15 January 2008

Old Norse on The Archers

Thanks to a friend's Facebook page, I now know that today's Archers programme on Radio 4 included the following dialogue about a holiday in New Zealand:
Daniel: "They did film Lord of the Rings there."
Jim: "So, it's a pretty film-set. But if you really want to understand Tolkien's imaginative world, you'd be much better off visiting Oxford."
Phil: "Or, better still, learning Old Norse."

I do like that 'Or, better still...' :-)

The 'Ainsbrook' Site

I try to keep up with Vikings in the media, but managed to miss last night's Time Team programme on the controversial 'Ainsbrook' site where metal detectorists have been finding things for quite a few years. However, the Channel 4 website has quite a lot of information (if you're interested, have a look at http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/T/timeteam/2008/ainsbrook/index.html) and it sounds like maybe I didn't miss so much after all. At least not much that's Viking. And what's the fun in watching people scrabbling around in the dirt?

06 January 2008

Viking Voyage

I watched with interest BBC2's Timewatch programme on the Sea Stallion last night. The close-up view of a longship and how it sails was absolutely fascinating, and there was some nice scenery too, particularly in the Hebrides. There wasn't even that much to quibble about, though it was distressing to hear Maeshowe referred to as 'Stone Age' by the narrator. The 'Viking historian' Louise (the BBC website reveals her surname to be Henriksen) stretched things a bit by saying the graffiti were 'stories' and particularly by claiming they were carved by people who wanted to take over Orkney, implying they were newly-arrived raiders in the Viking Age. I also thought some of the emphasis on the frustrations and the discontent of the crew was forced (especially Dylan's boredom with the test sailings) and I would have liked to hear more about 'Vibeke on the helm'. Near the beginning of the programme we were told that the 'lyfting' was where the skipper, the first and second mate, and the 'helmsman' were. So was Vibeke (a woman!) steering the ship the whole way, or did people take their turns? Did she find steering physically hard (other than when the leather strap broke...) and how independent was she in relation to the skipper? We should have been told. But no doubt there will be a book about it one day.


Welcome to my blog. During the day (and sometimes the night) I teach and do research into Old Norse language and literature and the Viking Age. The purpose of this blog is to record those experiences and observations that do not reach the usual academic stomping grounds of journals, scholarly monographs and excavation reports - i.e. my encounters with Vikings in the media, in popular culture, and on my travels in the Viking world. The aim is to record these for myself, but it might be that you, too, dear reader, are interested. If so, please feel free to comment.