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Reis deg, Sir Stephen; (That's Arise, Sir Stephen, in Norwegian).


A MERSEYSIDE professor has become a Knight of Norway.

Viking expert Professor Stephen Harding was awarded the rank of Knight of the 1st Class of Den Kongelige Norske Fortjensteorden - the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

It is the highest honour Norway's King Harald V can confer on a citizen of another country who is not a head of state.

Professor Harding, who was born in Wallasey and went to Wallasey Grammar School, was honoured for his "outstanding work in spreading knowledge of the Vikings in England".

The proud Tranmere Rovers supporter - itself a Viking name - first became interested in the subject as a child, when his grandfather told him about the Viking origins of Thingwall, in Wirral.

He said: "It's not just an honour for me but the whole of the area.

"It represents the help of many people over the years and I'm extremely grateful for that."

Professor Harding, who is scientific advisor to the University of Nottingham Centre for the Study of the Viking Age, has been instrumental in raising awareness of Wirral and West Lancashire's links to the Vikings - previously the preserve of academics.

The dad-of-four has written or co-authored five books on Vikings, including Viking Wirral, which explored the results of a genetic survey showing a strong Scandinavian influence in the DNA of old Wirral families.

Professor Harding said: "I'd do this anyway, but it's nice to be recognised.

"It shows the deep affection Norwegians have for us."


HONOUR: Prof Harding in Scandinavia; and, right, flying the flag in Thingwall
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 19, 2012
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