Living in the Dark Ages

The Spears are a Herred of The Vikings – the oldest and largest Dark Age re-enactment society in the UK, and probably the world.
With around 1500 members throughout Britain, and others in Europe and the US, The Vikings are the premier society presenting re-enactments of the Viking Age. Our aim is to provide an accurate and educational portrayal of the Viking age, in what was a formative period in European history.
We aim to bring to life the many varied aspects of the culture, society and history of the Viking era: sailing, living history encampments, crafts like forging, cooking, dyeing and rope-making, survival skills such as fire lighting, hunting and navigation, and of course martial skills, be it sword, spear or bow. Learning about these disciplines enables us to learn about life as a Viking and you might learn something valuable about yourself too on that journey.

Sailing in the Age of Sagas

Sailing was a hugely  important part of Viking life and  their shipbuilding, ship design and navigational skills would only be equalled during the great in the ‘Age of Sail’ some 10 centuries later.
Viking Longships represented the pinacle of shipbuilding design up until this point in history. Sleek and sturdy,  Viking explorers, traders and raiders acomplished great feats of maritime exploration. The longship’s low draft allowed them to navigate very shallow waters and  traverse waterways that would have been otherwise inaccessable to larger vessals of this period. They were also light enough that they could be dragged up onto the beach when raiding or transported over land on rollers.

Saling A Viking Longship

We would not be very successful Vikings if we did not know how to sail. Every two years we like to team up with the Vikings Sailing Guild, Roskilde museum and the Helge Ask guild to take a reconstruction of Skuldelev 5, out of Roskilde harbour. Here we are out on the waters of the fjord.  
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Crafts in the Viking Age

Rediscovering the skills, crafts and lifestyle which lay at the heart of dark age society is all part of the fun of re-enactment. Across the society  you will find people keeping alive many ancient skills including; tablet weaving, leather working, dyeing, smithying, carpentry, cooking and so much more. Living history is all about getting your hands dirty and immersing yourself in the rich heritage and skills of this fascinating culture. Of course – if weaving yoghurt isn’t your thing – just grab an axe and go hit someone instead.

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Ceremonies and Sagas

Viking religion and mythology, stories of the Gods and sagas that tell of valiant deeds in battle are an integral part of Viking society. We try to bring some of these to life in our encampment and around the fireside to give us a real feel for the culture and the period.
Family is at the centre of Viking society and so when new life comes into the world it is important that the young are given their place in the family and tribe and that such news is announced the gods. The honour of conducting such a ceremony often falls to the Jarl, guided by the Godi and Runecaster, but all of the clan takes part in welcoming those to the tribe. Here is the naming of a young warrior, overseen by two of our Valkyries – one bringing salt, the other mead. Oaths were made before the gods and it closed with the Herred shouting the young warrior’s name.