Vikings at Sherwood Pines 2019

This past weekend saw Viking reenactors from Regia Anglorum groups across the country gather at a place known as Thynghowe in Sherwood Pine Forest Park for the annual event known as ‘The Spring Thing’.

At 3,300 acres, Sherwood Pines is the largest park in the East Midlands of England. Lying close to the historic village of Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire, it is a part of the ancient Sherwood Forest and was originally known as Clipstone Heath. It was acquired by the Forestry Commission in 1925 and replanted with pine trees as part of a response to a shortage of wood following the First World War. Today, activities are offered throughout the year, including cycling, mountain biking and segway, camping, walking, jogging, a park run, orienteering and bushcraft, a children’s adventure trail, tree climbing and ranger activities. There is also a Robin Hood hideout and Kitchener’s Trail, a café and visitor centre, and the site is perfect for a family day out – even when no event is scheduled (which in addition to the Viking Spring Thing, include various concerts and musical events as well as outdoor activities).

So, why is this spot in Sherwood Pines a perfect site for Viking gatherings and reenactments every year, and what is Thynghowe?

Thynghowe, meaning ‘thingsite’, is the name given to an important Viking Age open-air assembly place situated at the top of Hangar Hill on the western edge of Sherwood Forest, so is very close to the site where this event is held. It was (re)discovered in 2005. Vikings met at such sites for their annual ‘Thyng’ – which generally lasted for several days – during which time disputes were settled, laws were signed, punishments for crimes decided upon, marriages arranged and such like. Each community had its own Thyng/Thing/Althing, most likely dominated by a local, powerful family or families. Thyngs were often festive affairs, with tents, stalls/booths set up so goods could be bought and sold, including plenty of ale and mead.

Several such sites are known across the Viking world, including the famous Thingvellir in Iceland and Tinwald in the Isle of Man, both of which I’ve visited, plus others in the Faroe Islands, the Shetland and Orkney islands, the Scottish Highlands (Dingwall), the Wirral in England… In other words, wherever Vikings chose to settle.

The gathering at Thynghowe was an equally festive affair, with lots of tents and stalls set up to demonstrate the Viking way of life, including cooking methods and a number of important occupations and crafts. These are a selection of photos we took around the camp as we walked round:

Here is a very short video we made of the wood turner, who was making spokes for cartwheels, while the stall next door made the actual wheels.

The stall holders/reenactors were only too happy to answer questions and chat in general. The happy-looking man in the picture below spent some time explaining not only about how Viking shields were made, but about the fabulous reenactment goup, Regia Anglorum.

This delightful, hard-working lady below also deserves our thanks for taking the time to explain and demonstrate how she was creating bast from lime wood for use in rope making. Rope made from lime bast fibre was not only important for many things around the village, but the fact that it didn’t shrink when wet (unlike rope made from hemp) made it perfect for use in the building of ships. In the photos she is stripping the bark off lime tree trunks to obtain the strands of fibre behind. After a good soaking in water, the bast is rendered soft enough to twist and plait together to make rope.

And this Viking warrior was obviously having a bad hair day. His hairdresser/friend was giving his hair a good comb, while he complained about his unruly, frizzy hair. Oh, the vanity of men! Naturally, I just had to have a feel of such frizz.

In the morning we were treated to preparatory bouts and skirmishes before the big battle planned for the afternoon. The commentary was excellent throughout, with explanations of the moves and battle tactics of the warriors, weapon use and so on. In the afternoon, there were three arena events to watch. The first was a demonstration of horsemanship.

The second an archery competition and finally, the actual battle.

To finish off, here’s a cute mini-warrior who made me smile:

*****

24 thoughts on “Vikings at Sherwood Pines 2019

    1. I would love to have dressed up as a Viking, Peter, but I’m not a member of Regia Anglorum. It was a great event and the reenactors were so nice to talk to. It’s amazing how much history can be learnt at living history events like this. Thank you so much for visiting my blog after my long absence!

    1. Hi Jill, and thank you for visiting! Stories about Braveheart were set a few hundred years after the events staged here in 865, but I understand the similarities drawn between oppressor and oppressed. What a great film that was! This event was a fabulous way to see history played out before our eyes and I was delighted to see so many children of the reenactors taking part.
      The photos are are combination of my husband’s, one of our daughters and mine, so (as the worst photographer of the trio) I can’t claim all the credit. 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Shivangi. It was a lovely day out, with so many families enjoying the fun. I also learned a lot about a number of crafts and the battle scenes were excellent. I hope all is well with you and your family and you are still enjoying your writing. ❤

    2. Thank you, Shivangi. I can’t get enough of re-enactments. The members/re-enactors are so skilled at what they do, and I always learn a lot from events like this. The Viking lady making the rope was especially good! 😀

  1. This is wonderful, Millie! And how are you, anyway? I featured Sherwood Forest and Major Oak (as you would) when going in Search of Robin Hood, but haven’t heard of Sherwood Pines – presumably not far from the visitor centre? – and was only vaguely aware of what a thynghowe was. Love the shots – and it looks like you had a fabulous time.

