YOU might be forgiven for thinking you were dreaming if you thought you saw horses rising out of the River Ouse last night.

But the scene, similar to a certain Irish beer advert, was no dream.

The horses in question had eight legs and belonged to the Viking god Odin who featured as part of an image of Norse gods projected on to the side of the Guildhall as part of the city's Viking Festival.

People walking over Ouse Bridge at about 6pm also got a glimpse of some eerie Viking long boats fading in and out of focus as they made their ghostly progress along the side of the historic council building.

The computer-generated images were a first glimpse of specially-commissioned artwork by York artist Nigel Sandor as part of the festival.

From tonight until February 20 they will be beamed across the Ouse from high up on the Norwich Union building and the Moat House Hotel on to the buildings opposite using powerful projectors.

Nigel, 39, from Acomb, said: "I came up with the idea of using Viking longboats and scenes from Norse mythology to capture the essence of the festival and the spirit of York."

They seemed to go down well with the public. Stuart Moodie, 49, of Poppleton Road, York, said: "It looks brilliant. I think it's a great idea."

The artwork has been commissioned by The York Renaissance Project to support the Viking festival which is organised each year by York Archaelogical Trust.

The project cost £5,000 for the hire of four projectors, to commission the artist, and to develop the art work.

As part of the Viking Festival, 150 people will be waging war in a battle re-enactment near Clifford's Tower at 7pm tomorrow. Tickets are available by phoning the festival office on 01904 543403.

The picture was taken by Evening Press photographer Mike Tipping with a tripod-mounted Nikon D2H and 35mm lens, using an exposure of eight seconds at f4. Equivalent film speed rating 200iso

Updated: 10:03 Friday, February 11, 2005