The Vikings are it again! The much-feared Norse seafarers and pirates who terrorized Europe between the 8th and 11th centuries are still causing trouble today. In the town of Kirkcudbright in the south of Scotland, which had recently been in the news for other Viking-era related occurrences, a stray longboat has knocked out the town’s entire power supply.
The replica vessel was being brought in as part of the celebrations around the display of the Galloway Hoard, a Viking treasure hoard found in 2014, at the town’s galleries, reports BBC News . But it ended up causing far more trouble than was anticipated.
A Comedy of Errors
Around 10:30 a.m., whilst on the way to a local primary school, the longboat’s mast became entangled in an overhead power cable on the busy St. Mary’s Street, causing it to fall. The maritime officer in charge of the longboat’s journey, Greg Collier-Jones, was profusely apologetic:
“Overnight we displayed the boat in the church yard, lit up, and we had loads of people come round and look at her and be really impressed. This morning we were moving her from the church yard to the primary school to do a display. We decided – just to keep our time down and make sure we turned up in absolute style – we were going to turn up with the mast up.”
The longboat and the downed power cable ( BBC News )
They’ve learned their lesson, however. Mr. Jones has assured the people of Kirkcudbright that for any future such projects, that boats will be shipped on the roads with their masts down.
While he and his team extensively scouted for low bridges, they did not take into account power cables, and that was why the entire mix-up occurred. He has promised the disruption will not spoil the show – a small act of compensation for the disruption caused.
The quiet town had the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service rush to the scene, alerted by an automated alarm at 10:30 a.m. Upon arriving at the scene, however, they were grateful to find it was a false alarm.
A spokesperson from their crew said, “Operations control mobilized one appliance to the scene, which was a false alarm. Crews left the scene after ensuring the area was safe.” SP Energy Network also promptly rushed their executive to the spot, and they promised power would be restored before the sun sets.
The Galloway Hoard
The Galloway Hoard is one of the UK’s most significant Viking hoards ever. It is currently housed in the National Museum of Scotland, and consists of more than 100 gold, silver, glass, crystal, stone, and earthen objects found in the larger county of Kirkcudbrightshire.
Some of the treasures of the Galloway Hoard (National Museums Scotland / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
The finds were discovered accidentally by amateur metal detector enthusiast Derek McLennan, and two accompanying partners. The Hoard has been dated to 900 AD and represents the most comprehensive collection of Viking treasures ever found.
The intention had been to exhibit the treasure in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted those plans. This year however, they were able to go ahead with the exhibition titled Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age Treasure . Scottish Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth described the find in the following manner, as quoted by The National Scot :
“The Galloway Hoard is one of the most important collections of artefacts ever discovered in Scotland. National Museums Scotland’s exhibition tour of the Hoard will provide a unique opportunity for audiences in Scotland and visitors to view its many treasures. I am particularly pleased that the Scottish Government was able to provide £150,000 towards its acquisition, with a further £150,000 towards the conservation work and tour.”
The long-awaited return of the Galloway Hoard to Kirkcudbright had become something of an issue in local and civic elections, with the £2 million treasure becoming a focal point of contention between the 2 opposing candidates. The town’s current civic leader and Provost, Lesley Garbutt, welcomed the decision to bring it home, arguing that once the local people saw the historical and economic value of the hoard, they would want it to find a permanent home there.
Beautiful gold bird pin from the Galloway Hoard (-JvL- / CC BY 2.0 )
The Hoard had been on display in the National Museum in Edinburgh since May 2021. After travelling to Kirkcudbright, it will be on display in the Aberdeen Art Gallery at the end of October.
The Scottish Government recognizes the value of the find, which is why it is sponsoring and providing financial support to the current tour. The exhibition will use 3D reconstructions to bring the objects, and the Vikings, to life. Just hopefully not so much that they take out the power again.
Top image: It’s been almost a thousand years, but the Vikings are causing trouble again. Source: Nejron Photo / Adobe Stock.
By Sahir Pandey