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 –  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 Déise Medieval and their friends from other countries. From my previous Viking  post you already know about the Vikings and their legacy. Let’s see them in action 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂

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!

A day in the Irish National Heritage Park

The day is long gone – I visited the National Heritage Park in 2017. The park is still there, a few minutes drive from Wexford, and an hour drive from Waterford. If you travel with children this is the best place to have fun and learn about the past. If you have no children, you can do just the same thing. A very informative website and Facebook page  will answer all your questions. In a good weather you can spend there a whole day – I was there about five-six hours.

This magic entrance into The Past greets you with the scary sound effects. You are in the Middle Stone Age, 9000 years ago, surrounded with a swamp and woodland landscape. There are 16 sites altogether, taking you on a long and exciting journey through the Irish history.

This is a dwelling of a stone age hunter and gatherer. Please read the Event page. In the Park you can learn amazing skills, like basket weaving, foraging, wool felting, or building a Stone age house 🙂

These Stone Age thatched huts are a part of the exhibition. They look quite livable.

After another 3000 years the first farmers came to Ireland. They tilled the land, planted crops and kept cattle. They lived in bigger houses. About 70 Neolithic houses are known from Ireland.

The houses were divided into rooms.

This is a replica of a portal tomb.

To build such tomb, huge stones had to be moved to the site from a distance. Some of the stones can weigh many tonnes. This ‘stone’ weighs 2 tonnes. Everyone can have a go pushing it 🙂

There are also the replicas of a Stone circle and Ogham stone in the park.

This is an amazing reconstruction of a 5th century ringfort. More than 40,000 examples of ringforts were recorded in Ireland – both earthen and stone forts. Here is my favorite site for information on prehistoric Ireland.

It took some 400 oak trees to build the fort.

There are three houses in the ringfort, all thatched in different styles using reed or wheat straw.

The next site is a reconstruction of a Christian monastery.

There are more sites – Corn-drying Kiln, Horizontal Water Mill, Cooking Place (Fulacht Fiadh) –  you will have to visit them by yourself – I got a little distracted by birds 🙂

A Robin shows me the way to the crannog – a settlement that is built on top of an artificial island. Crannogs were used in Ireland from the Stone Age to the Middle Age.

On my way to the island I also saw a Dunnock …

… and a Chaffinch.

This is the crannog. The causeway was closed for some reason, and I started walking around the lake. Do you see a boat and a heron on the left from the houses? He is a part of the story I am going to tell.

So, here is that heron. I paid attention because I always pay attention to herons. All of a sudden he darted into the water and came out with something black in his beak.

He took off and headed straight to the crannog. I followed, by foot 😉

When I entered the crannog from the other side, there was no sight of the heron, but I immediately spotted something very strange and big on the ground. It looked like a snake. Slowly I moved closer. Poor creature tried to wriggle away, and looked me straight in the eye ( you can see the enlarged inset). It was a terrified eel, slimy, covered with gravel, the heron’s prey.

I only took one picture, put away my camera and tried to pick him up, but he was incredibly slimy and fell back to the ground. I felt so helpless. I did want to save his life. Somehow I managed to throw him over the palisade and was glad to hear that he hit the water. Hope he stays away from herons 🙂

Moorhen didn’t look interested 🙂

I left the crannog and walked through the tunnel to the next site – Viking Boatyard.

The barrels were used for curing fish with dry salt.

The Vikings came to Ireland 12 centuries ago. They eventually settled and built the first real towns. The first documented history of Dublin begins with the Viking raids, and Viking ports were also established at Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick – which still remain the biggest cities in Ireland.

I sat in the viking long boat and watched the beautiful River Slaney flow towards the Irish Sea.

After resting my legs, I started climbing up the hill – and up the history lane.

When the Normans invited in by Dermot MacMurrough  arrived in 1169, they began building strong castles, often lime-whitened. This reconstructed castle was built beside a real site – a ringwork castle built by Robert Fitzstephen following the Norman capture of the town of Wexford. The original ditch marks the site, and two silver pennies found during the excavations are on display in the Visitor centre.

The tower you see in background is a replica of Irish round tower, built in 1857 as a monument to the Wexford men that lost their lives in the Crimea War.

The tower is overlooking Roche’s Norman Tower House and Ferrycarrig bridge. The view is beautiful, but the chain fence ruins all the photography efforts. Of course there are the ways to remove the obnoxious fence from the pictures. Read Digital Lady Syd’s fantastic blog and you will learn very useful skills.

There is a ‘time capsule’ beneath the foundations of the tower, placed in 1857. It contains coins and newspapers from that time, and the list of those who contributed to the tower’s construction.

Here ends our journey from prehistoric times into the 19th century. Time traveling isn’t that hard, right?  In my next blog post we will mingle with the local Vikings – shop and fight and have fun 🙂

Comments are closed for this post – I won’t be able to reply. Yet I will do my rounds visiting other blogs. Have a wonderful weekend!

