Hrafnsæti Viking Settlement Project
We are very pleased to introduce you to Hrafn Vaeringi, a local Dark Age historical re-enactment group who are currently hard at work creating a Viking Settlement here at the sanctuary. You can follow the progress of this massive undertaking on their Facebook page and Blog. We are looking forward to bringing you updates in the near future as the village takes shape!
Vikings at an Animal Sanctuary?
Surely a Viking settlement is the last thing you expected to find at an animal sanctuary, and you'd be forgiven for thinking so! Here at Brockswood, we are very passionate about education and as well as our important animal education, we wanted to think outside of the box and do something completely different. So, we are using a small part of our site to take you back in time to the 11th Century to meet the Vikings!
We are still in the building stages of this project, but upon its completion, we plan to use the village as a unique Living History project to engage both children and adults in an immersive learning experience at the sanctuary. We believe that learning can be far better and more enjoyable when it is taken out of the books and brought to life!
The village currently features settler's dwellings, a Blacksmith's forge, and a Pagan shrine - and there's much more to come.
Vikings in the Black Country?
The Vikings' homeland was Scandinavia: modern Norway, Sweden and Denmark. From here they travelled great distances, mainly by sea and river – as far as North America to the west, Russia to the east, Lapland to the north and the Mediterranean World (Constantinople) and Iraq (Baghdad) to the south.
From around 860AD onwards, Vikings stayed, settled and prospered in Britain, becoming part of the mix of people who today make up the British nation - and yes, even here in the West Midlands, recorded as close to us as Wolverhampton: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the Battle of Tettenhall (sometimes called the Battle of Wednesfield or Wodnesfeld) as taking place near Tettenhall, Staffordshire, on 5th August 910 AD. A combined force of Mercians and West Saxons slaughtered a raiding army of Northumbrian Vikings somewhere near Wolverhampton.
We can still see their influence today, including some of our language - Did you know? Many names for days of the week come mainly from Norse gods; Tuesday from Tiw or Týr, Wednesday from Woden (Odin), Thursday from Thor and so on.
Hrafnsæti "Raven's Seat"
While we have carried out a lot of research and tried to keep the village as authentic as possible, using mostly reclaimed and recycled materials, this is a representation of what an 11th century Viking settlement might have looked like given the current knowledge available. We are using the materials that we have available to us and although some of these materials will obviously be different to those used in the period, this is what they would have done; used what was available to them and avoided waste!
Ravens have a deeply important place in Norse mythology. To the Vikings, the image of Odin the “All-Father”, seated on his throne with his ravens, Huginn "thought" and Muninn "memory or mind", upon his shoulder; symbolised his power to see into the future with his mind and thoughts.
As symbols of the battlefield, ravens also represent Odin’s welcoming to Valhalla, where the warriors fallen in battle can enjoy an honourable and happy afterlife. Although you cannot currently see ravens at the village, it is blessed daily with visits from our resident wild crows, their smaller cousins.
Hrafn Vaeringi "warriors from under the sign of a raven" are working hard on building and caring for the "Raven's Seat". This local living history group portrays members of the 11th century Varangian Guard serving the Byzantine Empire. Their main areas of focus are Combat and Living History, promoting the Eastern and Huscarl combat systems in the UK.
Interested in joining? Whether you’d like to help them with the village building, learn the art of combat, or take on new crafts and experience a little history first-hand, they’d love to hear from you! Find them at https://thevarangianguard.com