Hexebart's Well

Vikings in Sherwood Forest (or, my walk with Thor)

No, it’s not some kind of geeky medievalist’s wish-fulfillment fantasy; there really is a Thynghowe (important Danelaw meeting spot) in Sherwood Forest. And so, intrepid researcher that I am, I went in search of it.

Where fields meet forest

Not quite so easy as it sounds. First, Travelling Companion (hereafter shortened to TC) and I, had to find the start of the walk. It was somewhere near two roundabouts, very close together, with much traffic screaming past at 50 mph. Round and round those roundabouts we drove, til we finally pulled over on a muddy shoulder and hoped our stuff wouldn’t get stolen while we were gone. We had just spent a lot of money at a York sweet shop, so were keen to protect our jelly babies, clotted cream fudge, sour snakes, and dolly mixture.

Into the deep green unknown

We found a muddy path and set off down it. Did I mention the path was muddy? Oh, and by the way, it was muddy. Muddy grooves filled with muddy water, muddy leaves mashed muddily into the muddy sides of the path. I squelched and slipped along it intrepidly, doubting I could actually manage 2 miles of this (miles, people MILES, not cute little kilometres). Then it started to rain. Not your usual English soft rain; it pelted frozen rainballs at us.

TC and I conferred about whether to continue, when a mighty CRASH-BOOM-SHUDDER of thunder sounded overhead. Who could it be but Thor himself, whacking Mjollnir about, sending us a signal? Unfortunately, because neither of us speak hammer, we weren’t sure what the signal was. “Oh, Thor,” said I, “should we keep going?” CRASH-BOOM-SHUDDER he answered, when a simple yes-or-no would have sufficed.



The "scary-as-fuck" tree

But we pushed on, despite thunder and hail and mud and, frankly, not being sure if we were on the right path at all because my map had got all soggy and unreadable and because I don’t really have a good sense of direction anyway. The rain eased, and we saw some incredibly old, old oaks in among the conifers, some of which looked like aliens or monsters or alien monsters.

Finally, though, we found the Thynghowe. It is a smallish site in the forest, slightly raised and grassy. It was kind of whelming to be honest, but I’d been to Stamford Bridge that day and imagined Viking warriors fighting with Saxons; so I did my best to imagine Viking elders talking about… stuff. It was a little dull. Maybe that’s what Thor was trying to tell us.

The Thynghowe