Rural Missouri - October 2010 - (Page 20)

Above: In the Knox City viking village of Ravensborg, reenactors from several states gather to celebrate their Scandinavian heritage. Right: Rival viking warriors John Chadwell, left, a member of the Skjaldborg group from Iowa, and Joseph Eckwahl of the Jomsvikings of Texas, practice their sword skills. Below: Viking women work together on an ornate piece of needlework. The vikings were skilled at many crafts. Live like Reenactors gather twice a year to in the viking village of Raven by Heather Berry L ooking out across the fi ve-acre lake on his farm in northeast Missouri, Sam Shoult’s eyes come to rest on a shallow-keel viking warrior longboat tied to a tree near the bank. “She’s named Yrsa, after a Scandinavian heroine,” he says of his ship, which is a replica of a wooden vessel dating back to 950. “She’s an accurate interpretation of what a viking warrior or burial ship would have looked like.” So why does a Knox City school bus driver and substitute teacher have a 28-foot-long viking ship in his lake? If you’re a viking reenactor, it probably doesn’t seem odd at all. In 2007, a group of Missouri-based viking enthusiasts called Ravnsgard (formerly known as Norsa), desired to have its own permanent gathering place. Sam and his family, active reenactors, looked around at their 160-acre farm and thought it would be a great place for fellow vikings to gather. Ravnsgard, an independent viking group, wants to keep its viking heritage alive. Here, they would be able to preserve the lifestyle and culture of a viking fortifi cation and trading post. “It’s a little like the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’” says Sam, “An, ‘if you build it, they will come,’ thing.” 20 That summer, Sam, several local Amish men • Knox City and many of the reenactors came to Knox City and began working on the viking longphort, a fortifi cation on a grassy knoll overlooking Sam’s lake. Within two months, the group had built the 65-footlong, 25-foot-tall Mead Hall, a cook hall and named their viking community Ravensborg. “Many members in the group pitched in with the labor and helped fund the project. We also had the Amish come in and cut down the oak trees and mill the lumber for us,” says the Lewis County Rural Electric Cooperative member. “We worked side by side with the Amish framing the building up. This building is solid — they made sure it’s here to stay.” Sam says the Ravensborg project is a perpetual one. Now that the long hall is done, the group is completing a gatehouse. It plans to add walls around the longphort and other period buildings, such as a forge and iron smelter, as time and money allow. While not permanently inhabited, Ravensborg is intended for use as a reenactment and living history site for the Ravnsgard vikings and similar groups from across the United States, Canada and Europe. The group’s October 2007 grand opening event drew nearly 50 reenactors. In April 2010, Ravnsgard held its fi rst “Return of the Sun” event, which begins the fi rst Thursday after April 18, the same RURAL MISSOURI day the vikings in Iceland celebrate the return of spring. The event will take place each April at Ravensborg. “This year we’re add- ing a fall gathering called Return of the Dead,” says Sam. “It celebrates the end of the growing season, the harvest and the coming of winter.” During the autumn celebration, which falls on Oct. 28-31 this year, Ravensborg will open to the public from dusk until 10 p.m. on Oct. 30 so families can bring their children to meet the viking reenactors, trick-or-treat and enjoy hot chocolate and goodies around the campfi re or inside the hall if the weather’s too cool. Whether the public attends the free spring or fall events at Ravensborg, the viking enthusiasts want people to understand their mission. Birte Nellessen, left, and Askjel M ter, Inga, 3, the youngest membe

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2010

Rural Missouri - October 2010
Good Times on the Berryman
Elk in Missouri?
Mail Bag
Right-of-Way Management
Out of the Way Eats
Live Like a Viking
Two Men and a Cave
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Paddlin' for a Cure
Get in Touch with Ghosts
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - October 2010