Viking Heritage Day at Woodstown

This “fierce viking face” is here for reference only. No photographer was harmed in the making of this picture.

In fact, the day in Woodstown was very pleasant and fun.


Waterford city was established by Vikings in 914, but a separate party of Norsemen settled 9 km upstream and built a longphoirt – Irish word for a ship harbour –Β  in the middle of the 9th century. During the testing related to the construction of the N 25 bypass in 2003, two lead weights were discovered which was the beginning of archaeological excavations at Woodstown that uncovered an early Viking settlement on the bank of River Suir. The bypass was amended and re-routed following the discovery. Woodstown Viking settlement was declared a national monument.

You can admire the archaeological discoveries from the dig on display in the Reginald Tower in Waterford city.

Take these steps to the second floor that is dedicated to the Woodstown Viking settlement finds.

Among many other finds, over 200 weights were found in Woodstown, which indicates that it was a trade centre where merchants and craftsmen could trade for goods or slaves. They used coins too, but by their weight in silver rather than their denomination. There were many centres like this established by Vikings. Some of them made new cities – Dublin, York, Novgorod. Woodstown Viking settlement didn’t continue into a bigger city and lasted not more than 100 years.

When I arrived in Woodstown, I met James Eogan, Senior archaeologist at Transport Infrastructure Ireland, executive editor of the book Woodstown: A Viking Age Settlement in County Waterford. I joined his guided walk which was a great success.

Mr. Eogan took us to the site – or rather to the part of the Greenway where the site is situated behind the fencing. The site has only been partially excavated (5%), but digging will continue if funded. From archaeological evidence it is clear that Woodstown settlement was a Viking trading centre and a home to craftsmen and their families, but its location was not practical for Viking needs. We learned about the site map, defense trenches, discovery of the stand alone burial site, and many more interesting facts and theories about this unique place.

The site is not accessible to the public yet, but hopefully some information boards will be installed along the Greenway.

The Woodstown book has a fantastic free audio guide that can be found on this page or, hopefully, accessed through this embedded link:

Today I am sharing some Viking pictures of our own very talented Vikings from DΓ©ise Medieval and their friends from other countries. From my previous VikingΒ  post you already know about the Vikings and their legacy. Let’s see them in action πŸ™‚

I was fascinated with the work of this beautiful weaver. We used to make a very simplified form of bookmark in Primary, and I still remember the joy πŸ™‚

A charming Viking lady has a terracotta horseman that catches my eye.

A Byzantine physician (my guess) is offering potions and spices.

Another fascinating stand – Viking cutlery and all sorts of knives (The Catfire Forge)

Endless choice of pendants and a beautiful merchant – alone and deep in thoughts.

This lovely lady has a collection of Viking weaponry for sale.

She explains the great qualities of the battleaxe to her customer, and even shows where to aim πŸ™‚ The other Vikings are hanging around, just in case. Safety first.

Day to day life in a Viking camp looks relaxing and wholesome.

And this is no doubt my favorite picture πŸ™‚

Speaking about love. John of Wallingford, a Benedictine monk, complained about the Vikings and their ways to lure the local ladies from the straight and narrow. It came out that the invaders were a big hit with the local women because ‘they combed their hair every day, bathed every Saturday and had many frivolous devices about their person’.

Walking around the camp I take a few candid pictures of the Viking warriors. There is a battle between two Viking clans scheduled today.

Let’s the fight begin.

I am rooting for the redhead Viking lady.

No luck this time.

“Call upon the dead to rise! ”

And another fight begins. Then another.

The winners cannot hide their excitement.

Finally the war is over.

Thank you for reading about Irish history and camping with Vikings. Check your DNA – you might be surprised.

Have a wonderful weekend!

124 comments

  1. I’ve always loved the Viking part of history and also would have loved to have been an archaeologist if I’d been clever enough at the necessary subjects to study it to a higher level! I used to construct “digs” of my own as a child. All those “Vikings” at the festival have really fascinating and characterful faces. I very much enjoyed your post, Inese πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! You would be a good archaeologist with your great attention to detail. You never know, sometimes people find amazing stuff only because they are observant πŸ™‚

  2. Fabulous images and information, Inese. I hope they continue with the digging. It’s so good to be able to bring history to life. And I can see where the attraction was for the local ladies… πŸ˜‰

  3. Great post – when we lived in England we overlooked a river called The Dane at Congleton in Cheshire, and we were told that this area was as far as the Danes reached – we lived there (1970’s) when the town celebrated their 700th anniversary, so of course the Queen paid us a visit :- o)

      1. I think they were stopped at the river, but I do know that they reached parts of the Wirral (I was born in Birlkenhead) as some of the names in the area have links to the Vikings.

