Most Scandinavians are strongly aware of Viking roots, but while some may recall snippets of information about Harald Bluetooth from school,
conjuring images of strong, burly men in helmets raiding ships on the Baltic Sea, our real knowledge of Viking history is probably rather shadowy.
The British Museum promises to educate us all on our
exciting medieval past with a major exhibition on Vikings opening this month.
‘Vikings: life and legend’ focuses on the core period of the Viking Age from the late 8th to the early 11th century.
The Viking expansion from Scandinavia during this period was extraordinary, extending from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean.
The exhibition will make the most of new research and a multitude of recent discoveries by archaeologists and metal detectors.
“The reach and cultural connections of the Viking Age make it a remarkable story,” says Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum.
“New discoveries and research have led to a wealth of information about the Vikings, so it is a perfect moment to look again at this critical era.”
Perhaps what one should most admire about the Vikings is their exceptional maritime skills and extraordinary shipbuilding abilities.
A highlight of the British Museum exhibition will be the surviving timbers of a 37-metre long Viking warship, the longest ever discovered.
The 11th century Longship, built in southern Norway and known as Roskilde 6,
is lent by the National Museum of Denmark and has been painstakingly reassembled in a stainless steel frame
that reconstructs the full size and shape of the original ship.
Other highlights of the exhibition include the entirety of the York Hoard,
discovered in 2007, and an impressive silver hoard from Gnezdova in Russia, never previously seen in the UK.
The Viking exhibition has countless treats in store for the visitor,
promising to give a far deeper understanding of Scandinavia’s fascinating ancient ancestors.
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