by maryann johanson, liberal movie person
Tue Jul 01 2014, 10:34pm | 10 comments
Viking longboats made by students, on display in the rotunda of the British Museum, in conjunction with the just-closed exhibition about Viking travels around Europe and North America. (Click here for a larger version.)
Another view (larger version):
And one more (larger version):
Those are neat! Have you seen the Viking exhibit at the museum?
I wished something special was going on when I was there in 2012, but I can’t complain overly because just the regular collection was so amazing to me. I loved the Sutton Hoo room, the Roman collection (the silver dining service, including the amazing pagan platter, and the Hoxne horde with the pepperpot and the lionness handle), the Celtic and Saxon stuff, but my favorite were probably the Lewis Chessman. I really want to get a replica set of those and display them with the chessboard my dad made me years ago.
i have a small version of that chess set — they are available if you look online, especially at sites specializing in celtic items
I did see the new Viking exhibit (that’s why I was there at the museum recently), but no photos were allowed (or I would have posted some).
It was so insanely crowded, even with expensive tickets and timed entry, that I thought the press of the crowd would drive me mad. But it was worth it, especially for the mostly replica longboat that had a few original wooden boards and other bits that were excavated in recent years from the biggest Viking ship ever found or known to have existed. You could see how they must have inspired terror and/or awe in their travels.
But the exhibit also focused on the fact that they were not the invincible warriors that legend has them now. (And how, in fact, many of the things pop culture leads us to think we know about Vikings wasn’t true of them.) Another fascinating part of the exhibit was of skeletons dug up in England that was clearly of Viking warriors/marauders who had been captured and executed by beheading. Some skulls were missing from the mass grave, leading to speculation that some heads may have been displayed apart from the grave as a warning or just in a celebratory way by the locals.
Oh, and there were some Lewis chessman on display, too.
In 1976 when I was 10, we went to the King Tut exhibit that was touring the US to great acclaim (it spawned Steve Martin’s hit song “King Tut”!). That was just a huge crush of people, and you could barely move close enough to see the artifacts. I’ve been to other major exhibits since then, but have never seen that many people at any of them.
I think this was the busiest exhibit I’ve ever been at.
“Every threshing floor in Ireland resounded with the flail wielded by.a Danish slave” — not the sort of thing that’s said about victorious marauders.
What’s that from? I’ve never heard it before.
I’ve had it in the back of my mind for years; from a novel, but I can’t now pin down just where it was.
So the term “Danegeld” was something the English just made up?
It certainly does not sound like anything one would pay to nonvictorious marauders.
Then again, the fact that the Danes might have lost a fight or two does not necessarily mean that they always lost.
Oh, don’t think I’m saying raids didn’t happen, or didn’t kill people. Just take a look at Lindisfarne. I’m just saying it wasn’t as one-sided as is sometimes portrayed.
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