In Memoriam Paul Allen

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Paul Allen, 1953 – 2007

Groups: Ousekjarr (1994-1999) & Gesithas (1999-2007)

In autumn 1994 Paul was walking our dog Luke along the river Cam and he met some folk practising sword fighting. They were members of Ouskejarr, who told him all about The Vikings! As a trained teacher and actor with an interest in martial arts, the combination of history, fighting and acting appealed to him so he joined. His first show was Portchester 1995 so I went along to watch and got roped into joining. As he got more involved with the Vikings, his interest widened to include living history. At that time Ouskejarr were very combat orientated, so in 1999, with an amicable split from Ousekjarr, he formed a new group Gesithas, and steered them to Herredship. Paul took Gesithas on several trips to Europe, including spending a week living in the reconstructed Viking town at Foteviken and the archaeology week at Biskupin in Poland, where we were joined by Frania and we introduced the Poles to female warriors!

One of Paul’s other interests was horses, and he was an active member of the cavalry.

With his background in teaching and acting, it was an obvious step for Paul to become a full time school visitor, covering not just Vikings, but other periods including ancient Greek and Tudor. He also supplemented his income with film extra work and supply teaching.

2007 was an eventful year for Gesithas, two funerals and a wedding.

In the spring, Gillian Warren died. In the summer, two members of Gesithas were married, Tim Jones and Annette Padfield. They had found love blossoming over the bonfire in Biskupin and Paul was delighted to be Tim’s best man. It was a joyful time for all of Gesithas.

Lanark3 Paul Allen-1-.jpg

In September Paul was filming for Time Team. They were rehearsing a jousting scene. As planned the lance shattered, but a sliver of wood went through the eye slot of his helmet and into his eye. He never recovered. Paul’s end was as unique as he was and I am sure he would have wanted it that way. In mail, on horseback and in front of a camera.

Gone but never forgotten.


Hwaet! We Gesithas thrym gefrunon
eorla eadig weorthful Eadmond
hu thaet hlaford ellen fremedon.
Wuldres Wealdend woroldare forgeaf
haele hildedeor thaet was god gesith.
Paul was a proud and princely leader
the bold battle-boss commanded bravely
skilled with sword, spear and bow.
Worthy of renown, the wise word-smith,
a good companion generous with gifts.
He loved his Lord, the Creator of Life,
served his saviour and his fellow man.
Very vigorous man he left us valiantly
one final fight that fateful day
he went joyful to the jousting,
spurred his steed, the stout stallion,
champions charged, hooves churned turf,
the smash of weapons spear met shield.
Lances burst, the battle-boughs broke,
splintered asunder, slivers flew in swarms;
one stung the eye of stalwart Paul
and struck him down, a sudden doom.
Healers hurried to help the wounded one,
a whirling wind announced arrival
of the spinning eagle which whisked him away.
He fought the festering foul injury,
a week of waiting by wife and kin
but followed the call of Christ to heaven
ended earth’s exile and hurried home.
He feasts in that festive far-off paradise
cheered by company of those gone before
waiting and watching the weary remnant
as we weep and remember and celebrate his life.

Translation of Old English:

Hark! We have heard of the glory of the blessed eorl of the Gesithas, the worthy Edmond, how that lord performed courageous deeds. The Glorious Lord God gave him worldly honour, the battle-brave hero – that was a good companion.

The Poem was written by Annette Jones