Háleyg Winter Moot

This weekend we drove 48 miles. Twice. Trailing along the coast, through dales and over hills … into the mountains of the next county, doubling back into our own for thus are the roads laid out in this land, and then leaving the county a second time. We drove through alternating sunshine and overcast skies, laboured through a blizzard, braved slushy slippery roads, fighting with unconsiderate semi trailer bullies for our space on the road. We managed the horror of an exploding tyre inside a mountain tunnell and the momentary fright of being stuck on the road more than 200 kilometers from home.

And we’d repeat the madness in the blink of an eye.

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The longhouse at Borg, Bøstad, Lofoten in Norway. Photo Anne R.Fause, Straumeyjar Vikinglag.

There are certainly things that will match and even outshine the experience we’ve had this weekend, for life holds such moments and surprises for everyone and each one is different. But there are not many things that will be better than the company of treasured friends, gathering to spend time doing what we love best, in a place so thick with ambience and history as the longhouse at Borg in Lofoten.

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The Living area at Borg. Photo June-Marita Hagen, Trondheim Vikinglag.

Upon arrival the hall was filled with folk from many parts of the north, old friends and new, welcoming us to the warmth of the hearth and a hot meal … to heal our ailments after the tiring journey. And as the evening progressed more and more travellers arrived, weary but happy to finally be at the roads end. Fresh codfish, liver and roe was on our plates and then in our bellies, succeeded by mead and ale. Much craft, talk and laughter filled the hall … a late night for many.

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Maciej Emil Kulosa, Boðvin Vikinglag. Photo by June-Marita Hagen, Trondheim Vikinglag.

Waking up in the hall the next morning was the sweetest moment. I lay there smiling a long while, gazing at the carved timber barely visible in the dim morning light, the high loft and the sharp ray of light entering from the smoke hole in the roof. The only sounds were the soft breaths of my friends sleeping and the wind howling outside.

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Hallvard Kongsli and Ole Christian Hagestad, both Straumeyjar Vikinglag, playing tafl. Photo by Kathrine Eriksen, Lofoten Vikinglag

All mornings should be this peaceful … padding from one hall to the next wearing a pair of woolen socks and the serk in which I’d slept … finding a few souls awake and the first fire of the day lit, a cauldron of hot water already steaming over it. Sleepy eyed, bed headed and soft spoken, starting the day at a slow pace, eating breakfast, getting dressed, tidying the spaces in which we’d worked the evening before.

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Liv Elin Røberg and Sakander, Straumeyjar and Boðvin Vikinglag. Photo by Kathrine Eriksen, Lofoten Vikinglag.

Friendships and alliances were built and strengthened, crafts were shared and taught. Small children gained new aunts and uncles and were showered with attention. Some few trades were made, some deals struck, and most of all good will was all around. Mid-day the museum opened for business and visitors could watch the on going crafts and buy some home made meat soup. In the evening the feast was a welcome event, and even later there was more crafts and classes, more happy chatter and laughter.

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The Háleyg Vikings. Photo by Peder Simonsen, Lofoten Vikinglag

We were sad to leave the next day, most of us with a long journey ahead of us. Tired, some sleep deprived, all of us less clean than we would have liked to be in other circumstances, and with all our wools infested with smoke from the hearth … but very happy and many experiences richer. We loved every minute of it! Straumeyjar Vikinglag would like to thank Lofoten Vikinglag for arranging The Háleyg Winter Moot, and to Lofotr Viking Museum for letting us live in the longhouse. And thanks to all the vikings who travelled great distances and spent the weekend with us … we’ve had the loveliest of times!

Featured image by June-Marita Hagen, Trondheim Vikinglag.

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