Over a hundred Vikings took over Manor Road Park for the weekend of 26/27 October 2013 as part of the Alfred’s Day celebrations. More than 1500 people visited the park over the weekend to see the living history encampment, watch weapons displays and a recreation of the Battle of Ashdown by the Dark Ages re-enactment group.
One of the highlights of the show was the Kiddie Vik when children had a chance to fight a Viking. Ten year old Tom Bailey insisted on coming on both days and thought the Alfred’s Day was ‘immense’. “His favourite Viking was “Paddy the Axe” which caused a conflict of loyalties for the big battle as Paddy was fighting for the Danes!” said his mother Mandi. “He was pleased that King Alfred won in the end though.” She added, “Tom says please, please can the Vikings come back next year and do it again!”
84 year old Bill Clark who had brought his grandchildren said “I was very impressed by the re-enactors’ knowledge and the battle was fantastic! All in all it was a great day.”
The event was organised and sponsored by Wantage Town Council and the Vale District Council. Wantage Town Mayor, Fiona Roper said “I’m so pleased we decided to revive the tradition of celebrating Alfred’s Day. The re-enactment group were brilliant and the whole event was great fun. The fighting was very realistic too; it really felt as if you were watching a proper battle.”
A special Alfred’s Day mass was held in Wantage parish church on the Sunday with music composed for the occasion. Medieval historian Canon Professor Sarah Foot from Christchurch spoke about King Alfred’s life and lasting influence. The service was attended by dignitaries including the Deputy Lieutenant, Lord High Sheriff, MP Ed Vaizey, the Mayor and Mayoress of Winchester, Lord Mayor of Oxford, Council leaders and Town Mayors from across the county. The service was preceded by a colourful procession through the Marketplace accompanied by the Silver Band, cadets from the ATC, Scouts, Brownies and a band of the Vikings carrying their banners.