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Torrington Vikings

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Torrington Vikings

Ceremony ablaze with Viking custom

News 1974 8 mins


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From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive

This film is donated by the Torrington Cavaliers Charity and shows the burning of a viking boat, a prominent tradition for burial during the Viking Age believed to facilitate the journey to the land of the dead. The boat is traditionally made of ash. The Torrington Cavaliers entered a competition and paraded in Plymouth in 1970 dressed as Cavaliers, the name given to the Royalist supporters of King Charles II.

The pro-Royalist Cavaliers of Torrington were surrounded and defeated at the Battle of Torrington in 1646 by Cromwell's Parliamentarians or Roundheads under Sir Thomas Fairfax. Torrington Church housed the gunpowder and an explosion destroyed the church and people in it. After an outpouring of admiration for their float the Torrington Cavaliers are born and they continue every year to host spectacular bonfires raising money for charity.