The Vikings are coming…….to Sherwood Pines!

Dark Age Vikings return to Sherwood Forest.

Members of local group Conroi de Vey on the Norse street.

Once that would have sent a shiver down the spine, but on the 18 and 19 May 2013 it is an invitation to see history brought back to life when Dark Age Vikings return to Sherwood Forest.

The Forestry Commission and Friends of Thynghowe are hosting a first ever re-enactment weekend when the UK’s leading living history group Regia Anglorum set up a Viking camp in 1,200 hectare Sherwood Pines Forest Park, near Clipstone, Notts.

The historical re-enactors, led by the local group Conroi de Vey, will demonstrate combat, weaving, cooking and crafts and fill the beauty-spot with smells, sights and sounds not seen locally for over 1,000 years.

The region’s Viking story is unfolding at a quickening pace.

The event has been spurred by the discovery of a remarkable Viking site called Thynghowe in the nearby Birklands area of Sherwood Forest.

The amazing mound came to light through the work of local historians and is one of only a handful of such sites to survive in the British Isles. A ‘thyng’ means a meeting place and Thynghowe was used by Viking warrior farmers who gathered to discuss and settle disputes. It featured a court circle with Jurors and a Law Speaker to tell the waiting crowd the verdicts.

Now using a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund the site and surrounding forest has been surveyed from the air using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) which penetrates the trees and measures the height of the ground surface. Features on the ground can be mapped including those that can’t be seen by the naked eye.

Dark Age Vikings return to Sherwood Forest.

Thorfinn Longva and Frithistan at Thynghowe.

It has revealed that a possible Viking street goes directly to Thynghowe, underlining its importance as a gathering place.  Volunteers from the Friends are working to confirm the find on the ground using surveying equipment and GPS devices bought using Lottery funding.

Lynda Mallett, from the Friends, who discovered Thynghowe with husband Stuart Reddish and John Wood, all from Rainworth, said:

“The story is developing and we are excited by how much information we have been able to gather.  Staging the weekend is a way of showing people who the Vikings were, their costumes and culture and their contribution to our heritage, which we increasingly believe was far greater than readily acknowledged. The Danish Vikings left an indelible stamp on Nottinghamshire, so the re-enactment is a timely reminder of their part in our history.”

Viking raids on England became widespread in the 9th century, first for plunder, but then with families settling areas including Sherwood Forest. Ivor the Boneless fought a battle on the site of Nottingham in 846 and land in the forest was granted to 1,500 Viking militia to create homesteads. They developed a unique system of customary law that was later called the Dane-law. Eventually the area was absorbed by the Norman Conquest, but the linguistic history of the county was altered for ever and many local place names are Scandinavian.

Amy Chandler, from the Forestry Commission, added:

“The weekend will put flesh on the bones of the story by showing people the human side of the Vikings and also re-enacting the kind of disputes which would have been settled at Thynghowe.  Regia Anglorum are famous for the authenticity of their living history and Sherwood provides the perfect setting.”

Thynghowe was recorded  on a 17th century map and its earliest mention so far is 1251 in a Sherwood Forest book. It has been placed on English Heritage’s National Monument Record.  More details at www.thynghowe.org.uk

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Motorskills extends services to young people thanks to funding from UK Steel Enterprise

Motorskills Project - UKSE

Kelly at work at the Motorskills Project

A Barnsley based community project that offers educational, recreational and vocational opportunities to young people and families is extending its services thanks to a donation from UK Steel Enterprise.

Athersley Cares was set up in 1989 and its Motorskills project opened in 2000 to provide needs-led projects for people living in and around Athersley, north Barnsley. Motorskills provides a range of high quality accredited and non accredited vocational motor vehicle mechanics training sessions to adults and 13 – 19 year olds. Many of the people on its courses are NEETs – those Not in Education, Employment or Training.

The £1,470 grant is made up of £1,370.00 from the UK Steel Enterprise Charitable Fund with the rest coming from the “I Love Barnsley” fund and will be used to launch an evening drop in session for local young scooter riders. It will offer help and advice on safety, legal requirements and maintenance.

UK Steel Enterprise Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel that invests in growing businesses in South Yorkshire.  It also supports community based organizations and initiatives that make a positive difference to the economic regeneration of communities affected by changes in the steel industry. Through its fund with the South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF), UK Steel Enterprise Ltd is linked to groups and projects that are adding lasting value to local communities on a daily basis.

Keith Williams, Regional Manager of UK Steel Enterprise in Yorkshire says the funder is committed to working with community groups that bring about real change.

“The services that Athersley Cares provides reach some of the hardest to engage people in our communities. By offering them an opportunity to obtain qualifications and experience it is providing the chance for them to enter employment or full-time training/education. It is an excellent project and we are delighted to support its aims,” said Keith Williams.

The project currently has between 70 and 80 people from right across Barnsley using its services each week. One of them is Kelly Beever (19), a single mum from Athersley. Kelly discovered the project while on a training course when she was 14 and returned after leaving school. Inspired by her mechanic Grandfather, Kelly is now nearing the end of her first year of studying for an IMI Award in Car Service and Maintenance.

“At school I got in with the wrong crowd which held me back. I love this course and I’m hoping to become a fully trained mechanic in a local garage. The project has helped me in lots of other ways too; my self-confidence and self-esteem have been really lifted and I’m looking forward to hopefully working full-time,” said Kelly.

Lorraine Headen is the Project Manager at Athersley Cares and says Kelly is a shining example of how the students apply themselves. “I’m always highly impressed with what the students achieve. We have some people who attend that face challenges, however, they often rise to them and reach their goals at the project. Kelly is a total star; her attendance is fantastic and she’s a real team player. She’s well on track to achieve her qualification and I have high hopes for her. Thanks to the funding from UK Steel Enterprise we can now reach out to even more people and offer further educational opportunities”

For more information about UK Steel Enterprise Ltd please call Graham Parker at Parker PR on 07977 448 306.

contact:       shaun@sf-pictures.com

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