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Viking Sword and Shield Fighting

This recently published book is of particular interest due to it being seemingly written specifically for helping train the re-enactment warrior to fight within the safe system used by most societies (pulled blows and limited target areas) rather than an attempt to understand the actual life and death combat of the period. Having said that though it is an attempt to recreate a safe form of combat that is as close as safely possible to how period swordplay might have been. 

The author has many years of experience of both Viking Age re-enactment combat and of the research and practice of historical European martial arts and uses both to create the system the basics of which are outlined in this book. Before going any further it is important to stress that any attempt to recreate ‘Viking’ combat  must of necessity lean heavily on either later medieval sources (fight manuals from the 14th-16th centuries),  practical experience,  a good deal of educated guesswork or all three due to the complete absence of sources for how warriors of the early medieval period actually used their weapons. This book is no exception and the author lists Giacomo di Grassi’s 1594 fencing manual as his primary source.


Jorvik Viking Festival Review

Tagged in: viking , saxon , reviews , jorvik , events , battle , 2010
Posted by: Paul Waddington Comment (0)

This year, the Jorvik Viking Festival celebrated its silver jubilee. To mark that milestone the organizers wanted a more spectacular show than usual, complete with a ship burning and firework display.

For the first time in ages, I didn’t have to give anyone a lift to York this year and so arranged to car share with JD and stay over for the whole weekend. We set off mid afternoon on Friday and after an easy trip, dropped our gear off at the school hall and dropped in on the LHE at the Guildhall. Having said hello to the guys who’d been hard at it all week, we grabbed some food before heading off to the pub. The Bay Horse was already starting to fill up and throughout the evening more and more of Regia arrived. We had a great night chatting and planning battle tactics for the following day!

On Saturday morning we kitted up and in dribs and drabs headed off on the (longer than you think) walk from the school hall to the Museum Gardens for training at 10. I wandered in via breakfast at a decent little café with Jane and some of the Lith, arriving just after practice had started.


Jorvik Viking festival this weekend

Tagged in: viking , saxon , jorvik , events , battle , 2010
Posted by: James Waddington Comment (0)
Saxon and Viking battle at York
Saxon and Viking armies clash at York

Jorvik Viking festival 2010 is already underway in York. This weekend, we will be there as Regia Anglorum turns out in force to stage displays including two large battles.

York is the first major event of the year, and always one of the biggest. It is often a first taste of reenactment for spectators and new members alike. 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the festival and this year should be particularly spectacular

You can find information about the festival on the Jorvik Viking Centre website. Don't forget to check the Saturday schedule when we'll be in action!

Also, you can get an idea of what to expect with our galleries of Regia at York in recent years:

York 2007


A trip to Wychurst

Tagged in: wychurst , saxon , filming , 2010
Posted by: Paul Waddington Comment (0)
The longhall
The longhall at Wychurst

Around the turn of the millennium Regia Anglorum began work on the Wychurst project, to build an 11th century fortified manorial longhall on two acres of its own land in Kent. In February 2010 I got the chance to see the place while attending some film work for a forthcoming documentary.

In 1999 Regia’s leadership first mooted the possibility of building some form of permanent structure at the ‘Wildwood’ discovery park near Canterbury. This was the genesis of what became the Wychurst Project, and now, ten years later, the first phase of this hugely ambitious undertaking is almost complete. A 60’ by 30’ Saxon longhall surrounded by a pallisaded bank and ditch stands on two acres of the society's own land.

I was extremely excited when this project began and have keenly followed its development, but unfortunately distance and a young family conspired to keep me away from Wychurst until February 2010 when Sarah and I were able to take the boys down for a four day film shoot and we were able to see this remarkable site at first hand.


Saxon Princess Eadgyth found?

Tagged in: saxon , history , archaeology , 2010
Posted by: James Waddington Comment (0)
Eadgyth and Otto
Eadgyth and Otto - Image from Wikipedia

It was widely reported last week that remains, thought to be those of Eadgyth of Wessex, were undergoing analysis at the University of Bristol. If the identity is confirmed then they would be the oldest identified remains of a member of the English royal family.