        1. Vikings were excellent navigators and warriors. They have built great cities. Isn’t it amazing that the names they gave to the places in your area have been preserved for centuries.

          1. My wife & I have been away for a few days so just catching up on e-mails etc If you are interested in old links from the Danes to present day have a look at this link, which shows links for many places on the Wirral ,which are linked to old Viking names from when they lived in the area. I was born in Lr Tranmere, but not of viking stock, (I don’t think so), my mother was Welsh & Dad was English . . . .

            http://www.cheshiretrove.com/current/history/vikings/index.html#Vikings%20in%20the%20Wirral

            1. Thank you so much for the link! No way I would find it myself. Amazing the way the names were given. Saved the link for the future use as I am going to write about our Viking heritage in August. Thank you again!

  4. I can nearly see the table we had our anniversary dinner at, across from the Reginald Tower. We were wondering what was inside the tower. Mystery solved.

    I wonder how they decide who lives and dies in your Viking “battles”?

  5. A wonderful post Inese. I’d seen previous Viking posts of yours but it had not clicked.
    I hadn’t realized Vikings had gone to Ireland too. In my mind they’d landed on Eastern Britain and received Normandy of course, but not Ireland. Silly me. (They did go all the way to Sicily…)
    How have you been?

    1. Yes, Brian, they have traveled quite far. Actually the word ‘Russia’ derived from a Greek word for the Vikings – ‘Ros’ or ‘Rus’. Kievan Rus was half-Viking and had little to do with Russia which wasn’t even a word at that time. Byzantine Empire got their share of grief from the Vikings too, after interrupting their trade route by constructing Sarkel πŸ™‚

      1. Well, well. Only Europeans can have so much knowledge of History. πŸ™‚ I didn’t know about the name “Rus”. Russia was actually “founded” in Kiev wasn’t it?

        1. Well, it was not technically, Russia. I would say, the origins of modern Russia can be found in Moscow rather than Kiev. Even when the first czar, Ivan the Terrible, reigned in the 17th century, Kiev was not a part of Muscovy.

  6. Inese, a fascinating and comprehensive post all about the Vikings in Ireland. I first learnt a bit about this from a customer in Ireland but you’ve shared so much about their lives there! I had to laugh at how popular the men where since the combed their hair and bathed! Your pictures of the Viking event tell a lovely story of their lives and ends with the colourful battle and romance! As for Woodstown how fortuitous that this was found intimate to be saved and you were lucky to get a tour by James Eogan. A great post and photos – a joy to read!

    1. Thank you so much, Annika! Woodstown site was a great discovery. Unfortunately, due to the properties of the soil, very little organic evidence (bones, leather) were preserved, but still many questions were answered, including the misconception of grisly barbarians. The remains of several combs and other personal grooming devices were found in Woodstown πŸ™‚

      1. A few years ago I visited the Viking Ship, Museum in Oslo and it was extraordinary. The ships themselves awesome and in fantastic condition and the goods on board were of the highest artistry and beauty, it was a revelation … definitely no grisly barbarians!

  7. According to the naming experts, my ancestors on my surname side arrived in Eire with the Vikings, moved back and forth between South Western Ireland and North East England before establishing themselves to transplant the Irish in Ulster ( and then emigrating to Canada). It amazes me how much travelling people did way back then.

  8. Camping with Vikings was quite an adventure! You do a wonderful job photographing people. I don’t think I can claim Viking roots but I am sure there is Irish blood on Husband’s side. Excellent post!

  9. I’ve decided that I’m part Viking. I have little actual evidence, except that my mother’s maiden name indicated that her ancestors came from Normandy and the name was associated with Norse invaders. I’ve always thought I’d have made a great shield maiden. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos. I’d love to visit this place some day.

    1. I will write more about Deise Medieval in August or September. You might try some Viking craft and see if your genetic memory kicks in πŸ™‚ The Vikings were not more barbaric than anyone else at that era I reckon.
      My father’s family name means ‘a flat-bottomed boat’ in German. I too have a little hope πŸ˜‰

          1. A woman I know recently received her DNA test results. They said she was 75% Irish. But everyone I know who has had the testing done seems to be 75% Irish. Either the Irish really have excelled at populating the gene pool or I need a broader circle of friends.

