Monday, February 24, 2014

The Vikings Are British Museum

The Vikings: Life and Legend exhibit at the British Museum is from March 6 to June 22, 2014 in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery.

This is the first major Viking exhibit at the British Museum in over 30 years. The exhibit is pulled together with collections from the National Museum of Denmark and the National Museum in Berlin, in addition, to the British Museum's archives and from elsewhere in Britain and Ireland.

The Sainsbury exhibit will focus not just on Viking in the UK, but also on the role of Vikings in Europe, "from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean," according to the BM.

"At the centre of the exhibition will be the surviving timbers of a 37-metre-long Viking warship, the longest ever found [...]. The ship, known as Roskilde 6, was excavated from the banks of Roskilde fjord in Denmark. The surviving timbers—approximately 20% of the original ship—have now been re-assembled for display in a specially made stainless steel frame that reconstructs the full size and shape of the original ship. The construction of the ship has been dated to around AD 1025." Due to the size of the ship and age, it's been categorized as a royal ship associated with King Cnut's wars.

I saw this ship when I visited the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum in 2002. This is the first time, the ship will be traveling to the UK.

Other key exhibits include real Vikings and gold.

Excavated skeletons from a mass grave of executed Vikings near Weymouth in Dorset will provide authentic Vikings as part of the exhibit devoted to showing what happened to the Vikings in England.

The Vale of York Viking hoard will be shown in its entirety for the first time since it was discovered by metal detectorists near Harrogate in 2007. I blogged about it here. "Consisting of 617 coins, 6 arm rings and a quantity of bullion and hack-silver," it is one of the most significant of Viking finds. Some of the treasures of the hoard are clearly stolen treasures from far-off lands.

"The Vale of York hoard includes objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe. Represented in the hoard are three belief systems (Islam, Christianity and the worship of Thor [Nordic religion]) and peoples who spoke at least seven languages."

Oh, how I long to be in London in the spring! Well, of course, I'd rather be in London any time of the year, but to be able to see this with my own two eyes...