2020 Historical Shield Combat Practice & Living History

Edit 9 August 2020: 

Save for the Hedeby Bouts, all my 2020 events had to be cancelled. Registration for the Hedeby Bouts closes on 12 August 2020. 

Note that this may well be your last chance to come to an event of mine in Hedeby, as the current director Dr Ute Drews is about to retire. She has kindly supported my work with Viking Age combat ever since we met in 2018. However, it is unclear how the museum will be run in the future. So far the succession of Dr Drews is kept secret (and last I talked to her, she had no clue, either), while at Ribe Viking Center, the current director's successor is already being introduced to running the place by his predecessor personally. As it should be.

There are, unfortunately, indictations that the direction may pass into the hands of the marketing department which, in the past, have not proved to be particularly well versed in Viking history and archaeology of the site. This may sound completely absurd, and is very deplorable, but it may be exactly what is about to happen. If so, the museum will repeat the grave mistake of the Royal Armouries in Leeds which, for a couple of years, had been run by clerks and managers who were supposed to make the institution more profitable, yet ultimately only succeeded in alienating both audiences and supporters. As far as I can tell, the Royal Armouries have learned their lesson and have been set back on track. Unfortunately, it does not seem likely that this resonated with the respective authorities in Schleswig, who, according to my personal impression, do not really understand the quality and challenges of Dr Drews' work with living history groups. 

I hope the future will prove me wrong. However, I think that you ought to know that I am not intending to support the Hedeby Viking Museum by running any events there if they would indeed take the same course as the Royal Armouries did.

Anyway, hope to see you from behind a shield soon.



As a medieval re-enactor with a strong interest in sword & shield fighting, you are most welcome to sign up for the 2020 shield classes held at the Viking Museum Haithabu (Hedeby) in northern Germany, as well as at the History Park Bärnau in Bavaria, close to the Czech border. To register or enquire, just send an email to [email protected] .

Here is your chance to combine living history and historical fighting arts in a unique way: You can practice martial arts proper and at the same time your training is a living history experience. Find images from past events in this public Facebook album. Do not miss to watch this promotion video.

A PDF providing detailed information on terms, content, equipment etc is attached to this post below. Price is EUR 200,– p.P., reduced fee is EUR 180,–. Please bring your own gear. A specific martial arts background is not required, but you have to be at least 18 years of age. The Hedeby Bouts and the Hedeby Viking Week are free of charge, commercial events are run via De Arte Dimicatoria.

These are the dates for 2020:

April 4/5, Viking Museum Haithabu: Viking shield 

Unfortunately this class had to be cancelled. The Wikinger Museum Haithabu is closed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

I will miss another Hedeby fighting experience. This time of year made the 2019 class a very special and unique experience. See images here. Let us see if any of the other events I had planned for this year will actually happen. I very much hope so.

Stay safe and take care everyone.

June 13/14, History Park Bärnau: Viking shield 

You may care to note that I have created a free event for advanced practitioners of historical Viking shield combat: The Hedeby Bouts will take place at the Viking Museum Haithabu on September 12/13 – see below.

August 1/2, History Park Bärnau: Sword & buckler. You are welcome to bring your 13th/14th century shields, too.

September 12/13, Viking Museum Haithabu: Hedeby Bouts 

This is a training weekend which is devoted to hands-on discussion and sparring. There is neither an official schedule nor any classes. The event is free of charge and open to advanced practitioners of historical Viking shield combat. Read about costume and gear requirements here. See spectacular images of the first Hedeby Bouts in 2019. Like with the seminars, there is only limited availability of spaces, so register via email in time: [email protected]

Important: Note that you are most welcome to come some days early to enjoy the unique atmosphere of top level living history. However, the Viking Week as such which I had planned and offered (see below), had to be cancelled. So any activities prior to the Hedeby Bouts have to be organised by yourself. If you intend to come early, you will have to let me know so I can register you with the museum staff. The usual site rules apply, too, of course.

September 7–13, Viking Museum Haithabu: Hedeby Viking Week had to be cancelled.

