Well, it’s been a week since I found Viking Beastie wandering the streets that once formed the heart of Viking-era Dublin, and he’s adapting surprisingly well to the 21st century. He’s even agreed to pose for some photos to show off all his spiffy Viking accessories, in the hope of starting his own ultra-retro fashion blog… What do you think?
Let’s start off with a full-length portrait, showing all of Viking Beastie’s kit… horned helmet, round shield, woollen trousers, sword and EPIC beard. His magnificent face fuzz is naturally curly, and since it’s made from alpaca yarn it’s also surprisingly soft!
Alas, there is no concrete historical evidence to support the popular image of Viking raiders in horned helmets… well, apart from the fact that Viking Beastie is wearing one. The shield, however, is an essential accessory – according to tradition, all free Norse men were required (yes, required) to own weapons, and they were permitted to carry them all the time. Although wealthier folks would flash their cash by accumulating status symbol weaponry such as helmets, swords or battle axes, even the average farmer would have owned a round wooden shield.
But Viking Beastie is most proud of his sword. Forged from the finest weapons-grade felt, it bears the maker’s mark “+ULFBEAS+T” on the blade – a striking parallel to the prestigious Ulfbehrt human-sized Viking swords which have been found across Europe. Ulfbehrt swords were made from high quality crucible steel – this means that the metal was produced at extremely high temperatures, which reduced impurities and upped its carbon content, giving a blade that was stronger, more flexible and less brittle than anything else available at the time. That, as well as their scarcity, made them highly desirable objects – the Rolls Royce or Birkin bag of Viking weaponry! So sought-after were Ulfbehrt swords that there may even have been a hearty trade in cheap(ish) knock-offs… archaeologists have found several similar-looking swords bearing the distinctive mark “+ULFBERH+T” that turned out to be made of inferior metal!
Viking Beastie will be continuing his travels around Dublin later this week, when he makes his way out to Dalkey to join some of the other Beasties who are currently holidaying in the Creative Collective shop. He should fit right in there, since Dalkey also has Viking history… in the early 900s, following a defeat at the hands of the locals, the Vikings were forced to retreat and regroup at Dalkey Island, which they also used as a holding place for slaves. In fact, in Victorian times, a hoard of Viking coins was found in Castle Street, which is where the shop is located! If you can, why not drop in and pay him a visit?