Saturday, 21 November 2009

Viking Lakeland

Every year I take some MA students for a lightning field trip to the Lake District, to look at sculpture, runic inscriptions and place-names. The picture shows this year's group at Aspatria, by the grave of W.S. Calverley, a few weeks ago. Another great name in Viking Lakeland studies is of course W.G. Collingwood, the subject of a book by Matthew Townend (The Vikings and Victorian Lakeland: The Norse Medievalism of W.G. Collingwood and His Contemporaries), out early next month and available from the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. It's sad to hear the current bad news about the devastating floods in Cumbria - I hope they recover soon.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Odin Finally Discovered

This small figurine, silver-gilt with niello inlay, and less than 2 cm square, has been found in the archaeological excavations at Lejre, and is (perhaps a bit hastily in my opinion) being touted as a representation of the god Odin, sitting on his seat Hlidskjalf. Read more about it (from Roskilde Museum) in Danish here and here. One does wonder, when a find is as 'unique' and 'unprecedented' as this one, whether the excited finders shouldn't have been a bit more cautious in declaring what exactly it is, not least because, as far as I can tell, the figurine has two eyes!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Yet Another History of the Vikings

Your blogstress, dear reader, remembers Robert Ferguson from when we were both students at UCL together, many, many years ago. At that time he was only interested in Knut Hamsun. He later moved to Norway and had some success with several books on Hamsun. Now, apparently, his university training has been put to the use of writing about the Vikings. It will be interesting to see if Hamsun gets a mention, but especially to see if Ferguson has anything really new to say, or whether he has just found a new way of putting the period across to the general public. In the meantime, there is a review of The Hammer and the Cross: A New History of the Vikings on The Times website.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

It's Only a Theory...

Julian Richards, TV archaeologist, presents the theory 'Vikings were a force for good' to a panel of BBC folk. Horned helmets, slaughter and Kirk Douglas galore - can JR persuade the comedians otherwise? Watch this clip to see whether the theory is approved, or fails the test.