Sometimes you just want to escape the go-go rush of modern life, don some leather armour, practice your sword skills and live life like a Norseman. No, we’re not talking about cosplaying Thor at Comic-Con, or being a big fan of Minnesota’s NFL team. These are real deal, animal-pelt wearing, Odin-worshipping, axe-wielding Vikings.
Okay, so maybe the pelts they’re wearing aren’t made from real animals, and the axe they’re swinging around is a blunt prop. But the Viking spirit is there – minus the barbarian pillaging.
Live-action roleplay and historical re-enactment groups aren’t that uncommon, so the fact that there are groups who are specifically dedicated to replicating Viking culture shouldn’t come as a surprise. Over in Scandinavia, the home of the original Vikings, there’s been an uptick of modern day Norse enthusiasts over the the last couple of decades.
Halsingarna, a Viking re-enactment group based in Sweden, have been active for almost thirty years. For the members of this group, being as historically accurate as possible is essential, as they engage in activities like staging mock-battles and recreating Viking markets. Some of these group members even worship the Nordic gods and can trace their heritage to 11th century Norsemen.
According to one of the modern day Vikings, Ola, the whole experience has done wonders for her mental health. “After you spend a whole afternoon running in the forest fighting and screaming, it just feels good when you go back home at night,” she told Huck Magazine.
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While dressing up like a Viking every other weekend is a fun way for some to let off some steam or get some hands on experience with the ways of an ancient culture, for people like Georg Olafr Reydarson Hansen it’s a way of life.
Hansen spent almost two decades to establish a permanent Viking village in Gudvangen, Norway. Named Njardarheimr (it means “the home devoted to Njord, the Norse god of trade”), it finally opened in 2017, and was completely built and styled using traditional Viking methods.
According to Hansen, there’s over 400 Vikings who live in Gudvangen, and none of the people living in Njardarheimr are acting – they all legitimacy live the lifestyle as accurate to the original Viking age as possible. From cooking meals, to making clothing and forging tools, if they couldn’t do it during the Viking Age, then you can forget about it.
Just don’t expect to see anyone running around in horned helmets. Despite everything we’ve seen in movies and cartoons, there’s no evidence that Vikings ever wore them.
Hansen isn’t the only one running a modern day Viking community. In Sweden, there’s a large recreated Viking town, Foteviken. It acts as a living museum, emulating what an actual Viking village would’ve been like, with those staying in the town wearing and using period accurate equipment.
If you’re interested in living that Viking life, but want a more lowkey option, why don’t you jump on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla?
In this latest addition to the long-running Assassin’s Creed franchise, you play as Eivor, a Viking who is on a quest to bring their clan glory and riches by raiding and conquering the strange new lands of ninth-century England. You’ll get to experience the thrills of living like a Viking in 837 AD, without having to leave your couch.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S from November 10.