ANOTHER milestone in the history of the Vikings in County Down has been laid with the publication of a new book written by the Magnus Barelegs Vikings, an historical re-enactment and educational group. The book, “Blood of the Norse” was launched in Down County Museum. Attending the launch were representatives from Annagassan in Co Louth where a fantastic 200 hectare Viking fort and settlement has just recently been discovered.
‘Blood of the Norse’ is an exciting new educational resource containing a wealth of information about the Magnus Viking group. It covers information about the Vikings’ work, life and activity in County Down, and is the product of a year long PEACE III funded community history project organised by Down County Museum and the Somme Heritage Centre with the Magnus Barelegs Vikings.
The book initiative involved the Magnus Vikings Association welcoming a number of other Peace III Groups to their reconstructed Viking Village on the shores of Strangford Lough in Delamont Park to learn more about the Viking way of life. Areas such as clothing, food, medicines and cookery were covered and they even experienced a dramatic battle re-enactment.
Philip Campbell, Chairman of the Magnus Barelegs Association said, “This book was really aimed at raising awareness about the work we do. It is very much educationally based, and will be used in work in the schools when we visit them during the term. The booklet provides information about a wide range of life about the Vikings and also it has a useful timeline. It even covers our rowing activities. Tony and Tracy Davies from Strangford Lough Brewing Company made a presentation of a special sample of their renowned Barelegs ale to the visiting group from Annagassan in Co Louth at the event in the museum.
“On 14th April we will be holding a recruitment day in Saul for any new Viking men or women. Anyone interested is welcome to come along and get a taste of the Viking fun and the work we do. I can be contacted at (Philip Campbell) 07837529918).”
Throughout the project, 20 community groups from the Down District, North Down and Ards Borough Council areas engaged in a series of educational activities designed to promote greater understanding of local culture and traditions and enhance awareness of cultural identity and diversity in the region.
Blood of the Norse is available now, free of charge from Down County Museum, which is open 10am-5pm Monday to Friday, and 1pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday. For further information please contact Linda McKenna or Danielle Smyth on 028 4461 5218.
Magnus Vikings Welcome Co Louth Vikings To Down
Down News caught up with the County Louth Vikings after the launch at Down County Museum ( www.linnduachaill.ie ) chillling out in Denvir’s Hotel in Downpatrick. Hugh McMahon, the Annagassan Viking Festival Committee Chairman, said he was delighted to have been invited to Downpatrick for the first time to participate in the launch of Blood of the Norse. He explained that he was impressed with the history surrounding the area of Downpatrick, but not to be outdone in true Viking rivalry, he said that on his own back door he was sitting on one of the world’s top ten archaelogical sites which still has yet to be properly unearthed.
“In Annagassan we have discovered an incredible 200 hectare site four years ago dating back to when the Vikings settled in Ireland bwteen 650-860AD which even possibly pre-dates Dublin. We now have a top team of archaeologists working on this project. Eamonn P Kelly, Head of Irish Antiquities, is leading the research team. The site itself 45 miles north of Dublin is located in farmland and is well away from roads and anything which could disturb it. It is great that we can all share in our real common European heritage. I have contacts with Norwegian Vikings who are also very interested in this tremendous discovery.”
The Linn Duachaill ‘longphort’ was used by the Vikings as a trading centre, as amilitary camp to launch their attacks on monasteries around Ireland, and also as a centre of their slave trade where they sent Irish natives abroad.
Mr McMahon added, “We are truly beholding to local farmers Brian O’Neill and Gerry Sharkey who have been extremely helpful in allowing us to proceed with the archaelogical works. Ours is a community project, and we can say that we must be the only such project to be employing teams of archaeologists to work for them.”
Brian was also very interested in the Viking banquets that had been run in the past in the Down Arts Centre and the general level of participation between County Down Vikings and the local community. He said the Magnus Vikings was a “good model of community action” and added, “We are also looking forward to visiting the Magnus Barelegs day in Delamont Park later in the summer. And we have our own Viking festival in Annagassan on 6-7th August and everyone is welcome to attend.”
Ruth Cassidy, Secretary of the Annagassan Historical Society said, “We also do quite a bit of work in local schools and would like to expand this to cover more schools. We have teamed up with Hugh’s Vikings to help deliver a package for the curriculum.
“We have received a huge amount of help with this archaeological work and this will really be a national treasure once it is properly investigated, but that will take some time. We have already had geophysics surveys done and they certainly look promising. This find is part of our European heritage too, something we all share. I have links with Danish Viking groups and they are also very keen to see our common history reveal itself at Linn Duachaill through time.” www.linnduachaill.ie