The setting for our sessions is the wonderfully biodiverse Ravenscliffe Wood. Ravenscliffe Wood is classed as an Ancient Semi Natural Woodland and is home to a host of fascinating flora and fauna. The dominant tree species are pendunculate oak and silver birch with other species including willow, ash and historically coppiced hazel. Wood was a key resource for the Vikings providing materials for building longboats, long houses and weaponry. The ash tree held particular importance in Viking folklore. Known in old norse as Yggdrasil (an ash tree) was the tree of life. It was believed that its trunk extended to the heavens and its branches spread across the all the countries on earth. Its roots extended down to the underworld and a squirrel ran up and down the trunk carrying messages to and from the serpent in the underworld and the eagle in the canopy.
Over the past few weeks the children have had the opportunity to try out a range of Viking crafts including making bow and arrows and model long boats, writing Viking rune messages in paint made from mud and berries and creating Viking whip cords. They still have some work to do on their longboats and are hoping to sail (and maybe even ceremonially burn) them on the beck when they are completed.