    1. Hi Mike. Thanks for liking my post – the first one I’ve done since December. Life continues to be hectic and the family takes up a lot of my time. I’m keeping relatively well, thank you, and hope you are, too. Sherwood Pines is set within Sherwood Forest, but you need to drive a little further on than the main Sherwood Forest visitor centre. A sat nav will take you there. It was an area that had become run down, little more than shrubland and riddled with rabbit warrens when the Forestry Commission acquired it after WW1. (No idea what happened to all the bunnies! A certain film comes to mind here, but I hope that wasn’t the case.) The discovery of the thynghowe really put this site on the map and the yearly reenactments are excellent. We’ve been to two now, and will probably go again next year. It’s a good day out, especially on a lovely, sunny day.

  2. What a fabulous day! I love all the demonstrations, and seeing the tents and garb and crafts. Thank you for sharing so many pictures — I almost feel like I was there! I labored over the photos of the wood turner though — I know that’s a lathe, and that he’s turning it around and back with the pedal at his foot, but I can’t quite make out what he’s turning. Obviously I will have to go myself next time, ha ha! I was especially fascinated by the idea of making rope from the bark of lime trees. Interesting! Added that to my files. I know that early American pioneers made rope from bark (presumably learned from Native Americans, although I haven’t researched that part yet), but I’ve never run across examples from Europe. And I hadn’t realized that rope made from bark doesn’t shrink like hemp rope, so that’s my important thing to have learned for the day!

    1. Thank you for the great comment, Joy – which is probably more than I deserve after the length of time I’ve neglected my blog. The wood turner was interesting, and since your comment here, I’ve added a couple of videos to the post which we recorded on the day. One is a very brief look at the wood turner in action. He was making spokes for cartwheels while the stall next door made the outer wheels (last pic in the gallery above the video).
      How interesting that the early American pioneers made rope from bark. I’d love to know whether that skill was learned from the Native Americans or brought with them from Europe (or a bit of both) so if you find out during your research, please let me know. Hemp seemed to be the favoured material for rope making over here by that time and, who knows, the skill of making rope from wood bark could well have been lost by then.
      I forgot to mention in the post, that although rope made from bast didn’t shrink, it wasn’t as long-lasting as hemp rope and broke much more easily. But – as the lady rope maker explained – the crew of Viking ships would have had many hours with nothing to do when the wind was in their sails, so they would sit at their oar ports twisting the bark fibre into rope.
      I hope both work and writing are going well for you, Joy. I try to keep up with your Goodreads reviews, but fail miserably in that, too. Health issues (of family members as well as myself) combined with trying to write my fifth book take up a lot of my time, and often social media gets overlooked, but I intend to visit your blog in the next day or two.

      1. I understand being busy, believe me! If you do get a chance to visit my blog in the near future, you’ll see that I’ve been horribly neglecting mine as well. Writing has been barely going at all for me, much less going well, I’m sad to say. I have been snowed under at work pretty much nonstop since New Year’s and am just barely starting to dig myself out. At least I am once again having *ideas* for stories and jotting them down. That feels good, to have my head in the game again.

        Sorry to hear that you’ve been dealing with health problems, and I hope that you and your family are doing better now.

        Thanks for posting the video of the wood turner: that definitely helps clarify what he’s doing.

        Three cheers for my world building notes system, as I was able to quickly find where I’d heard about making rope — or rather “cordage” — from bark. See this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBj3zWf_AkQ It’s from a great series that I love, the Townsends, although their historical period is a bit advanced for my world. In the video, they clarify that making cordage from bark is a “survival” method, something you’d use in a pinch rather than something you’d prefer over hemp rope.

  3. That looks like a lot of fun! I smiled at the sign directing people to the Vikings – in the olden days it would have been more of a warning I expect 🙂

      1. Danke für deine Ermutigung – tut immer wieder gut!
        Ich freue mich, dich hier zu haben.

  4. I’ve recently watched The Last Kingdom on Netflix I really enjoyed it, I’d loved to have seen this re-enactment I always enjoyed trips to Warwick Castle and their history re-enactments, I read that Vikings such as Rolo in the series were the ancestors of the Royal family, he was the Gt Grandfather of William the Conqueror. Anyway I hope you’re well and enjoying the start of summer, it was very warm and sunny in Glasgow today.

  5. So wonderful to see you back, Millie! Thank you for sharing another fantastic event. How is your summer going? Any trips to Ireland on your list?
    Sending my best wishes xx

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