Cadbury 2011

DAS has been visiting South Cadbury for many years, and it’s probably the quintessential DAS event of fighting and feasting. The location is beautiful and the hall, while simple, is pleasant. Pub and fighting site are within easy walking distance, and it’s a bonus that people can camp rather than having to sleep in the hall.

Alf and I missed the Friday pub session, which to judge by the hangovers must have been a good one. But we did arrive on Saturday morning to find platefuls of bacon, sausage, mushrooms and other good things on offer. What a fine way to start the day.

After the usual lengthy process of putting on armour and checking weapons for safety, we made the short trek up to South Cadbury hillfort. Climbing up the steep, tree-shaded lane from the road to the hilltop feels like travelling to another time or place. Perhaps to make up for the poor summer, the weather – on the 1st October! – was amazing. The sky was a lightly hazed blue, with glorious sunshine and just enough breeze that we didn’t fry. It felt like a perfect summer’s day, except that the trees were tinged with yellow.

Battle on South Cadbury Hillfort

Battle on South Cadbury Hillfort

Our lord, Hrolf, then explained to us the plot for the day. Rumours had been heard that King Alfred was laying plans for a big battle, so everybody was looking for information. Our first task was to listen to the words of the Wise Woman, each group being given a different riddle to help us find a clue as to the forthcoming battle. We travelled sunwise as instructed, and between two thorn trees found a small box with a little map and a scrap of parchment that told us the battle would be in the area of Kent.

Discussing Tactics

Discussing tactics - which sadly failed

The morning continued with us roaming the hillfort and fighting any other group we encountered, so that we could win their clues. Technically we didn’t have to fight, we could have negotiated to trade information, but fighting was more fun! Sadly, we were not covered with glory in the fighting, losing most of our battles. The star of our group was Finn, who beat four enemy warriors in succession to defeat the massed hordes of the Westmen (all four of them!) Hrolf and I died in the first exchange and could only watch in admiration as Finn felled the foe. This victory gained us the information that the battle would take place before the end of the month. After that, we had many enjoyable fights but lost them all, except for another win over the Westmen – but by then they had lost all their clues to the Saxons. Truly, by the end of the day, the Vikings were clueless! The Saxons proved too mighty for we Vikings on this occasion.

We fought in groups until mid-afternoon, then fought a few line fights to finish up. We then retreated to the hall for cold drinks and a chance to purchase shiny bling from Ceolred Monger, Thegn. This was followed by surprisingly minty cocktails courtesy of Wulfruna, and some work peeling vegetables. The cooks, including several new members, worked for hours while the rest of us had a very pleasant visit to the pub. Truly, most generous hosts.

We returned to the hall for the banquet. Although the event took place in a fairly unremarkable village hall, the tables looked splendid laid with cloths and authentic vessels, and lit by candlelight. Our hosts Hrolf and Morag welcomed all to the hall with a drink of mead, and bid Saxon and Viking to be at peace for the evening.

The battles continue

The battles continue

After a platter of cheeses and salads, we were treated to a truly delicious stew of chicken in black beer with root vegetables. This was followed by excellent baked apples. During the evening there were many songs and tales, and gifts were given, the most splendid being a fine sword given to Egil by his father Styrkar. There was also of course discussion of the rumoured battle. As the Saxons had won all the information, it was not surprising that in the end they decided they could not reveal their King’s plans. They swore peace to us for this day and the next, and Thegn Wulfstan burned the battle plans before our eyes.

The banquet was also enlivened by Athelwulf’s rendition of the Herring song. Traditionally, he is pursued around the hall by an angry Thegn Herewulf, who dislikes the song intensely. In Herewulf’s absence, Godwin nobly stepped in and chased Athelwulf with a spoon.

Finally the evening moved on to the quiet chatting and chilling phase, still by candlelight. A great end to a great day.
– Ingibjorg Ragnarsdottir

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