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Record crowds turn out for Viking Festival finale

PUBLISHED: 21:27 23 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:23 24 February 2019

The vikings on the beach for the burning of the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The vikings on the beach for the burning of the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

Sheringham’s sixth annual Scira Viking Festival came to an awe-inspiring close on Saturday, as a Norse warlord winged his way to Valhalla on board a 28ft longboat.

Spectators watch the burning of the longboat on the beach at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSpectators watch the burning of the longboat on the beach at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Thousands of locals and visitors lined the promenade and clifftops to watch, as a flame torch-carrying Viking honour guard hailed the arrival of the wooden boat, which, after being carried across the shingle, was set alight on the sand in a spectacular finale.

More than a hundred re-enactors from four Norfolk groups made their way to the seafront, where waiting crowds were entertained by a fire-breathers from Norwich-based troupe Unhinged Circus and music specially arranged for the event by festival organiser, former TV and film set designer Chris Neville.

The longboat blazes as the tide comes in on the beach during the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe longboat blazes as the tide comes in on the beach during the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Spectators came from as far afield as Durham and Reading for the main festival day, which included battles on the beach and a living history village set up by Wuffa Saxon and Viking Re-enactment Society and featuring Viking cooking, crafts and weaponry, as well as have-a-go axe-throwing demonstrations and a working iron forge.

A family week organised by Mr Neville, his artist partner Jill Brammer and Scira founder Colin Seal saw dozens of youngsters, parents and grandparents make Viking shields, amulets, tee shirts and axes at craft workshops run at Sheringham Museum, which also hosted events including talks and a Viking wool-making demonstration.

The vikings on the beach for the burning of the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe vikings on the beach for the burning of the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Neville, who is also a museum trustee, said the week-long event, which is hosted by Sheringham Carnival, had attracted record numbers, with more than twice as many people turning out for the main festival day as in previous years.

“It has been absolutely amazing,” he added. “From the moment we opened in the morning, to the burning of the boat, there have been crowds of people; the weather was perfect and it just couldn’t have been better.”

The vikings on the beach for the burning of the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe vikings on the beach for the burning of the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Praising Mr Neville and his fellow carnival committee members for their hard work and dedication, Sheringham mayor Madeleine Ashcroft said: ”We are so lucky to have fantastic community organisations such as the Carnival Association, who work so hard to make these fabulous and vital events the success they are.”

Viking sisters, from left, back, Rose, nine; Molly, seven and Kitty Baily, five, with Flora, three, front, by the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYViking sisters, from left, back, Rose, nine; Molly, seven and Kitty Baily, five, with Flora, three, front, by the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Viking three-year-old Flora Baily witha snack by the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYViking three-year-old Flora Baily witha snack by the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sisters Lydia, five, and Scarlett Eke, nine, by the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSisters Lydia, five, and Scarlett Eke, nine, by the longboat at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The jolly butcher at M&D Butchers in Sheringham has been turned into a viking for the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe jolly butcher at M&D Butchers in Sheringham has been turned into a viking for the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The longboat blazes as the tide comes in on the beach during the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe longboat blazes as the tide comes in on the beach during the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The torchlight parade taking the Viking longboat to the beach at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe torchlight parade taking the Viking longboat to the beach at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The torchlight parade taking the Viking longboat to the beach at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe torchlight parade taking the Viking longboat to the beach at the Viking Festival at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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