SKIRMISHES have broken out between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons in York this afternoon as they prepare for a major battle tonight.

The great armies of the Viking invaders and the stoic Anglo-Saxon defenders will lock sword and shield in a spectacular battle in the Eye of York to mark the finale of the Jorvik Viking Festival.

The event, which will also feature fireworks at nearby Clifford's Tower, is sold out, but spectators have been able to get a free foretaste at the Eye this afternoon as the soldiers rehearsed.

The skirmishes came after a great march of Vikings through the city centre from the Minster, watched by crowds of tourists and shoppers.