St. Olave’s Viking Heritage walk and Pilgrimage 2017

Part 1: Tuesday July 25 2017



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- in conjunction with St. Bridget’s Church West Kirby, the Church of St. Mary & St. Helen at Neston, the Grosvenor Museum and the Municipality of Trondheim



Left: Tom Pinfold and Malcolm Leitch lead the way on a previous walk. Mid: Michael Wood & Steve Harding at St. Olave’s. Right: it’s not a hard slog at all!


Come and enjoy some wonderful scenery as we link 3 Churches with strong Viking links and some fantastic archaeology! The annual St. Olav’s Day Viking Heritage Walk commemorates St. Olav Haraldsson, patron saint of Norway. The walk was recently featured in The Norseman  magazine & covered in Michael Wood’s BBC2 Series The Great British Story.  All are welcome on the 2017 walk.  Part 1 takes place on Tuesday 25th July and we meet at 9am for a 9.30 start at St. Bridget’s.  Part 2 takes place on Saturday 29th July (St. Olav’s Day).


from “On the Pilgrim Way to Trondheim” by Stein Thue: Wandering into a new landscape: Pilgrims made their way to the shrine of St. Olav in Nidaros Cathedral (the Cathedral in Trondheim) for a little over five hundred years, from 1031 until the reformation in 1537.  When we now encourage people to walk the pilgrim ways it is to reap the benefits of outdoor life, special cultural experiences and personal reflection. The pilgrim dares to leave behind everything that is near and dear and wander into a new landscape, where he becomes a peregrine, a wanderer from far away.  In the middle ages he would break from everything around him to express his devotion, seek healing, or do penance.  Today a pilgrim seeks knowledge, recreation and self-fulfilment in such a way that perhaps the path is more important than the goal.
The pilgrim understands that there is a path he must travel and that there is risk in the endeavour.  The benefits nevertheless outweigh the risk for those who dare embark on such and adventure, as on their return from their fulfilling wandering, they will shed at least one prejudice and replace it with at least one new idea.


Please note, that though this walk is not strenuous, it is quite long. Please wear appropriate footwear and bring refreshments to last the distance. People who take part do so at their own risk.  The walk is approximately 12km (8 miles) and starts at the St. Bridget’s Church at West Kirby (meet at 9am for a 9.30am start) – includes a description of the dedication to St. Olav in the church and a demonstration of the famous West Kirby Viking hogback tombstone – one of two on Wirral) and makes its way along the Dee coast  to St. Mary’s and St. Helen’s Church at Neston, finishing with a demonstration of the magnificent Viking stonework (fragments of at least 3 crosses) and replica reconstruction of one of the crosses (the “Viking Lady” cross).

St. Bridget’s West Kirby was founded by Viking settlers coming to Wirral from Dublin – St. Bridget is a patron saint of Ireland – and the church is the home of the famous Viking hogback tombstone, dated to around AD 1000.

St. Mary and St. Helen at Neston: St. Helen is also associated with Norse settlers coming via Ireland and the church houses fragments of at least two 10th century ring headed crosses, recording events from the life of a Viking couple.  One of the fragments includes the earliest depiction of a jousting contest.

St. Olave’s at Chester: Original church founded by Chester’s Viking community in the 11th Century. Now the building is used as an archive for the Cheshire Records Office. (This is Part 2 of the walk, on 29th July).

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Outline Route


·         Meet 11.30 for a 12noon start at St. Bridget’s Church West Kirby

·         Along the Wirral Way to Thurstaston & the current Visitor Centre or “TJ’s” café bar for refreshments

·         Continue along the Wirral Way to Neston



Detailed Route

Stage 1: St. Bridgets, vestri KirkjubyrKaldeyjar

St. Bridgets church is a short (10 min) walk from West Kirby Railway station


St. Bridgets                             Hogback tombstone





Stage 2: Kaldejyar - Thorsteinn’s tún





Stage 3: Thorsteinn’s tún – Hesliwella – Geittún




Stage 4: GeittúnParkgata -Nesstún


This is the end of the walk: there will be a demonstration of the cross fragments and the replica and refreshments will be served at the back of the church.


The magnificent “Viking Lady” Neston cross replica/ reconstruction at St. Mary and St. Hilary’s – the end of the walk



Transport back to West Kirby

There are trains from Neston Station close by (change at Bidston for West Kirby)




Please note that, in common with the main St. Olav’s Pilgrimage in Norway, although we provide a guide, walkers are responsible for their own safety and come on the walk at their own risk.






Excerpt from Program 2 “Tribes to Nations” of Michael Wood’s acclaimed 2012 BBC2 Series The Great British Story. – includes the 2011 St. Olav’s Day walk with Michael

Article in the Norseman Magazine, January/February 2009


Olsok: St. Olaf's pilgrimage in Norway produced by Trondheim Kommune


Ólavsøka: St. Olav’s Festival in Faroe Islands


Olsok Service at St. Olave’s Church, August 2001


Olsok Service at St. Olave’s Church, August 2002


St. Olave’s Wirral Chester Viking Walk 2010 


Wirral and West Lancashire Viking Research Page.



Enquiries: Steve Harding