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Living History Unveiled: Modern Vikings Embrace Real Steel as Their Passion

Living History Unveiled: Modern Vikings Embrace Real Steel as Their Passion

In our upcoming EcoReporter segment, we will be exploring the modern-day Viking hobby of living history. Derek Bowman, a member of The Skjaldborg, or Shieldwall, a Viking period Living History Group, will be our focus.

Derek’s interest in living history began with a fascination for medieval style combat, inspired by movies like Star Wars, Robin Hood, and Sword in the Stone. He attended the Sleepy Hollow Renaissance Fair, hoping to witness thrilling sword fights on the ground. However, he was disappointed to find that the knights only jousted. It was during this fair that Derek met Sam Shoults, who had visited Elk Horn with his Viking ship, the Yrsa. Intrigued by the Viking culture, Derek asked Shoults where he could join a group and “do Viking stuff.” Shoults directed him to a group further down in the fair.

Derek joined The Skjaldborg while they were doing a combat demonstration. The experience of watching a swordsman cut the tip off of a spear, which flew into the crowd, ignited Derek’s passion for living history. He knew that this was what he wanted to do. He has been with The Skjaldborg for 17 years, and the group itself will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year.

The Skjaldborg is a diverse group comprised of individuals, other groups, and individual members of other groups. They have no politics, power struggles, or hierarchy. Instead, they come together to learn from one another, share their interests at public events, and explore aspects of living history, Norse culture, and Viking weapons and warfare.

During their visit to Elk Horn, The Skjaldborg worked on the Viking Hjem, the Viking house at the Danish Windmill. They dressed in clothing from the Viking era and engaged in activities like sewing clothing and forging hinges. They also demonstrated “live, steel combat,” using weapons made of metal with dulled or abated edges. While this type of combat carries risks, Derek assured that their group has had fewer than 10 injuries over many years, compared to another gathering in Ohio that reported five injuries in five events.

Members of The Skjaldborg choose a culture and social status, ranging from peasant farmers to craftsmen or even lower levels of royalty. They strive to accurately portray individuals from the Viking era, creating characters and immersing themselves in the culture.

In our upcoming segment, we will delve deeper into the world of living history and explore the passion and dedication of Derek and The Skjaldborg in preserving and sharing Viking culture. Stay tuned for an enlightening and engaging commentary on this unique hobby.

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