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Clash of the Vikings in Bridgham

PUBLISHED: 10:22 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 19:27 17 May 2011

Adam Gretton

SWORDS and axes clashed with shields and chainmail at the weekend when a Norfolk village marked the 1,000th anniversary of an important battle in history.

SWORDS and axes clashed with shields and chainmail at the weekend when a Norfolk village marked the 1,000th anniversary of an important battle in history.

On May 5, 1010, some 14,000 men were involved in a bloodbath when the invading Vikings fought against the Saxons, near Thetford.

More than 130 warriors descended on a field at Bridgham over the bank holiday to recreate the Battle of Ringmere on a smaller scale for a community festival.

Hundreds of villagers and visitors cheered Ulfcytel , the leader of the East Anglian armies, and jeered Thorkell the Tall and Olaf the Stout from the invading Danish armies in a mock skirmish.

The fact that the Vikings won the battle near Bridgham 1,000 years ago and went on to ransack the region's towns and cities did not detract from the enjoyment of the re-enactment event on Sunday and Monday.

Organisers spoke of their delight after living history enthusiasts from across the country returned after getting involved in the village's millennium celebrations three years ago.

Families were treated to an insight into Viking life with weapons demonstrations, coin minting, and archery activities as well as entertainment including maypole and molly dancing and music from the Bridgham and Harling Band.

The return of the Vikings and 1,000th anniversary celebrations were supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Norfolk Community Foundation, and Shadwell Community Fund.

Organiser David O'Neale said the small village was keen to use significant anniversaries for communal celebrations.

“We are very pleased to welcome back the Vikings and the re-enactment groups think it is the best thing ever.”

“I think the Vikings have a certain cachet with the fact the Royal Anglian Regiment is named the Vikings and so is North Walsham Rugby Club. The Saxons do no have the same appeal,” he said.

Cathy Murphy, from the Cambridge Viking living history group, said the re-enactors enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the festival.

“We are not absolutely sure where the Battle of Ringmere took place, but it is good to re-enact battles on significant anniversaries close to where they happened,” she said.

The Viking Veterans Association of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment also attended.


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