Heritage Week went out with a fight last Sunday to the delight of audiences at Aonach na nDéise, the Viking Festival at Woodstown on the Waterford Greenway. Hosted by  Déise Medieval Re-enactment Group and supported by Waterford City and County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, National Museum of Ireland, TVAS Archaeology, Abarta Heritage and SETU  the festival was back for its 5th year and attracted over 1000 visitors over the course of the day.

Visitors were entertained and delighted at the sights and sounds of vikings in battle, pots stewing, leather making, coin stamping, and pottery making along with archaeologists re-discovering the Woodstown Warrior Grave to the amazement of some very fascinated children. A viking boat was on display and a Heritage Activity Tent hosted by the  Education Department  of the National Museum of Ireland and TVAS Archaeology provided great  fun for many children.

Heritage Officer Bernadette Guest said “We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and authentic group of re-enactors based in Waterford and the South East who continue to highlight the significant Viking heritage of our city. Because there is no upstanding visible remains of the Viking settlement at Woodstown it can be difficult sometimes for the public to  envisage what it once was so having an event like this really brings the site to life   along with academic and archaeological research and the work of the National Museum and Waterford Museum of Treasures in conserving and displaying the artefacts in Reginald’s Tower.”

When asked what  is happening with the site at the moment she explained “as only 5% of the Woodstown site was actually excavated  we’ve been carrying out some non-invasive geo-physical surveys and analysis to focus on archaeological hotspots within the site that where funds allow we could target future excavations. The Community Monuments Fund operated by the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has  been very supportive of this research and last year analysis of a 2018 survey carried out  a team of Norwegian experts highlighted the potential presence of  structures that indicate  house plots and  structures that may have been used for  iron working and ship repairs  supported by the number of ship nails found during excavation. This autumn we will be carrying out further geotechnical surveys to have a closer look at those areas of interest.”

On site to view the activity and the value of the Community Monuments Fund for researching sites such as these was Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan who commended the range of activity on site and the authentic displays that brought Waterford’s Viking Heritage to the attention of so many visitors for this Heritage Week event. He commended the collaborative approach and work to date of the Woodstown Steering Committee and looked forward to seeing the project move forward. Also in attendance was Deputy Ambassador for Norway Ms Bente Lyngstad who has recently been appointed to her position and spoke warmly about the continued co-operation and close ties between Waterford and Norway on the Hiberno- Niorse story between Ireland and Scandinavia.

Aonach na nDéise will be back in 2023 with more battle tactics and viking craftwork. We look forward to hearing the findings of the 2022 geo-technical surveys and adding to the unfolding story of the Woodstown Viking Site.