Swords, song and smiles conquer Loch Fyne villages

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Ghosts of centuries-old Norse influence were revived on the shores of Loch Fyne.

The Vikings returned with every intention of savagely entertaining the modern population of Argyll.

First held in 2014, the Loch Fyne Viking Festival last week made a welcome return after a break in 2016.

Longship raids, seemingly emanating from Tarbert, struck first on Thursday July 6 in the upper reaches of the sea loch at Inveraray. Swords flashed and shields thudded to bone-juddering impact as battles were recreated on Inveraray front green. Viking crafts and music won over the locals before two graceful longships – the Tarbert-based Freydis and Arran Viking Longship Society’s Black Eagle – departed with the Norsemen later that afternoon.

The day after, Lochgilphead and Ardrishaig felt the force of medieval Scandinavian culture. Various Viking re-enactment groups took part with great enthusiasm. Causeway Archers from Northern Ireland and Glasgow Vikings gave lessons in bowmanship to the crowds who gathered to witness the Viking spectacle on the front green.

As Swedish folk group Medvind performed their recreated musical Viking tales, much to the audience’s delight, Tønsberg Vikings from Norway joined Magnus Vikings of Northern Ireland and Arran Vikings, all dressed in traditional Viking costumes and demonstrating crafts and pastimes of the Norse era.

In a shocking development, Argyll and Bute Council chief executive, Cleland Sneddon was kidnapped aboard the Freydis by the Norsemen. He was later released unharmed by the bearded hordes.

On third day of the invasion in Tarbert, July 8 Magnus Barefot’s 11th century longship portage was re-enacted. Freydis, Tarbert’s own 40 foot wooden replica Viking longship, was dragged overland from West Loch Tarbert to East Loch Tarbert, just as King Magnus did to sequestrate the Kintyre peninsula all those centuries ago.

Last Sunday, the final day of Viking terror, the longships sailed across Loch Fyne to raid Portavadie marina and spa.

Loch Fyne Viking Festival is a not-for-profit community-run event organised by volunteers. Hans Kok of the organising committee said: ‘I want to thank everyone who supported the festival. We had a total of 135 volunteers taking part, and thanks as well to our generous funders, including Argyll and Bute Council and everyone who donated.

‘We did have a bit of a setback early on, when three longboats from Northern Ireland couldn’t make the crossing due to sea conditions, but we still had two boats and it was a great success.

‘The Viking festival started as an idea in a pub. It has grown to become a great tourism attraction, and we now are looking to make it sustainable.’


Battle formation on Inveraray front green. 06_a28Vikings02

Hilda Apple Cruncher, aka Sharon McCann from Cambridgeshire, plays a reed whistle. 06_a28Vikings07

Feisty Rhuna from Arran, otherwise known as Fiona Short. 06_a28Vikings11

Mid Argyll MS Centre volunteers and Alrick the Viking got into the spirit of things at Lochgilphead on Friday. 06_a28Vikings16

Getting stuck into Viking pastimes are Alex Airlie and Innes Cameron. 06_a28Vikings18

Claire Cameron and Karen McCurry from the MS Centre channel their inner Norsemen and women. 06_a28Vikings19

Medvind entertain on Lochgilphead front green. 08_a27vikingfest01

The raiders aboard Freydis are met with stiff resistance off Lochgilphead. 08_a27vikingfest07

Cleland Sneddon is kidnapped. They brought him back safely. 08_a27vikingfest13

A raiding party hits shops in Argyll Street, Lochgilphead. 08_a27vikingfest17

The Freydis is carefully reversed into Loch Fyne after her trip from West Loch Tarbert 08_a27vikingfest23

Vikings galore in Tarbert. 08_a27vikingfest29

Recreating Magnus Barefoot’s traverse of the strip of land between West and East Loch Tarbert with the longship Freydis. no_a28Vikings03

The raiding party heads up the walkway at Portavadie marina on Sunday, and they mean business. no_a28Vikings10