An unusual sight greeted early risers last Monday – a Viking invasion at Alnmouth. Raiders coming in from the sea along the Aln estuary looking for easy pickings or perhaps looking for trade. All part of the celebration for Bailiffgate’s big summer exhibition, ‘Vikings: Fact and Fiction’.
Over 1200 years since the Vikings attacked the monastery at Lindisfarne, Alnmouth Rowing Club staged their own raid of Northumberland from the sea at dawn. The raid at Lindisfarne in 793 is often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age.
Bearded warriors wreaking havoc is only one part of the story. The Norse people who settled in northern England in the 9th and 10th centuries also had a fascinating culture. In Vikings: Fact and Fiction, visitors will be able to explore who they really were: from the clothes they wore to the activities they did for fun. This myth-busting exhibition, in a unique collaboration with the JORVIK Group, the people behind JORVIK Viking Centre in York, brings the Vikings to life. As well as being able to see original Viking artefacts first hand, visitors can explore the Viking Village; visit the saga tent; sit around the Viking firepit; find their Viking name; seek out the Viking Mice in the prize-winning Mouse Hunt; and see the ghost of a Viking longboat.
Jane Mann, volunteer, said ‘it was great fun working with Alnmouth Community Rowing on this mock invasion. The rowers really looked like Vikings with their fantastic beards grown during lockdown in preparation for this event. The sea fret that came in made the scene even more evocative – I could imagine the Vikings using the mist to surprise an unwary population of monks with riches for the taking.’ The Vikings: Fact and Fiction exhibition opens on 22May and runs until 3 October 2021.
Footage of the invasion will shortly be up on Bailiffgate’s YouTube Channel, Bailiffgate TV.
The rowers/Vikings from L to R in the inset photo are Pete Downes, Ewan Paton, John Ellis and Warren Manley.
Photograph by Jane Coltman