THEY were young but they were still fierce.

When 300 youthful Vikings marched through the centre of York, everyone in their path moved to let them through.

The colourful procession from Jorvik to the festival tent in St Sampson's Square was only one of the events to launch the 20th Jorvik Viking Festival, which runs until Sunday February 20.

Youngsters from four York schools took part in the procession and each performed a traditional Viking saga before an audience.

St Oswald's School performed The Theft of Idun's Apples in the Coppergate Centre before the entire group paraded along Parliament Street to St Sampson's Square.

Then, inside the festival tent, Poppleton Road School performed Thor Retrieves His Hammer.

They were followed by Osbaldwick School performing Otter's Ransom, and St Wilfrid's School performing Treasures of the Gods.

Colin Jackson, drama consultant at City of York Council, said the Viking sagas can easily be adapted by those performing the tales.

He said: "We don't write a script, we work with the children and they feed in lines. Over the course of the day we will work up our own version of the story.

"That fits in with how the Vikings told their stories."

Colourful banners created by eight after-school clubs decorated the tent.

Community artist Rob Eastman said: "I gave the clubs a banner with a design that's from a Viking belt strap and I asked them to decorate it.

"It took them about three weeks and they did a beautiful job."

Throughout the two-week festival events include a giant light display of Viking ships projected across the River Ouse on to the Guildhall, Viking ships sailing on the river and a re-enactment of the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Updated: 09:39 Saturday, February 05, 2005