I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

VIKING HIKING I

Introduction

Call it Viking hiking, trekking, bushcraft, foot camping or some other term, it is an activity by living historians acting as experimental archaeologists and involved in recreating the Viking era (roughly 750 to 1100 ce for purposes of this essay)). Their research for historical trekking is accompanied by experimentation in historical situations, using the foods, tools, clothing, weapons and methods accurately recreating those used by the people of the era. The best way to preserve history is to research it, to experiment with recreating the culture and then to share the results of that research and experimentation with others.

Historical trekking is a way for Viking reenactors to learn and to experience first hand what life during the time was like. It is learning what, in the words of Nathan Jefferey, a person of the time “would have worn, used and experienced on their journeys into the woodlands….sometimes it is very hard to experience what they went through but by using what they used and wearing what they wore it is a way we can experience it and basically understand what our ancestors went through on their journeys and their hunts. It involves a lot of research. I suggest that you do research on your own.”

Keep a few things in mind when planning your trek:

• You are doing this for yourself, not to put on a show but to learn and to experience new things.
• Know your terrain! It might well be more exciting to explore and take things as they come, but…
• Realize that you may not know the time…not that you need to know an exact time. Hopefully, you can get an approximate idea of the time from the sun and perhaps from a mini-sundial
• Always consider weight and space when packing. Learn to do more with less!
• Leave no trace, pick up your trash and pick up the trash that others have left behind. Perhaps this is not period, but it shows a respect to the wilds that everyone should have!
• And remember that the lack of spectators is no excuse for shoddy standards and lack of accuracy!

NOTE ON ACCURACY

By accuracy, I am referring to accurate historically impressions in this chapbook. I prefer reenactors to be accurate—within th restrictions of safety. You are trying to re-create ordinary life. You need to have at least two (or possibly three for some societies) precedents for an activity or a piece of equipment. Any exceptions must be approved by your society’s Authenticity Officer and strictly limited.

This may not be your goal. If you have no qualms about wearing spectacles, tennis shoes and a nylon parka while doing your impression, this may not be the chapbook you are looking for!

DO NOT BRING

Tobacco

No!

No tobacco since it was unknown.

They did know about marijuana and apparently used it (see the Oseberg burial, where one woman had a bag of marijuana, perhaps for religious reasons). Do not include it if you are trekking in an area where it is illegal.

Spectacles

No!

No framed eyeglasses of any kind that did not have to be held up to the eye in some manner existed even after the invention of spectacles. There are many conflicting stories about when frames were first invented, but even the earliest was long after the Viking Age.

Spectacles themselves were invented around 1258 (for near-sightedness; various crystals and glass lenses date back to at least the fifth century, but various methods of magnification appear to have existed for a long time). Telescopes were invented in 1608 and although experiments with binoculars started soon after, modern binoculars date only from the middle of the nineteenth century.

No sunglasses (make certain you have a hood).

If you need a corrective lens from time to time, pack a magnifying lens, preferably of a period type. Draw it out only when it is needed.

Flashlights

They probably did not even have candle lanterns.

Matches or Lighters

If you want fire, learn how to produce it using flint and steel.

Paperback Books

See the section below on Writing and Reading to see what is acceptable. Hint: Even Game of Thrones is not!

Videos

No no no!

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