Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moesgård Viking Moot

In keeping with our efforts to immerse ourselves in all things Danish, we ventured forth to the Viking Moot, the "oldest and largest Viking Market in Scandinavia" (as described here).

As with Civil War reenactments and Renaissance Festivals in the States, the event is a complete attempt to recapture the days of old: people come wearing Viking garb, carrying period weapons, riding Icelandic ponies.  Suresh and I got to sample several different flavors of Viking mead at one stall, while a whole pig was roasted at another on a spit set up right on the beach.

The event attracts over 800 participants from around the world (in fact, this year there was one brave Viking from Texas). They come, sell their wares, ride their ponies, and compete in the great Viking fight, which is of course the main attraction.

We could tell this event was going to be well-attended due to the relative size of the ice cream stand: This one was about twice the size of a normal one. (Ice cream stands are ubiquitous in Denmark, and they very conveniently mark the spot of a tourist attraction or other crowd generating event. If an attraction is set back from the road and hard to see initially, for example, look for the highly visible ice cream stand. It marks the spot.)

While we waited for the great Viking battle to start, we browsed tents filled with Viking wares: handicrafts made of wool, amber, glass, iron, gold, antlers, horns, and wood.

The boys each made an iron pendant in the form of Thor's Hammer starting with a large nail and proceeding to form it by hammering it with a whole lot of satisfying clanging. I got in on the act by offering to manage the bellows when the Viking on duty left for a break of mead and roasted pig.

The great Viking battle consisted of two sword-and-shield-wielding teams duking it out in front of the thousands gathered.  The weapons were replicas of actual Viking weapons with their tips blunted for safety, and the rules of combat were simple: if you touch your opponent anywhere between the shoulder and the hips with your weapon, (s)he went down, but if you touch your opponent's head with your weapon, you went down.

To be honest, the battle looked quite slow and laborious from the sidelines, with much of the action consisting of one team pushing another back.  "What a mess!" I kept thinking. "What a complete mess!" as people jabbed ineffectually at one another with heavy spears and lumbered about the field, some in metal armor, in the summer heat. It was, however, quite heartening to see that the fallen, once slain, would roll away from the site of the main action so as to not get trampled or hurt in the proceedings.  This resulted in a ring of rolling fallen surrounding the actual battle.  In the end, the Moesgard team managed to drive away the other team and send them running. They were then declared the winners and everyone dusted themselves off and got up from the battlefield.

There was also a "Last Man Standing" event in which Vikings paired off with one another until there was one left.

It was quite an event to attend, thankfully no one hurt themselves, and we all enjoyed it. The boys reported that they liked learning some archery and making Thor's Hammer necklaces the best.

But sometimes, the most wonderful and memorable part of a day is something unplanned, some unexpected surprise or delight that ... just happens.  For Suresh and me, it was the bike ride to the Viking Festival and back that was unforgettable:  It consisted of a shady, tree-lined, dedicated path that wove its way along, first beside the coast of Aarhus Bay, and then through Thorskov and Fløjstrupskov, over narrow wooden bridges and around little ponds, away from any roads. The cool breeze buffeted our faces as we whipped along the curving path, spirits soaring.  There were a few people here and there, but for the most part, we were alone on our bikes in the lush, green forest. It was a magical ride, one that I will always remember.

1 comment:

  1. > it was the bike ride to the Viking Festival and back that was unforgettable

    Ok you can now consider yourself immersed =)