12 July 2010

Vikings and Sausage Rolls

There's no stopping the march of Vikings into the world of advertising. The latest one I have just caught is an advert for Walls' sausage rolls, showing one of the Vikings of Middle England tucking into one just after he becomes 'dead' on the battlefield. I reckon the ad company got the demographic, of both sausage rolls and Viking re-enactors, just about right. What's a bit odd is that it is all part of a 'Bring it on Britain' campaign. But then Vikings have been an essential part of Britishness since at least Victorian times.
Re-enactors obviously have a lot of fun and good luck to them. I find the whole phenomenon fascinating though, as a 'proper academic' I can't help shuddering at their ideas of 'authenticity' which some groups, like the VME, make a great song and dance about. It's not that difficult to find out about Viking runes (a topic on which I have moaned before), but they never seem to bother, thus the VME website has both a slightly dodgy runic logo, and some curious misinformation about rune stones.
Ah well, it's all part of the fun. And it provides a raison d'etre for degrees in Viking Studies which some people see as somewhat Mickey Mouse, but someone has got to teach people 'proper' Viking stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Long live proper degrees in Viking Studies! That said, I did have some fun in my grad student days with re-enactment groups (and I reckon the experience of waking up mildly hungover in a wet field and shrugging into a cold hauberk was relatively authentic, probably not having changed much in a thousand years), but had to keep a rigid mental separation between what I had learned as authentic and what my re-enacting peers thought was authentic .... Yet though I seldom awaken in wet fields these days, I continue to bump into what appears to be a "misalignment" of some kind between the "desire for authenticity" and the "attainment of authenticity"; more often amongst "amateur scholars" than re-enactors, though the situation seems much the same. Perhaps it is a failure in our education systems to teach "autonomous learning"? People want to (or say they want to) learn things (Viking authenticity, or what have you), but seem to have difficulty managing it. They can't distinguish between good sources and bad, etc. Oh well! I guess it keeps proper degrees in proper Viking Studies (and etc.) going! :)