Replica Viking Ship takes to the water

Replica Viking ship Photo: ITV

A group of history enthusiasts from across the north west have successfully rowed the biggest replica Viking ship in the world.

Despite many of them being novices, the group managed to get the 70-ton Dragon Harald Fairhair up to a respectable 3 knots on the fjords near Karmoy island in Western Norway.It's hoped the ship, which is named after the king who united the country more than 1,000 years ago, will retrace the route of the Vikings and visit Merseyside and the Isle of Man next year.

Trials are currently underway near the town of Haugesund where she was built. If they are successful, the vessel will embark on a major international voyage that could see her sail as far as New York.The ship was funded by a local businessman to learn more about ancient boat-building techniques and the Vikings themselves. It has been designed using a combination of archaeological evidence, details from folklore and local knowledge handed down over the generations.While it is mainly wind power that will get the Dragon between destinations, organisers need volunteers to row her in to and out of port.

A "navy" of more than 50 volunteers have been trained by the Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club in Wallasey. Some of them travelled to the annual Viking festival at Avaldsnes at the weekend to see the ship for the first time.

The idea is the brainchild of Prof Steve Harding, a Viking expert who was brought up in Wirral. The scientist was awarded with the 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit by the current king of Norway last year. This is the highest honour for a foreign national who is not a Head of State for "outstanding service" to the country.

Our Merseyside Correspondent Andy Bonner joined the group as they became some of the first people to row a Viking ship in a millennium.