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PICTURES: Vikings and Saxons resurrected for the Battle of Maldon

By Maldon Chronicle  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

By Joe Sturdy joe.sturdy@essexchronicle.co.uk

  • CHOREOGRAPHY: Students learned the battle moves in around three hours

  • BATTLE-READY: The 90 pupils came in battle dress, as well as brandishing swords and shields

  • designs: The battle was the culmination of a joint PE and history project

  • fighting stance: A young warrior stands ready

  • Students were told to change their movements by the beat of a drum

  • audience: All Saints' Primary School pupils listen to a poem about the Battle of Maldon beneath Byrhtnoth's statue

  • march: Procession to Promenade Park

  • warriors: Children get ready for battle at Promenade Park

  • roar: Vikings and Saxons battled each other in the re-enactment

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EAR-SPLITTING roars, the swish of swords and the clashing of shields could be heard as pupils re-enacted the Battle of Maldon.

About 90 Year 3 and 4 pupils from All Saints' Primary School marched from their Highlands Drive school to Promenade Park, with Viking and Saxon battle dress, helmets and weapons, as part of their history and PE project about invaders and settlers.

Phil Brown, the school's co-head teacher, told the Chronicle: "The children all got dressed up and we marched through the town.

"At the Byrhtnoth statue the children listened to the Battle of Maldon poem and we looked out across the causeway.

"We re-enacted the Battle of Maldon in Promenade Park, we reckon there was a good 200 people watching.

"We choreographed it – it was part of our PE lessons. We were really proud of the children, not only because of their behaviour but also because they inspired the community."

The battle took place in 991AD when Vikings stationed on nearby Northey Island, linked to Maldon by the causeway, savagely attacked Saxons led by Ealdorman Byrhtnoth. Byrhtnoth, hoping to defeat the Vikings and stop them raiding the coast, was killed in the battle and the Saxons were defeated.

The pupils – who learnt the choreographed battle over six weeks – were split into groups and led in different directions so they turned to face each other before battle commenced as it did over 1,000 years ago.

"They began with a double drum beat which signifies to the Vikings to do a roar and there were a lot of Viking battle cries and then the Saxons moved," said Mr Brown.

Children, who also designed embroideries about the battle as part of the project, were told to do choreographed movements while their enemies also did so – until they were facing each other and were battle-ready.

"We began with the instructions of chop, slice, parry, duck, because these different movements complemented each other," continued Mr Brown.

"The Saxons moved forward four paces and then the Vikings until they met each other. There were then more battle cries before they would move backwards and forwards with a partner in battle with complementary motifs."

But eventually the hard-fought battle, which lasted for around five minutes, had to come to an end – and gathered a round of applause from the 200-strong crowd of onlookers.

"The Saxons are slain and the others finished with a battle cry. The children loved it," added Mr Brown.

Speaking about the fierce battle, complete with wooden swords and brightly painted shields, Edward Vale, eight, dressed as a Saxon, said: "The best bit was when the Vikings killed the Saxons."

When asked about what movements he had performed, Viking Lewis Davies, eight, said: "I went with what was in my head – duck, jump, dodge, thrust. Afterwards I was very tired, I could not do anything back at school.

"It was really good fun."

Harriet Phillips, a Saxon, said: "We listened to the poem by the Byrhtnoth statue and looking across the causeway, it was really peaceful.

"You couldn't believe what happened. There were a lot of birds and it was relaxing."

Bronia Gozzett, who played a Saxon, added: "I liked the whole day."

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