The Great Big History Weekend

This weekend at our magnificent castle, join us as we celebrate history, heritage and archaeology at The Great Big History Weekend. Take part in many activities from mock digs, calligraphy practice, medieval cooking to junior jousting and historical pottery. There is plenty to keep the little lords and ladies entertained.

Costumed performer working on food at Stirling Castle

And in the Great Hall at 12.20pm, join the Viking warriors as they are inspected by their Jarl. A varied ensemble of weaponry and armour will be displayed and demonstrated as they ready themselves for battle!

In preparation for their performance we caught up with them to find out more about their time in Scotland:

We are typical Vikings, always turning up when we are not invited and gate crashing a great day at the castle!

Children dressed up at an event

When we came to the castle before the buildings were not so impressive and our good enemies The Picts called it their home, it has always been an important place throughout history.

Our fathers originally came to Scotland in the last decade of the 8th century, and attacked the coast. We came from Norway with lands so remote the rest of the world knew little of them.

The secret of our success lay in our ships they were very well made, and they could leave the shelter of land and ride the open sea. We came because our farm lands were poor and the ones we raided were soft, green and rich. We liked it so much so in the end, some of us decided not to go home at all.

Costumed performers and a longship

By the 13th century, the Vikings had stopped raiding and Norse dominion was fading. The Scots had recovered Ross, Caithness and Sutherland and were looking at grabbing the Isle of Man and the Western Isles so, in 1263AD, King Haakon IV of Norway decided to bring his Great Fleet down and persuade the Scots to stop looking.

However, a storm washed more than a few of the Norse supply ships ashore at Largs and a portion of Haakon’s army was sent to recover them, only to find the Scots there already and prepared to fight. The long and hard battle was eventually resolved to both sides’ satisfaction – the Norse got their ships and withdrew, the Scots cheerfully saw them off and both declared a victory.

King Haakon went home, beaten and dispirited and died soon afterwards and his successor, Magnus VI, handed over Isle of Man and the Hebrides to Scotland in 1266. Only Orkney and Shetland now remained in Norse hands, until they were finally handed over by Denmark in the 15th century and the Vikings never returned to Scotland again!

This weekend meet our Viking warriors Sigurd and one of our female warriors Neflaug. Our women warriors have been known to wield their weapons with the same fury and fatality as the men. There are frequent mention of fighting women in the sagas- skilled warriors and army commanders: Hetha, Visna, Rusila...the list is long.

Costumed performer

Stop them and ask them about Viking life – what do they eat? how they make their clothes? what weapons do they have? how did they learn to use them? what life is like on a longship?...

Watch Our Viking Quest for inspiration:

Join the Vikings, Jacobites, Mary Queen of Scots and many other colourful characters from our rich past this weekend at The Great Big History Weekend, Sat 1 and Sun 2, 12pm to 4pm. This event is free for members’ and if you join by direct debit before the 30 April you’ll get 18 months for the price of 12 - find out more.

 

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