Photo gallery: Nordic warriors set fire to a ship at Sheringham’s first Viking festival

The Vikings spar with each other in Sheringham for the Viking Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley The Vikings spar with each other in Sheringham for the Viking Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley

Sunday, February 23, 2014
9:21 PM

It isn’t every day you see a Viking on the beach.

But if you happened to venture onto Sheringham’s seafront on Sunday afternoon that’s exactly what you would have found.

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Dispelling the Viking myth — did you know?

Vikings did not wear horned helmets – the only authentic Viking helmet ever discovered was without horns. Painters may have fabricated the trend during the 19th century.

Vikings were exceptionally clean – excavations of Viking sites have turned up tweezers, razors, combs and ear cleaners made from animal bones and antlers.

Vikings buried their dead in boats – in the Norse religion, valiant warriors entered festive and glorious realms after death. It was thought the vessels that served them well in life would help them reach their final destinations.

Vikings were active in the slave trade – many Vikings got rich off human trafficking. They would capture and enslave women and young men while pillaging Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Slavic settlements.

Viking men spent most of their time farming – most Viking men brandished scythes, not swords. The majority peacefully sowed barley, rye and oats. They also raised cattle, goats, pigs and sheep on their farms, which typically yielded just enough food to support a family.

Vikings skied for fun – Scandinavians developed primitive skis at least 6,000 years ago. Norsemen regarded skiing as an efficient way to get around and a form of recreation.

Viking men preferred being blonde – to conform, brunette Vikings — usually men — would use a strong soap with a high lye content to bleach their hair.

It isn’t every day you see a Viking on the beach.

But if you happened to venture onto Sheringham’s seafront on Sunday afternoon that’s exactly what you would have found.

And the town was filled with sword-brandishing rebels as part of weekend-long festival to celebrate Sheringham’s Nordic history — complete with a burning replica longboat.

The warlords on the beach were in fact members of the Wuffa Saxon and Viking Re-enactment Society who terrified visitors with their dramatic fight display.

The Vikings arrive in Sheringham for the Viking Festival. Picture: Denise BradleyThe Vikings arrive in Sheringham for the Viking Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley

Viking chief Ald Helm, otherwise known as David Bracey, has been dressing up as his Nordic counterpart for the past 15 years.

His character in the re-enactment was a trader who has travelled to British shores to find mercenaries for protection.

And although Vikings at a similar festival in York were celebrating Ragnarok — the end of the Nordic calendar, Mr Bracey offered reassurance.

He said: “Apparently there are some people who said it was supposed to be the end of the world, but we do not believe that.”

The festival was organised by local artist and sign writer Colin Seal, 70, who wants to make it a yearly event.

Mr Seal said: “We thought it would be nice to do something in the winter and as the festival develops we will get bigger ever year.”

The idea stemmed from Sheringham’s name which is of Scandinavian origin and means the Ham of Scira’s people.

It is thought Scira was a Viking warlord who was given the land where Sheringham lies today as a reward for his performance in battle.

And to celebrate this history, the weekend’s activities included sword and shield-making workshops, Viking theatre groups, a torch-lit parade and a boat-burning finale on the beach.

The Viking re-enactment group roared as they threw burning torches into the boat to signify a warrior’s burial ceremony.

Joolz Bailey, 39, of Little Plumstead, attended as her character Lady Aelfina, a member of neighbouring re-enactment group Ordgar.

She said: “It is great fun — I love bringing history to life.”

Richard Pain, 31, at the evening event with his wife Janette, 25, and their two children, said: “It is really good for the children and something they can interact with, even at a young age. Next year, Mr Seal hopes to organise a light show as well.

Are you celebrating a special event? Let us know by emailing newsdesk@archant.co.uk.

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