Today’s show is about people who live in the past, more specifically about those who live as Vikings for one week in the year or every summer weekend depending on their role. What makes them prefer the Viking era over any other? How authentically do they try to live the Viking lifestyle? Is there anything we can learn from this living tableau?
We’re going to the Mosegaard Viking Moot, a gathering of people from all over the world who just want to be Vikings. Every year at the end of July, just south of Aarhus, the Vikings meet to show off their horsemanship, their handicrafts and their fighting skills for a week. People live as Vikings, more or less, and at the weekend the public are invited to join in. Since I have been enjoying this for many years I decided that this year I would be brave and approach some of these warriors, feisty women and well-travelled minstrels to try and find out what makes ordinary people try to step into such a faraway culture so completely.
I spoke to Peter Hambro Mikkelsen at the Mosegaard Museum to get some background to the event and only then did I find out how special the Mosegaard Moot really is!
Now let’s hear from some of the enthusiasts who live as Vikings. First I talked to Grethe, a conscientious Viking woman who makes all her own clothes and who comes to Mosegaard with her husband who is a horseman.
As I was wandering round the encampment, buying pancakes and roasted meat and getting smoke in my eyes, my gaze was inexorably drawn to a very exotic looking person even by Viking standards: This turned out to be the alter ego Ibn Fadhlan who revealed his Arabic roots and recommended the 2005 film ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ as a fair representation of the Crusades story.
Then I could put it off no longer; I simply had to gather all my courage and nail down one of the warriors to find out what made them come from all over Europe and beyond to fight. I’d always been intrigued by the number of English voices I’d heard on the battlefield over the years so I made sure that it was a Briton that I talked with. The voice belongs to Ian Judd or Gunnar as he is known in Viking circles.
Finally we return to Peter Mikkelsen from the Museum to find out if there is anything we can learn through these cultural recreations. This leads to an interesting parallel between how there was class distinction even in death in the Viking era but that the same distinction was made during the Falklands War when privates were buried in a mass grave on the Islands while the fallen officers were flown home. Peter ends with a powerful anecdote about the strength of the Viking identity.
You can find more pictures of the Moot here.
The next show will be coming to you on 2 October from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany.
So long…stay tuned!