Pictures show Boyne Valley invaded by friendly Vikings for annual Slane festival

Battle demonstrations entertained the crowds at Slane Castle at the weekend.

Jo Fitzsimons with Fluff the owl.

Tina and Lisa Crosby from Collon met some Vikings in Slane on Sunday.

The Vikings invaded Slane at the weekend.

Alika Hodge as a Priestess at the Viking Festival in Slane.

Eimhin Mewa Nugent with the Vikings at Slane Castle.

Dave the Raven and Shea Cullen.

Alison ComynDrogheda Independent

Well Well known for attracting thousands of music fans to its concerts, on May 20th and 21st, the small village of Slane, Co Meath saw a different kind of invasion.

From all over Ireland, UK and Europe they came, the mostly bearded men with their shields, swords and axes, ready to battle in the grounds of Slane Castle. Nearly 500 Vikings followed the call, set up camp and created a tented Viking village with craftwork displays, battle arena, cooking displays and even replica longboats on the Boyne. In authentic historic costumes, they entertained people from all over Ireland and abroad with the youngest Viking being only a few months and the oldest 70 years of age.

The Viking village with approximately 150 tents and smoke rising from the cooking fires was some sight to behold as you followed the path from Slane castle into the camp. Big smiles on bearded faces greeted interested visitors, who would venture from tent to tent and enquire about weaponry, bone carving, silversmithing, blacksmithing and much more. Viking ladies in beautiful handmade dresses, brooches and beads would show their skills in weaving, clothes making and pottery.

In the central battle arena fully armoured warriors with helmets and chainmail clashed with swords, axes, spears and shields to determine the best among them while from the long tent, sounds of medieval songs from the musicians of Ravensdale beckoned visitors to venture into it.

A treasure hunt, Viking face painting, have-a-go archery and kids sword training kept the excitement up for the smaller visitors.

The main attraction of the day was the boats landing with 2 x 40ft longboats that came rowing down the Boyne carrying crew from the Viking TV series and warriors to simulate the landing of Brodir, the mighty Viking king from the Isle of Man. He had sailed to Ireland before the battle of Clontarf in 1014 in support of Sitric Silkenbeard, the Viking king of Dublin.

There was something for everybody to explore and discover at the Boyne Valley Viking Experience and with big smiles an happy memories, visitors left after spending hours exploring historic life.

Dozens of positive reviews from visitors show the need for attractions like this in Ireland, an opportunity to explore history with all the senses and emerge yourself in a bygone world.

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