Monday 31 May 2010

A Stone Says More Than a Thousand Runes

It was not necessary to be literate to be able to access rune carvings in the 11th century. At the same time those who could read were able to glean much more information from a rune stone than merely what was written in runes. This is shown in new research from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Rune stones are an important part of the Swedish cultural environment. Many of them are still standing in their original places and still bear witness about the inhabitants of the area from a thousand years ago. They thereby represent a unique source of knowledge about the Viking Age, providing us with glimpses of a period we otherwise would have known very little about. Among other themes, they tell us about family relations, travels, or matters of faith, and all of it in a language that scholars can understand fairly readily.

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Friday 21 May 2010

National Museums Scotland Exhibition

Medieval ivory chess pieces from north and south of the border have been reunited for a major exhibition in the Scottish capital.

The Lewis Chessmen (or Uig Chessmen, named after their find-site) are a group of 78 chess pieces from the 12th century most of which are carved in walrus ivory, discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. They may constitute some of the few complete medieval chess sets that have survived until today, although it is not clear if any full set as originally made can be made up from the varied pieces. They are currently owned and exhibited by the British Museum in London, which has 67 of them and the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, which has the rest. There has been recent controversy about the most appropriate place for the main display of the pieces.

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Thursday 13 May 2010

Vikings invade for the return of Dublinia

A DISPLAY of more than 700 years of Irish history, beginning with the Scandinavian raiders' settlement in Dublin, has been re-opened to the public after briefly closing its doors during a €2m redevelopment.

Those involved with the relaunch of the 'Dublinia' exhibition at Christchurch in Dublin got into the full medieval spirit yesterday as they donned the traditional clothing and the odd horned Viking helmet.

To help them fully get into the swing of things, music of the time was provided by medieval group Seanma, consisting of five Dun Laoghaire women with instruments such as a Renaissance flute, stringed viols and recorders.

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Tuesday 11 May 2010

Uncovering the Truth About Viking Men

Vikings are associated with weapons and warfare, machismo and mayhem.

But many of them had the same concerns about choosing their children's names as we do, says a researcher from the University of Leicester who delivered his paper at a Viking conference on April 24.

The sixth Midlands Viking Symposium offered a variety of talks by Viking experts from the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham. The symposium took place at the University of Nottingham, and was open to all Viking enthusiasts.

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Thursday 6 May 2010

Remains of 1,100-year-old drinking pot help pinpoint Wallingford's history

A BUILDER’S drinking pot which was smashed more than 1,100 years ago could help archaeologists accurately date the birth of Wallingford for the first time.

Leicester University experts say tiny pottery fragments uncovered in the town’s Anglo-Saxon ramparts could prove Wallingford was first fortified during the reign of Alfred the Great to protect his kingdom from Viking invasion.

Dozens of local volunteers helped sieve a tonne of earth last month during two weeks of excavations in Castle Meadows, where the archaeologists uncovered the ramparts beneath later medieval construction.

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