At Ribe VikingeCenter, hands-on activities are never short on the ground. There's no glass to separate you from the experience of Viking life. Use all your senses and become part of history.
Visit the working craftsmen in the market place, in Ribe town and on the Manor farm and let your imagination take flight. The Viking craftsmen take pride in their work and they always find the time for a little chat about historical tools and techniques. Some of their finished products are used in the Viking sceneries, while the rest are sold on the market.
Grind your own flour
In the Thing-hall in Ribe town, you may try to grind flour on the quern. And if you manage to grind a decent handful, you may be able to trade it with the Vikings for one of their small flatbreads.
The largest houses of the Viking settlement have a turning quern stone for grinding flour. This is much faster than the old push querns, which were in use from Neolithic times throughout the Bronze Age and up through the majority of the Iron Age. Still, turning the heavy quern is hard work. For this reason, bread was considered 'finer' fare than porridge or broth.
Bake your own flatbread
Seat yourself by the fire together with the Vikings in Ribe Town and bake a small flatbread. The most important grain for the Viking diet was rye and yeast was not used, so the bread is not as light and airy as it usually is today, but it still tastes fantastic! Be careful not to burn your bread, for the heat from charcoal and flames can be hard to judge. Remember that in the Viking Age nearly all food was prepared over an open fire - someone was always needed to feed new wood to the fire and keep an eye on the food.
Move into the Thing-hall
How would you like to be a child in the Viking Age? If only for 20 minutes? In the Thing House of Ribe Town, 825 AD, you may borrow a Viking cloak and felted cap, and for as long as you choose to wear these you will be a foster child in the town chieftain's family. You will be performing the same tasks as any other Viking Age child. Perhaps water needs to be drawn from the well, perhaps you will be asked to catch a fish, grind flour or cook, or perhaps the chieftain will need someone to shine up his leather shoes! You never know in advance what the day will be like, but unlike the children of 1200 years ago you are in the fortunate position to be able to take off your Viking clothes when you no longer feel like taking part in the game.
When two Vikings had fallen out or perhaps had started courting the same woman they could challenge each other to a "holmgang" (a traditional form of single combat). A meeting was arranged at a pre-determined location - often on a small islet in a stream or a lake (the Norse word holm literally means islet) - and blows were exchanged in turn, using either sword or axe. The fighting continued until one party eventually backed down or was killed. At Ribe VikingeCenter we have exchanged swords and axes for pillows, and the islet for a tree trunk. Blows are exchanged in turn until someone is struck down from the trunk. Whoever remains standing the longest has won the game.
The trunk and pillows can be found in the area known as Ribe Town, 825 AD.
Games and fun
Gaming boards and numerous different playing pieces from the Viking Age have been recovered, but unfortunately little is known about the games that were played at the time. We believe that the games were often based in competitions of strength, speed, dexterity and intelligence.
On the plaza in front of the Thing House of Ribe Town, 825 AD, you will find an assortment of historical games and activities to try for yourself. If you are unfamiliar with the rules or you would like someone to play with, ask one of the young Vikings. They will be happy to help you out!
Make a dowel (a wooden nail)
On the playground by the café and in Ribe Town, 825 AD, you can help the carpenters by making dowels (wooden plugs) to be used in building new houses - or you can keep them as souvenirs. Iron was a precious material in the Viking Age and it was only used where it was absolutely necessary.
Here's an interesting fact: More than 5000 dowels went into building the long house in the Manor Farm!!
Try your aim at archery
Handmade longbows with real arrows are waiting for you to come and give them a try. Perhaps you will prove to be a better shot than even the Vikings? You must pay to have a go, but you are also more than welcome to simply look on and have a chat with the archers. Most days the falconer, too, can be found by the archery range. Experience the stately, stuffy owl or the swift falcons diving towards their prey. If you are really lucky you may even get to partake in the display and be allowed to hold a bird of prey on your very own arm. Find out more about the falconer.
Mint your own lucky coin
Visit the Viking silversmith and royal minter and make your own copy of the coin that was in circulation on the market by Riber Ribe Å in the 8th century. Find out more about the Viking coins.
The language is rough and the tone harsh. At warrior training you better get your hands out of your pockets and do as you are told! You should definitely join the warrior training if you want to learn how to use the spear, sword and shield like a truly brave Viking. (Wooden weapons are used during training)
The miniature Viking world
The historical playground at Ribe VikingeCenter is located right next to our café. It is a veritable gold mine for our youngest visitors.
In our Miniature Viking World children are busy making wooden nails, fetching firewood, "cooking" and visiting each other between the little Viking houses in Midgard - perfect surroundings in which to create your own imaginative games. You may also choose to leave the safety of Midgard (the world of men) and try to make your way through Asgard alive. This is the world inhabited by the Gods and it contains many challenges to those mortals who enter it. In order to reach Asgard you must follow the path that leads across the ocean… but beware! If you touch the ground you may fall prey to the Midgard Worm!