Steel, crafts and history

Aaron Beswick
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Viking Festival attracts re-enactors from across Canada

Is survival enough?

Not for Freydis, nor for Jobjorn.

Freydis demanded to live in comfort and dignity. Jobjorn wanted those things, too.

But a millennia ago, comfort was hard to come by and in a callous Nordic world without central heating, dignity was synonymous with wealth for Vikings of the old world. Jobjorn, however, was a man of the new faith — Christianity — and his God declared that dignity meant leading a moral life.

Freydis and Jobjorn laid it bare for visitors to the annual Viking Festival. From the shadows of the longhouse at the Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade, modern men and women drank honey mead and weighed the opposing views offered in this interpretation of Vinland’s bloodiest “Saga.”

The play runs all summer (Sunday and Thursday at 8 p.m.) at Norstead, so we won’t ruin the ending.

The festival was more than theatre.

"Norstead is a jewel and this festival, with time, could become a huge draw for the entire area." Viking festival co-ordinator Dale Colbourne

There were actual Vikings … sort of … lessons in their ancient crafts, feasting, two battles a day and games.

“We’re trying to create a world-class festival,” explained co-ordinator Dale Colbourne. “Norstead is a jewel and this festival, with time, could become a huge draw for the entire area.”

Three hordes of Vikings decended on Norstead for the festival: Regia Anglorum, the Vinland Vikings and L’Equipage, with many living on site throughout the festival.

“For us it’s like a pilgrimage,” explained Snorri (a re-enactor from Ontario), waving a large drinking horn of mead. “We spend a lot of time studying, practising their crafts and life skills. But to have the opportunity to actually live the way they did and do it in our own country is a great honour.”

Organizations: Nordic

Geographic location: Canada, Norstead Viking Village, Port of Trade Ontario

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