As announced after this year’s festival, the Kimberley Medieval Festival is handing over the reigns to a Calgary-based Viking settlement group, who hope to build a permanent full-time Viking village in the Kimberley-Cranbrook area.
Jen Silverhorse, Raven Stone Viking Settlement Coordinator, recently wrote to Kimberley City Council to outline the RavenStone Viking Settlement project. Council discussed the letter at a regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.
Silverhorse says the proposed project includes building an historically accurate, representative Viking village in, or near, Kimberley.
“What do we mean by representative?” wrote Silverhorse. “We mean that we will showcase building styles, clothing examples, customs and technologies than span the range of the viking age from 800-1066 AD and cover the geographical range from Greenland to modern day Germany, Scandinavia, Iceland and Norway.”
She adds that the group is looking for any suitable site in the Kimberley-Cranbrook corridor. They currently have three potential sites that they are exploring, one being located just outside of Kimberley at 8117 Kalitan Road.
She adds that the area would need to be re-zoned to accommodate small farming (crops and grazing animals), light commercial (for a small gift shop) and any other modifications to zoning that RDEK deems appropriate.
Infrastructure such as road widening, water, sewer and electrical will also need to be changed, added and/or upgraded.
“We do not intend to remove any trees and, in fact, would like to add trees to the site in order to reinforce the image of historical accuracy,” said Silverhorse. “Once the services and trees have been put in, this will be a very low-impact project as all building materials for the site itself will be local, natural and sustainable in nature.”
Council noted that there is no mention of financing, for any of the project, outlined in the letter, however many Councillors agreed that if the project does proceed it will be a valuable addition to Kimberley’s tourism sector.
“I’m excited about the prospect of RavenStone,” said Councillor Dalum. “It seems like a great addition to the community.”
“It’s definitely an interesting idea and I really like the concept,” said Councillor McBain. “However there is no mention of funding. How sustainable will it be considering the hours, employees and infrastructure required?”
Councillor Goodwin agreed, saying there is “no solid information” on financing. He has requested a more formal business plan from RavenStone and is awaiting response.
Silverhorse says that visitors can expect to engage with trained re-enactors who will live on site. She estimates that 20 to 50 people will live there full-time, with fewer during the winter months and more during the high season.
“Visitors will be able to feel as though they have stepped back in time as they watch villagers go about their daily lives; tending [to] animals, weaving, carving, building, smithing and cooking,” she said. “It is the project’s intention to have some small farming including crops that will produce vegetables and building materials the Viking people would have been familiar with. As well, it is intended to have some animals that the Vikings would have depended upon, such as oxen, sheep, goats and chickens.”
She says hours will be similar to other venues in the area, operating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the high season and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the low season (depending on demand and bookings). Their hope is to also have private bookings from school groups, weddings and conferences.
Silverhorse notes that alcohol and drugs will not be permitted onsite during hours of operation, with exceptions for special events such as weddings.
“A wooden fortification wall, as would have been common at the time, is also planned for the site,” wrote Silverhorse. “While there will be very little noise coming from the site, this wall will be an additional barrier to noise that may be generated by demonstrations during the festivals (a maximum of two per year, according to current planning).”
Finally, Silverhorse says there will be very little modern intrusion to the site in order to represent the lifestyle of the early middle ages.
“While we will have some water, sewer and electrical points of access for use by those who live on-site, there will be very limited environmental impact,” Silverhorse explained. “We are already consulting with builders in order to ensure that we remain as true as possible to the documented history while being mindful of modern building codes and safety concerns.”