Novel partnership welcomes Vikings

An unusual partnership with international publishing house Harper Collins brought marauding Vikings to the City Museum. The Vikings were publicising the national launch of a new novel - set during the reign of King Alfred the Great - by best-selling author Bernard Cornwell who also wrote the Sharpe series which appeared on British television.

Entitled The Pale Horseman, the book is the second in a series which follows the fortunes of the Saxon warrior Uhtred. In the first novel, Uhtred was snatched from his people by the Vikings in a bloodthirsty assault on Northumbria. Raised and trained to fight by the Danes, Uhtred begins to suffer from a confused sense of identify when his path crosses continually with that of the intriguing and clever Saxon prince Alfred. This second novel sees Uhtred in the service of Alfred - now king - and already with a major battle victory under his belt. But a renewed onslaught by the Vikings is inevitable - and Uhtred still has a blood feud to settle.

Much of the action takes place in and around Winchester, Alfred's 'capital' city of the Saxon kingdom he created. In view of the close ties between the book and the city of Winchester, Harper Collins approached Winchester City Council and agreed a package of promotional activities in support of the launch. These include the sponsoring of a special run of the popular free self-guided trail leaflet The Winchester Walk, which introduces visitors to the city of Alfred's day, and - in the spring - an appearance by the author himself.

Cllr Therese Evans, the city council's portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport said "This is an excellent example of partnership working. By supporting the launch of Mr Cornwell's book, we are able to produce additional copies of one of our most sought-after publications.

"In addition, however, we hope that we might encourage new visitors to come to the Winchester City Museum to find out more about the part Winchester played in the rise of King Alfred which is the central theme of the book."

Vikings will be back at the City Museum from 27 to 29 October to meet museum visitors and explain what life was like during Viking times, over 1000 years ago. Visitors will be able to meet Valgard, a warrior, and Katla, his lady, and to handle some replica objects from the period. For more information about this free event and about the launch in general, call 01962 848 269 or follow the home page link from