Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: School of English

Abstract

Vikings and the Viking Age are currently highly visible in popular culture, generally in forms which continue to emphasise the age-old views of them as glamorous, violent and somewhat larger than life. What does not often find its way into the popular view is that the Viking Age was a time, like today, of migration, diaspora, and cultural and religious encounters between the Vikings and various regions of England.

Over 1000 years ago, the East Midlands was the site of just such encounters as Vikings came into the region, not only as invaders, but also as traders, farmers and settlers. They left a clear mark in the place-names of the region, while material traces of their existence are gradually emerging through archaeological excavation, metal detectorist and other finds, and a better understanding of early medieval sculpture in the region. Put together, the evidence demonstrates how the immigrants found their place in the society of the time, and how the two groups negotiated their religious, cultural and linguistic differences, ultimately to form new communities.

Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands will explore these issues in ways which resonate with the experiences of the modern inhabitants of the region, reaching out to different communities through existing and extensive engagement with schools (enabling access to parents and carers who might not otherwise engage with museums/exhibitions), community groups and museum partners across the region. Using the high profile event of the British Museum's travelling exhibition 'Vikings' (at the University of Nottingham Museum from November 2017 to March 2018) we will build new user communities, audiences and heritage sector capability for the region's Viking heritage.

To achieve this, working closely with the University Museum, we will shape the exhibition and its public programme to engage our audiences with:
1) The regional artefacts in the British Museum's exhibition, as well as artefacts held in local and regional museums. Handling sessions with museum-quality replicas, and an online gallery of the relevant holdings of local museums, will provide direct and easy access to an understanding of the Viking Age in the East Midlands. In partnership with Blueaxe Reproductions, a programme of craft events and talks will enable creative practitioners and the wider public to explore Viking Age designs.
2) The hidden legacy of the Vikings in place-names, inscriptions, poetry to elaborate the history of the East Midlands. Public talks and field trips for KE partners will demonstrate the legacy of the Vikings in the region and the assets that might be drawn on to retell its history to visitors. Nottingham's new status as a UNESCO City of Literature provides a platform for local, national and international outreach.
3) The potential of the region's Viking heritage to attract new audiences for museums and to the region. Working with KE partners we will explore how Viking heritage might be used as part of the region's cultural offer.

The long term legacy of the project will be key resources which ensure that Vikings and their Age will continue to inspire inhabitants of and visitors to the East Midlands. These will include:
A web-based illustrated inventory of Viking Age objects from the various museums of the East Midlands which will be available free of charge for public use and which will provide an important resource for users such as heritage professionals, researchers, school teachers and pupils and the wider public interested in the Viking period.
A web-based gallery of designs based on Viking Age artefacts, provided as scalable templates in the public domain, enabling creativity through historical accuracy.
A community of heritage and tourism professionals and researchers in the region with a new awareness of the region's Viking heritage potential in terms of their own collections and sites, and their place in a wider network of collections and sites.

Planned Impact

There has never before been an exhibition in Nottingham focusing on the Vikings and the Viking Age. The proposed project will impact on the design and execution of the exhibition and will result in a public programme that targets the engagement of new audiences and user communities.

The project will enhance and develop the local and regional dimension of the BM exhibition through:

1) loans of objects from the collaborating regional museums which place the touring exhibition in a regional context;

2) a collection of replicas of the most relevant local and regional items for handling sessions during the exhibition (these will continue to serve this purpose in the region after the exhibition);

3) an online multimedia archive, again with a strong regional focus, for museum professionals, researchers, schools and the wide public (this will continue to serve this purpose after the exhibition);

4) a short film to allow remote access to the exhibition


In the public programme the project will proactively reach out to new audiences and user communities who may not have a previous interest in or understanding of the Vikings in the region through:

5) public engagement activities focused on topics relevant to the region (place-names, poetry, inscriptions) and to contemporary society (migration, diaspora and cultural integration), filling out the story told by the artefacts in the exhibition;

6) a series of craft events to support creative practitioners in developing new products drawing on accurate Viking designs and techniques. This will be complemented by a web-based gallery of free-to-use image templates.

7) a series of 6 KE workshops on the collections, sites and linguistic assets of the region together with heritage and tourism professionals in order to explore how greater use of the region's Viking heritage for the visitor economy might be achieved.

Key beneficiaries:

General public - the project will deliver a programme of tailored events that speak specifically to the region's Viking heritage and themes that inform daily lives. In highly multicultural cities like Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, the transformative effects of the project will be to link events of 1000 years ago with the absolutely contemporary topics of migration, diaspora and encounters between people with different languages, cultures and religions. Using platforms such as Nottingham's status as a UNESCO City of Literature will allow the project to widen public engagement with the Viking Age, for example by bringing poetry into the public understanding of the period. The poetry sessions will aim to draw in new audiences with more of a literary than a historical/archaeological interest.

Creative practitioners - the project will deliver opportunities for hands-on involvement in Viking-inspired crafts and will leave a legacy of design templates that the creative sector can use free of charge.