            1. Haha, you need Viking friends πŸ™‚
              My daughter and I got different results, but it is sort of ok, since it depends on the set of genes you got. And as far as I know they only test by Y chromosome.

            2. My daughter got one of the tests for Christmas but hasn’t said what she discovered. I’m afraid to ask in case I discover we have NO Viking genes. 😊

  10. It’s very interesting to see how people lived back in the olden days. I wonder if, in a thousand years, there will be similar festivals where people are showing what life was like back in 2019 πŸ™‚

  11. Fascinated by the history of Vikings. It was a simple life without computers and cell phones. Unfortuantely, war was there historically as it is today. Another interesting post Ineses as always.

    1. You are so right about war, Joseph. Humans cannot enjoy what they already have. Norse folks were smart though. They knew when to stop raiding and start trading πŸ™‚

  12. Loved the history lesson and the great photos – I do not know much about the Vikings. The photos reminded me of a cross between our Native American Festivals and our Civil War enactments. Would love to see it!

  13. Loved reading and virtually travelling through Ireland from your posts. Ireland is a long way from here and I’d like to visit someday. Until then, your pictures and stories will transport into another world. I would have saved the eel (earlier post) too. πŸ™‚ In the animal documentaries, I wondered why the filmmakers didn’t save the prey from the predator. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for joining my simple adventures πŸ™‚ I have been thinking of the filmmakers too, but decided that it is probably ethical towards the Nature, but sure it is distressing and frustrating for the viewer. If the heron was around, I wouldn’t take away his prey. The thing is that I was not sure he even remembered where exactly he dropped his eel. It took me some 5 minutes to get to the crannagh, and the eel was still alive by that time, and the heron was nowhere to be found. To leave the eel to die would be a waste of life πŸ™‚

  14. Ah – you’ve done it again! Taken me away from my everyday humdrum to a magical place – but this time I’ve been transported back in time. Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you for camping with the Vikings, Diana! πŸ™‚ They fought very skillfully. It was the most well-organized fight I have ever witnessed. The dead didn’t protest or fight back πŸ™‚

  15. This is the first time I’ve ever heard that the Viking combed their hair and took a weekly bath! One generally hears more about their raping and pillaging!

  16. You certainly have the gift, Inese. You never…not even just the once…deliver up anything other than a post worth opening and in the certain knowledge that I will be learning something new and a guarantee that I shall enjoy immensely.

  17. What a fun and wonderful post, Inese! Just love your photos, you’ve captured such beautiful portraits and the fighting scenes are awsome too! I’ve been on quite a lot of medieval festivals, even took part in one selling bread, but never a Viking festival. Would really love to visit one of these. 😊
    I had to laugh when I read about that Benedictine monk complaining – honestly, what did he care? Shouldn’t he look away when women are in sight ? They might tempt him with their devilish ways of seduction. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
    Have a lovely weekend! xxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Thank you Sarah! I have never taken part in such a festival. I would love it!
      Instead of complaining, the monk should have started an education campaign to teach the local men about the importance of hygiene πŸ™‚

  18. Hmm, I am curious about this “It came out that the invaders were a big hit with the local women because β€˜they combed their hair every day, bathed every Saturday”.. What were the local did not do that was less desirable by the local ladies ? πŸ™‚

    Lovely post.. there is a tiny bit of romantic scene and exciting fighting scenes. The ladies were so brave and fought along too.

    1. Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚ Yeah, the history tells the truth – Europe was quite a dirty place in the middle ages – it is why the Black Death had spread like a wildfire. A tidy guy still looks more attractive than the opposite, even these days. Nothing changed πŸ™‚

  19. There are some seriously great photographs. You’ve captured the mood and the action in one hit on each shot. The lady Viking wearing glasses made me laugh. I had to think why then realized it was that she wore glasses dressed as a Viking ~ George

    1. There is a real forest in Killarney. Really real πŸ™‚ Then there are wooden areas around the country, some of them quite massive. You can check the google map. Some woods have trails. In County Waterford it would be Colligan, Glenshelane, Crough Woods. They are beautiful.

      1. Thank You for your kind reply, after I sent this post I felt quite stupid, but although I’m British I have always thought of Ireland as being fields, which is also cool, but I do love woodlands.

  20. What a wonderful post. Great photography too. I’ve been thinking about checking my DNA as there are some interesting facts to find from it. I’d love to think there were Vikings involved too. πŸ™‚

          1. Thank you, Rosaliene. It was up and running. I wonder if you need to refresh your browser? Thanks for letting me know, I appreciate it and will check it out again.

Leave a Reply to thespiritkeeper Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.