The Song of Rig (Rigsthula)

Through a modern translation of this ancient Norse poem we investigate Viking classes and their lifestyles:


Within an empty classroom, three areas are set up for: Thrall's, Karl's and Jarl's. For the Thrall's there are animal skins, crude wooden utesils, and plain coloured woollen garments; for the Karl's there are clay bowls, carved wooden utensils and furniture, and coloured wool and linen garments; the Jarl's have floor coverings, tablecloths and silverware, and decorated and coloured wool, linen and silk garmments.

As the children come in, or after they are settled, I hand out name cards for characters in the poem (there are 69!). Most of these are mildly amusing, such as 'Lumpy-calfs' and 'Stinky'; some are slightly suggestive - 'Easy-going' for a girl, for example. These can be vetted to your requirments. Certain characters have specific costumes and as I get these characters dressed I explain about the style of garment, the fibres, etc. The remaining characters choose from what's left. (Everyone will get something to wear - although it may just be a leather head-band!)

When everyone is settled again I begin reading the poem. It is interactive and I move around a lot. As I read the poem I mention particular points of interest and pause frequently for the laughter to die down! They usually find the birth of the first baby quite funny (they are given an anatomically correct baby to swaddle - you can vet this if you want). As the poem progresses, everyone has their moment in the spotlight, and I further discuss any interesting points I forgot before (I don't have a Viking memory!).

To finish the session, when the poem is completed, there is the chance to taste Edda's 'lumpy loaf, heavy and thick, loaded with bran', and the other foods and drinks from the poem. This includes hot veal soup, cold roasted meat and salt fish, yoghurt, non-alcoholic ale and non-alcoholic wine (which again you can vet if you wish).

Rosala Viking Centre, Finland: showing a Viking hall with tables, benches, sleeping areas, etc. where a Jarl may have lived.

   Teachers resource pack includes: a copy of the poem in Old Norse, with translation as it will be read in class, a service specification detailing my requirements; a proposal sheet with all the information about what will be on offer.

Key Facts:
Viking class system; homes; food; poetry doesn't always rhyme.
Other Topics:
Preferred Size:
up to 69 providing there is space
7 years upwards
2 hours 15 minutes approx.
£100 (excluding mileage and travel costs)
ground floor location preferred (heavy/bulky equipment); area large enough for whole group to be active in