Eadgyth and her family were key figures during the early part of Cestrescire's period of interest. She was the granddaughter of Alfred the Great and niece to Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. Her half-brother was King Athelstan. At the age of 19 she was married to Otto, Duke of Saxony. It is thought that on her death, she was buried in Magdeburg where she lay until the recent discovery (although her coffin was moved in the later middle ages).

Eadgyth's story highlights a crucial period in the formation of Britain and Europe. She lived more than a century before Hastings and the Norman conquest. Many of the nations we know today were yet to be unified, and Viking attacks still ravaged Europe. Despite this, both Eadgyth and her sister became Queens in mainland Europe, suggesting that even then, Saxon royalty were prominent figures on the continent. Her husband, Otto, went on to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor and is now known as Otto the Great. Athelstan, Eadgyth's half-brother was the victor at the battle of Brunanburh. Little known today, it is considered to be the battle that unified England, and went a long way to determining the shape of Britain as we know it to day.


Staffordshire hoard appeal

Tagged in: saxon , history , archaeology , 2010
Posted by: James Waddington Comment (0)
Staffordshire hoard
Image by portable antiquities

Thought to date from around the 7th century, the Staffordshire hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. Now an appeal has been launched to raise £3.3million, in order to keep the collection from being sold and potentially broken up

In terms of what will be learned from the hoard, through careful study over many years to come, it's value is incalculable. But it has another value, which is perhaps even greater: this is one of those very few, special finds which captures the imagination of the general public.

As re-enactors, we know well how challenging it can be to get people interested in Anglo-Saxon England. There is no Pyramid or Parthenon to visit. Many of our most remarkable artefacts are hard to appreciate at first glance. Swords and armour are often corroded or broken. Books and tapestries have to be studied and understood. In the period still known as the dark ages, people too often imagine brutes wrapped in a bearskins. Now we can picture warriors richly adorned in gold and jewels, shaped by master craftsmen at the pinacle of their art.


2009 Review of the Season

Tagged in: reviews , events , 2009
Posted by: Paul Waddington Comment (0)

The season started in January with the winter training weekend at Islip in Oxfordshire. Old friends met up after the close season, new members took their weapons tests and we all had a happy time shaking off the cobwebs and hitting each other with spears, swords and axes in preparation for York and the battles to come! Islip is always a good social weekend but not having been able to train much over winter I was horrendously out of practice on the field and needed to get much more training in before York!


Charlie in battle at York
Charlie in the thick of it at York

Jorvik Viking Festival in February is traditionally the first major event of the season and always the best attended. 2009 was no exception as in excess of three hundred members turned up in one capacity or another. For the fighters the show started at 10AM with the usual combat training session in the Museum Gardens. Al and Charlie had also come over from Cestrescire, and we had some very good, hard fighting until one when we took a break to grab some food and prepare for the main battle. At two we mustered for the scrap. Set in the Northern rebellion of 1070, the battle would see Saxon and Anglo-Danish rebels face William’s Normans.

It was one of the best battles I’ve ever done at York, very hard fought and the result in doubt almost to the end. The clincher was Cestrefeld standing firm on our left flank while a surge of armoured warriors broke through the Norman centre to win the battle for the rebels - setting what turned out to be the pattern for the season! After the battle two of our best and most respected warriors (Jane and Little Pete) were raised to the rank of Warlord. Richly deserved it was too!


Hastings 2006 Review

Tagged in: saxon , reviews , norman , events , battle , 2006
Posted by: Paul Waddington Comment (0)
Regia in battle at Hastings 2006
Regia in pitched battle with the Norman infantry

Every year, re-enactment society The Vikings hold a re-enactment of the battle of Hastings on the very site of the battle itself. But in 2006 the call went out to groups across the world, as this time it would be one of the biggest re-enactments ever staged in Britain.

I’d been in two minds about going to Hastings ever since Regia announced that we were going to take part. On the one hand standing in an ‘army’ of over a thousand warriors re-fighting probably the most famous battle in English history on the site of the actual battle itself had huge appeal. On the other, I’ve never liked scripted, fixed end combat and the Battle of Hastings obviously has to end in a Norman victory!