Museum and tourism professionals - the project will enable a more detailed understanding of the Viking period and the development potential of the Viking heritage assets in the region to attract visitors (both local and inbound). The web-based inventory of Viking assets in the region will enable museum professionals to identify and contextualise artefacts and understand the non-artefactual aspects of the Viking Age.

Student body at Nottingham and within the M3C Doctoral Training Partnership - we will offer students a variety of opportunities to become involved in the project, including the chance to do a project-based dissertation or placements based on the exhibition and/or the associated public engagement activities. This will be an important step towards a career in the heritage industry or education for these students.

Publications

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Gregory Rebecca (2018) Viking Nottinghamshire

 
Description The successful activities of this project have demonstrated the appetite there is in the general public for more information, and information based on the latest research, about the Viking Age heritage of the East Midlands. The project has also successfully highlighted the relevance of linguistic, cultural and social approaches to the study of this period to complement the historical/archaeological framework which tends to dominate public presentation of it.
Exploitation Route We intend to take the findings forward by applying for further funding to continue to work with regional partners in the heritage industry to disseminate the latest research and understanding of the Viking Age in the East Midlands. This will involve a variety of printed, audio-visual and electronic resources with their foundations in that research but with input from museum and heritage professionals to ensure their suitability for a wide variety of audiences.
The project website (https://emidsvikings.ac.uk) has provided both a virtual museum for further study, and a range of Creative Commons resources which can be used by anyone for a variety of both study and creative purposes.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
 
Description As the project is still ongoing, we have not been able to assess the impacts yet. Preliminary findings based on questionnaires handed out to the public at the lectures suggest that many people have (a) had their view of Vikings and the Viking Age transformed (b) have now a much greater understanding of the effects of Viking Age immigration into the East Midlands and (c) want more information on these matters.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

 
Description Research Priority Areas
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Funding ID A2RVYJ 
Organisation University of Nottingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 06/2018
 
Description Danelaw Saga Exhibition 
Organisation Derby Museum and Art Gallery
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Danelaw Saga is a multimedia exhibition of both archaeological artefacts and books and manuscripts illustrating the impact of Viking settlement on the East Midlands, and how that impact has been understood and remembered in more recent times. The research team provided specialist knowledge regarding the selection, borrowing and presentation of the items displayed, as well as information for the labels, boards, audio recordings and other features of the exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham department of Manuscripts and Special Collections provided specialist knowledge regarding the preparation, installation and de-installation of the exhibition. They contributed items to the exhibition, and their in-kind contribution covered some of the design and installation costs. The Lakeside Arts (whose Weston Gallery is the venue for the exhbition) provided advertising and practical support (in-house staff, etc.) for the exhibition. The various museum and private partners loaned items for the exhibition. One member of the project team also gave a public engagement talk at The Collection Lincoln.
Impact Public Exhibition on from 15.12.17 to 08.04.18
Start Year 2017
 
Description Danelaw Saga Exhibition 
Organisation Leicestershire County Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Danelaw Saga is a multimedia exhibition of both archaeological artefacts and books and manuscripts illustrating the impact of Viking settlement on the East Midlands, and how that impact has been understood and remembered in more recent times. The research team provided specialist knowledge regarding the selection, borrowing and presentation of the items displayed, as well as information for the labels, boards, audio recordings and other features of the exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham department of Manuscripts and Special Collections provided specialist knowledge regarding the preparation, installation and de-installation of the exhibition. They contributed items to the exhibition, and their in-kind contribution covered some of the design and installation costs. The Lakeside Arts (whose Weston Gallery is the venue for the exhbition) provided advertising and practical support (in-house staff, etc.) for the exhibition. The various museum and private partners loaned items for the exhibition. One member of the project team also gave a public engagement talk at The Collection Lincoln.
Impact Public Exhibition on from 15.12.17 to 08.04.18
Start Year 2017
 
Description Danelaw Saga Exhibition 
Organisation Lincolnshire County Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Danelaw Saga is a multimedia exhibition of both archaeological artefacts and books and manuscripts illustrating the impact of Viking settlement on the East Midlands, and how that impact has been understood and remembered in more recent times. The research team provided specialist knowledge regarding the selection, borrowing and presentation of the items displayed, as well as information for the labels, boards, audio recordings and other features of the exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham department of Manuscripts and Special Collections provided specialist knowledge regarding the preparation, installation and de-installation of the exhibition. They contributed items to the exhibition, and their in-kind contribution covered some of the design and installation costs. The Lakeside Arts (whose Weston Gallery is the venue for the exhbition) provided advertising and practical support (in-house staff, etc.) for the exhibition. The various museum and private partners loaned items for the exhibition. One member of the project team also gave a public engagement talk at The Collection Lincoln.
Impact Public Exhibition on from 15.12.17 to 08.04.18
Start Year 2017
 
