Viking festival

24th September 2004 at 01:00
Three Year 11 pupils were chosen as "experts" for the festival. They delighted their drama teacher, Louis Jhugroo, by greeting visitors and sharing their knowledge of the Vikings with confidence and poise. They led visitors into the promenade theatre, where pupils presented "The Vikings as invaders and settlers" in a series of dramatic tableaux arranged around the grounds.

I was touched by the strength of feeling shown by several pupils who went into role to demonstrate some of the Viking customs they thought were particularly cruel, for example, the custom of leaving newborn babies to die if they were disabled in any way. Other pupils gave a dramatic re-enactment of Viking battles, conveying the noise and confusion. One young visitor remarked: "We did the Vikings, but I don't remember it being as exciting as this."

The younger children had gathered near the trench, providing a background for the ceremony with the beating of claves and rhythmic chanting: "Eric is dead, Eric is dead. Go to your new life Eric."

Eric was carried solemnly shoulder high from the school and laid in the trench. The occasion was saved from becoming too solemn when Eric's head and helmet fell off. They were quickly rescued and replaced. Each class then came to the grave and put in the gifts they had made. Year 11 provided bread, grain, berries and a honey drink, as the Vikings believed food and drink were necessary for the journey to the next world.

Headteacher Celia Dawson congratulated all the pupils on their good work and the diggers started to fill in the hole. Just in time. By the time everyone moved back into school the rain was pouring on Eric the Viking's Cricket Green resting place.

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