The 2018 Abbey Medieval Festival will showcase the efforts and talents of many dark age re-enactment groups. Learn a little more about these groups who deliver immersive encampments, educational demonstrations and exciting combat displays.
Blackpool Vikings display the enterprising Norse settlers of 9th and 10th century Dyflin (Dublin).
The group re-enacts the unclean underbelly of history, from the morbid realities of the slave trade in Western Europe through to the daily pleasantries of Viking hygiene practices.
By highlighting the unromantic, unembellished historical lives of the every man and woman of the 9th and 10th centuries, Blackpool Vikings seeks to inform the public and build a connection to the past.
See the group portray warriors, craftsmen and women, settlers and traders flock to the slavery capital of Western Europe to ply their wares, win fame and fortune, and create a new life for themselves amongst the hostile Gaelic kingdom of Ireland.
Forn Vegr meaning ‘ancient ways’ in old Norse is a Viking living history group portraying various traders.
The ‘traders, not raiders’ of Forn Vegr re-enact the daily living and trading from throughout the Viking age, focusing on those who traded along the Western Trade Routes.
Jorth Gar—New Varangian Guard
The Jorth Gar branch of the New Varangian Guard concentrates its living history re-enactment primarily on the earlier Varangian Guardsmen of Viking origin, and their many exploits and accomplishments. Those that were given to Emperor Basil II in recognition of his military treaty with the Rus, by Prince Vladimir of Kiev.
They also re-enact warriors that returned back to their homelands after active service in the Guard, and the camp followers and craftsmen that accompanied them. They have a strong civilian and family base within the group as a result and are renowned craftsmen. They are currently the largest New Varangian Guard Branch in Australia.
New England Medieval Arts Society
The New England Medieval Arts Society (NEMAS) is a historical re-enactment group that represents Vikings and Saxons from 8th to 10th centuries.
NEMAS specialises in duelling and mass combat battle displays with a variety of steel weapons. They also have members who have rediscovered forgotten arts and crafts which are on display at the Abbey Medieval Festival, including woodworking, spinning, weaving, arms and armour construction and much more.
New Varangian Guard—Rusland
The New Varangian Guard—Rusland Garrison recreates the original bodyguard of the Byzantine Emperors and the cultural and military lifestyle of the powerful Byzantine Empire during 950 to 1250 AD.
Initially recruited from fierce Viking and Saxon warriors who left England after the Norman invasion, the Guard was an elite and feared fighting force.
Rusland recreates this turbulent part of history through the study and appreciation of period fighting, craft and field skills both in public and private events.
The Nordic Viking Society (Norviks) is a small re-enactment group portraying the domestic life of Danish Vikings around the beginning of the 11th century with focus on family, crafts and trade.
As a true Viking re-enactment group, the Norviks have their own replica Viking ship, ‘Fafnir’ lovingly handmade by members using tradition methods. At the Abbey this year, the public will get the opportunity to experience ‘Fafnir’, magnificently rigged with its full square sail and dragon-headed prow. The group will also display and demonstrate Viking weaponry, tools, blacksmithing, jewellery making, weaving, rune writing and children’s games.
Rafnheim portrays the Germanic Iron Age, a period of expansion which pre-dates the Viking era.
From the eastern realms held by the Huns, to the Briton city of Kent in the west, to the Byzantine traders from the south, and the skalds from Gotland in the north, the Germanic Iron Age is a rich period of history. Rafnheim’s members demonstrate some of the artisans and craftsman of this pre-Viking era.
Reafan is a family-oriented re-enactment group which is dedicated to recreating the experience of living in 11th to 12th centuries.
Their members showcase a diverse range of skills including making and decorating clothing, armour, jewellery, musical instruments, metal casting, handicraft and cooking.
Rognvald’s Lith have taken their banner and logo from a mid-11th century runic inscription from Ed, Uppsala linked to Rognvald Ingvarson. Rognvald was a Swede who served with the Varangian Guard in Constantinople and died circa 1043 serving the Rus princes.
The Lith is a one of the largest re-enactment groups in New South Wales.
Saga Vikings is a re-enactment group that researches and recreates all aspects of the Viking Age between 793 to 1066AD.
Saga Vikings’ members focus on how people went about their daily lives in the Viking age. They recreate some of the crafts of the period, and train in aspects of combat.
The group have their own little village in the back of Joyner (near Petrie).
Staraya Ladoga, or The Stray Dogs is a Viking re-enactment group portraying the Rus Vikings of Staraya Ladoga, Russia in the late 900s. Through living history all aspects of life of a bygone era come to the forefront in the discovery of the past, allowing a greater understanding of how things really were first hand compared to a text book.
The Rus Vikings from Staraya Ladoga offer the opportunity to observe the aspects of life of a bygone era and demonstrate influences gained through trade and the exploration of their surroundings. Their campsite displays traditional Rus Viking style tents, cooking hearth with period equipment, wood-worked items including seating and chests made from patterns in archaeological Viking finds.
Their campsite also showcases traditional Viking activities—tanning of hides using traditional natural tanning methods, longbow archery, cooking and craft activities. Evenings are spent feasting, carousing with copious quantities of ale and mead, music and Skaldic verse.
In between performances, the Stray Dogs work on clothing research and construction by hand, shoe-making, armour and weapon production by hand and social get-togethers.
Traders of Frojel
Vikings from the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, Traders of Frojel are known as Traders of the Sword with a persuasive sales pitch: trade with us or die.
Traders are great with textiles, leather, woodworking and carpentry, blacksmithing, riddling and fighting.
Ulveflokk Vikings (meaning ‘wolf pack’) portray the lifestyle of Vikings who settled in the Orkney islands during 850 to 950AD.