EcoVikings formed a part of a series of educational ‘eco-activities’ organised by Merseytravel as part of their role as UK partners in the EU-backed Climatlantic Project, designed to encourage children to change their behaviour to reduce their carbon footprint and protect their coastline.
Through our previous work with the ecoCruises on the Mersey Ferries, we ascertained that engaging children with harnessing wind power, the importance of the river and estuarine ecology and the effect of climate change on the coast could be adequately transmitted through Merseyside’s Viking heritage.
Throughout the 10th Century, Merseyside was settled by Norse Vikings, most likely arriving via Dublin. Their impact on the region was great, with archaeology place-names and even our language profoundly affected by these Viking settlers. Viking culture had a number of key facets which made it so suitable as a tool to promote climate change. Their culture of travelling huge distances was powered solely by new technology (clinker ship) that allowed them to harness the power of the wind and waves; something which is now firmly on the ‘green agenda’ in Europe. The Vikings were prolific recyclers, reused when they could and never over-consumed. They were also innovators in conserving energy, using turf to insulate their houses 1000 years ago, a technology which is now becoming popular once again.
Big Heritage delivered a number of outputs for the EcoViking project. As a centre-piece to this project, we were able to reproduce the recently discovered (2011) Ardnamurchan Viking Boat – a small but beautiful discovery from the Highlands of Scotland.
Museum of Liverpool EcoViking Visit
The EcoVikings project spent a weekend at the Museum of Liverpool. The project asked children to sign a pledge to make changes to their social behaviour in order to combat climate change. These were simple changes, from turning off lights to walking to school. In exchange for a pledge, our team of Vikings presented them with a replica 10th century coin (which they would help to make) as a lasting reminder of their pledge.
In addition to the museum weekend, the EcoViking project visited a number of local primary schools, where approximately 730 school-children undertook a workshop to learn about climate change and how they were able to make small differences to their social behaviour to make a positive difference. Once again, children received a Viking coin in exchange for their pledge.
Councillor John Salter attended a visit at Riverside Primary School where he is a school governor. He said:
“As both a Merseytravel councillor and a school governor, it was fantastic to see the children from my school learning about the environment in such a fun and educational way. Merseytravel are committed to educating children about the risks of climate change, and the ecoVikings project has been a very successful part of this.”
The project went on to win a Social Impact Award for best Public Sector Partnership Initiative.