Viking invaders could soon be able to negotiate the roads of a village in North England with greater ease, thanks to four unique ‘dual-language’ signs set to be unveiled tomorrow.
The signs, thought to be the first of their kind in England, have been erected on the main roads into the village of Thingwall on the Wirral. Featuring the Old Norse equivalent of the village name and the English translation ‘Assembly Field’: they are the idea of Wirral-born University of Nottingham Professor Steve Harding.
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.”
The signs will be officially unveiled tomorrow morning (Friday 15 June) by MP for West Wirral Esther McVey, with help from teachers and pupils of Thingwall Primary School.
Harding is Professor of Applied Biochemistry and Director of theNational Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics (NCMH) at the University’s Sutton Bonington campus and 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.
He instigated the establishment of a St Olav’s heritage walk between Wirral and Chester, featured recently in the BBC series The Great British Story: A People’s History presented by historian Michael Woods and has set up a link between Thingwall Primary School and a school at Tingvoll — with similar Viking roots — in Norway.
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 the village Thingwall, believed to have once been the site of a Viking Assembly, and has worked with 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.
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