23 February 2009


When I started this blog, I promised some account of my travels, but there has been too little of that (though I have travelled quite a lot in the last year or so) and too much of robbing things from the internet and the media. So I am quite happy to report on a recent lightning visit to Limerick. Apart from the usual things that make it a pleasure to visit Ireland (Guinness, friendly people, fiddle music leaking out of pubs, heathery mountains on the horizon) I was quite taken by the ruined church, round tower and cross at Dysart O'Dea (or however you wish to spell it). Both the splendid romanesque doorway to the church and the cross up on the hill had what seemed, to my inexpert eye, to be late-flowering Irish Urnes-style decoration (see the photo). And of course there were the usual pleasures of Irish sacred sites, with the garishly but lovingly decorated family graves, a tower house in the distance, and the nearest village with the 20 pubs in different colours. Coo....

14 February 2009

Viking Life

Following up the Jorvik Viking Festival (see previous blog), I found a link to 'Dismorphia: Viking York, coming to a computer near you Spring 2009'. It promises an 'on-line virtual world that features real cities at different eras in time', with York as their first venture. A sort of Second Life for those of us who would like to do it in the year 975. Sounds like fun, I'm looking forward to learning Viking skills, collecting and trading Viking items and joining a ship's crew!

Viking Week

Next week sees that venerable institution, the Jorvik Viking Festival, return for the 24th time. The programme promises the usual mix of 'Viking hair-braiding' (how do they know?), a Viking wedding, 'combat through the ages' and storytelling for the kids. I am sorry I'll have to miss Andrew Jones (a great lecturer) talking about 'Viking Poo' next Saturday to a family audience. Andrew of course was the finder of the Great Viking Turd on display at Jorvik, so he knows the subject well!
I confess I'm a little less enamoured with the event (3 times a day, every day) which promises us a recitation of The Wanderer and The Seafarer, 'two ancient poems that evoke the hardships of a Viking life at sea'. Those pesky Anglo-Saxons are always trying to muscle in on Viking fun... There is also a retelling of Beowulf on offer, but at least that doesn't pretend to be 'Viking', though I suppose some kind of a case could be made for that.
Click here for the programme if you want to know more (it's a pdf file).