qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Peace and Love (or not)

The Vikings were a peaceful and cultured people - or so Andrew Graham-Dixon's recent programme would have us believe. I'm not sure when the BBC started running thinly disguised advertorial for other national institutions, but this programme related to the Viking exhibition at the British Museum, to which we ventured today.

In fact, the exhibition tries to rebalance our perception of the Vikings; to assert that they were great voyagers and adventurers who traded with far-flung cultures, and only a few social outcasts engaged in the odd spot of rape-and-pillage. Hmm, well maybe we were just unlucky in Britain (initially in the north, but ultimately also across the land when the Normans invaded - descended from the Vikings). To be fair there is a wide range of interesting artefacts in the exhibition, the highlight of which is the remains of Viking ship "Roskilde 6". Unusually the exhibition is relatively low-key on religion, with only passing references. I found the various hoards and coinage to be the most interesting - with examples reaching from across Europe and the Near and Middle East. Whilst many of the objects are of Viking origin a sizeable proportion are either of uncertain origin (but in a Viking style) or are Viking acquisitions from other cultures. There's also an informative section on the Viking legacy in Britain, concerning things such as place names and words adopted into the English language.
Tags: exhibitions, history, london
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