Pillaging and fun as Vikings invade Tarbert

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They came to pillage the village but left having made a new legion of fans.
It was, of course, the Loch Fyne Viking Festival, a two-day celebration of all things Viking in Tarbert.

Traditional band Medvind travelled from Sweden to entertain locals and visitors who gathered at the harbour to watch King Magnus Barfot and his entourage step back onto Kintyre soil, with the official welcome coming from Councillor Anne Horn.

From there, it was off to the football field which had been transformed into a Viking village offering weapons demonstrations, come-and- try archery, and lots of Viking information.

Local children have been busy over the past few weeks attending workshops to make Viking clothes and weapons, and it fell to Medvind to pick the winners, with Aidan McBride and Siri Dawton picking up the prizes for the best dressed male and female.

They both received original pieces of Viking jewellery, a Thor’s hammer for Aidan and a Freydis necklace for Siri.

Of course it would not be a Viking festival without a fight and the Glasgow Vikings, Magnus Vikings and Arran Vikings were more than happy to oblige with re-enactments to keep every Viking fan happy.

Late afternoon saw longship races in the harbour with the Arran Vikings Black Eagle longship pitted against Tarbert’s Freydis. And, while the afternoon session did not go the locals’ way, they took comfort from clinching victory in the morning race.

The fun continued long into the night, kicking off with local musicians and ending with Medvind and a ceilidh.

In between was possibly one of the most moving ceremonies of the festival, Branfest, with Glasgow Vikings firing flaming arrows into the harbour, each named in memory of fallen warriors.

The fun continued on Sunday with a morning Viking market and more longship harbour tours before the main event, the longship portage from west to east symbolically making Kintyre an island.

This year Tarbert’s Young Vikings wanted to be more involved in the festival and organisers were happy to help, designing and helping them to make their own longship, with the youngsters leading the procession through the heart of the village.

People lined the street keen to see the spectacle of Freydis being pulled through the village, piped by Alasdair Duff from the Loch Fyne Pipe Band, and getting close to some Vikings.

There was only one last thing to do to seal Kintyre’s island fate – to launch Freydis from the ferry slip.

As she slipped into the water, Kintyre once again became an island and Freydis headed back to the harbour to wait for the next festival.