‘Fishermen should replace Vikings on Sidmouth crest’

An embroidered version of the Sidmouth Town Council coat of arms at Kennaway House

An embroidered version of the Sidmouth Town Council coat of arms at Kennaway House - Credit: Archant

Vikings played no role in Sidmouth’s history and the coat of arms should be redrawn to reflect its fishing legacy, a business leader has argued.

The Nordic marauders landed elsewhere in Devon but Richard Eley believes there is ‘little or no knowledge’ of them coming to the town.

He told the town council he thought its crest should revert to its original design – and Sidmouth Town AFC should be nicknamed the Luggers, not the Vikings.

Mr Eley said: “The appearance of a Viking ship on the town’s coat of arms has always been a bit of a mystery. As far as I am aware there is little or no knowledge of any Viking settlement in the Sidmouth area, or any contact with them.”

He said antiquarian Peter Orlando Hutchinson had once drawn a lug-sailed fishing boat – and it was easy to see how it could gradually be misconstrued and corrupted into a Viking ship.

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“People generally have no idea how important our fishing industry was,” he added.

“We had a significant fleet journeying as far as Newfoundland in the 18th century, and there was quite a lot of ship building here.

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“And of course, there was a big herring industry in Sidmouth, the tail end of which was notably recorded by Stephen Reynolds in his book ‘A Poor Man’s House’.

“The centenary of Reynolds’ death is in 2019, and perhaps reverting to a lugger on our coat of arms might be a nice way of commemorating his contribution.”

But Mr Eley said his comments to the town council were ‘off the cuff’ and others may know of a connection between Sidmouth and the Vikings.

What do you think? Should the crest be redesigned? Do you know of a connection between Sidmouth and the Vikings?

Email stephen.sumner@archant.co.uk.

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