This past Friday, I loaded up the car with my Viking chest and food and wool blankets and sewing stuff and Icelandic wool and my spinning basket and lots of weird shoes and a giant wooden bowl and apple cider and Dr. Pepper and a couple energy drinks and my friend Jessica and her bags and we went on a 6-hour drive to Knox City, Missouri and Ravensborg Viking Longphort. (I thought it was a longfort, or a fortress, but nope, everyone is saying longphort this year. It’s the cool thing to do.) There were a lot of people there this year, but not as many as there have been other years. I guess the high price of gas is getting to everyone. I mean, really, only four people from all of Skjaldborg came. Still, I can’t complain with 26-ish people.
Friday evening, we settled in and got our sleeping area set up, and met some new people and caught up with old friends. Jessica was dead tired, having just gotten done working a temp job that also happened to be night shift, but I stayed up late, finishing a few sewing projects by candlelight.
The next morning, we got up fairly early to clean up the longhouse before the public started arriving to see the phort and the displays (us). There was a Viking craft contest, and I entered several things– John’s caftan, a pair of hand-woven legbands, a piece of tablet-woven trim, my new apron dress, and the Viking belt pouch and belt I made a couple falls ago. I also collaborated with John and Chris for the new Skjaldborg Boar Banner. I made the windsock part, out of red silk. The local art teacher judged all the entries, but we had no idea who won anything until the feast that night. (More on that later.)
So Jessica and I sat and wove and spun for a while, then we heard the men were going to fight. No sooner did we get over there and find a good spot to sit and watch, then they all clamored for us to join them. So we changed into our fighting clothes, and joined the fray!
Yes, Jessica has a lavender tunic. Also, yes, I haven’t yet put on my legbands in this picture. Shush. I realize that.
Jessica may possibly be the most amusing fighter I have yet seen. She swings wildly, with a saex too heavy for her, hardly able to lift a shield, and shrieks and giggles and jumps away from her opponents the entire time she fights. The crowd loves her! I think a lot of the people watching sympathize with her in a way that they can’t with the expert warriors like John and Chris. Jessica is an inexpert warrior, doing the best she can, and having a fun time with it. They can put themselves in her shoes more easily than they can do so with John or Chris. (Who are awesome.)
For the shield walls, we split up mostly into those wearing mail and those not. Those of us without mail outnumbered those with, but we still lost a LOT.
The rest of the afternoon, I changed back into proper women’s clothes and worked alternately on my tablet weaving and spinning, since all my sewing was done.
After a while, I asked Philip Patton, a phenomenal photographer with an awesome camera if I could get him to take some pictures of me in my Viking clothes, since, well, I don’t have any good recent pictures of my kit, due to a poor camera, poor camera people, and usually running my camera myself. He was happy to oblige (or at least I hope he was) and I finally got some wonderful shots for my portfolio!
I made a new dress. The underdress is white linen. I plan to pleat it finely in the next few weeks. The overdress is silk, and the apron dress is fine wool, edged with tablet weaving. After all this time making good clothes for others, I finally have good clothing for myself!
After photos, we had the feast! We ate lots and lots of food, including the photogenic greens, and had an all-around good time which included folk dances and trophies. (!) Skjaldborg cleaned up the trophies, with Jessica, yes, Jessica, winning Best Warrior Showmanship, Chris winning Viking Craftsmanship for Category A (items completely from scratch), and I won Viking Craftsmanship for Category B, which was for items with some element not made by oneself. My Viking Belt Pouch won. Not surprised, actually. It’s a good pouch.
I won a trophy!
It was a wonderful weekend, but it was over far too quickly. The next morning, I got up with a couple of the others far too early and just sat by the fire, warming my feet and wishing the weekend would go on forever. But life is life, and time keeps moving, so all too soon I had to rouse Jessica from the bed and pack up our belongings and leave. My bedroom smells like woodsmoke, and heaven only knows I do sleep better in my own bed, but there is such a sense of peace at Ravensborg, away from the modern world. . . Maybe heaven will be like that. A good feast with friends, but without the sad morning afterwards, knowing you have to leave again now for a few months.
It was wonderful to see everyone, and I can’t wait til Tivoli!