30th Year Recap! HUZZAH!

This year’s 30th Abbey Medieval Festival was everything it was anticipated to be and more. By now you may know certain facts about the Abbey Medieval Festival.  At the top of list, are the one thousand re-enactors from a variety of groups who come to Abbeystowe to bring to life a time period representing 600AD to 1600AD.  There was everything from the five medieval tournaments, including the highly anticipated Joust tournament, to presentations, demonstrations and workshops. There were re-enacted historical battles, birds of prey & incredible animals, live music & entertainers, and a traditional Viking boat burning honouring well known re-enactor “Visti the Viking”.  There were 89 food and craft stall holders, and something for every interest imaginable. There was so much “medieval” it was hard to realise you weren’t actually in another place in time.

What you might not know is that there were over 30,000 visitors at Abbeystowe over the course of two days. It is the largest ‘living history’ event in Australia and even the Southern Hemisphere!  We’d like to thank each involved in helping us achieve our mission in creating the ultimate medieval experience.  It is our hope that everyone who experienced this tournament and festival milestone will have felt inspired to live a more enriched life, through this unique and immersive experience.  Continue below to see a photographic journey from this spectacular 30th year! All photos by Brett Croese.

But first, we honour the 2019 tournament champions.

Joust: David Williamson

Archery: John Pettigrew

Oil Wrestling: Murat Sebat

Strength and Skill: Lady Heather and her proxy, Squire Gareth

Holmgang: N/A this year

David Williamson – 2019 Joust Tournament Champion!

Archery champion, John Pettigrew, honoured by the Lord and Lady of Abbeystowe!

Murat Sebat – Turkish Oil Wrestling Champ!

Lady Heather and her proxy, Squire Gareth – Strength and Skill!

The crowd was guided by none other than Lord Herald Sir Blair Martin!

It’s always so special to see the Birds of Prey!

The incredible Lady Amanda Challen during the parade…

…and head to head during the Joust Tournament!

No pressure!

Defending the castle during the seige!

‘Terry The Great’ from All Star Fish!

Prima Spada!

Familiar site at the Abbey for years, the Plague Doctor!

Burial site of the ‘”Fafnir” at the Norviks encampment!

Swaying in the breeze at over 3 meters tall!

Major blow during ground combat!

The Norviks and Saga Viking groups enter for the boat burning ceremony…

…and it was set ablaze!

Beautiful dancers from the Janissary Barracks!

Keep up with the latest! Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram

Visti The Viking

Visti “the Viking” Skaanvad, who has been involved in Viking re-enactment for over 20 years, departed for Valhalla and the higher battlegrounds on 19th of February 2014.

Visti was well-known for his amber and Viking jewellery trading, and for his unique mead making. He started the Viking re-enactment group Saga Vikings in 1995 and in 2012, he donated his Viking ship “Fafnir,” which he had built by hand using traditional Viking tools and methods, to Abbeystowe for all to see during the festival.

Visti truly believed he was a reincarnated Viking from 1000 years ago.  He grew up and played on Lindholm Høje as a child, before the area was excavated in 1952, which later revealed the huge Viking burial site that can be seen today.

In true Viking style and because it was his deepest wish, Visti was cremated with a wooden Viking ship wearing his full Viking outfit of tunic, trousers, jewellery, Viking leather shoes and fur cloak.  In the graveyard of his hometown in Denmark, a runestone stands in his honour, complete with a bronze Viking longship on top.  Visti the Viking will be dearly missed.

“Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal: But the good name never dies of one who has done well.”

Photos courtesy of Visti’s daughter, Penny.

Carlo, Penny, Visti and his grandson

Fafnir in it’s prime

Penny and Carlo with the story of Visti’s creation.

Sailing near Woody Point.

Ready to go in the backyard.

Visti’s family.

Fafnir ready for battle.

Fafnir detail.

The Viking and his creation.