This new event was designed to offer both fighters and non-fighters a unique living history experience. The Viking Week wpould have been free of charge. In contrast to other events, there would have been no obligations to contribute to a particular schedule or tourist program on the one hand, yet on the other, particpants were expected to keep an authentic atmosphere even after opening hours. The idea was for us to live, work and train in an authentic fashion 24/7 (well, save for the using the sanitary facilities that is). You could have come to cook, bake, endulge in crafts, archery, combat practice, sports, patrol along the ring wall or do whatever you would have felt like. If there had been enough fighters, we could have also run some experiments with formation fighting as historical combat reconstruction. 

I have attached a detailed info PDF on seminars for you. The paper was originally created for classes at Bärnau in 2019. I have compiled information specific to Haithabu in a separate post. Of course I will most willingly answer any further questions that you may have. Do not hesitate to get in touch

You are also welcome to download the event poster as a hi-res PNG file for free. Find it attached to this post. Works great as a t-shirt, too, as you can see here with my friend and patron Michal Bazovsky who attended Viking shield classes in both 2016 and 2017.

The Classes

Train medieval fighting technique in a historical fashion without any modern equipment.

Practice correct blade mechanics and close combat application. Learn about the underlying concepts, as well as the historical and cultural context of sword-fighting and the associated combat arts.

Some concepts are easier to comprehend with pole weapons, so duelling with spears has been an integral part of some classes.

Enjoy the company of fellow living history and sword-fighting enthusiasts from all over the globe. At past seminars, attendees had come from all over Europe, the United States, Hong Kong and even New Zealand.

The Venues:


The Viking Museum Haithabu kindly supports my approach to the reconstruction of Viking Age combat. This year two events will take place in the museum's open air department, beautifully located at an inner bay of the Schlei, on the exact site of the former Viking trading settlement of Hedeby/Haithabu. Haithabu and the border defense system of the Danevirke have become a UNESCO World Heritage in May 2018.

Seven reconstructed houses have been erected within the original ring wall enclosure, giving a vivid impression of what edifices in this biggest trading settlement of the North may have looked like more than a thousand years ago.

Like in the History Park Bärnau, the yards and buildings regularly become the site of living history display and performance. save for my events, no military or combat displays take place here, as the museum direction is extremely selective. Be among the chosen few to train Viking swordsmanship in this historical place in modern times.

There is ample space for us to train, all within sight of the former harbour on one side, and the massive 10th century earthwork on the other.

After a long training day, we could meet in the hall. Let us see if your singing is as terrible as it was a thousand years ago, when traveller Ibrahim ibn Yaqub was appalled by the place stinking of fish and the inhabitants' singing sounding like the barking of wild animals, only worse.

The History Park Bärnau

The History Park Bärnau has been the spectacular venue for shield classes ever since 2016. The park consists of painstakingly reconstructed buildings from the 9th, the 11th and 12th/13th century. The construction of 14th century edifices has begun in summer 2017, a most ambitious project, funded by the EU. Learn more about current projects of the ArchaeoCentrum Bavaria-Bohemia on their FB pages.

If you feel like extending your living history experience, you are welcome to spend more time  in this unique place. Find out more about the park and see some 360° shots on their website.

During your stay you are welcome to prepare your own authentic food on site, if you wish. Alternatively, there are modern restaurants nearby, too. Enjoy roasted pork and local beer at the Saturday night banquet in the medieval tavern, organised exclusively for us. 

This is the ideal place to use your entire living history equipment appropriately.

Bring your tools if you please – there is always something to do and this is a great venue to show your craft, repair gear etc. Or just relax, have a beer and enjoy the scenery. Or better still: do both!

If you come early or stay on after the weekend seminar, you are welcome to join our daily training. Note that there also is the opportunity to take private lessons. Send a message in advance if this is of interest to you.

The park provides constant access to modern facilities for re-enactors. But on a sunny day, you might just as well take a swim in the lake or wash your sweaty fighting shirt in the stream.

If you or your family do not want to miss modern amenities, shops, hotels and restaurants are within walking distance. Find detailed information in the PDF attached to this post.

Looking forward to training and celebrating with you, be it at Haithabu or in the History Park Bärnau.


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