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A Visit to the Exhibition at the British Museum

Thursday 13th March 2014

We had a prompt departure from Cranleigh and a very comfortable journey into London on Sussex Coaches with ample time for lunch and a free choice of what we should see or do.  This was followed by an excellent lecture by the Curator…. which greatly enhanced the whole visit giving us a clear insight into how the exhibition was structured and detailing specific artifacts to examine.

Silver-inlaid Axehead, AD 900s, Denmark

It gave us the opportunity to question our concepts of blood-lust, ravaging, pillaging Vikings and to consider that there was another side to them and even some positive contributions that these invaders gave to Anglo-Saxon Britain.

After the initial rather crowded entrance to the earlier exhibits (some of us were able to go back later when it was less crowded) we could not fail to be impressed by the sheer size of the Viking ship on display.  It was at the core of the exhibition and we circumnavigated it (no pun intended) to see the display of over 300 artifacts including swords, axeheads, helmets, coins and many superb items of jewelry (many in solid gold) which built up a comprehensive picture of what life must have been like for these intrepid travelers.

The Hiddensee Hoard
late 10th century
Gold, Germany
Pin with Dragon's Head
AD 950 - 1000
Copper alloy

Although the impact and effect of Viking raids and their influence had never been in dispute it was interesting to consider their trading, religion, culture and politics which were brought more clearly into focus by this exhibition.

It proved to be an interesting and worthwhile visit although I’m still working hard to visualize Vikings without horned helmets (a Victorian invention!).

Rosemary Easter

With thanks to the British Museum Press Office for supplying the images used in this report.

Related Link (opens in new window):

Exhibition website