British Museum VIKINGS! YAAAArrrrrr!

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Jamie 4 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #16181


    Along with my visit to see the Sutton-Hoo treasure I wanted to see the special exhibit for the Vikings. This one is one that you have to pay to get into if you are not a member of the British Museum. It requires tickets and reservations for non-members. I am a member so I just showed up and entered through a different entrance. Usually these special exhibits pace the people with timed tickets so that they are not too crowded. The British Museum is typically pretty good at this. The Pompeii exhibit last summer was great when it came to crowds. But for some reason the British Museum people decided to just let people in with their tickets. It was too crowded!!! I was very disappointed. I don't want to sound like I am bragging, but....A few years ago I was part of the US Delegation to a UN meeting in Stockholm. At the time the museum there had a great exhibit on Vikings. I was lucky that one night we had a cocktail reception at that museum. While the PM of Sweden was speaking I ducked away to explore. Having a whole museum to one's self is better than listening to a politician ANY TIME!!! At least IMHO. What I am saying is that I was spoiled and coming into this exhibit it may be coloring, sorry that should be colouring, my review.I did not enjoy myself. There were so many people that it was hard to see any of the items. People were 3 to 4 deep in front of the cases. The docents were urging people to just move ahead. Their selling point was that none of this was in a order that you had to follow. Indeed it was just stuff with labels describing the stuff. Photography is not allowed, even of the posters. But before I was told to stop I did snap two of the posters for your viewing and have attached them to this review. There was discussion about their metal working ability. A little about them being a warrior society and the raiding parties that they would undertake. No reference to Lindesfarne at all that I could find. I thought they would talk about this a little considering that they mention Vikings had come to Britain. I asked a docent about whether they had anything and I had missed it. But she told me, and this was disturbing, "I've never heard of that place, is it in Sweden?" Towards the end of the exhibit there is a timeline that starts in the middle 800's and goes until the conquest. Speaking of the conquest period. They do mention King Harald Bluetooth. But the one fun fact that would really tie him into modern culture was not mentioned. That is bluetooth technology is named after him. Seriously!! That is true. It is thus named because the Swedish company Ericsson were the ones to start the development of it and got the naming rights. As you can see from the pictures they do talk of trade and money. I thought that was interesting that they were getting trade from that far away. There are also wall paintings discussing Odin and Thor. But not a lot about their beliefs other than to say they did not have a central dogma as Christianity did. At the end of the exhibit there was a display of a long boat. The frame of the long ship is represented with steel and it was huge. It is the Roskill long ship, the longest ever found. There are some timbers and hull from the actual ship shown. It was neat. BTW if you ever want to see a replica complete ship there is one in Chicago that was given to the US in 1893. Worth seeing!!! But I shall not discuss that anymore here. There also was a steering oar. Shown of the proper side of the ship. The History Channel could have seen this and fixed the one on their replica!!! There is also mention that modern ships call the right side of the boat Starboard because the Viking name for the steering oar was stryiboro.In that last room there are also the remains of Vikings that lost a fight on display. I am not one for looking at remains, but they are there for people to look at. It was a popular spot with the young boys. As you exit there is a vary large gift shop. But before that is the real prize and most people skip past! The Lewis Chessman!!! Really neat to finally see them. The exhibit could be completely empty for me and if only these were to be seen I would have been happy. In conclusion. It was ok. As I said I hope I am not just a little jaded because of previous Viking experiences. I suppose if you have never seen the craftsmanship of Viking silver work this would be fascinating. Although with the crowds you may get into the exhibit and still not have seen it because there are just too many people in there! I normally would be at the museum on a midweek time. This trip I only could fit in Saturday and that might have a lot to do with it. Try to go another day if you can!

  • #19976


    Geez, it's a shame that you weren't on their committee to design the exhibit.  That being said, my guess is that they left Lindisfarne out because frankly it's a complete and utter horror show what the raiders did there.  If they wanted to put together a “YAY VIKINGS!” exhibit, talking about the raping and killing of monks probably wouldn't fit with their overall plan.  You know?

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