Welcome to Ardenweard


Ardenweard is a Dark Ages re-enactment group affiliated with The Vikings.  Founded in 1971, The Vikings are the oldest and largest Dark Age re-enactment society in the UK, and probably the world. With over 700 members throughout Britain, and others in Europe and the US, The Vikings are the premier society presenting re-enactments of the Viking Age. While the Society concentrates mainly on the 10th Century, some events are set in the wider period from 790 to 1066, with the appropriate modifications to dress and equipment used. Our aim is to provide an accurate and educational portrayal of the Viking period, with an equal emphasis on the daily life of the period, and on the more warlike aspects of life in what was a formative period in European history.

Where we are from

We are based in the Warwickshire area of the Midlands but also have members from the NW of England and adopt a fun approach to our activities whilst maintaining the authenticity aspects. We hold regular training events as well as social activities so there is always something going on even over winter.

The area was originally thought to be derived from the ancient british word Ardu (in welsh Ardd) and the thickly forested area was known as the forest of Arden – which was unusual in that no roman roads ran through it. 

It encompassed an area corresponding to the north-western half of the traditional county of Warwick, stretching from Stratford-on-Avon in the south to Tamworth (in Staffordshire) in the north, and included what are now the large cities of Birmingham and Coventry, in addition to areas that are still largely rural with numerous areas of woodland. The most important and largest settlement in the forest was the town Henley-in-Arden (in a valley of the River Alne, approximately 15 miles southeast of Birmingham), the site of an Iron Age hillfort. During the period we reenact the Arden was part of the kingdom of Mercia and in 878 large parts of the area were ceded to the Danes  and became part of the Danelaw via King Alfreds treaty of Wedmore with Guthrum. Watling Street, on the north-eastern edge of Warwickshire, became the boundary between the Danelaw (the kingdom of the Danes) to the east and the much reduced Mercia to the west. There was also a boundary with the kingdom of Wessex to the south.

Owing to its location the Adren was settled by variety of people – primarily Danes and Saxons but trade with Dublin via the NW of England also saw traders and travellers from Norse and Cymric areas. This allows a wide variety of characters to be portrayed within the group.

What we do

The aim of the group is to educate and entertain by portraying characters, events and life from the dark ages. We partake in and host events that enable us to do this and this can take us all over the UK. Some members also undertake film or TV work as part of the Viking Societies Film and TV arm Action Warrior Solutions. What we do can normally be broken down into two parts:- Living History and Reenactment of Fighting.

Living History

This is the portrayal of life as we think it was in the period we are reenacting. It can take on many forms ranging from cooking (always popular with the warriors after a hard fight) through to storytelling and recreation of various crafts and activities. See the Living History page for more details. Its also a great place to relax and chill out after a fight or a good place to hide from the notorious “Kiddie Vike”.

Reenactment Fighting

This is where we hit each other… in a controlled and disciplined manner. The control and discipline though do not take the fun out of it they just make it safe. The weapons we use are blunted but even so an uncontrolled hit will still hurt – which is why we practice. For more details see the “hitting each other with swords and axes” page. 

Who we are

We come from all walks of life, teachers, artists, project managers, students and retired people. But we are all brought together by our interest in the period and our desire to learn more … and to hit each other with an axe or sword.


If you would like to know more about the group, what we do or to book us for an event please contact us or come and see us at one of the displays.




Whilst the Living History, the educational activities and the Film stuff is important its the fighting displays that most people come to a show to see. Ranging from small skirmishes up to major displays involving several hundred fighters with cavalry and missile weapons a good display is very entertaining to watch. Its also very popular with members of the group. Our displays can be loud, violent* and humorous where appropriate and draw upon the weapons and tactics used during the period. Members will go to great lengths to ensure that their clothing, armour and weapons are correct for the period in question and that the formations and techniques used are both entertaining and appropriate.

Is it safe?

In so much as any full contact sport is safe – yes. The weapons we use are blunted (but still made from iron and steel) and we train regularly to ensure that what you see is both entertaining and as safe as it can be. In order to be allowed onto the field various tests are carried out to ensure that each warrior meets a minimum standard and each weapon type has its own test to ensure that the person wielding it knows what they are doing. We also wear protective equipment such as helmets and gloves to protect hands and heads. The fighting you will see is different to how it would have been in that we try to avoid actually hurting each other – whereas obviously the aim of actual combat is the opposite. We do try to make sure it looks as authentic as possible though without actually injuring each other.

Do Women fight?

Whilst some societies were more progressive than others (in Viking society for example women often held positions of power) fighting was normally an occupation reserved for men. In order to preserve the authenticity side of what we do we follow this principle. However we do allow women to fight provided they wear male clothing. Some of the groups best warriors are female.

What sorts of weapons do you use?

The weapons we use are drawn from those that have been found by archeologists for the period and in the main they are spears, swords, axes, knives, slings and bows. Each period, and race,  has its own peculiarities but some weapons were common across  large time periods and were used by more than one race. A good example of this is the Seax, varieties of which were used for hundreds of years by many races – including the ones we depict. The main weapon that would have been used by a warrior from our period was the spear. Both the spear and the axe were multipurpose weapons and would also have been used for day to day activities such as hunting and chopping wood. This means most warriors would have had one of these as a weapon when it came to hitting people. Swords were uncommon and it was generally a wealthy warrior that had one. Metal was scarce so to use it to make something that really could only be used for killing someone meant you needed to be rich to justify it. Other weapons such as the much feared dane axe took special skills to wield properly in combat so again their use was limited to the warrior classes. 

If you are interested in the weaponry we use and want to know more just ask any of the warriors at a display – they are normally more than happy to tell you more.



Living History

Recreating the Past

The living history aspect of the group is aimed at recreating various crafts and life activities . These activities vary considerably and can look at pretty much any aspect of life in the period we are looking at. Ranging from cooking (always a popular element to have at any event) through to story telling, dye making, herbs and medicine and many many other crafts. It is in the Living History side of the society we that we can learn about day to day life and how it affected people. The items you will see in our Living History displays are as authentic as can be and the manner in which the items are used reflect current archaeological theories and finds.

 Living History also gives us a chance to show people outside of the group how people lived and ate in the dark ages. You will probably be surprised at how advanced people were and how good they were at the crafts and other activities they did.






As the site is developed we will add in areas for various crafts and activities.