JORVIK Viking Centre summer show explores the lives and legends of historical Vikings

By Sarah Jackson | 14 August 2013

Exhibition Preview: Heroes, JORVIK Viking Centre, York, until 3 November

The sword pommel found near Ballaugh in 2008
Viking sword pommel found near Ballaugh in 2008.© Manx National Heritage
What makes a hero? Is it determined by how they use their power? Their courage in the face of the enemy? Their daring to explore new lands? Their determination to see things through to the very end?

All of these traits are explored by the JORVIK Group’s new summer exhibition Heroes. Visitors will discover the stories of nine historical Vikings who were legends in their own time – and had the titles to prove it.

Famous names include Cnut the Great (best known for trying to hold back the waves breaking on his lands), Leif the Lucky, the first European to set foot on North America and Godred Crovan, a legendary ruler of the Isle of Man and the east coast of Ireland.

The exhibition also reveals some of the lesser known exploits of Viking women such as Aud the Deep-minded, who led her grand-daughters and followers to Iceland after her husband and son were killed in battle, and Lathgartha, a shield-maiden of such valour that she was rumoured to have supernatural powers.

As well as celebrating these legends through stories and sagas, Heroes explores the characteristics that made them Viking heroes and reveals what archaeological evidence uncovers about their lives. Objects include a highly decorated sword pommel found near Ballaugh on the Isle of Man and lent by Manx National Heritage.

For those more interested in tales of flying shield maidens and conquering heroes, the children’s area provides the opportunity to delve deep into the world of Viking mythology and uncover the supernatural powers of heroes and gods.

More recent representations of the Vikings are examined to see how our views of the Vikings have changed over time, and how our conception of a hero has similarly changed.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission £1-£2.50 (family ticket £6-£7). Follow the centre on Twitter @JorvikViking.

Follow Sarah Jackson on Twitter @SazzyJackson.

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