Description Danelaw Saga Exhibition 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department Lakeside Arts
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Danelaw Saga is a multimedia exhibition of both archaeological artefacts and books and manuscripts illustrating the impact of Viking settlement on the East Midlands, and how that impact has been understood and remembered in more recent times. The research team provided specialist knowledge regarding the selection, borrowing and presentation of the items displayed, as well as information for the labels, boards, audio recordings and other features of the exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham department of Manuscripts and Special Collections provided specialist knowledge regarding the preparation, installation and de-installation of the exhibition. They contributed items to the exhibition, and their in-kind contribution covered some of the design and installation costs. The Lakeside Arts (whose Weston Gallery is the venue for the exhbition) provided advertising and practical support (in-house staff, etc.) for the exhibition. The various museum and private partners loaned items for the exhibition. One member of the project team also gave a public engagement talk at The Collection Lincoln.
Impact Public Exhibition on from 15.12.17 to 08.04.18
Start Year 2017
 
Description Danelaw Saga Exhibition 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Danelaw Saga is a multimedia exhibition of both archaeological artefacts and books and manuscripts illustrating the impact of Viking settlement on the East Midlands, and how that impact has been understood and remembered in more recent times. The research team provided specialist knowledge regarding the selection, borrowing and presentation of the items displayed, as well as information for the labels, boards, audio recordings and other features of the exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham department of Manuscripts and Special Collections provided specialist knowledge regarding the preparation, installation and de-installation of the exhibition. They contributed items to the exhibition, and their in-kind contribution covered some of the design and installation costs. The Lakeside Arts (whose Weston Gallery is the venue for the exhbition) provided advertising and practical support (in-house staff, etc.) for the exhibition. The various museum and private partners loaned items for the exhibition. One member of the project team also gave a public engagement talk at The Collection Lincoln.
Impact Public Exhibition on from 15.12.17 to 08.04.18
Start Year 2017
 
Description Activity Days 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In conjunction with the two exhibitions Viking: Life and Legend (a British Museum and York Museums Trust touring exhibition) and Danelaw Saga (see Collaborations), and with the assistance of Lakeside Arts (see collaborations), four public activity days were organised on Saturdays for the general public. The activities were led by project team members and associates (including student volunteers) and focused on interactive work with runes and poetry, handling sessions using specially-made reproduction artefacts commissioned by the project, and craft sessions led by project associate Blueaxe Reproductions (see Collaborations).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of blog posts closely related to the lecture series organised by the project. We have not yet had an opportunity to analyse the impact of this resource, which will in any case outlive the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/eastmidlandsvikings/
 
Description Danelaw Saga Exhbition Guided Tours 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Danelaw Saga exhibition (described under Collaborations) is still ongoing. It looks as if it will reach a target of 10,000 visitors during the 3.5 months it is on. This engagement activity refers to special guided tours offered by the curators to interested members of the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Lecture Series - Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of 9 public lectures, under the rubric of 'Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands', by project team members and invited experts, illuminating different aspects of the Viking Age history of the East Midlands. Thanks to the collaboration with Lakeside Arts, most of the lectures were live-streamed and are now available on the Lakeside Arts Facebook page. Provisional statistics suggest that most of the videos have been watched by 3-5000 people worldwide, in addition to the 100-150 present for each lecture. We have collected a variety of responses from the audiences for these lectures but have not yet analysed them to understand what their impact might have been.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.facebook.com/pg/LakesideArts/videos/
 
Description Rediscovering Notts: The Vikings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The local TV channel Notts TV included a programme on the Vikings in the East Midlands as part of their historical series Rediscovering Notts. The programme included segments with members of the project team based on work they have been doing on the project, for example explaining the significance of reproduction artefacts used in the Activity Days (see there). The programme was first aired in December 2017 and has been available continuously on the internet since.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://nottstv.com/programme/rediscovering-notts-vikings/
 
Description Roderick Dale - Pillage People: Macho, macho men and the depiction of Viking warriors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk given at the annual Midlands Viking Symposium, held at the University of Birmingham in April 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Roderick Dale: 'Danelaw Saga: How the Vikings shaped the East Midlands' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk for the general public held at The Collection Lincoln (one of our collaborators) on 27 September 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Roderick Dale: Board Games for Bored Vikings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk and demonstration about Viking Age board games at Ludorati Board Games Cafe, Maid Marian Way, Nottingham, 6 September 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Vikings in Lincolnshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tabletop Games Magazine, January 2018, Issue 14
Roderick Dale Interview about Viking board games with Dan Jolin for article entitled 'Vikings on Boards)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Vikings on Boards 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tabletop Games Magazine, January 2018, Issue 14
Roderick Dale Interview about Viking board games with Dan Jolin for article entitled 'Vikings on Boards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Who would win? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Skype interview with MrStainless001 for a YouTube video comparing the Vikings with other fighters.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mkXTeDCvQw
 
Description Women warriors debate - contribution by Judith Jesch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In September 2017, Judith Jesch responded to an open-access article claiming that some Swedish scholars had identified the remains of a Viking Age female warrior. She wrote two blog posts which together had some 75,000 hits and extensive attention in both social and mainstream media. The blog posts, although informal, were very much based in her own research into (a) Viking Age gender and (b) interdisciplinary study of the Viking Age, which are the foundations of the current project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://norseandviking.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/lets-debate-female-viking-warriors-yet.html