THERE’S still a chance to see the largest collection of Viking artefacts ever shown in WA at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle.
Vikings: Warriors of the North, Giants of the Sea is a fascinating overview of Viking culture; showcasing their legacy as belligerent warriors as well as their lesser-known domestic life, religion, craftsmanship and trading culture.
The exhibition was curated by Peter Pentz from the National Museum of Denmark, who says one of the most interesting pieces is a “wolf head” terminal from a harness bow.
“…the wolf was admired for its strength, will to fight, and cunningness but also feared because of its symbolic role as a harbinger of doom and forecast of death,” Mr Pentz says.
“Being displayed on the horse-chariot, the travellers would be protected by the wolf, and those people seeing the chariot passing by will be reminded of the wolf´s power and supernatural powers might even decline.
“Eventually, the wolf will appear at the end of the world, in Ragnarok, when all the Viking´s nine worlds will vanish.”
WA Museum CEO Alec Coles says the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the Vikings’ lesser-known side including their contribution to European engineering and farming, and the role of women as talented artisans, matriarchs, traders and explorers.
“As well as experiencing the well-known legends of Vikings as great warriors and seafarers, it showcases how the Viking Age had a major influence on the development of many parts of Europe and the world,” Mr Coles says.
“It is an extremely interactive exhibition with opportunities to challenge yourself and test your skills, but there are also nearly 150 authentic objects dating back to the 7th Century CE (AD).
“The priceless artefacts include jewellery, ceremonial and religious items, tools and ancient currency.
“They showcase the true stories of Vikings and the stories that turned these Nordic people into heroes of myth and legend.”
Don’t worry, for those who like their stereotypes, there’s still plenty of weapons on show.
“The battle axe was the more common weapon as it was cheaper to acquire and less complex to produce,” Mr Pentz says
“Some axes seemed more symbolic and were possibly used as offerings.
“The sword was the most prestigious.”
If you want to take the Viking experience to the next level – bar the pillaging and killing – you can attend a lavish Viking Feast at the WA Maritime Museum on Friday May 14.
There will be a licensed bar (God help us) and vegetarian platters available.
Bookings at museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime/feast-vikings
Vikings: Warriors of the North, Giants of the Sea is at the WA Maritime Museum until next Sunday (May 16).
by STEPHEN POLLOCK