Sunday, October 12, 2014

[exhibition] "The Vikings" in the British Museum

Earlier in the summer I paid one of my visits to London. While I was there I visited the British Museum and had a look at their exhibit on the Vikings. I was a bit underwhelmed by it, partly because it was far far far too busy and partly because it did seem to be an endless succession of coins and swords in glass cases. Also, how interesting are the Vikings really? At the end of the day they were just a bunch of smelly hessians from the far north who contributed little to the advance of human civilisation.

The one detail I was interested by was the revelation that the Vikings were not actually that good at fighting (or, rather, no better than anyone else). There are apparently any number of accounts of them being stuffed out of it when they found themselves fighting on even terms with their enemies. The exhibition illustrated this with a load of Viking skeletons retrieved from a mass grave where some of the less fortunate nordic raiders found themselves. In retrospect, exhibiting a load of dead people like this for us to gawp at may have been a bit tasteless.

more Vikings (Battle of Clontarf re-enactment)

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