Where’s my helmet? 879 (Butser Ancient Farm, 2019)

Peace spread across the Saxon lands in the year following the conversion of Athelstan. Saxons emboldened by good harvests met for a market and feast in the hills of Hampshire. Herewulf Thegn sent representatives of the Cilternsaete included a trusted young Saxon to whom he lent his fine helmet.

The market attracted many Viking traders for whom peace was also advantageous, but it also attracted the attentions of more nefarious folk. One of the Viking factions having returned from Denmark and setting themselves up near Fulham sought the rich pickings of the market. They arrived under the guise of merchants and traders, and on the first night drank well with their hosts.

The dawn’s light brought fair weather and enjoyment, but to Herewulf’s young representative it brought nothing but fear; for his lord’s helmet was found to be missing. Panic swept through the man and he ran hither-and-thither offering out breakfast as he went and always asking if anyone knew of the helmet’s location; but none did.

Despair took the man for he could never replace the helmet and could not pay the cost, his life would be forfeit. But with great happenstance there came to the market children of strange dress and speech; children who were excited and skilled enough to solve the message of the helmet. Each in turn they interrogated the attendees present, piecing together clues they identified the thief as none other than Hauk of Oestvikingae, the crafty and fleet of foot warrior. Despite his reputation Hauk could not outrun his fate, and through cunning distractions of their own the children did find within Hauk’s possessions the stolen helmet.

Hauk pleaded innocence, but being unknown to the locals he found no man or woman to support his character, his end seemed near, however knowing the law, and his rank Hauk resolved to pay his wergild with vast quantities of silver armbands. His life bought, and the helmet returned that evening Hauk and all of the Oestvikingae joined in a hearty feast, before the next morning departing early; and again, the helmet was found to be missing…

The young Saxon again sought help to identify the suspect, and again Hauk was implicated. Men were sent on swift horses returning again with the helmet, and silver to pay for Hauk’s life.

Herewulf Thegn was pleased for the market not only returned his favourite helmet but also substantial additional silver; and all who had been present and had seen these strange proceedings wondered “What scheme would Hauk come up with next?”

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