New Varangian Guard Ladoga

The New Varangian Guard Inc. (NVG Inc) is a historical re-enactment organisation with branches throughout Australia, and sister organisations in several other countries. The core area and period of interest of the New Varangian Guard is the Byzantine Empire, its allies and enemies, during the 9th to 13th centuries  A.D.  Members of the Guard attempt to learn about the lifestyle of these peoples by study and reconstruction of the materials and practices of the period. We aim to make our recreation as realistic as possible without compromising safety, the law, or personal enjoyment. We also endeavor to create and maintain channels of communication amongst members, other recreation groups, educators, government and the business community. In this way we provide opportunities and venues for members to practice, display and teach the skills, arts and crafts that they pursue.


 Ladoga is one of two “not for profit” South Australian based branches of the New Varangian Guard interested in creating an accurate “living history” of life in the Russian village of Ladoga from the 9th century through to the 13th century.

Ladoga was a major trading centre in early Russian history and gateway to the many waterways travelled by the Varangians throughout Russia.  The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries. A multi-ethnic settlement, it was dominated by Scandinavians who were called by the name of Rus and for that reason is sometimes called the first capital of Russia.

Thanks to Photographer: Ben Todd

Archeology suggests that Ladoga was founded in 753. Until 950, it was one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe. Merchant vessels sailed from the Baltic Sea through Ladoga to Novgorod and then to Constantinople or the Caspian Sea. This route is known as the Trade Route from the Varangians to the Greeks. An alternative way led down the Volga River along the Volga trade route to the Khazar capital of Atil, and then to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, all the way to Baghdad.Tellingly, the oldest Arabian Middle Age coin in Europe was unearthed in Ladoga.
Old Ladoga’s inhabitants were Norsemen, Finns, and Slavs, hence different names for the city. The original Finnish name, Alode-joki (i.e., “lowland river”), was rendered as Aldeigja in Norse language and as Ladoga (Ладога) in Old East Slavic.   According to the Hypatian Codex, the legendary Varangian leader Rurik arrived at Ladoga in 862 and made it his capital. Rurik’s successors later moved to Novgorod and then to Kiev, thus laying foundations for the powerful state of Kievan Rus. There are several huge kurgans, or royal funerary barrows, at the outskirts of Ladoga. One of them is said to be Rurik’s grave, and another one—that of his successor Oleg. The Heimskringla and other Norse sources mention that in the late 990s Eiríkr Hákonarson of Norway raided the coast and set the town ablaze.
Ladoga was the most important trading center in Eastern Europe from about 800 to 900 CE, and it is estimated that between 90 to 95% of all Arab dirhams found in Sweden passed through Ladoga.

Ladoga’s next mention in chronicles is dated to 1019, when Ingigerd of Sweden married Yaroslav of Novgorod. Under the terms of their marriage settlement, Yaroslav ceded Ladoga to his wife, who appointed her father’s cousin, the Swedish earl Ragnvald Ulfsson, to rule the town. This information is confirmed by sagas and archaeological evidence, which suggests that Ladoga gradually evolved into a primarily Varangian settlement. At least two Swedish kings spent their youths in Ladoga, king Stenkil and Inge I, and possibly also king Anund Gårdske.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Ladoga functioned as a trade outpost of the powerful Novgorod Republic.


For more information contact –

Contact: Joanna Hassam