With a membership of over 1000, groups from the south coast of England to Scotland and a rapidly growing overseas membership, The Vikings is the largest and most established Dark Age re-enactment organisation in the United Kingdom. Its website can be found at www.vikingsonline.org.uk.

Originally founded in 1971 as The Norse Film and Pageant Society, The Vikings aims to bring a taste of life in tenth century Britain to modern audiences. The combination of both authenticity and of providing educational entertainment is a fundamental feature of shows put on by the Society, which where possible are based on historical events which occurred in the local area.

The Vikings - Dark Ages Re-enactment Society

The aim of the Society in re-creating battles is to make the combat look exciting and realistic whilst minimising the risk of injuries. An extremely high standard of control and skill is demanded by the Society from all combatants, with formal safety assessments being required of all members wishing to participate in Society battles. These battles are choreographed only to the extent that unit commanders know when and where to lead their warriors, and of course when re-enacting an actual historical battle which side must eventually win. All individual combats are determined purely by the skill and training of the participants. The ability of the warriors and their leaders is then often tested to the limits when the battle is re-fought, after the scripted section, with both sides trying their utmost to win in a completely open ended situation. After the two main sections of a battle, the crowd is invited onto the battlefield to meet and talk to the warriors. This allows the public to see and hold the weapons and equipment of a Dark Ages warrior, and to find out from the people they have just seen fighting more information about the period and its peoples.

The Vikings has also featured in a number of film projects over the years. From being involved in Magnus Magnusson's Vikings! series in the late 1970s, the 1996 filming of the Hollywood movie "Prince Valiant". Smaller productions such as channel 4 documetaries, Nokia adverts, Blue Peter etc. are fairly regular events. This aspect of the Society's activities has remained one of the most entertaining for its members, and shows every indication of remaining so.

The membership of the Society covers a wide spectrum, as do the reasons for joining. Some are drawn by an interest in history in general, and the Dark Ages in particular, some to the craft activities, some to the acting opportunities and others to the idea of fighting safely with weapons of the Viking age. All are equally welcome, although potential warriors must be pre-pared to conform to our rigorous safety standards. The Society has an active interest in researching the Dark Ages, and has produced a number of documents dealing with everyday life, craft and household objects, weapons and even the languages of the period.

Since its foundation nearly forty years ago, the Society has been through many changes, and the rate of change over the past two decades has been tremendous. Standards of authenticity, living history displays and of show presentation have improved constantly, and are now amongst the highest of any re-enactment groups in the country. Shows are organised to give the audience the maximum entertainment, whilst still accurately portraying both the military and domestic aspects of tenth century life. The integration of actors into the show, to provide a rationale for the climactic battle, and more recently the production of a society soundtrack for use as atmospheric music at shows, is part of this consolidation of the "show" into a full-blown spectacle.

The type of presentation put on by The Vikings varies with the needs of the organisation for which we are working, from hour long battle re-enactments to full days spent in museums demonstrating the crafts of the Viking Age. Some of the most effective shows combine the two, with a story unfolding gradually over several hours or days, culminating in a final clash of arms. School visits, where a small group of members will spend a day with a school, are a particularly rewarding activity which the Society is becoming increasingly involved in. To link in with these visits, The Vikings is currently preparing a Teachers Pack which complements the National Curriculum. Performing shows for the public provides the Society with the necessary impetus to continually improve standards of authenticity and entertainment as our audiences become both better informed and more critical.

The Society sees action at a large number of events each year, ranging from local fêtes involving two or three people to large scale re-enactments such as the Battle of Hastings. The Vikings has featured prominently in the English Heritage Special Events Calendar for a number of years. These shows will see the presence of upwards of 200 re-enactors, including archers and cavalry, along with a large living history site.

In addition to work for Heritage organisations, we also stage events for Borough and County Councils, privately run sites and the like. Many of these shows are major events, typically with more than 200 re-enactors being involved. We have staged a number of these over the years, including Amlwch, West Stow, Dublin and The British Museum.

Vikings for all occasions, no battle too big

Manaraefan Herred

Comments on this site should be sent to Roger Barry

Hrothgar playing King Harold recieving blessing before Battle of HastingsArrows raining down on the English shieldwall atBattle of HastingsWarriors kneeling during lull to rest in fighting at Old SarumEnglish shieldwall at Hastings being charged by Norman infantryViking raiders just off their ships advance up beach towards the defenders of the Isle of Mann at PeelNorman knight cutting down and English warrior at Battle of Hastings