Wryngwyrm Dark Age Warband represents a microcosm of life in dark age Britain. Our aim is to research, interpret and display this emotive period in history to the general public in an informative and entertaining way. We have a good mix of warriors including those in the shield wall and archers and the folk who would have made up daily village life such as craftsmen and women. You can learn more about the warriors and their weapons below. You can also learn more about village life, crafts and skills here.
We put on these displays across the country from Spring to Autumn at various shows and historic sites, including often participating in larger scale events such as The Battle of Hastings as part of the Vikings Society. Some of these events are just simple one day affairs however many are a full weekend away at which we camp over.
If you are interested in becoming a member of our warband or if you are just seeking some more information then please visit our joining page.
Historical Background: Wryngwyrm is an eclectic mix of people. We have warriors, archers, cooks, farmers, blacksmiths, seamstresses, armourers, weavers, wood turners, storytellers, illuminators, leather workers and a völva, to name just a few. We have both Pagans and Christians, Norse and Saxons. There are slaves, bondsmen and women and freemen and women. It’s a representative combination of the people and trades of the Viking age. And it wasn’t uncommon for such a variety of peoples to be travelling together across the country in the Viking age.
Once the Vikings began to settle in earnest from around AD 871 onwards, prominent jarls were moved from one territory to another as the politics of the day demanded. It is likely that the jarls themselves remained mobile with their warriors, keeping and enforcing the peace and the rule of their kings and abbots. Their households moved to the new territories also, but at a slower rate and as a group. A jarl’s household was a lot more than just his household servants and slaves. It included his craftsmen, traders and the families of his warriors.
They were all important to ensuring the financial stability of the jarl and the productivity of his new territory. If the jarl couldn’t maintain a stronghold on his new land, then he was likely to find himself kicked out of it. These households on the move needed protection as they travelled through territories controlled by potentially unfriendly native peoples and rival jarls. The jarl would have left a strong contingent of his warriors with the household to ensure its safe arrival at his new hall.
The Saga: It is the late ninth century, a time of changing tides as the border of what will be known as the Danelaw ebbs and flows as local power struggles constantly react to the greater politics of the time. The jarl of this warband, Jarl Orm, has been sent by his king from the border town of Bedeforde to a new territory in Mercia to manage with the bulk of his warriors. After settling in, he has now sent for the rest of his household and warriors to follow. This caravan of civilians, traders and families protected by the Hesir Arngrim and his warriors is now making its way to the new settlement. However, the going is not easy for this band, burdened down with carts full of goods they must move their camp slowly across the land till they reach the new settlement. All the time there is the fear of being attacked by Saxon warbands or other belligerent Vikings. But also, the warriors are always on the lookout for an opportunity to pounce on someone else to make some easy silver! Whilst in progress they also trade as best they can with the peoples they encounter, trading goods for food and other necessary supplies to sustain them on the move.
But why Wryngwyrm?
All of the founder members shared an interest in and a passion for Anglo-Nordic history and an appreciation of the symbolism inherent in rings, rings of power, Dragons and the circle serpent often known as Ouroboros. The antiquity of the serpent biting or swallowing it's own tail dates back to Egypt of 1600BCE, thence to the Phoenicians and subsequently to the Greeks, who gave it this name, Ouroboros, meaning '' tail devourer ''. In the East the symbol may go back further and be the origin of the yin/yang symbol.
The classic Ouroboros is depicted as a snake or dragon, forming a complete circle with the tail entering directly into the mouth, where it appears to be swallowed.
In another variant, which is usually in the shape of a dragon, the tail is not being swallowed -instead the dragon has grasped it cross ways in it's mouth with the tip end sticking out the opposite side. This is the form chosen by our group, our logo, and several members have this as a tattoo - this is not mandatory for membership
Of all the world's monsters the dragon appears to be the most universal, and complex. Coming from the Greek ' Drakon ', meaning ' sharp sighted one ', this evolved via the latin ' Drako ' meaning giant snake. In ' old Anglo Saxon ' the word '' Wyrm'' originally ' Gewum ' has been translated as equally meaning 'dragon', 'serpent' or 'worm'. The dragon in Beowulf is called the Worm. In the west, dragons were originally legless, and usually but not always evil - occasionally however, they were admired for their power and were emblematic of wisdom - to the Greeks they were benevolent conveyers of enlightenment, while to the Gauls they represented kingship, and the keeper and bringer of wisdom. The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl was often depicted as an Ouroboros. Interestingly, this was a god from the eastern seas, having white skin, yellow hair, a beard and blue eyes (Viking?).
Dragons were highly significant to the peoples of North west Europe, and appeared in many teutonic legends. The two most renowned were Nidhogg and Jormungandr. Nidhogg ''Dread biter'' gnaws on the root of the world ash tree (Yggdrasil) which supports the world in which we live. When the tree root is chewed through Ragnorak will come, and Nidhogg will lead the dead to battle. Usually, Nidhogg will survive this battle and will help lead the new order.
Jormungandr, the World or Midgard serpent, a son of Loki was thrown into the ocean by Odin, where he grew so big that he circled the world and grasped his own tail, which is how he is often represented. He is to be killed by (and to kill) Thor, at Ragnorak. Other, lesser dragons symbolized hoarders of wealth as well as wisdom.
The Ouroboros symbolizes infinity, eternity, enduring values and continuity, combining as it does the mythical powers of regeneration, rebirth and renewal attributed to the serpent, and the qualities of the ring, or circle.
For us in Wryngwyrm therefore, the name and symbol represents our values of continuity, an appreciation of our heritage and history, of the rebirth of a society and of the passing on of knowledge.
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