ADRIAN Spendlow has the beard and the mane of wild hair to pass for a Norse warrior.

Have you any Scandinavian roots, Adrian? "Only as much as we all have in York," says our fair city's performance poet. "But Viking history is something I've always been interested in.

"They got about all over the place. Europe, Russia, and there's even rumours of China, where there's said to be a region of tall, blond Chinese people."

Maybe that rumour could be added to the list of Viking myths and sagas that will feature next Friday in Bardic Adventurers!, an evening of scary stories and terrible tales presented by Adrian and 30 to 40 workshop participants at ARC in St Saviourgate. The evening is the culmination of a fortnight of saga adventures, in which Adrian is bringing six myths to life in a series of workshops, as part of the Scandinavian cultural programme at the 20th Jorvik Viking Festival.

Those workshops and open days began last weekend with two days of sagas at the free Vikings in the Square events in St Sampson's Square.

"Jane Stockdale, from the festival team, knew of the other work I'd done in the field of children's education, such as going around schools in Leeds doing ancient Egyptian dramas for the museum services' education department. For the Jorvik Viking Festival she wanted me to work on sagas, and what we decided to do was to make the sagas real," says Adrian.

"So we're creating a landscape in which the world is round, with the sea around it. There is a giant serpent, called Jormungand, so large that its body wraps itself around the world, with its head touching its tail, and up above is a world tree where each of its roots feeds a different world."

From his research of Viking sagas, Adrian has put the old adage to work that the pen is mightier than the (Viking) sword. "What I've been doing is researching until I get inspired and think 'Ooh, I can make something of that," he says. "The sagas have been collected from oral tradition, and what makes my work different is that we'll be telling them in a new and different way. We're using the tradition as a starting point rather sticking to it, which would be the traditional way of presenting these tales."

Working with children aged four to 12, Adrian will play the role of the Skald in the Bardic Adventurers. "He's the bard figure who travels around telling stories of epic battles and myths. The poems I've written will be turned into dramas by the children, who play villagers sent on a quest in each story," he says.

How scary are the sagas, Adrian? "Well, it's all gruesome stuff! In one drama, they eat raw liver; in another, the Seeress is fed a still beating heart, ripped out of a wolf, and she has to drink glutinous goat's milk. The children seem to love anything that's disgusting and horrible!"

Bardic Adventurers!, ARC, St Saviourgate, York, next Friday, 7pm to 9pm. Tickets: £3.50 on 01904 543403.

Updated: 15:57 Thursday, February 10, 2005