Steve Harding’s proposal for a…


 Wirral Viking Heritage Trail 

experience Wirral’s wonderful Viking Heritage – including some of its superbly preserved stonework - and some of the beautiful scenery as you tour around our peninsula in NW England… 


N.B. Some of these sites are currently accessible, some are not – please see the notes below.





·         Large Black circles: major sites

·         Small brown circles – “enthusiast” sites.



Wirral is steeped in Viking tradition and in common with neighbouring West Lancashire people from old Wirral families are up to 50% Norse.   To mark this tradition a Wirral-Chester Viking Churches Heritage Walk is now held annually on the weekend nearest St. Olav’s Day (29th July), and there is also the suggestion of the following tour to incorporate other sites of interest.


1.     START: Visitor centre at Thurstaston – site of the Viking Thorsteinn’s farmstead and the scene of (occasional!) boat burning at Thurstaston beach.  Refreshments in the Centre and at TJ’s café close by.  Car Park, toilets.


2.     Thurstaston Common – highest point on Wirral with splendid views.  A 10 minute walk from the car park across the common and into a hollow takes you to an impressive large outcrop of sandstone called Thor’s Stone.  A legend in Wirral – which cannot be traced back further than the Victorians – claims that this is from mjöllnir – Thor’s hammer.  It is the site of Viking style marriages – attracting enthusiasts from around the country - and for May 1st celebrations.   Pub next to the car park.


3.     Irby: famous signpost with all the Viking names and nearby is Heskeths field (which derives from hestaskeiđ = horse race track) and where according to the name the Vikings used to race horses. View from Woodlands Road near Arrowe Brook. Parking on road.  The field is private farm land. 


4.     Arrowe Park – Viking farmland (from Old Norse aergi) and used by the local Viking re-enactment group Wirhalh Skip Felag for craft displays and battles. Refreshments in the Centre. Car Park, Toilets.

5.     Thingwall (old Old Norse ţing-volr = assembly field) – where Wirral’s own Norse assembly or parliament was held.  Although we are not sure where this was many scholars believe the site of the Thing was Cross Hill (just off the A551 opposite the reservoir): its elevated position, in common with sites in Scandinavia and elsewhere -  would have been the ideal place (Thing slope or brekka) for the speaker to make himself heard.  The hill itself is privately owned and currently used to graze horses, so do not enter unless prior permission has been received. Pub nearby (Bassett Hound – suggest have some refreshment there and walk along the pavement up the hill to the edge of the mound (directly opposite the entrance to the reservoir on the other side of the road).  Or park on Holmwood Drive and look up to the hill.  If you can get permission, stand on the law-speakers mound and be Wirral’s Norse leader Ingimund for the day “Förum first bónarveg ţeim, og ef viđ náum ţeim ekki međ góđu, ţá skulum viđ taka ţá međ valdi “Let us beseech and implore them first, and if we do not get them willingly in this way let us contest them by force”, .. the words which, according to the Irish annals he gave to the local chiefs of the Norse and Danes in AD907 as he planned to attack Chester.  Listen to this broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

6.     Barnston Gill – in the beautiful Thingwall woods.  You can park along Holmwood Drive – on the far side of Cross Hill. and enter the woods from there.

7.     Refreshments: Heswall Slack: pub with a Viking name (slakki – a cut through). 

8.     The Dee coast at Heswall.  This is the nearest “Thing’s mjarr – wetland/marshland of the Thing”.  Car Park and across the road Refreshments at Sheldrakes Restaurant.

9.     Neston Parish Church (St. Mary’s and St. Helen’s): stone fragments depicting events in the life of a Viking couple.  The fragments of what used to be at least 2 Norse ring-headed crosses are now beautifully displayed inside the front entrance of the church and include the earliest depiction of a jousting contest.  Car parking and toilets in town centre nearby.  Check there is no service underway before entering the church.


10.   Raby Mere.  Boundary of the orginal Norse settlement.  Beautiful lake setting – enjoy a cream tea and cross the famous and ancient stolpi stepping stones over the River Dibbin.  Car parking on road.  No toilets, but Wheatsheaf pub not far away.

11.   Poulton Hall* and Raby.  Raby and Raby Mere is the south-east boundary of the original Norse settlements (Raby means “boundary settlement”).  Poulton Hall is close to Bebington Heath, candidate site for the Battle of Brunanburh.  The site owned by the Lancelyn-Green family who have lived there since 1093. It is also home of Sue Sharples splendid “Brunanburgh Viking” sculpture, unveiled in April 2004.  The gardens are open twice a year – email us for further information.

South of houseFig9_11b


12.   Viking Cross – St. Barnabas Church. Norse ring headed cross reconstructed in 1957 just outside the church entrance.  Parking in road.

13.   Bromborough Court House site (moated site off Pool Lane, opposite the “Village” hotel) –candidate site for “Bruna’s fortress” and nearby “Wargraves” – originally a candidate for the battle site before the now preferred Bebington Heath.  Opposite “the Village” hotel and restaurant.  The site is currently very overgrown!

14.   Dibbinsdale: Viking “klints” at Brotherton Park.  Look down on the Dibbin, once navigable by Viking boats.  Car park.

15.   Bebington Heath (edge of golf course or Grammar School grounds), favoured site by the experts (or at least myself) for the Battle of Brunanburh (the old name for Bromborough is Brunanburh).  Parking on the road (Stanton Road).

