Viking fun? Benover, near Yalding is a picturesque low-lying village South West of the town of Maidstone in Kent, South East England.
Once a proud market town, it survived regular floods and from 1510 to 1666 was four times decimated by the plague. It recovered in time building on the profitable wool trade and today you can experience that history at the campsite behind the ancient Woolpack Inn.
The 17th Century In has undoubtedly been the perfect setting for many real or imagined unsavoury happenings over the last four-hundred years, but the most recent incident will surely, in time, gain almost legendary status.
All we know so far is that there was a couple enjoying the peace and quiet of the £12 per night campsite, having the entire field to themselves. With the privacy this afforded it seems they were encouraged to practise their hobby of Viking re-enactment.
Today it is possible to spend quite the fortune on pretending to be a Norse warrior with swords sold on the Internet from less than £40 all the way up to thousands. Many of them are simply dress swords, made for show and not for dragon slaying, however many can be sharpened and are, quite simply, dangerous.
This became all too apparent when the big bearded Benover camper began practising his swordplay and accidentally caught his partner with his blade. The sword was said to have sliced her neck, causing a life-threatening injury.
The Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance confirmed they had received a call at 5pm on the 12th July to attend an accidental injury. Ambulance crews also attended along with critical care paramedics. The un-named woman was then transferred by road to Kings College Hospital in London.
A witness reported seeing the woman being given a blood transfusion at the scene before she was taken away to hospital. The injuries she sustained were confirmed as serious and life threatening by an ambulance service spokesperson.
“The air ambulance team joined our crews to help treat the patient en-route to hospital.” They said.
Locals were shocked at the news as Vikings have never been a common sight in the village, but were heartened to hear that the woman was making good progress in hospital and would likely make a full recovery thanks to the efforts of the emergency services.
One man, who didn’t want to give his name, confirmed he was quietly reading a newspaper when his reverie was interrupted by the noise of a helicopter hovering overhead and a police cars siren as it raced into the village.
“(I) poked my head out the front and saw the sirens,” he said, “I’ve heard it was an accident involving a sword but that’s about it.”
A local woman, who also wished to remain nameless, but lives close by the historic 17th Century inn said, “I don’t know them but the man who lives in the caravan has a great big beard like a Viking. It’s a wonder how she didn’t die there and then.”
A spokesperson for the pub declined to expand on the comments made by the locals referring to the incident as a ‘private matter.’
Viking re-enactment societies have been popular in the UK for more than forty years. The Vikings group was formed in 1971 and boasts more than 1500 members across the globe. A registered charity they are often called upon to visit schools to help children understand the contributions that the Scandinavian adventurers made to history and society.
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They are experts at combat displays and accidents are rare. The society also works with the media, film and television and support historical events showcasing the early medieval European way of life.