Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Capture Viking Spirit for Yourself; ALAN WESTON Sees What's Become of the Vikings and Samples the Water of Life in Norway

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Capture Viking Spirit for Yourself; ALAN WESTON Sees What's Become of the Vikings and Samples the Water of Life in Norway

Article excerpt

Byline: ALAN WESTON

VIKINGS traditionally have not had a good press. Thanks to centuries of rotten PR, their image as pillagers and looters is so ingrained in the popular imagination it is unlikely to be shifted any time soon.

Not that their fearsome reputation was undeserved. Nowadays, however, Norway prefers to put a more positive spin on its most famous export, portraying their ancestors as traders and expert shipbuilders rather than bloodthirsty raiders.

One way in which the Viking spirit is being channelled to more positive ends is by employers who send their staff to replica camps. Here, they dress in Viking gear and compete in games such as archery and throwing battle axes at a target.

I visited one such camp in Stiklestad, a town described by our guide as the "cradle of the Viking age".

The people getting in touch with their inner warrior were managers from a Norwegian supermarket chain.

After the exertions of the day, they retired to the chieftain's hall, with the winning team taking pride of place at the table of honour. While they awaited their Viking feast, with the hall lit only by a roaring log fire, actors portraying the chieftain and his wife put on a little comic performance.

Even allowing for the language barrier, the basic plot was clear.

Mr Chieftain, chicken drumstick in hand, may well have been a fearsome warrior in the outside world, but back home he was just another hen-pecked husband who was bossed around by his domineering wife.

There is far more to Norway than Vikings, however. This is a country which, while proud of its traditions, is also bright, shiny, and modern, thanks in no small part to the discovery and exploitation of its natural resources such as oil and gas.

For this reason, first-time visitors may be surprised by how pricey everything is.

We visited the central Norway region of Trondelag, which has the city of Trondheim at its heart. The area has been described as a "Norway in miniature", and certainly it is one of the best introductions to this large, varied and fascinating country.

Trondheim itself is the third largest city in Norway, after Oslo and Bergen. …

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