The Unravelling of Viking Mysteries

By Carla Charter

SOUTHBOROUGH, MA.-Vikings were warriors and adventurers but their day to day lives are still a mystery. Hurtswic, a Viking research group, trying to unravel some of these mysteries.  “We do everything Viking. There are a lot of sources we use, however none of them are a complete story, so we have to put it together. The Vikings didn’t write things down so we are learning from reverse engineering.  It’s like myth busting, we are trying to figure out how they did it,” said Dr. William R. Short, manager of Hurstwic.

Among the projects the group is currently working on is Icelandic iron making.  “Iron making was different in Iceland than in other areas and we are trying to figure out why. The difference is clear in the history books of the time. There is something different about it,” said Short, of how he became involved in Hurtswic.

“I had come back from Iceland after taking a summer class on Sagas. I decided to do some more hands on research related to Vikings and found a group that had been running for several months.  I joined and took over the group’s Viking Combat Training,“   Short said.

“It is known that fighting was central to the Viking culture, Short said The non-combatant part of the research Hurstwic offers is family oriented, however the combat portion of the research  the group does is restricted to adults only.

One of the Viking games Hurstwic has devised is a ball game called Kneittleikur which means Ball Game.  The game is team-based and played on an open field. “We usually use a football field. Each team member has a bat which they can use the bat to hit the ball or other players. If you get the ball over the end you get a point. The game both then and now was training for fighting. “

People take Viking combat trainings through Hurstwic for different reasons. “For some it’s the physical challenge, for some it’s the mental challenge. There is a significant mental aspect to combat training. You have to try to fake an opponent out. You have to figure out what you can do to make him think you are going to do something else. There is a mental aspect to all of the research we do in its various forms as well.” More information on Hurstwic can be found at www.

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