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Loved gerbil gets Viking-style funeral down Somerset river

The gerbil called Nibbles was set sail in the River Brue, south of Glastonbury. Photo: Emma Pickerill

A woman from Glastonbury, Somerset has given her much loved gerbil a Viking-style river cremation after he passed away.

Emma Pickerill, 38, who said her family has "pagan leanings", decided Nibbles needed a Viking-style farewell, which involves placing his body in a wooden raft and set it on fire.

It was pushed down a stream as his mourning family watched from the bank.

Emma Pickerill's friend suggested the three-year-old pet deserved better than a simple burial.

Nibble died on Samhain, the Gaelic festival celebrating dead ancestors and the end of the harvest season.

His owners saw that as a sign.

I can see him now, sitting at the table in the halls of Valhalla surrounded by Valkyries, quaffing mead from a drinking horn.

He'll be recounting tales of glorious battles, in gold studded armour with a garnet encrusted shield, of course."

– Emma Pickerill

The gerbil's makeshift boat was made of plywood and some logs Ms Pickerell and her son found at the riverside.

Nibbles was set sail in the River Brue, south of Glastonbury, which, according to legend, is the home of the Lady of the Lake from Authurian legend.

It is also said to be the final resting place of King Arthur's sword Excalibur.

Emma said she likes "momentous occasions to be as epic as possible."

His friend Scarlet died a few months ago.

But Nibbles died at astrological Samhain, which is the pagan feast of the dead ancestors, so it seemed like having a magnificent funeral was the thing to do.

– Emma Pickerill

She says her son, Ben Hurring, who Nibbles was bought for in 2014, said although it was a sad occasion, they were all "happy to give him such a good send off'.

He left this earthly plane for the otherworld on the November 6 which happened to be when we were having our Samhain feast to celebrate the pagan feast of the ancestors. It seemed like a very portentous moment to pass.

It was really special. Yes, really good for the children and even for me to mark a death with a proper ceremony.

It's a bit quiet here at night without his little snuffling around. Even though he was just a little gerbil he was still part of the family."

– Emma Pickerill