Banners of the Festival: Craft Spotlight

Origin of the Banners

This series of seven banners is based on those of the Assisi festival of Calendimaggio the origins of which are related to the ancient customs of many different European peoples, and especially to the Roman celebrations known as the “Fasti di Maggio”.  The medieval tradition of celebrating the arrival of Spring in early May sees groups of revellers serenading through the streets of their towns. Assisi however has another aspect to its festival, as there is a deep-seeded rivalry between the “Upper” and the “Lower” parts of the city. The feuding began in the 14th century between Nepis and the Fiumi families, who are the respective leaders of each faction.

The Assisi Festival

The city is split in two by this rivalry, the Nobilissima Parte de Sopra and the Magnifica Parte de Sotto, compete with each other for control of the Palio through parades, re-enactments and musical performances, all inspired by medieval life. Each brigata or company of singers, elect a signore and from among all the signori, a King of the festival is chosen. They then elect a “Queen of May” who is born through the streets on a cart festooned with flowers, encircled by young girls waving flowering branches called maggi. Song and music fill the streets and piazzas: madrigals, choral and solo pieces, traditional melodies and improvised ones, every sort of popular song accompanied by violin, mandolin, guitar, and harmonica. Throughout all the events the banners are used as a identification system, as well as a coat of arms for each of the districts, displaying their allegiance to one of the two factions, as well as highlighting where performers are from.

What they Represent

Sestiere is an Italian word derived from sesto, ‘sixth’ – it means ‘one-sixth part’, that is, one of the 6 quarters of Assisi, each sector of the city being divided into 3 rioni (singular, rione) quarters or districts. These sestiere are where the banners of the festival originate from, each representing their respective districts, or in the case of La Magnifica Parte de Sotto, the half of the city controlled by the faction led by the Fiumi family.

Symbolism of the Banners

Assisi of Cal Banners 1

Assisi of Cal Banners1

La Magnifica Parte de Sotto has the Fiumi family arms with its five Crown battlements.

 

 

 

 

 

Assisi of Cal Banners 2Assisi of Cal Banners 2Il Sestiere San Giacoma (St Jacob or James)  The somewhat curious symbolism of the pierced tower has been attributed to the small church San Giacomo de Muro Rupto (St. Jacob of the broken wall) situated some 50 yard or meters south of the San Giacomo gate for which the quarter is named.

 

 

 

 

Assisi of Cal Banners 3Assisi of Cal Banners 3Il Sestiere San Francesco  the main symbol of the shield is not a cross but rather the letter tau, the name of the letter ‘T’ in the Greek, Hebrew, and ancient Semitic alphabets. Various interpretations can be accorded the three blue stars – they may stand for the first three followers of St. Francis.

 

 

 

 

Assisi of Cal Banners 4Assisi of Cal Banners 4Il Sestiere San Pietro – The fisherman’s boat recalls Peter’s occupation of fisherman in Galilee.  The golden keys to the Kingdom of Heaven stand for the power of popes over matters both spiritual and temporal.  The Lorraine Cross was early-on identified with the Patriarchal Cross, and St. Peter is considered the first Patriarch of the Roman Church.

 

 

 

Assisi of Cal Banners 5Assisi of Cal Banners 5Il Sestiere Porta Perlici – Of the six porte, or gates, that allow access through the outermost defensive walls of Assisi, Porta San Perlici watches over the northeastern front. Two major roads form a vague ‘Y’ as they converge onto the gate.

 

 

 

 

Assisi of Cal Banners 6Assisi of Cal Banners 6

Il Sestiere San Rufino – It honors the first bishop of Assisi, Rufino, who was martyred in the 3rd century by being tied with a knotted hemp rope to a millstone and drowned in the nearby river Tescio.  The green fern represents the many pine trees which grace the district.

 

 

 

 

Assisi of Cal Banners 7Assisi of Cal Banners 7 Il Sestiere Porta Moiano – The shield consists of the seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major.  It is also associated with Saint Clare (Santa Chiara in Italian).

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog by Sue Green.

Interested in seeing the banners in person? Be sure to keep an eye out for them at the Abbey Medieval Festival 30th Anniversary Celebration on July 13th and 14th.