Featured Fighter Interview: Hengist Helgason

Hengist Helgason

Our featured fighter this week is the HL Hengist Helgason

SoK: How did you choose your Knight?

Hengist: Sir Aleksii and I have known each other since 1996. We virtually started in the SCA at the same time. My path, until recently, had not been one of becoming a knight. We have always been good friends, and mentored each other in various ways. When I decided I wanted to elevate my level of play in the Society and become a Knight Sir Aleksii seemed a good match.

SoK: How were you introduced?

Hengist: In 1994 I graduated college. I wanted to do something I had never done. I read in the news paper there was going to be a ” medieval faire ” on Bainbridge Island ( it was a June faire ). I went and was amazed by the costuming, the merchants, the bards, and of course the fighting. I wandered into some encampments ( I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to do that ). I was curious, so I asked a lot of questions. The camp I wandered into, I later found out, belonged to the Glam Folk. Years later I became part of that group.

SoK: What “hooked” you and what keeps you coming back?

Hengist: It was/is the fighting. That’s not the only thing that hooked me. It’s only the main part. From the first time I saw the funny costumes and how people treated each other, how history was portrayed and recreated, I was hooked. The History along with the fighting is what does it for me.

SoK: Where are you from?

Hengist: I’m originally from Upstate N.Y. I started playing in the Society here in An Tir, but moved back to New York for a few years.

SoK: What is your fighting kit persona?

Hengist: My fighting kit is always evolving. My current kit is of a Vendal cavalry soldier in the Roman Federal mercenaries. My helmet is based off the Valsagard 6 find, and my coat of plates is close to ones I have seen in the museum in Rome for Roman soldiers of the time. I wear safety gear made from leather that was probably not worn at the time but for safety reasons I do. Because I have to wear certain things I try to cover them or make them as attractive as I can.
For many years I fought in chain maile. I did this because accuracy is very important to me. As a Viking warrior the chain was period. I liked the look and it felt good to wear. I broke some ribs a few years ago so I decided to go with something more protective. My wife bought a Zoombang shirt and I acquired the scales. Scales are not period for Viking. There are no examples of them wearing it. For accuracy’s sake I decided to move my time period back to where it was appropriate. I’m now in the An Tir fighters uniform…a valsagard 6 and lamellar

SoK: Can you tell us a little about your fighting kit?

Hengist: I like to wear clothing that is persona acceptable. Our climate is wet and cold. Wool is perfect for our weather. Unless it’s really hot out I’ll wear wool pants, leg wraps, shoes that are based off the Jorvic shoe, a linen under tunic and a wool outer tunic. I own weapons that would be common to a person of my stature, sword, Danish ax, throwing ax, and spear. I wear a bead necklace of lamp work beads that my wife Marike crafted for me. My cloak is a rectangular piece of wool with a period clasp of bronze.

SoK: How important is period presentation to you?

Hengist: This is one of my major focuses in the Society. If you’re going to do it, let’s do it right. My wife and I hold ourselves to a high standard because this is how we desire to play. It’s something we enjoy doing and enjoy learning about. We don’t look down on people that don’t have our standards but try to help them. We love helping folks learn new things if they ask. We feel it uplifts the society as a whole when people try their best to be period appropriate. For that one moment when the sun is going down and the torches are lit, you really feel like you’re back in time in a medieval encampment. It makes it all worthwhile. You’re truly lost in history.
  We have friends who are Viking age archaeologists. There is an enormous amount of information out there on the Viking age. Even more than just 10 years ago. The more people study the evidences that we have the more we learn. Things that were held as gospel about the Vikings for ages are being re-thought. New light is being shed on old finds and new finds are being dug all the time. It is a very exciting time we live in. The recreation of fabrics, the forensic sciences determining everything from where a person was from, to what they ate, to what genetic or physical traits they had… It is just amazing. The trade routes they had, how they covered land and sea, the technology they used in acquiring iron, the beautiful jewelry that was made… New books are being written all the time about these cagey people that live life to the fullest. There are too many books to list but some of the better reference books would be Viking to crusader ( I suggest the English version ), The Saga books( prose and poetic Edda among others ) ,A cultural atlas of the Viking world, Woman’s work, just to name a few older ones. The Viking answer lady and the Hurstwik site are good also.

Thank you for talking with us Hengist. We look forward to seeing you at Sport of Kings!

HL Vivien NicUldoon
Staff Writer & Editor, Sport of Kings