This year's version of Kynren, a spectacular show that presents 2,000 years of British history in the space of 90 minutes, is set to feature a rare horse that could play a starring role in the infamous Viking invasion, while the pre-show attraction will be an authentic ninth-century Viking village. 

The show, which takes place on eight occasions throughout the summer at Flatts Farm, Bishop Auckland, in northern England, narrates an epic tale spanning from Boudicca's battles with the Romans to the Vikings, the Tudors, and two world wars.

To find out more about the new arrival and what people can expect at this year's event, The Viking Herald speaks to Laurie Robinson, director of cavalry and estates at Kynren

A new star of the show 

Cosmo, whose full name is Knutsford Cosmopolitan, is a majestic grey shire horse that stands at 18.3 hands (equivalent to 1.86m measured from floor to shoulders). 

He is one of less than 200 specimens remaining of his breed in the world. As Laurie indicates, he has been warmly received by the volunteer cast and crew of Kynren

"Cosmo is a fantastic addition to the equine team," Laurie asserts enthusiastically. 

"He's settled into his new home extremely well, and we're so excited he's here. He has a fabulous personality, which makes him lovely to work with – he is a true 'gentle giant.'" 

"In the short time he's been here, he's been learning new skills which will make him an asset to the Kynren family." 

Cosmo and his animal counterparts contribute to the show's immersive atmosphere, transporting audiences back in time to experience the sights and sounds of ancient England. Photo: 11Arches

Detailed preparation 

Kynren, founded in 2016 via the charity foundation 11Arches, features several live-action sequences that require months of planning and coordination. 

Preparation is especially crucial for any of the parts featuring horses, with riders and horses paired as early as possible. 

"It's important that there is mutual trust so they achieve the best results," Laurie tells The Viking Herald

"We always introduce new things gradually and slowly and find that little and often works best. It always amazes me what can be achieved to create something special for the audience to enjoy." 

Cosmo's potential participation in the Viking section of Kynren showcases the versatility and adaptability of horses in historical reenactments. Photo: 11Arches

A Viking weapon? 

Cosmo may also feature in the Viking section of the evening's entertainment when the audience will be treated to a spectacular Viking invasion that seeks to recreate the famous attacks made by the Norse on northern England in the 9th and 10th centuries. 

There is even a chance that Cosmo himself may feature in the invasion scene.

 "The Viking scene in Kynren is a really impressive part of the show," Laurie admits. "It's full of action and dramatic combat." 

At the same time, Laurie points out that horses were not typically used in Viking assaults. 

"It is believed that horses became an important part of the Vikings' military capability," says Laurie, "But, for them, horses were primarily a means of swift transport and sudden raiding rather than to be used as an effective cavalry force." 

The Viking section of Kynren promises a thrilling portrayal of the Norse invasions that swept through northern England in the 9th and 10th centuries. Photo: 11Arches

Plenty to look forward to 

Visitors to Kynren can also explore a Viking village complete with a cookhouse, cottages, animals, and a working blacksmith's forge. 

The attraction, which debuted in 2019 and is returning this year after a long absence, will be open to ticket holders throughout the day before the main event. 

Guests will have the chance to encounter not only some of the horses and the 1,000-strong cast and crew at the village but also a variety of animals, including donkeys, sheep, geese, goats, and cows. 

Many of these animals will also take part in the evening's entertainment. 

Kynren, an Epic Tale of England, features a spectacular series of set pieces that take place on an enormous 7.5-acre stage – the scale of five football pitches – in front of an 8,000-seat amphitheatre known as the Tribune. 

The show, which is backed by a stirring soundtrack created by the award-winning composer Nathan Stornetta, begins at sunset each Saturday evening from July 27 to September 14. 

For more information on Kynren, please visit the official website or Facebook page.

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