Why were there Vikings in Wherstead this weekend?
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Mr Depper said: “Many people from many different countries take-up the sword and the Viking trail.
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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.
“In this modern world we have somehow lost a sense of community and many people find it in this.”
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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.
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.
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.
Real ale, archery and traditional crafts were also on the menu.
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.
He said: “I got involved with a mate when I worked at a restaurant.
“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.
“There is just such a fantastic community here.”
Tim Lee, better known by his Viking name Halvard, a 22-year-old groundsmen and Viking warrior from Norwich echoed Kiaran’s thoughts.
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.