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Wirral villagers face up to Viking past
VILLAGERS in Thingwall have come face-to-face with symbols of the area's violent past when Viking invaders swept in to murder, plunder . . . . and eventually settle.
Thingwall was thought to be the site of a Viking Assembly and its English translation is Assembly Field.
Now to commemorate the Viking connection four unique "dual language" signs have been unveiled in the village.
The brainchild of Wirral-born university Professor Steve Harding the signs are believed to be the first of their kind in England to feature Old Norse and English.
They were officially unveiled today by West Wirral MP Esther McVey - with help from teachers and pupils of Thingwall Primary School.
Professor Harding said: "Our neighbours in Wales have dual signposting everywhere so it is good that at last we have something comparable in England although perhaps ironic they mark the site of Viking power.
"Thingwall was once the centre of Wirral's substantial and politically independent Viking settlement.
"The Vikings would meet there to discuss law and policy and it would also be a great time of meeting old friends and festivity.
"They are still there in the genes of people from old families living there today."
Steve Harding is professor of applied biochemistry and director of the National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics at the University's Sutton Bonington campus.
His interest in researching his own heritage led to him using his scientific knowledge to get involved in the historical investigation of Vikings in North West England around 15 years ago.
With Professor Mark Jobling of the University of Leicester he led the successful Genetic Survey of Wirral and West Lancashire and has written a number of books on the subject.
Professor Harding's tireless work to celebrate the Viking heritage of the North West of England has even attracted recognition from royalty.
His Majesty King Harald V recently appointed him a Knight of the 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, the highest honour for a foreign national who is not a head of state for 'outstanding service in the interests of Norway'.
Professor Harding has spent some time campaigning for the new road signs to recognise the Viking past of Thingwall - believed to have once been the site of a Viking Assembly.
He has joined forces wih local Councillor Don McCubbin and community representative Roy Fisher to realise the goal.
He came up with the idea after noticing signs for similarly-named Tingwall in the Shetland Islands.
The signs — paid for entirely by a donation of £1,200 from local water company United Utilities — are already a huge hit with villagers who are proud of their Viking roots.