top of page

MAKING WAVES! – remnants of Viking longboat discovered in Grange Park Sports Field, Wetherby

While preparing the playing fields at Wetherby's Grange Park for the town's largest ever beer festival, the essential groundworks have unearthed the remnants of a 30ft (9m) Viking longboat.

Ground works had been under way in preparation for the Wetherby beer festival which takes place on Friday and Saturday, April 28-29th, but the works were dramatically halted when the remains of an almost complete Viking longboat hull was unearthed. Professor April F. Day and her team of archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar to make the discovery.

She said: "This is incredibly exciting, not just to find such a discovery, but also to now see how Grange Park, the home of Wetherby RUFC, which has long been suspected by many a team player of holding special cultural and gladiatorial significance to the Vikings, has now been proven.’

It is as yet unclear what happened to the boat but local historians are exploring the possibility that it was separated from an incoming trade fleet and became grounded at the side of the River Wharfe. There have also been tantalising clues that could link the relic back to the fabled “Wetherby Whale” with iron work and vats, potentially used for fat rendering, also discovered in the dig. “This is potentially one of the most significant finds in the UK to date,” explained Prof Day from the Wetherby & Harrogate Historical Society. “There have been stories passed down over the centuries of a thriving whale industry on the banks of the River Wharfe, but this is the first time we have come across any tangible evidence that it truly existed!”

Fortunately for the Wetherby Beer Festival organisers, the excavation works will not affect preparations for the two-day event which will see around 3,000 people descend on Grange Park to sample more than 50 craft beers, a Yorkshire gin bar, champagne lounge and cocktail bar. Festival organisers will be showing their respect to the Viking heritage by the wearing of Viking hats and serving Longboat Cocktails.

Tickets to the festival can be ordered online at Up to three children under the age of 12 go free with a paying adult on Saturday which is family friendly.

bottom of page