Viking: Rediscover the Legend
6th March 2018
With the rising popularisation of Vikings on TV and in cinema, it seemed a fitting time to pay a visit to the Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition currently on display at Lakeside Arts. The exhibition aims to redefine the existing misconceptions of Vikings as violent warriors and raiders, presenting a new perspective on what it means to be Viking.
An aspect of the exhibition we all liked was the series of word compilations, which began and ended the exhibition, demonstrating the progression of visitors’ opinions of Vikings. Whilst at the beginning of the exhibition there were words such as ‘violent’ and ‘raids’ that tended to be more negative, by the end of the exhibition the words had changed displaying a more positive representation.
We were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the exhibition by one of the gallery staff, Diane. Her excitement and enthusiasm made the exhibition more enjoyable than if we had just read the information plaques next to the exhibits. Afterwards, Diane emphasised that normally visitors left the exhibition with a more rounded view of what a Viking is, seeing them as more than just raiders but also as farmers, artists and craftsmen.
This was shown through many of the more everyday Viking artefacts on display, such as a Viking shoe, a pair of ice skates and even a variety of combs something Diane remarked showed an air of vanity about the Vikings. Whilst these artefacts at first may have seemed quite mundane next to the hordes of silver, they definitely demonstrated the more human side of the Vikings and made for some of the best pieces of the exhibition as they stood out from the hordes of silver.
Diane informed us that when the Vikings settled, a hybrid society developed as the Vikings did intermingle with Anglo-Saxons. This provided us with different craft styles seen throughout the exhibition, the interaction of Pagan and Christian beliefs evident on many of the artefacts including many of the stone carvings. You can also go and see some of these standing stones in various places around Britain.
There were not just Viking artefacts on display throughout the exhibition but also Anglo-Saxon items. Among these was one of the most well-preserved Anglo-Saxon helmets ever found and a sword found accidentally by a young boy whilst playing in a stream behind his home, before he donated it to the museums, showing that even hundreds of years on, there are still fresh discoveries waiting to be found.
One of the main attractions of the exhibition are the many cases displaying many different Viking hoards, among them some of the most well-known. The fact remained however, that as no one had ever dug up these hordes and they had instead stayed buried it suggested that their owners had either died before they could collect it or had forgotten where they had buried their horde for safe-keeping. We were also impressed with the involvement of the university, especially that of Dr Judith Jesch well-known for her research on Norse mythology.
The exhibition is clearly aimed at families, with activities for children to get involved in, including old Viking games for children to play, a Viking boat experience and even a dressing up corner, something we all took advantage of!
Overall, we all really enjoyed the exhibition, learning more about Nottingham’s roots as an old Viking town was definitely very interesting.