I went to Edinburgh last weekend, partly because i wanted to visit an exhibition on Vikings. It was great. It didn’t seem the biggest exhibition, but actually was jam packed with facts, and artifacts, so much so, that i did my normal trick of concentrating intently at the beginning, trying to read and look at everything, but feeling a bit worn out towards the end!
There were a few surprises – things I never knew about Vikings – not that i would claim to know much anyway.
So apparently the first shocker is that they never used to wear horned hats! It’s not true!! They were probably only used for ceremonial or ritual purposes.
Secondly, they didn’t refer to themselves as Vikings, they generally said they were ‘going on a viking’ (I think that’s correct!), which meant things like going off exploring the rest of the world. They were tribal clans and generally referred to themselves from their region of Norse country that they came from.
Also, how far they travelled (they travelled down as far as Sicily, Spain, Russia, Italy…). They traded with all these people giving them a wealth of materials to make their arts and crafts from.
Their craft work was just beautiful, so ornate. They also used to lock things away in boxes and had some of the first key and lock systems used by humans, these keys used to be used as functional decoration, along with their more ornate jewellery – colourful beaded necklaces, pendants of Norse Gods, and I think other functional items such as stones (can’t remember the type of stone) to start a fire. Love this mix of beauty and functionality.
Here are pictures that I have relinked from the National Museums of Scotland website: