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Spain’s little-known Viking history is being uncovered

By Elizabeth Drayson, Emeritus Fellow in Spanish at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
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Every year, on the first Sunday in August, the replica of an 11th-century Viking longboat sails up the river Ulla to the town of Catoira in northern Spain. The boat, manned by townsfolk disguised as Viking warriors, stages a ferocious onslaught on the town which is successfully fended off by the other residents in a tussle that ends up with both sides soaked not in blood, but wine.

After the battle, both victors and Vikings share a traditional lunch of mussels and octopus, and perform the verbena, a traditional Galician dance. This year there were actually six Viking longboats…


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