The Gudvangen Viking Market
The Gudvangen Viking Market has been thriving for almost two decades now and is filled with the energy of the Viking Age. Market stands are overflowing with jewelry, ironwork, clothing, weaponry, and crafts, it has become one of the most popular Viking markets in Norway, bringing Viking Age enthusiasts together from all over the world. The landscape of Gudvangen is stunning, set in a deep valley at the end of a fjord you can look to either side of you and at gaze up at high waterfalls cascading from the mountaintops.
From a lively Viking market, Gudvangen has now been transformed into the long-lived dream of Viking chieftain Georg Olafr Reydarsson Hansen. His dream of almost two decades of creating a permanent Viking Age Village has now become a reality. The village is named Njardarheimr and is dedicated to the Norse deity Njord, father to the twin deities Freyr and Freyja. Njord is the ruler and commander of the sea, he watches over the waves, and guides wildlife either away or closer to hungry hunters. He is the one who shall always live by the shore, so making the name of the village very fitting considering its location.
The construction of Njardarheimr finally began in 2016, and by 2017 the first phase of construction was completed. During Gudvangen Viking market (second to last weekend of July) the gates of the village are thrown open to welcome all who wish to explore the village. Everything in the village is constructed with the same materials that they would have used during the Viking Age, making the village a true time travelling experience! During the rest of the year, the village is open 10:00 am to 18:00 from May 31st to October 1st, with plans to keep it open all winter now.
During the market week, most of the Viking re-enactors stay in the linen or woolen tents, filled with soft animal furs and woolen blankets to keep them warm during the cold nights. The resident Vikings, who live in Njardarheimr year-round, stay in their own wooden houses and work as members of the village.
There are many activities to take part in within the village. There are axe and knife throwing, archery butts, sword and battle training, Glíma (Icelandic wrestling), and a craft workshops that enable you to create the most elaborate and beautiful braids. Most activities are ongoing except for Glíma and sword training which take place every day of the week in the afternoon in the center of the village. Anyone is allowed to join in and all cheer on and watch as you get thrown to the earth or block with your shield.
Glíma is an Old Norse style of wrestling that is still taught to this day in its original form, it is an unbroken tradition that leads directly back to the Viking Age. Glíma was incredibly popular in the lives of the Norðmaðr (Norsemen) it was one of the main attractions at community gatherings such as a feasts, an al-things (community law courts) and markets. No one was excluded from this sport, people of all genders and ages were permitted to fight. The Norse god Thor is not only the god of war, battle and thunder but of wrestling too!
Many of the houses and stalls display skillful craftsmanship in wood carving, ironwork and artwork. The village also contains a smithy where blacksmiths work year-round, creating impeccable pieces of work. The market stands are laden with colourful beads, jewelry, artifact replicas, weaponry, clothing, fabrics and brikkebånd (tablet weaving).
There are many shops where you can buy handmade linen, cashmere, woolen and silk dresses, tunics, coats and trousers that are authentic to the Viking Age in Norway. So don't worry, if you want to dress like a Scandinavian in the Viking Age, the market stands at Gudvangen are sure to provide for you!
Alongside the clothing there are always beautiful assortments of bronze and silver jewelry and accessories for your garb, including belt buckles, clasps, rings, bracelets, amulets and beads, and every kind of beautiful Viking artwork you can imagine!
- Luminous King Salomaa