QUEEN OF VIKINGS - Mayor Tara Veer poses with historic reinactors at the Norwegian Laft Hus festival in Red Deer last summer. The event is an annual show that will take place again on June 30, 2018. Photo supplied by Heimdall’s Spears

Viking group finds new place to land

Red Deer historical reenactment club sets up camp for the second year

Heimdall’s Spears, Red Deer’s official Viking historical reenactment group, launched their second year at a new location, St. Leonard’s Anglican Church where they meet weekly to practice their crafts and combat skills.

“We are a group of people from all walks of life and we just get together to enjoy our hobby—be it combat or craft or just hanging out together enjoying each other’s company,” said Brad Cotmen, Jarl (pronounced Yarl) or group leader and founding member.

The Viking age living history re-enactment group is dedicated to displaying the culture, combat and crafting of the era of the Norseman between the years of 766 A.D. and 1066 A.D.

Members practice historical crafting such as woodwork, silver work, wire weaving, blacksmithing, storytelling, herbalism and leather working.

The group started last February when Cotmen and three other enthusiasts were commuting to practices either with the Odin’s Ravens in Edmonton or Vestrheim in Calgary.

Cotmen said they were finding that they couldn’t make it to enough practices, so they decided there were enough of them in Red Deer to start their own group.

That first year, they practiced twice a month at Eastview Middle School.

This year with their new venue at St. Leonard’s they will be able to meet weekly.

The Heimdall’s Spears is still a small group, made up of nine adults and eight children, so they still operate under the umbrella of larger groups for shows.

Last summer their members performed in shows at Dickson near Innisfail, Okotoks and Camrose.

Festivals often request these historical reenactment groups to put on interactive shows for a half-day to full weekends.

They set up a Viking village and have people doing crafts work. They also serve period-specific food.

As the Red Deer group grows they will be able to host reenactment shows of their own as well.

“The motivation to practice is for the love of the history,” Cotmen said. Heimdall’s Spears meet every week to develop their skills.

They have assessments that they must pass before they can perform their craft in shows.

These ensure enthusiasts are able to work safely in front of a crowd while answering questions and wearing traditional clothing made of leather, wool and linen.

Cotmen said everyone is attracted to the group for different reasons. Some are curious about their origins; others are fascinated with the era.

“For myself, it was a little bit heritage-wise, it was part of my history,” Cotmen said. He added, “I really enjoyed being out with the Ravens and the camaraderie.”

Anyone can join but members under 16 can’t use weapons.

Teenagers between 16- to 18-years-old can train with weapons with their parent’s permission, but not in public shows.

The groups are part of an official parent group the Viking Vinland, which stems from a group in the UK that came over to North America and made their way west.

He said anyone interested in Vikings and the time period should get in touch with him through the Heimdall’s Spears facebook page or web site.

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