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Geography - Rethink the hairy hordes

What it's all about

Images of hairy savages with horned helmets have been ingrained in the national psyche since the Vikings staged their first recorded raid on Lindisfarne in June AD793. But a new Liverpool-based environmental project, ecoVikings, is working to revamp their image by celebrating the green credentials of the invaders, writes Dean Paton.

EcoVikings is part of a project run by transport operator Merseytravel, and is touring schools this month to raise young people's awareness of green issues and reduce their carbon footprint.

The Vikings had some of the greenest credentials in history, building houses with turf-insulation roofs, harnessing wind and wave power and producing beautifully crafted items by recycling pilfered treasure and old cow bones. We are hoping to encourage children in Merseyside to "live like a Viking" and become more environmentally aware.

The centrepiece is a full-sized oak and larch reproduction of a Viking boat, inspired by the recently discovered Ardnamurchan boat burial in Scotland. Handcrafted in "clinker" style, the boat features an authentic Viking steerboard and sail and is a reminder of how the Vikings mastered wind and waves to power their lifestyles.

Children are encouraged to change one aspect of their behaviour, from turning off lights to walking to school. Encouragement comes in the form of a "mean but green" ecoViking, who swaps pledges for gifts such as woollen bracelets. For more information, visit www.bigheritage.co.uk

What else?

Try rubyshula's Viking-friendly resources. bit.lyVikingFriendly.

A Short History of the Environment, a documentary from BBC Class Clips. bit.lyAShortHistory.

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