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Gainsborough to celebrate time as capital of England 1,000 years ago

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: February 18, 2013

A special event: A parade, in 2002, assembles for Gainsborough Riverside Festival outside The Old Hall, with many dressed up as vikings

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Gainsborough is set to celebrate the time when it became the capital of England 1,000 years ago.

"Gainsborough Goes Norse" on Saturday, June 8 will mark King Sweyn Forkbeard's self-proclaimed accession to the throne in 1013.

Sweyn, who was Danish, came to power after King Aethelred ordered the massacre of all Danes living in England in 1002.

Angry warlord Sweyn heard of his sister Gunhilde's death in the massacre – and launched a campaign of terror lasting ten years before the king's forces in London submitted to him. He was declared King of England on Christmas Day 1013.

He based himself in Gainsborough and began to organise his kingdom from the town. But he died in February 1014, having ruled England for only five weeks before he was succeeded by his son and heir Canute.

Gainsborough Town Council's events officer Gary Cooke has made an early appeal for extra help on the special day.

He said: "This year's theme celebrates the 1,000th anniversary of when Gainsborough was, very briefly, the capital of England in 1013.

"The Gainsborough Riverside Festival Committee is very eager to ensure the 2013 event is one that is enjoyed by everyone."

Anyone who might be interested in helping organise the event or help with sponsorship should contact Mr Cooke, or come to the next committee meeting on Wednesday, February 27 at 6.30pm at Gainsborough Old Hall.

There are several Danish influences still visible in the town today, including two pubs named Sweyn Forkbeard and Canute in Silver Street. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "Our pub, the Sweyn Forkbeard, is at the heart of Gainsborough and we are proud of its association, through its name, with Forkbeard himself.

"The event sounds fantastic and I am certain that Wetherspoon will be involved in one way or another.

"It seems only right that a pub bearing the name of the great man plays a part."

Contact Gary Cooke on 01427 811573.

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