Monday, April 21, 2014

1014 Round the Field

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In my previous 1014 post, I turned up at the battlefield on the eve of the battle. There was a certain amount to be seen and I could check out the lay of the land.

But everything was quite different when it came to the day of the battle (re-enactment) itself.

For one thing, there was an enormous crowd and it was much slower getting round the area. Then you had to decide how to play the day. Long before the battle commenced the crowds were 4-5 deep all the way around the battlefield. As I was hoping to take photos I needed to be in the front row somewhere, preferably with the sun a bit behind me. So, having missed out the first re-enactment I decided to do the tour around the field and see what was happening. Then I would go to the battlefield an hour before the next battle was due to start, and book myself a standing place in the front row. This post, then, is the tour around the field and the next one will deal with the battle itself.

This is the other end of the ship in the previous post. Really scary stuff. They did stick up in the air, though, and were a help in navigating your way around the perimeter of the field where you could easily lose your bearings in the crowd.

A good place to start is an introduction to the history of the battle: who's who, where's where, and how it all came about. This is a brief introduction with the aid of a map of the battlefield and the deployment of forces.

This man from the Montague Heritage Centre is a coin maker. One hard belt of his hammer on the die and you have a coin.

This local Viking, who, you might remember, almost killed me in a previous post, is selling replica coins and other Viking memorabilia.

There's even a Viking way of chopping wood. Mind you, it looks like the way we do it ourselves but there is no point in disillusioning this enthusiastic chopper.

The Vikings also made nails and you could buy a load of the genuine articles to build a longboat or crucify an opponent.

This young lady is from the Viking centre in York, and she was in charge of a model of a Viking tent which consisted of a sitting room, where she is standing and an actual bedroom with a wooden bed out of picture to the left. On the right are some local youths who have taken over the stable and are making her a little nervous.

With a bit of luck, you might learn to play Brian Boru's harp before the battle, though I gather you'd want to have let your fingernails grow for a few months beforehand.

Then there was the falconry area with some beautiful birds. Trevor Roche, who runs Dublin Falconry, says it is an ancient art, and to prove it he gave us some very impressive demonstrations on the battlefield in the hour before the troops arrived on the scene.

In the course of the demonstration he brought a young spectator onto the field and trained him to accept the bird on his arm.

He also had the young lad run along pulling a dummy mouse on a piece of string and the bird swooped down and got its claws firmly stuck in. So firmly, in fact, that Trevor could then pull the mouse, with the bird in tow, right around the perimeter of the battlefield.

Then we stumbled on these Vikings' camp. They are clearly not yet ready to take to the field.

These Vikings are clearly not ready for battle either. They are just keeping the passage clear for their fellow warriors to access the battlefield when the time comes. Meanwhile the guy on the left, who is actually a Swede, is bantering with the crowd, and in particular with the little girl in white, whom you can see on the right behind the shield.

He first tried to persuade her that Vikings have actual horns on their head and their helmets have two holes to let them protrude. She wasn't buying that as she was the proud possessor herself of a viking helmet, horns and all, which he is temporarily sporting in this picture. You can tell from the bad fit that it's not his own.

Finally, before we move on to the battle in the next post, the old man on the right is the storyteller who will be recounting the battle over the PA as it takes place. His presentation is authoritative and amusing and he is seen here collecting last minute gossip from some Viking civilians.

Link to other 1014 related posts.

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