We are an international living history group based in Western North Carolina. We aim at 8th to 11th-century reenactment of the Frontier Outpost / Trading Post model with Viking and Slavic cultures as a primary influence. Forn Borg is the name of our home, Wolin / Truso / Hedeby and Birka are the influences. We welcome Anglo-Saxons, Slavic, Gaelic, Skraeling, Varangian, Muslim, and others who are period correct. Living archeology, historic archery, trades and crafts, warriors, shield maidens, mercenaries, and camp followers are the focus.
Many people feel inspired by TV shows like The Vikings, The Last Kingdom, or the 13th Warrior. Whatever is your driving force to know more about a living history – we were most likely there. Our early fascination with mythology, and archeology, an inclination toward Viking swords or poetic tales, and the rich and mysterious life of the Viking people have made us feel very ‘normantic’. The excitement and beauty of the long-forgotten era steer something familiar within us all.
on the left a “confident-viking-woman-with-sword” – on the right: a real Viking woman.
When we first get involved in the historical reconstruction, the year was 2007, and our first Viking costumes were rather modest if not cheesy. We took our boys, 2 and 5, to Wolin for the famous Viking and Slavic Festival and we have fallen in love with the atmosphere, people, and land. We have returned many times.
While in Europe, we searched for any remaining evidence of what life might have been like in the past, and we appreciated carefully reconstructed replicas of the tools, weapons, garments, and even whole forts and ships. We discovered that the lives of our ancestors were pragmatic, yet filled with symbolism and mystery.
After returning to US, the process of reconstructing the reconstruction movement took a few years to start.
We made friends with a nonprofit reconstruction group- Davidson’s Fort Historic Park, Inc whose focus is Colonial Living History – they graciously opened their doors (and hearts) to our little Viking contingent. They operate at Davidson’s Fort which was built in 1776 by North Carolina Militia soldiers for the defense of settlers against the Cherokees.
On the Vinland side of things, we were joined by Ola and Ryan at first, and then we have been growing too fast to maintain the list here.
Forn Borg is an Old Norse name for our trading post.
WHAT IS LIVING HISTORY & RE-CONSTRUCTION
Living history is an immersion into conditions and environments that the people in the past might have experienced. These conditions include daily duties – like sewing, smelting, beekeeping, dying fabrics, cooking, as well as warfare and ceremonies. We experiment with what we know and ask ourselves a question: what would a Viking do? Given the tools, materials, weather, and social conditions… how would this work or look like?
At the same time, we beg a question: is the lack of evidence the evidence of lack?
After all only one Viking-period helm has been discovered, and there’s no reason to believe that a gambeson – the heavy under armor coat – was popular or even around in the Viking times (it’s Renaissance-y). Yet, it makes no sense for a modern Viking to go into a battle without these life-saving elements of wardrobe. And it would make sense that the people of the past came to a similar conclusion.
So what do we do? We stretch the interpretation of history without losing the context and authenticity.
When we reconstruct, we use the tools and materials available then: iron, brass, copper, linen, hemp, wool (no cotton generally) and even the food we cook is close to the original menu, which means no taters, tomatoes, and corn but lots of root vegetables, processed meat, nuts, berries, cheese (thank gods), milk, honey, and a huge amount of edible plants and herbs. We try to be authentic and expect the same from the group, but we will not punish anybody if your dark age clay cup has a handle (apparently there’s a fierce dispute over such ‘invention’).
It’s awesome to do crazy things with other crazy people – the immersion during a festival and when we get together is really unique.
The highlights of our efforts are many, some include Invitations to trusted Viking Festivals, as well as organizing and hosting our own Festivals and Celebrations. The comradery and friendships that are formed during such events are enduring and unforgettable, and we always learn something new!
Please remember, we are students just like you, we make mistakes, we don’t have all the answers, we break arrows, burn flatbreads, and can’t explain how the Vikings had Bluetooth in the 10th century.
We learn and gather at Old Fort, NC at Davidson’s Fort. The beautiful historic Fort has been home to the Revolutionary War reconstructors, who graciously decided to share their space with the Vikings of Ashegard. Check them out here. They are a great reco group!