'Vikings Live from the British Museum' at Mareel

by Misa Hay -

At 3.30pm on Sundays 15 & 22 June the British Museum and Shetland Arts will present 'Vikings Live from the British Museum' at Mareel.

Vikings Live from the British Museum will offer cinema audiences an exclusive guided tour of the BP exhibition 'Vikings: life and legend', the British Museum's first major exhibition on the Vikings in over 30 years.

Vikings Live from the British Museum is introduced by the Museum's Director, Neil MacGregor and presented by the celebrated television historians Michael Wood and Bettany Hughes. Exhibition curator Gareth Williams and leading world experts take cinema audiences through the exhibition, getting up close to objects and exploring the global contacts, ships and swords, burials and beliefs of the Viking Age as well as examining the Vikings' enduring language and legacy.

The focus is on the core period of the Viking Age, from the late 8th century to the early 11th century. The extraordinary Viking expansion from the Scandinavian homelands during this era created a cultural network with contacts from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. Warfare and warrior identity are at the centre of what it meant to be a Viking and contact with other lands was often violent. Objects include recently excavated skeletons from a mass grave of executed Vikings in Dorset, armour and and weapons. But there is also fine jewellery, sculpture and metalwork which was traded as well as raided across the globe.

At the centre of the exhibition and Vikings Live from the British Museum is Roskilde 6, the longest Viking ship ever found. Kristiane Straetkvern, conservator at the National Museum of Denmark will talk about the exciting find, excavation and conservation of the ship timbers found in a Danish harbour, while renowned yachtsman Robin Knox-Johnston re-lives his transatlantic voyage testing Viking navigation. During the screening craftsmen from the National Maritime Museum will construct the prow of a great Viking ship to show what made these vessels so spectacular - built for speed, endurance and shaped for terrifying beauty. A replica ship is installed in front of the Museum and a Viking burial starts to take shape, culminating in an elaborate theatrical boat burial lit by a ritual procession of flaming torches carried by Viking warriors.

The screenings also explore how through our languages, our poetry, our names and place names - even our DNA - we can see how many of us are connected across time to the Vikings. With practical demonstrations and stunning close-up photography of the Viking objects in the exhibition, the screenings of Vikings Live from the British Museum will be a reminder of how the Vikings have shaped our modern lives.

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