Re-enactors, mock battles and family fun to mark 75th anniversary of Viking ship Hugin’s arrival in Thanet

The Viking ship, Hugin, at Cliffsend Photo Frank Leppard

A free family fun day will be held in Cliffsend to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Viking ship Hugin in Thanet.

On July 28, 1949, the replica longship, now sited at Cliffsend, was met by a large crowd at Viking Bay (formerly called Main Bay), Broadstairs.

It had sailed from Denmark to Thanet to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the invasion of Britain, the landing of Hengist and Horsa and the betrothal of Hengist’s daughter, Rowena, to King Vortigen of Kent.

Before the journey Photo Fotopersbureau De Boer, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The boat was built in Denmark to a design used by the Vikings between the 5th and 8th centuries. It was then sailed by 53 Danes to Broadstairs. It was presented to the people of Thanet by the King of Denmark, its costs having been paid by The Daily Mail, and was placed in its current location at Cliffsend.

In 2005 the ship underwent major repairs coordinated by marine restoration specialist Fred Walker and funded by Thanet District Council, assisted by EU funding.

Hugin’s arrival was presented in a newsreel short entitled “Kent Welcomes Viking Invaders”, which British Pathé has uploaded to YouTube.

Footage from the newsreel was used in the 1965 Doctor Who serial The Time Meddler to represent an 11th-century Viking raiding party.

In 1979 the ship was featured on the rear cover of The Stranglers album The Raven, showing the band inside the ship.

In Norse mythology, Hugin is one of a pair of ravens that fly around the world and bring information to the god Odin.

Photo Frank Leppard

75th anniversary celebration

To celebrate the anniversary Cliffsend Parish Council has organised a day of family fun to take place on Hugin Green on Sunday, July 28 from noon to 5pm.

Photo Frank Leppard

The event will feature Ost Centingas  Viking living history re-enactors, a Viking village where people can see a day in the life of a Viking, mock battles and weapon display, a Viking forge, crafts, face and shield painting and runes.

There will also be exhibits from Canterbury Archaeology Trust, English Heritage, Kent Wildlife Trust, East Kent Birdwise, Thanet Coast Project, National CoastWatch, RNLI, Kent Fire & Rescue and Thanet Rotary Clubs.

The event is free entry.

Photo Frank Leppard

Cliffsend Parish Council vice chair, Cllr Paul Chapman, said: “The event is family orientated and entry is free. We are keen to celebrate our history and heritage.”

Sponsors and helpers are Vattenfall, Njord Café and Bar, Walker Traffic Management, Westwood Service & MOT, Kingsheath Construction, Challenge Packaging, Thanet Rotary Clubs and the residents of Cliffsend.


  1. As a boy, head full of historic adventure stories by Rosemary Sutcliffe and Geoffrey Trease, that ship always held a fascination for me. Under cover, it would make a good local museum centrepiece. Thanet is full of sites and artefacts of historic significance. But there’d be no funding, and I suppose Pegwell locals would complain, if another modern gallery was plonked on their clifftop. I would. And I guess it’s done OK open to the elements for 75 years. It’s a great story (and well researched, Kathy): a reconstructed Viking ship, sailed here by Danes, just after the war? And paid for by the Daily Mail. The first and last time they sponsored a small boat full of invaders to sail to these shores. The events around the anniversary sound exciting too. I hope it’s a success.

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