Norwegian Goes Back In Time To Enrich The Present

Since retiring from a long and distinguished career in the oil industry, Norwegian Torkild Waagaard has dedicated his life to following his fascinating Viking ancestry as far back as to the Bronze Age.
He has pored over Norwegian history studiously and today his small Bangkok office has become a veritable library on the ancient culture, with numerous books and documents related to the history of the Vikings piled high in his modest premises. And then there are his handicraft tools, accompanied by one striking object which looks very like an iron helmet from hundreds of years ago – a Viking helmet – but without any horns!
Most people can readily identify with the image of the Viking as a great sailor and cruel, marauding warrior in fearsome dress including axe and sword – and of course with the two horns on his helmet, right?One man at least knows otherwise.
“I would like the world to know the truth. And that is that Viking helmets did not have horns. The only real Viking-age helmet ever found in the world was found in my hometown, Ringerike just north of Oslo. The cliché is of course that if you see a picture or representation of a Viking, you’ll see a helmet with horns. But that’s not true at all,” Torkild Waagaard says.
And this is a man, a real Viking descendant complete with the ancestral history, determined to clarify any doubt.
He explains that the best preserved Viking helmet ever found in the entire world was found in one of the burial 250 mounds in his hometown Ringerike.
“When you see the real thing, you will appreciate that the cow horns on Viking helmets are pure fiction. Indeed we know they came about as a result of Richard Wagner’s opera, “Der Ring des Nibelungen” when the costume-makers created a few Viking helmets with cow horns for dramatic effect I guess. This opera became famous around the world, and since then, Vikings have been associated with the two-horned helmet. So it is a matter of fact, that the Viking helmet with cow horns is a fairy tale and absolutely not true.”
Waagaard went as far as to make his own version of the hat from authentic drawings in the historic Museum “Oldsaksamlinga” in Oslo, has the only other completed ‘genuine’ helmet in the world. The master copy of the helmet is in his office.
He begins and ends every day these days in his Samutprakan workshop creating perfect replicas of Viking handicrafts. He also makes perfect Viking swords and knives that otherwise can only be found in the finest museums and collections. His unique, handmade artifacts only go to collectors who can properly appreciate his work.
“My handmade Gjermundnu swords can be found as far afield as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and in private collections in Norway and Scandinavia.”
Gjermundnu swords are old Viking style blades discovered in the burial mounds scattered around the district of Ringerike.
“I have a connection with the museum and I can get drawings from them by which to style my work. I only use the most sophisticated original materials that makes it possible to produce swords and armors that are very difficult to distinguish from the original one. Every item is unique and of a limited edition.”
“I learned to be a craftsman simply by practice since I was young and I learned everything I needed to know by myself,” he continued.
Torkild, an old Viking ‘guru’ is happy to hold forth about Viking culture any time and has attended important seminars many times around the world on the subject. He also has had his own exhibition at the Ringerike Museum displaying his crafts and Viking articles, and has a plan to have more exhibitions to promote Viking handicrafts.
Besides the swords and the iron helmets he makes, his other masterwork is a bronze scale model of Saint Olav on his horse, a model shown first to the public at the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok four or so years ago. The original is now on display in Ringerike City Hall.
“Saint Olav was a great Viking king who was acknowledged as king of all of Norway the counties of which he brought together as one country. He was a man who ended the barbarian practices and slavery and brought the acceptance of Christianity throughout the kingdom of Norway, 1,000 years ago. He is the most important man in Norwegian history and born in the same place I was!”
Waagaard has an ambition to build a 1.7m monument of Saint Olav in his hometown but the project is still under wraps. It has been started but is not yet near completion, even after a former Prime Minister of Norway sent him a letter of appreciation and encouragement for Waagaard’s work and the Saint Olav monument project.
But almost unbelievably, the project has been stuck for want of proper funding.
“The original estimate was that the Saint Olav project needed about NOK 1 million for everything which was about Baht 6 million. Now we still need about Baht 3 million baht to finish this. I really hope one day that I can finish this project with a helping hand from Norwegian companies who would like to create something important in memorial of our Great King Olav Haraldsson in his birth place. After all he was the most important Viking in our history.”

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