Walking into Abbey took my breath away, the smells of the cooking fires, the sight of many happy people and hugeness of the place. It wasn’t only the re-enactment groups that were in costume there as there were many visitors donning frocks with corsets and tights with tunics to embrace the Festival truly. After the Lord-Herald opening the parade of all the groups, I decided to walk around with no plan so I could take in the sights and smells of this place. The things I saw were people living their period, longbows being made from scratch, food being cooked over great fire pits, tents and other structure created from that dim past brought forth to the present time. As I past Viking Saga, they were talking about the hygiene of their period. With herb-infused oil to rub into their hair and beard to using charcoal to clean their teeth; later on, I bought two cookbooks from this group and was explained due to using charcoal and a little sugar in their diet the Vikings teeth were in good nick. Another thing I found out that pine needles have more vitamin c than citrus fruit; amazing!
After looking for my leg of lamb to eat (which I didn’t find but did find a huge pork knuckle!), I came across the first insight into earth’s history relating to my book’s world history; RIFF, Re-enacting Independently For Fun.
They explained something I didn’t think too much about when I created my world, armies. Before this time most troops were conscripted by the King calling his Duke to his vassals leading to the peasantry forced into war with little or no experience. The Swiss change all that with a paid standing army, this cause a very different approach to a defensive war. They invaded time and time again, forcing back their enemies but unlike other European nations of that period, they stopped at their border. Due to the pike, halberd and the emerging early guns. Reflecting on my armies in Favinonia that they would be more like this but as I still have Knights and mounted units it could be in their future heading this way. With guns are just rising in this period, the 15th century would be closer to my evolving country. In the picture shows the armour of this period, and also the weapons. Thank you, RIFF for your explanation as it helps to flesh out my future books.
After listening to this lecture, I moved on to the jousting tournament but was distracted by Prima Sparta and Saga Viking (again) showing their skills. I am still amazed by the skill of these Spanish fencers. Then came the Vikings! Playing a traditional sport which seemed like a mix of hockey and rugby (but a bit more violent). The physicality of this game made me want to jump in and play! Looked like so much fun!
Off to the jousting tournament. Again I had the pleasure of seeing Saga, this time demonstrating the shield wall, the fact that this is still used today by our police. Showed the strength of the shield wall but in time immemorial a ‘berserkr‘ or berserker would after consuming mushrooms and mead would charge and pierce the wall. The man who demonstrated this was a solid man, and the wet smack against the wall of shields, he broke through. Seeing this actions would create fear and then demoralising them.
After watching the fantastic jousting, you blink and will miss it! These pictures are just a small understanding on the adrenaline of this spectacle.
With a suggestion of a friend brought me to the market store MainlyMedieval.com. Here had many books, jewellery and games from this the medieval period. As my interest was to the introduction of guns and how this affected the armies of Europe. I found some treasures within these fantastic and numinous titles; some expanded on what the RIFF group told me while other books took me through the evolution of the cannon and gun.
Still, after all, this I cannot express the joy and excitement I felt in this place. The insight and help all the re-enactment groups did for me and my book, all I can do is thank you. There were much more marvellous things I saw and heard at Abbey, but I could go on forever, and I only spent one day there. What would it be like next year being there for the whole weekend? Fan-bloody-tastic!