Long time has the Wolin Festival waited for this relation. A week has already passed since warriors and craftsmen have left the big open-air museum on Wolińska Kępa in Poland, and I still keep going back there in my thoughts and wonder if I can show you at least a tenth of the charm of this early medieval melting pot of cultures, languages and religions. To warn you in advance – this post will be filled with photos!
This year, for the 22nd time Vikings, Slavs, Balts, Magyars and Russians breathed life into the open-air museum in Wolin. They inhabited 27 huts and countless period tents inside and outside the palisade encircling a reconstructed settlement. From the historical point of view the festival covers the period of the early Middle Ages, and as the statistics say – it is one of the largest events of its kind in the region. Only this year it drew more than 2,500 reenactors (including 650 warriors) and about 30 times as many tourists. This year unfortunately I was dressed very unsuitable to the occasion – I wore jeans and a T-shirt made of cotton. I looked around with my mouth open, and my modern shoes were literally burning my feet.. I have to be dressed appropriately next year for sure! I need to choose a character, create my story, make clothes and buy things that are absolutely necessary: a bed, tent, chairs, vertical loom, new spindle, dyeing cauldron.. I can do it! Everything is for the people. Including being a Viking 🙂
The reconstructed settlement is located on the island of Wolińska Kępa pushed into the southern part of the strait called Strange (connects the Szczecin Lagoon with the Baltic Sea). Its location is not accidental, as this place is one of the probable locations of the legendary fortress Jomsborg.
According to Knýtlinga saga (Icelandic royal saga written in the mid-thirteenth century) and Fagrskinna (royal saga from approx. 1200), the founder of Jomsborg was the Danish king Harald Bluetooth, but Jómsvíkinga saga indicated Danish Viking Palnatoki as its founder. The fortress is said to fall in the year 1043 when it was conquered by by the king Magnus I Good (Heimskringla). Short life of the fortress (circa 960 – 1043) was so turbulent that jomsvikings’ fame survived till present times. Here I should note that the name Jomsborg appeared only in the Nordic sagas. Medieval German sources mention the name “Jumna” or “Julin” which can be differet variants of spelling “vimne”, “uimne”, “Jumneta”, “Jumin” “Julinum”, “uineta”, “Vineta” and “Vinneta.”
Today, the museum contains 27 plaited huts with thatched roofs, a wooden path winding between them (rescue for the shoes during rain), 4 gates and a harbor waterfront. The whole is surrounded with ramparts and a palisade made of halved logs, which is based on the findings from the archaeological excavations conducted in Wolin city (Old Town, trench 5 and Southern Suburb). During the festival, however, it is a sin to use a word “museum” to describe this place. The settlement was teeming with life. Literally I had to use force to make my way through the crowd, my eyes were burning from the fireplaces’ smoke and I tried to absorb the atmosphere of the Jomsvikings fortress as much as I can. The place was full of craftsmen, merchants, warriors, women fluent in runes, Slavic priests and children running in their small period clother and playing in puddles.
SNAPSHOTS FROM WOLIN:
preparing fleece using wool combs (left) and wool carders (right):
marriage the Slavic way:
From the musical side the festival is brilliant. There were constant concerts you could listen to by the road sign pointing direction towards Birka, Hedeby and other well known and famous places. This year, you could listen to: Gędźba (Poland), Kalabalik (Sweden), Ęzibaba (Poland), Szelindek (Hungary), Dziwoludy (Poland), Idisi (Russia) and this year start Percival Schuttenbach, which you can hear when playing thirt part of Witcher 🙂
GREAT BATTLE OF ARMIES OF KING BOLESŁAW AND HEATHENS
According to the estimates I found on the facebook profile of Center of Slavs and Vikings Jomsborg – Vineta, this year’s battles (there were 3 battles altogether, 1 per each day) were attended by up to 650 warriors, which puts these battles among the greatest ones that take place today. I was able to see only one of them, but certainly the most dramatic – the rain was pouring all the time and warriors were handling the water and mud.
BATTLE OF THE BRIDGE
CRAFTSMEN AND ALL KINDS OF GOODS
As for the great port connecting the Scandinavians and Slavic, you could get nystagmus by looking at the rich goods over there!
ornaments and jewellery
weaponery and armor
various curiosities of the medieval world:
PLANT DYEING WORKSHOP
This was something I had marked on the Festival plan from the beginning. The workshop was conducted by Kasia Feima Stasińska, Polish plant dyer, archaeologist and author of blog In The Long House. She is also author of book “Rainbow of the Middle Ages” which will be on sale this fall, can’t wait!
I came back from Wolin equiped with another 5 books, autograph of Mrs. Ela Cherezińska, author of the wonderful book about the hardest woman of the medieval world – Świętosława, horn to drink mead, Kalabalik and Percival records and a plan to weave fabrics for my costume for next year. I left the island with a tear in my eye.. See you next year, Wolin!! 😀