Follow the Vikings


Follow The Vikings Roadshow came to Waterford on the Easter weekend. I guess, attendance would be greater if the festival took place on some other weekend, but what to do – even Google never does Easter Doodles  At least we know for sure that the Vikings have been eventually converted 

Follow the Vikings

Familiar streets look different. Amazing actors and dancers from many European countries came to Waterford- or rather Veðrafjǫrðr– to celebrate our viking heritage. Famous for their spectacular performances, the Roadshow will tour another seven viking locations (twelve altogether) in the UK, Spain and Scandinavia.

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings

I only caught a glimpse of the night show, but you can see plenty of images on their website.

Follow the Vikings

Follow the Vikings



Ancient viking civilization made a major impact on European history and culture. Far from being just barbaric raiders, the vikings left the legacy that is still evident today in various parts of the world.

You can learn more about the Viking roadshow here: Check out, may be it is coming to a town near you.

Meanwhile, many other Viking clans came over and camped in Cathedral Square, the heart of The Viking Triangle. Craft making and sale, musical numbers and fights – everything for your entertainment.  You can have many of your viking-related questions answered here.








And this is our own Citric the Viking. Undercover 😉 To see him in his glory, visit the King of The Vikings virtual reality show.


The Viking virtual reality show is my favorite attraction in the city, and #1 ranking by TripAdvisor. They opened last summer and I went there three times. Once you put the headset on, you will find yourself in the middle of the viking invasion, up to your eyes in the water swimming between the burning longboats and under the flying arrows. You will love it.

King of the Vikings virtual reality show website  Booking essential.

As I happened to live in the Viking Triangle and came from the land of viking heritage, everything ‘viking’ captivates me. Including literature. I share a link to Shehanne Moore’s blog, because I absolutely love her book The Viking and The Courtesan (Time Mutant series), and her other books too. Please visit Shehanne’s blog, but watch your feet so that you don’t step on a hamster 😉

Some music from Youtube to complete this post 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

Duke Jacob and the portal


In the centre of Kuldiga town in Latvia, there is a portal with Duke Jacob Kettler stuck inside. On my stay in Latvia in 2013, we went to Kuldiga to attend an annual festival, and it is where I first met the Duke and learned his fascinating story.

Born in 1610 in Kuldiga ( then Goldingen), Jacob was the godson of King James I of England. He studied in Rostock and Leipzig University, traveled Europe and learned many useful skills. In 1642 he became Duke of Courland, and his knowledge and willpower helped him build ‘Curonian Empire’. Manufacturing and international trade bloomed under his rule, and he also started shipbuilding. In 1651 he sent a fleet to build Fort Jacob on the Gambia river in West Africa. In 1654 he conquered Tobago. The colony on Tobago was named Neu Kurland (New Courland) and consisted of 80 families and soldiers.

In the beginning of the 17th century, Australia was discovered and claimed by the Dutch. Duke Jacob decided to colonize Australia, and got a blessing from the Pope Innocent X. Unfortunately the Pope soon died and the new Pope didn’t support that plan.

During the Northern Wars, Duke and his family were taken prisoners by Swedes in 1658. In the next two years his colonies were attacked and taken away, and his fleet destroyed, but after the War ended, Duke Jacob rebuilt the fleet and retook Tobago from the Dutch. He died in 1682, and was remembered as a just ruler who knew Latvian language.

This is the castle guard’s house that was built in 1735 using the rocks from the Duke’s castle that was destroyed by Swedes in 1702.



Beautiful brick bridge across the river Venta was designed by an engineer Friedrich Stapprany and built in 1874.  It is one of the longest and widest brick bridges in Europe, enough for two carriages going in opposite directions to pass each other. A beautiful piece of architecture surrounded by gorgeous scenery.


View from the bridge.


Ventas Rumba, a 2m high and 240-270m long rapid is on the other side of the bridge. I am standing in the place where the Duke’s castle used to be. In his reign, local fishermen placed baskets over the waterfall to catch the migrating vimba fish.  Annual Flying Fish festival takes place in April to celebrate the ancient fishing practice.

PS I didn’t cross the river.


River Aleksupite runs through the old town winding between the walls of the old buildings. There was a special lottery going on at the festival. You could buy a plastic ball with a number, and together with the other participants, toss it in the river. There is a very slim chance that your number wins – only five balls reached the finish line.


After the lottery is over, the famous Aleksupite race starts…


… followed by the carnival. This Bacchus caught my eye 🙂


I was also amused by the Duke and his escort.


Piratenkoor De Stormvogels from The Netherlands gave a fantastic performance.


Some viking stuff for sale.


Visitors and locals enjoying the day.


Viking food cooked in the open air.


I guess you have noticed how tidy is the town during the festival that attracted thousands of visitors. This reflects the local mentality – there are special programs that teach people not to litter, and no one in their right mind would do that. Only a drunk person might drop a cigarette butt, occasionally, because I did see a few cigarette butts on the pavement during my stay. A few. But I have seen many people of all ages and genders who put their tiny ticket in the bin after leaving public transport. I don’t want to tell that all the people of  Latvia are perfect, though 🙂 There are many very aggressive and quite impolite drivers there, but if you decide to visit, you will be very impressed as to the tidiness of this quite poor country, and the resourcefulness and optimism of the people.

Two more blog posts about Latvia to follow.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!