16.   Storeton Hall/Storeton Woods.  Storeton “the great farmstead” & home of Sir John Stanley both Hall and Stanley are strongly connected with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, famous 14th century poem full of Norse dialect words.  Parking on road.  Privately owned, but you can see the 14th century farm from the bottom of Red Hill Road.


17.   Tranmere Rovers (Football Ground) - particularly match days. TranmereTranmaelcranebird sandbank” is unique in being the only football team in the English league with a Norwegian Viking name.  Come along and cheer the Norse cranebirds favourite team!  Many Scandinavians come over to watch Tranmere when they play on Friday nights and then watch Man Utd, Everton or Liverpool on the Saturday/Sunday.


18.   Tranmere river front = where the Norsemen saw those cranebirds –Parking and toilets at the ferry terminal at nearby Woodside.  Splendid views across the Mersey.

19.   Arno Hill : site of pagan burial mound of Arni (or Erni).  Parking on the roadside.  Part of the hill now has houses on it.

20.   Ufaldi’s Green just down the hill from Claughton (klakkr-tun – farmstead on a hillock).  Part of the beautiful Birkenhead Park – from which New York’s Central Park was modelled - was once the land of the Viking Ufaldi.  Recently re-opened after an Ł11million facelift by Patricia Routledge and Mike McCartney.  Extensive car parking, refreshments and toilets.

21.   Bidston: mini-hogback Viking tombstone was found here in 2004.  Currently not available for display to the public but plans are afoot to have it displayed at nearby Bidston Observatory.

22.   Wallasey brekka – “slope on a hillside” and klint “projecting rock” (now called the Granny rock, off Millthwaite Road).  Parish records from St. Hilary’s church record the sad tale of how two girls (Elizabeth Smyth and May Joynson) had a fatal accident at “ye Clynsse” in 1642, which appears to be either here or “Red Noses”. Today it is only possible to climb to the top of this rock with climbing gear.  Limited car parking on Millthwaite Road.


23.   Enjoy the thrills of the Estuary waves crashing against Svartskere – the black rocks (upon which Fort Perch Rock has been built).  Lots of parking on the sea front and café’s nearby.  Toilets also near.

24.   Linghamlyng-holm” lighthouse & seafront.  Nearby at Leasowe castle was the so-called Canute chair built in the earlier part of the 19th century by the Cust family.  Perhaps based on an old tradition that Canute could help do something about keeping the constant floods at bay but there is no record of this tradition before the Victorians.  The lighthouse is open to visitors and refreshments/toilets available.



25.   Refreshments at the Railway Inn, Meols – 2-3 metres under the car park lies an ancient medieval clinker (overlapping wooden planks) vessel.  Date of vessel unknown. Discovered in 1938 by workmen and then covered up.  With the help of the police Ground Penetrating Radar measurements in 2007 confirmed the existence of a boat at least 10 metres long.

Boat_position_running approx in a line 3m under the litterbinsBoat_Sketch_magnify


26.   Meols: the old Viking sea-port Melr. Parking along the sea front. Toilets at Dove Point.


27.   Refreshments at a Viking café/wine bar - The Wro (old Norse vra – “corner”) at West Kirby.

28.   Tonn-skere: tooth skerry rocks, just out from the West Kirby shore and south of Hilbre island.  Parking on road side.  You can walk out to Tonn-skere at low tide but be careful of incoming tides.


29.   West Kirby: St. Bridgets & the famous hogback tombstone, beautifully restored by the National Conservation Centre, Liverpool.  Car parking on roadside and also in Ashton Park where there are toilets.  Other stonework attributed to the Vikings is in the adjacent Charles Dawson Brown Museum.


30.   Return to the Thorstein’s Thurstaston Visitor Centre.



(presented to the Irby, Thurstaston and Pensby Amenity Society, 4th June 2008)



See also VIKING MERSEY: Scandinavian Wirral, West Lancashire and Chester. (Stephen Harding), paperback, 240 pages, Countyvise Ltd, INGIMUND’s SAGA: Norwegian Wirral (Stephen Harding, with Foreword by Magnus Magnusson), and WIRRAL AND ITS VIKING HERITAGE (Paul Cavill, Stephen Harding and Judith Jesch).


Enquiries/comments: Steve Harding.


We are hoping the sites will be appropriately signposted soon and to enhance these we are also hoping we can raise sufficient money (~Ł30,000) for a statue of Wirral’s first Norse leader Ingimund either at Meols or West Kirby and a small Viking interpretation centre. 


If you wish to donate to either the statue or the Centre please follow the instructions below.


Please visit the Wirral and West Lancashire Viking Anniversary Home Page

If you wish to make a donation to the Statue/Centre fund:

1.     Make a cheque payable to “Olsok Ingimund Project” and send to Professor Stephen Harding, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington LE12 5RD, United Kingdom, OR

2.     Pay directly: Bank name: NatWest, Branch: Nottingham University Branch.  Bank Number 60 15 49, Account: Olsok Ingimund Project, Account number 43 00 54 03.  For overseas transactions:
BIC Code: NWBK GB 2L; IBAN Code: GB68 NWBK 6015 4943 0054 03.

All donations, however small, gratefully appreciated!