I believe it was Alcuin who said:

They come from the land of the ice and snow;

but avoid Heysham coz the sun won’t show

Well, if it was Alcuin, he would have eaten his own vellum if he’d seen how wrong he was about the Viking Heysham Festival today.

Despite heavy rain, enough to dampen the raping and pillaging of any true Viking, thousands of visitors came to see hundreds of Viking re-enactors in their camp and the fun fair.

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I spent much of the morning looking after my kids but headed off late morning up to Heysham. I went to the church to look at the hogback, and chatted with one of the church guides, subsequently having coffee with him and his wife. I then had a long meeting with the very pleasant and super Viking Manx expert Dr Dirk Steinforth. I then got to enjoy a burger, look around the ‘Living History Encampment’ before listening to an evening lecture on the Vikings in the North-West by Lancaster University’s Dr Fiona Edmonds. I then delivered a second evening lecture with Roger Lang about the ‘hogback’ stone in the church.

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Yet the really disturbing Viking invasion was scarier still: something fit for a sinister dummies-coming-to-life episode of Doctor Who. This is because locals have embellished their garages, front gardens and doorways with a large number of Viking scarecrows (or are they scare-ravens?).

Authenticity was a secondary concern among those I saw with plastic horned helmets aplenty. There was even one orang utan Viking was called ‘Asterix’.

IMG_20170715_144340 This hilarity helped make the scarecrows a mildly sinister but also fun competition, celebrating Heysham’s Viking heritage linked to the festival.

 

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