'Valhalla – Life and Death in Viking Britain' at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery
‘Valhalla – Life and Death in Viking Britain’ will feature artefacts and human skeletons discovered at burial sites, but what will really illuminate the experience are key findings from archaeologists and the latest research into the lives of our Viking ancestors, who arrived in Britain from Scandinavia in the 8th century. These will include recent evidence that has been discovered about their beliefs in the afterlife and how they commemorated and celebrated their dead.
Using the Hungate and Coppergate excavations from York as specific case studies, the exhibition will include objects from working and domestic life, replica objects from boat burials and skeletal remains to help visitors piece together the clues in the search for the Viking story. Shropshire’s own Viking history will also be central to the exhibition, including the story of Hastein, a notorious adventurer who travelled up the River Severn as far as Welshpool and is known to have raided as far afield as Southern Europe and North Africa. Some of the Viking findings made in the county, including silver coinage and jewellery, will also be on display.
Mini Vikings can also get involved with a series of ‘hands on’ exhibits and activities exploring the gods, myths and sagas that make this such a colourful period of history. Activities will include; a Viking storytelling tent complete with puppets, rune stamping, a ‘create your own God’ activity and burial stone colouring in!
Valhalla comes from the Old Norse Valhöll, “the hall of the fallen” and is the location where the god Odin houses the dead whom he deems worthy of dwelling with him. It is one of many complex concepts surrounding Viking beliefs in the soul and the afterlife. Vikings have been a hot topic in popular culture recently, with Norse themed dramas such as BBC 2’s ‘The Last Kingdom’ reflecting the long-held public fascination with their way of life.
Team Leader (Collections and Curatorial Services) at Shropshire Council, Emma-Kate Lanyon comments, “The stories and legends surrounding the Vikings have long captivated our imagination, so I know that visitors are going to find this a very exciting exhibition. ‘Valhalla’ will bring together items of incredible historic significance and modern tools of analysis so that visitors will get a unique insight into the lives of these warriors for whom death, as well as the ceremonies and traditions surrounding it, were central.”
Source: Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery [January 13, 2016]