route home takeaway is in order. Followed by arriving at home unpacking and for most of us a long hot shower. You may think that would be the end of it but the actuality is some of our events are paid events. This means that we need to follow up to ensure we will be paid in a timely manner which is where our treasurer comes into his own. Then repeat all over again at the next show.

a day in the life of a viking reenactors - stopping at services on the way home for a well earned burger!

Thank you once again readers for joining us for this March edition see you on Saturday 20th April at the St George’s Day Festival Leicester.


A Year in the Life of a Viking Reenactor: February

Welcome readers and all-round wonderful people to the amazing and fun hobby that is being a reenactor. Thank you for returning to read the next instalment of A Year in the Life of a Viking Reenactor for our group Vikings of Middle England. In case you have forgotten since January’s edition, we are a Viking re-enactment, living history and combat group based in Leicester, UK!

This month, as we all have grown accustomed to being somewhat more active as a group, we all begin to tackle the many projects related to the success of the group in all aspects of living history.

Living History

Our Viking encampment at Cromford Mills in 2023

For the uninitiated, living history means experiencing a taste of life as the Vikings could have lived. As closely as we can at events, we remove many of the modern-day trappings we all are accustomed to in our daily lives. All whilst trying to be historically accurate and present an authentic impression of the Viking-age. This covers the following aspects:

  • Clothing and personal belonging.
  • Tools used to practice different crafts.
  • Daily activities undertaken.
  • Everyday equipment, utilities and living quarters.
  • Facts about local, regional and other points of interest from the Viking diaspora.

Note: To answer a question I hear you forming. Although we spend the odd few nights in tents over the year as part of the events we offer, we all do have homes, mobile devices and modern luxuries. Our lives are not based 24/7 in Viking camps! (although some wish they could!)

A joyous part of our group is seeing collaboration. Various members have wide ranging interests. We all have a different origin in our approach to the portrayal, and contribute to our living history.

Our collective knowledge comes from group discussions and workshops. Individual research on specific topics shared back to the group forum, general fact-checking and cross-referencing of historical texts, and reviews of published works by Academic experts. In this context, the available projects members can contribute to is vast. Whether it’s something simple like making a new cloak, more complex like setting up a new or expanded Living History display, or learning a new skill such as woodworking, there is always someone willing to help and be your sounding board.


At our weekly sessions, Hrefna and Beigan have made savvy choices with the finishing off of their cloaks. Both of them have chosen the same colour and type of lightly felted wool. The difference lies with the contrasting-colour hand spun wool thread that each of them has chosen to finish off the edges. To do this they have rolled the cloak edges over and are doing a simple blanket stitch to add an adornment. It serves a functional purpose too – stopping the edges from fraying.

Don’t forget underwear!

þorunn (pictured above) is hand-sewing an undyed linen serk, a must have to wear under your thicker woollen kyrtle. This layering helps moderate your temperature whilst provides a comforting layer between your skin and the wool!

Boredom is not a complaint you ever hear us making! It opens up a creative part of the mind linked to muscle memory and learning through doing.

How about carving?

Our own Hermish (pictured above), coin master and Muster Caller Extraordinaire is this year embarking on a project to make a bag for his daughter who occasionally joins us on our weekend camps. She has seen people toting (pardon the pun) wooden bag handles. Some examples of these finds can be viewed here if you are interested. He intends to get some suitable wood and have a go at hand carving a set to go on a bag for her.

A walk in nature.

Later in the year, we will develop an interesting project that has stemmed from an interaction with a member of the public. They asked Lofthaena about the difference between the oak galls we use and the oak galls they had found themselves. Leading to finding the period correct oak galls for our Calligraphy display. We use oak galls for making ink for writing texts on parchment. Various species of wasp larvae cause galls to form on the underside of twigs and branches of oak trees. These galls are unsightly bumps, but when picked at the right time of the year and processed correctly, then added to the correct solution of water and iron oxide, turn the water dark brown and far more ink-like in colour and consistency than previously.

Hunting for wasps

Research so far discovered several types of oak gall wasp. Wasps have larvae that hatch and fall from the trees at different types of the year. Our challenge will be finding the ones belonging to the native species, the most likely candidate is oak apple gall wasps (Biorhiza pallida).

