Being a Viking is fun… also a bit silly at times, hard work and frustrating. But you do get to hit people with an axe which makes up for most of the negative elements. Obviously I dont mean being a real Viking. Unless you come from one of the Scandinavian areas this would be difficult and the police would probably frown upon you sailing a longship up the river Dee and sacking Heswall. So this means doing reenactment or experimental archaeology. Is there a difference? Possibly but for all intents and purposes they overlap so much that it doesnt really matter.
If you are basing your persona on the Wirral in the 10th Cent, as I have done, this means you will probably be looking to portray either Hiberno Norse (Gael Norse) or Saxon – Welsh, Irish or Danish at a push (forget Norman no one likes them and you will only regret it and they are later than 10th Cent anyhow). The Wirral at that point came under the rule of Mercia which made it a bit unusual for Viking stuff in that it did not fall under the Danelaw but also gives lots of kit experimentation options.
So you have decided on a ethnic group you want to portray and have fired up Google. Stop… seriously. You will see so much stuff that it will become information overload. Some of that information will be good but most of it will rhyme with trollocks and i can guarantee you that the stuff that looks cool and interesting will fall into the latter category.
Speak to your group leader – if on Wirral and a member of Regia that will be Steve Banks of Wirhalh Skip Felagr or if you are in the Vike whoever your group leader is (I recommend Ardenweard – although based in the Midlands its the group I am in or if you want to stay local its Cwmwd Ial. Both have great people in them but Ial tend to portray Welsh in the main and I wanted to do Hiberno Norse).
The Vikings and Regia Anglorum are the two main reenactment groups and each has its own rules to follow and method of progressing within the society. I am good with either. Both has great people in as well as the usual sprinkling of neerdowells and rapscallions that you will find within any group. Stick with one of these two societies though if you want to do more than one show a year and travel the UK a bit in the process. My experience is that the Vike tend to have bigger shows from a number of fighters point of view but Regia are more organised with their Living History displays (Wic). Regia also feed you better so if the show is remote you know you will get a nice bowl of hot brown to see you through the day. This is just my experience though and yours may well differ.
If new to it stick with a low status persona, this keeps the cost down and makes the kit much easier to put together. If beige suits you then you are in luck – unbleached linen or wool or light brown, wishy washy green etc are the colours that are in season for the next 150 years or so.
Lets start with a basic kit guide to get you up and hitting: Basic Kit Guide