Viking vessel heads for Wirral

Wirral Globe: Viking vessel heds for Wirral Viking vessel heds for Wirral

THE July visit of the reconstructed Scandinavian longship Draken Harald Harfagre to Wirral docklands will turn the clock back a millennium to when Vikings ruled in much of the north west.

The huge vessel - whose name translates as Harald the Fairhair after Norway’s most famous Viking king - will come to West Float in Wallasey for its first overseas voyage after a three-week passage under sail from Norway.

It is scheduled to arrive on July 18 and return to Norway on August 3.

The ship is 35 metres long (115 feet) and 7.6 metres (25 feet) wide, with a huge 260 square metre (2,800 sq ft) sail made of pure silk.

When rowed it requires 100 oarsmen to work 25 pairs of oars. Each oar is worked by two men.

Wirral Viking expert Professor Steve Harding, a member of the team who helped secure the visit, said: "It's tremendous news for Wirral and very poignant concerning the huge Norse roots of the area.

"The West Float, between Duke Street and Penny Bridge on the Wallasey docks, is the site of the former Wallasey Pool and its highly likely there would have been longships here a millenium ago … and now there will be one here again.

"It will give the public a taste of what it might have been like here a millennium ago when the Norsemen were so dominant in Wirral and the North West."

Two members from the project team in Norway, Evelyn Alstadsæther and skipper Bjorn Ahlander visited Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club last week and met with officers from the Club and harbour authorities to secure the visit.

Prof Harding said: "We also discussed the possibility of the vessel going across to the Albert Dock: although there was great enthusiasm from Liverpool City Council it was deemed impractical – but a possibility for a future visit

"On its route into Wallasey Docks however it is hoped that the vessel will pass by Pier Head and the Albert Dock area".

Plans are now underway with the local authorities and the team in Norway to arrange visiting times for the vessel during the two week stopover. It is also planned to row the vessel in sheltered confines of West and Floats.

A 100-strong "Viking Navy" of volunteers has been trained up for the occasion. Most of them travelled to Norway last year for a weekend of training sessions".

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