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Vikings land in Newark!
Small 'coastal' Viking ship

Small ‘coastal’ Viking ship

The bank holiday weekend was pretty much booked up with Family stuff but I did manage to sneak away on the Saturday and wander down to Newark Castle whilst Mrs Wood was having her hair done. To be fair, I had also been to the Barbers to get a smart new haircut, but 5 minutes is about as much time as  even the most careful of barbers can spend on my diminishing patch, so I had time to kill. I digress, having some free time I noticed that there was a Viking reactment taking place at Newark castle and as entrance was free it seemed a shame not to pop in.

Viking Combat! Shield wall!

Viking Combat! Shield wall!

I think that reenactors share a similar strand of DNA to us wargamers but have perhaps taken it one step further. I must say that it does hold a slight appeal to me but only the bit where you sit around in the sunshine, having a beer and chomp on a lump of charred beef whilst chatting to your mates. I cant be doing with running around hitting people, or even worse being hit by some one younger and faster than me, it’s too much like hard work. I do, however, admire the work that these enthusiasts put into their hobby and they are a great source of information. Not only is their equipment and clothing extremely well researched but they know a thing or two about the tactics, weaponry and are there to ‘bring history alive’.

Camp life.

Camp life.

Like all enthusiasts, reenactor’s are generally a friendly bunch and only too happy to share their knowledge – you just have to ask. As I was wandering around a few things caught my eye (no, I wasn’t doing a Harold impersonation…). First of all the tents that made up the encampment all generally followed a similar pattern. It was interesting to see how an encampment might of looked. Renedra make a Saxon tent set and it was good to see that the style looked about right.

Renedra tents in full scale!

Renedra tents in full scale!

It was also interesting watching some of the craftsmen at work.

Craftsman at work

Craftsman at work

I was intrigued by the ladies who were making and dyeing cloth for the costumes. They were in the process of dyeing some cloth with a ‘stew’ of Madder root and so I had quite a chat about the colours used. I had already noticed that in ‘real life’ the clothing tended to be in more pastel shades than I painted my figures. Also there was a preponderance of orange/red clothing. The ladies were happy to show me a sampler of the sort of natural dyes that they were able to produce and that they thought were fairly likely to be accurate samples of what would have been used on tunics at the time.

Dye Samples

Dye Samples

As they explained, the dyes weren’t as colourfast as today and would certainly fade so although my tendency to chose bright colours for my wargames figures look OK on the wargames table, I think that my next Saga Warband might just have a more muted look. And Orange will definitely be on the colour pallet!

I should point out that the reenactors were both Saxon and Viking, so if in my blog I have got them a bit confused, I apologise. Here is a few more pictures of the Warriors going through their battle drill.

Stand ready...

Stand ready…

steady..

steady..

Close!

Close!

Shield design

Shield design

A final thought, I had always thought that the shield rims were beaten metal – these looked more like leather.

To sum up, a diverting and educational couple of hours. The tower to Newark castle battlements was also open and once again, entry was free, so for the first time I was able to climb to the top:

King of the Castle!

King of the Castle!

Next weekend I am off to Warwick Castle for a War of the Roses weekend. I will get back to my painting and modelling but I thought that I might as well enjoy the good weather whilst it’s here!

 

 

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