Why were there Vikings in Wherstead this weekend?

The Viking and Saxon Festival at the Suffolk Food Hall Picture: BARRY PULLEN

The Viking and Saxon Festival at the Suffolk Food Hall Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

They may have died out hundreds of years ago but the bearded invaders of most of Europe were in Suffolk to “take-up the sword and the Viking trail” at the food hall in Wherstead.

Vikings take part in one-on-one combat Picture: BARRY PULLEN

Vikings take part in one-on-one combat Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

Viking enthusiasts from across Europe were invited by the Suffolk Viking group, Blodorn Englar, on Saturday, to take part in fighting tournaments and enjoy a traditional Viking camp.

Thankfully no one lost a limb during the fighting Picture: BARRY PULLEN

Thankfully no one lost a limb during the fighting Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

Alban Depper, 53, fell in live with Norse and Viking art after studying Norse languages at Durham University, he now designs and makes Viking jewellery and sells it at festivals like this with his partner Rachel Lee.

More brave warriors going sword-to-sword Picture: BARRY PULLEN

More brave warriors going sword-to-sword Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

He also fights as part of a group in London, one of many across the country that meet to train as Viking warriors before competing in tournaments.

Viking groups from all over Britian came to Suffolk and camped out for the tournament Picture: BARRY

Viking groups from all over Britian came to Suffolk and camped out for the tournament Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

Mr Depper said: “Many people from many different countries take-up the sword and the Viking trail.

Viking enthusiasts in authentic dress Picture: BARRY PULLEN

Viking enthusiasts in authentic dress Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen


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“The sword is a very ancient symbol and people who take up the sword in the Viking trail always have a great sense of community.

A blacksmith works away at his forge Picture: BARRY PULLEN

A blacksmith works away at his forge Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

“In this modern world we have somehow lost a sense of community and many people find it in this.”

It is hot inside that chainmail Picture: BARRY PULLEN

It is hot inside that chainmail Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

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The festival featured several fighting tournament including “Bridge” where warbands and regiments of Vikings from the West-Midlands to Norwich fight against each other in teams.

Assorted Viking weapons and armour Picture: BARRY PULLEN

Assorted Viking weapons and armour Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

Each team has to push the other off the bridge and break through to the other side where they strike a shield with their weapon to gain a point.

Post-match analysis - not like this on Match of the Day Picture: BARRY PULLEN

Post-match analysis - not like this on Match of the Day Picture: BARRY PULLEN - Credit: Barry Pullen

There were also stalls with more enthusiasts selling wrought iron 9th century jewellery, chain-mail, swords and even door handles made by a genuine blacksmith.

The combat game known as Bridge Picture: ARCHANT

The combat game known as Bridge Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Real ale, archery and traditional crafts were also on the menu.

More enthusiasts with authentic tents and Viking utensils Picture: ARCHANT

More enthusiasts with authentic tents and Viking utensils Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Kiaran Overton, better known by his Viking alias Kiarton Olfason, a 23-year-old computer aided designer is part of a regiment from the Midlands and fought in the tournament.

Two teams engage in an intense game of bridge Picture: ARCHANT

Two teams engage in an intense game of bridge Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

He said: “I got involved with a mate when I worked at a restaurant.

The standard of one of the Viking regiments Picture: ARCHANT

The standard of one of the Viking regiments Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

“He just said I should come down to training and I went to the big Yorvik Viking festival after and haven’t looked back since.

The Bridge tournament rages on Picture: ARCHANT

The Bridge tournament rages on Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

“There is just such a fantastic community here.”

They hit hard Picture: ARCHANT

They hit hard Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Tim Lee, better known by his Viking name Halvard, a 22-year-old groundsmen and Viking warrior from Norwich echoed Kiaran’s thoughts.

Enthusiasts relax after the combat - it's not all about whacking eachother over the head with an axe

Enthusiasts relax after the combat - it's not all about whacking eachother over the head with an axe Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

He said: “For me it was more of a spiritual thing.

“You start feeling closer to your ancestors, when you start doing it something clicks in your head.

“It feels natural, almost primal.

“The fighting also teaches you respect.”

The festival finishes today, Sunday, September 30, go along for free to the Suffolk food hall to watch individual and group combat, take part in axe throwing or buy Viking jewellery.

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