Vikings set to invade the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

By Jenni Davidson | 10 January 2013
a silver pendant in the shape of a Viking head
Silver pendant in the shape of a male head© The Swedish History Museum

Exhibition Preview: Vikings! National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, January 18 - May 12 2013

Of all the periods in history, surely the Viking age is one of the most exciting.

The idea of boatloads of bloodthirsty marauders in horned helmets, pillaging up and down Britain and Ireland, sounds pretty dramatic.

The reality is, of course, a bit more nuanced than that, as a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh intends to show.

Last year, historian and TV presenter Neil Oliver visited some of the sites in Viking Scandinavia for a BBC series. This exhibition is a great chance for fans of the programmes to learn more and see some artefacts up close.

A photograph of a silver figure in the shape of a cross
A silver crucifix considered to be the oldest in Sweden© Swedish History Museum
“The Viking age has been much misunderstood and even perhaps misrepresented in our history," he suggests.

"In recent years, new archaeological finds and scientific advances have enabled us to learn a lot more.”

The display will feature more than 500 objects, including weapons, jewellery and household items from the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.

These pieces are rarely seen outside Scandinavia. They offer insights into how Scandinavian people lived more than 1,000 years ago.

Interactive displays will also help to debunk some of the myths about who the Vikings really were.

“The objects tell numerous stories," points out Oliver.

"They give us clues to life on the farm, aristocrats and slaves, strong women, the power of mythology, the importance of crafts, the symbolism of the ship and the transition between different religions,” adds Gunnar Andersson, the senior curator of the exhibition.

There will be a series of events to accompany the exhibition, including a talk by Oliver on February 28 and a Viking-themed RBS Museum Late, on February 22, with music from Shetland fiddler Chris Stout and indie-folk band Broken Records.

If your idea of the Vikings is like a Far Side cartoon with boatloads of men in funny helmets with horns, this new exhibition is just for you.


More pictures:

a photograpgh of a pendant and medallion
Pendant in the shape of a fishtail with box brooch© The Swedish History Museum.
a photo of a glass bead pendant
Beads of rock crystal and carnelin. The beads of the necklace originate from the Black Sea© The Swedish History Museum
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