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Cycling ‘Viking’ told not to bring axe and sword into London

Penny farthing rider raising awareness of homelessness on 300-mile trip falls foul of the long arm of the (Dane) law

A man undertaking a 300-mile ride on a penny farthing bike while dressed as a Viking was told by police not to bring his sword and axe into central London.

Dr Steve Payne, aged 59 and from Cambridgeshire, is aiming to raise awareness of homelessness during his ride, reports Mail Online.

But Metropolitan Police officers advised him not to take his weapons into the centre of the capital because it might provoke memories of the 2017 terrorist attack in Westminster.

Dr Payne, a two-time winner of the Great British Eccentric of the Year award, said: “I’m recreating a historical journey with a twist.

“I’m doing it on a penny farthing, in Viking armour, chainmail, sword and shield.

“I’ll be doing it in authentic Viking kit – apart from the fact I’m on a penny farthing and not a horse,” although he said that the bike “will have two coconut halves attached to the handlebars so that as I ride along, I can knock them together to make the sound of a horse.

“The outfit is probably about 40lbs of weight. It's a helmet, tunic, full chainmail, sword, shield, Viking boots,” he continued.

“The seaxe is a long knife which they would use for close quarters combat and also for chopping their meat, eating their bread, but the Met are not very happy about me riding from Westminster Palace [with it].”

Dr Payne said that he understood why he had been advised not to take his sword and axe into the centre of the capital.

“Met Police said in view of the fact there was an officer stabbed outside of the Houses of Parliament he didn't think it was a good idea so I decided not to take the sword,” he explained.

“I can totally see their point of view that only [in 2017] someone ran into a couple of people on the bridge then stabbed a copper to death.”

He said that he had checked with the chief constables of police forces in other counties he is riding through that it was okay to take his weapons – which are stage props and do not have sharp edges – with him, and had been given their approval.

“It’s a full metal sword but it's probably not a good idea to be hanging around in central London with a sword on your belt,” he said.

“So I’m going to have to give the sword to a friend to do the central London part then pick it up from him as I leave London.”

His journey, which he is undertaking to raise awareness of homelessness, will eventually take him to Bosham in West Sussex to mark a rather singular anniversary.

“It’s exactly 1,000 years since King Cnut allegedly held back the tide. This happened around 1022. It was basically the Danish Conquest,” he said.

“I’m setting off from London on my penny farthing because I don’t have a horse. I'm following the route they would have taken from London, down to Somerset, up to Wiltshire and across to Essex and Kent, where the final battle took place that confirmed Cnut as the winner.

“After that, I'll be riding down to Bosham to recreate the holding back the tide story,” continued the retired history teacher.

“I’ve been a re-enactor for many years so I have my suits of armour and costumes from anything from the Roman period to the Second World War. I’m often running around in the background of films as an extra or showing people around castles.

“The costume I’ve got is not an issue. I could grab hold of anything from a Roman centurion’s uniform to a Second World War policeman in pretty much a moment.

“I was voted Britain's Eccentric of the Year for the last two years and I’ve made a habit of making these slightly eccentric, long distance historical journeys ever since,” added Mr Payne, who has previously crossed the Alps on a spacehopper named Hannibal.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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