Local woman hurt in medieval battle
A self-described ‘‘large, poleaxefighting woman’’ from Upper Hutt was hospitalised along with about 80 other people after fighting in a medieval-style battle in Italy.
Dayna Berghan-Whyman ended up strapped to a stretcher with a drip in her left arm after the Battle of the Nations at Santa Severa Castle near Rome on the weekend before last.
The Battle of the Nations is the world championship in the sport of historical medieval battle, involving full contact fighting using metal weapons and a standardised list of rules.
‘‘I had two UK girls on me [fighting], and once my helmet was released from around my neck, that’s when I got a huge migraine and lost sight in my left eye. Then I started throwing up and they sent me to medical,’’ she recounted on a dodgy phone line from the roadside in Azincourt, France, where the ‘‘Battle Bus’’ she was riding in had pulled over.
After that battle, BerghanWhyman was sent to hospital in Rome - a 45-minute trip in an ambulance hightailing down the motorway. ‘‘The speedo got to 170kmh at one stage, so I threw up in the ambulance as well. It was the freakiest ride ever.’’
Berghan-Whyman has since discharged herself from hospital to start the journey to Scotland, where she will battle again.
‘‘I will have to reassemble all my armour in Scotland because it was all stripped off me when I got the medical aid.’’
About 80 people were hospitalised over the four-day
annual competition, but Berghan-Whyman said it was important to note that more people were taking part compared with previous years.
‘‘Our casualty rate seems pretty high ... but when you have 700 people on the field over four days it’s actually not that bad.’’
A lot of the casualties’ injuries were compounded by the fact that it was summer in Europe, and the armour trapped the heat.
Berghan-Whyman has been fighting for 16 years, and calls herself the Lady Beast.
‘‘I’m one of the only women fighters. I just look like a short, fat bloke on the field,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m fighting with the same weapons as the guys. The only difference is I’m in the women’s category.’’
While Berghan-Whyman is older than many of her competitors, she is still a worthy warrior.
‘‘I am one of the older fighters. I turned 40 this year, but I’ve still got my knees, and I’ve still got my teeth,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m not terrible at it.’’
Kiwis fought in both the women’s and men’s sections, and though they represented New Zealand well, Berghan-Whyman said they did not place.
‘‘In an international tournament you just take part and do your best,’’ she said.
‘‘But New Zealand punches above its weight. New Zealand sent a small contingent because we’re a small country.
Her pole axe was smashed to bits and she ended up in hospital, but she was still having the time of her life.
‘‘Here I am, travelling from Rome to Scotland and visiting battlegrounds along the way. Visiting castles and doing stuff that the castles were built for in the first place.’’
The Battle of the Nations was the first of two major battles Berghan-Whyman would put her body on the line for this month, she said. The second battle, the International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) world championships, was to take place in Scotland, ending on Sunday.
Asked why two separate battles were taking place, Berghan-Whyman said: ‘‘It’s like the difference between rugby union and rugby league - same game, different rules.’’
Berghan-Whyman would represent New Zealand in long sword, pole axe, and sword and shield.