On the practical side, this project this will involve a woodland walk over surrounding regional areas to spot likely areas to find them. Then one of our favourite past times – experimental archaeology. Trying out what gets the best results and identifying future learnings to develop it’s potential. Look out for the November edition of a year in the life of a Viking reenactor where we check back to find out what happened with these projects!

Thank you readers for joining me on February’s a year in the life of a viking reenactor journey. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you want to meet us in person we will be at the Braunstone West Social Centre, on 14-2-24 from 7:45-10.15pm for our living history night where discussion will be on Viking Artefacts. Have you got a favourite Viking artefact?


A Year in the Life of a Viking Reenactor: January

Welcome readers and all-round wonderful people to the amazing and fun hobby that is being a reenactor. I’d like to share with you tales from a year in the life of a Viking reenactor. The group I am part of, as you probably gathered if you have navigated to this webpage, is Vikings of Middle England (VME). A Viking period living history and combat group.

I invite you to join me on a journey through a year of re-enactment with our group. Along the way I’ll share our highs and lows, we’ll encounter some of the group’s characters, and feel like part of the kindred.

So with a high energy introduction to kick start 2024 lets jump into action! Anybody already feeling a little bored with the new year promises made around fitness or doing something new like joining a new social group etc., etc? Then read on.

Viking warriors charge! A Vikings of Middle England demonstration at Elvaston Castle Country Park in 2022

Where Vikings meet

Vikings of Middle England meet on a weekly basis, Wednesday nights 7:45-10.15pm at the Braunstone West Social Centre a great venue for our activities, the added benefit of being close to 3 bus routes, as well as free on site car parking, a rarity in Leicester!

This weekly session is our regular catch up with members who contribute to the living history part of our group as well as those who participate in our unique theatrical style of combat. I should probably say here – yes our weapons may be blunted but they are still very real, made of wood and steel. It’s quite a treat to hear the clash of swords in person and watch our skilled warriors practicing their techniques.

Combat sessions start with a brief warm up which helps us avoid injuries, and we can nicely warm up the vocal chords if we are so inclined. Particular focus is given to the shoulder muscles given when we fight we use a combination of weapons and a shield. This can be Seax, Axe, Sword or 1-handed spear (Javelin). The exception to this is those who use a longer spear, which is used as a 2 handed weapon, so no shield.

Combat Training

In our group the first weapon you start with is the Seax or small knife. We can train in all of the weapons but we have to master the basics first to use them safely – another reason for a weekly session.

After the warm up are a series of group activities where we recap previously taught skills. How to survive a 2 person verses 1 person fight, activities to target endurance and general confidence, etc. As well as the physical focus, these exercises teach tactical thinking, evasive manoeuvres, situational awareness and builds the ability to work together. This all enables us, year after year, to put on breathtaking shows which make our audiences laugh, cheer AND when a real battlefield villain makes an appearance, boo and hiss as well. Look out for these tales in the July edition of a year in the life of a re-enactor.

Leading the first combat session of the year on 17-1-24 is Throst our Stallari (You may also be familiar with more modern terms used for this role: leader, captain, sensei etc., etc.). Throst was kind enough to share some thoughts with me about combat for 2024.

“Some members are in the middle of training with a new weapon and several have discussed starting training in something different. Our combatants have a personal training guide which showcases a variety of areas to try out. Working through weapons is usually a solid starting point but there are also resources to lead a new game or try something you may not get the chance to do elsewhere. Our combatants work towards combined goals and have a shared knowledge ethos. Questions are always being asked so we can always help each other develop and improve.”

Throst, our Chief Training Officer

At the end of the 2 hour session, we have worked on our cardio, muscle strength, and incorporated footwork and balance, ensuring our fights don’t start or finish in a dangerous position. As well as a generous use of our voices as we cheer and encourage our fighters. Guaranteed, buckets of sweat have been shed and we have had a wonderfully fun workout we will feel the next day but still be talking about weeks later.

Next time in A Year in the Life of a Viking Re-Enactor

If you are still reading this my thanks to you. In February’s edition of A Year in the Life of a Viking Reenactor: you will be meeting some of our members and finding out about particular living history projects they will be undertaking over the course of the year. How they developed the idea from a research and personal point of interest. Do you have a passion project that you want to make this year?

~ Kori