Københavns Vikingemarked: Explore the Viking way of life at this historical Danish market
By Karen Gilmour Kristensen | Photos: Københavns Vikingemarked
Some might associate the Vikings with things like raids, but actually, only very few of them ever went abroad. Most Vikings stayed at home, perfecting their crafts for trading in markets. A reconstruction of such a market can be explored at Københavns Vikingemarked (The Copenhagen Viking Market), where you can get a glimpse of everyday life during the Viking Age.
For the second year in a row, the Viking market will invite visitors to engage with Viking history. Opening on Friday 2 September and running until Sunday 4 September 2022, the market will feature several activities and events throughout the week, including historical re-enactments of battles.
Last year, Københavns Vikingemarked attracted about 10,000 visitors and the organisers expect the same number this year. “Visiting the market is a way of experiencing Nordic history and culture for yourself,” explains spokesperson, Dennis Fuller. “We strive to provide our visitors with an authentic view of the people who lived during the Viking Age.”
A stroll through the stalls at the market will allow you to breathe in the different scents, listen to the type of music Vikings enjoyed and explore what life would have been like for the Vikings, more than a thousand years ago.
A living museum
Adding to the authenticity are the hundreds of Viking re-enactors who will stay at the marketplace during the week. Their homes will look as authentic as possible, and they will dress accordingly. “The market needs to be telling a historical narrative,” explains Fuller. “We strive to match the atmosphere at the market with the current understanding we have of the Vikings, and it’s important to us that Københavns Vikingemarked is as authentic as possible. That’s why you won’t see our reenactors sitting on plastic chairs or wearing jogging shoes.”
Browsing through Københavns Vikingemarked isn’t just a passive experience. As well as showcasing different crafts, such as carpentry, weaponry, tailoring and smithing, the market also invites you to take part in the experience. For instance, you can watch some basket weaving before trying it yourself. “We are a living museum,” says Fuller. “And that means our visitors are given the opportunity to touch the weapons and try some of the crafts themselves. It’s meant to be a very hands-on experience.”
Even though battle re-enactments with real weapons and fight-training are features of the market, Fuller and his team try to give visitors of the market an insight into the everyday life of the Vikings. One example is the smith showing how to make both weapons of warfare and household items, such as bowls and knives.
Making history accessible
Behind Københavns Vikingemarked is a non-governmental organisation, whose main goal is to make cultural experiences accessible for children and socially marginalised people. This means that any operating profits are reinvested to make the market accessible for all – for instance, by inviting vulnerable children and families, as well as refugees. At the same time, the organisers invite all schools, kindergartens and youth centres in the country to experience a different kind of history lesson.
Originally, the team behind the market hosted Københavns Historiske Marked (The Copenhagen Historical Market). While the Viking market will take place for the second time, the historical market has been running for the past 15 years and covers the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as the Viking Age. Københavns Vikingemarked, however, exclusively covers the Viking Age. “We’ve had success with the historical market, but there’s something special about the Vikings,” Fuller explains. “It’s simply a theme our visitors love.”
Eastern European Vikings
Most of the Viking reenactors participating in Københavns Vikingemarked are from the Northern and Eastern parts of Europe. “For our historical market, we have reenactors from more countries,” explains Fuller. “But with the Viking theme, we’re limited to the Northernmost countries of Europe along with some Eastern European and Balkan countries, who also have a history with Vikings.”
Although the Vikings are probably best-known for their raids in Great Britain and Ireland, some of them went to parts of Eastern Europe and settled there, which is why there is still a Viking heritage in those areas today. Visitors of the market come not only from all parts of Denmark but also from across Europe. “At the market, you can experience the lives of your ancestors,” says Fuller. “And that’s something that attracts a lot of people.”
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