MORE than 1,000 years ago it was the warning cry that sent a chill down English spines... “the Norsemen are coming!”
Now the Vikings are once again clambering into their longboats, dusting off their battle axes and mounting another ‘raiding party’ bound for St Helens... and we don’t mean a certain Super League outfit from Widnes way!
But the Vikings were not always plundering, pillaging and carrying off young Saxon maids. Most of them were sailors, traders and farmers, who settled extensively in this part of the North West.
Many local place names have Norse roots... anything ending in ‘by’ like Kirkby, Roby and Formby were all founded by Vikings and one of the possible explanations for the meaning of Rainford is ‘Ragnar’s ford’ Viking Day comes to town in Church Square on Saturday (September 29) with longboats and battle re-enactments.
Navigation and seamanship demonstrations will also be held with net - and rope-making events and an archery talk.
An Viking encampment takes centre stage on the square – where there will be a chance to see cooking and embroidery displays too.
And for younger visitors there will be Viking storytelling, interactive workshops, toys and games. Away from Church Square there will be plenty of themed entertainment including stilt walkers Helga, Olga and Vulgar in their 15ft longboat!
A Viking potter will be making period pottery, using an authentic wooden wheel, and encouraging children to join in and take home the items they make.
Archaeology plays a big part in the day. The way the Vikings buried their dead, along with their artefects, will be explained, again, with members of the public encouraged to get involved and learn more about this period of history.
Councillor Barrie Grunewald, St Helens Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for urban regeneration, housing and culture, said: “Family entertainment is a key element of the town centre’s appeal – and a major part of the council’s comprehensive programme of town centre events.
“Viking Day is a brand new event for 2012 and promises to be a fabulous, fun occasion that gives everyone the opportunity to see and get involved in a fantastic range of themed events and activities.”
Easily accessible car parking can be found at Chalon Way Car Park and throughout the town centre.
For more information about what’s happening in St Helens, go to whatsoninsthelens.com or telephone 01744 675492. For regular event updates, go to facebook.com/whatsonin sthelens and ‘like’ the page or follow on twitter.com/whatson sthelens.