As well as hosting the travelling exhibition ‘Viking: Rediscover the legend’ (details below), Nottingham University is also hosting a complimentary exhibition. ‘Danelaw Saga: Bringing Vikings back to the East Midlands’ highlights the Scandinavian presence in the East Midlands. The exhibition focuses on the evidence for this, which includes artefacts recorded by the PAS.
Voluntarily recorded objects are extremely important when it comes to plotting possible Scandinavian settlement. Most of the items are casual losses in areas which may never be subject to archaeological investigation. In Leicestershire we are lucky enough to have a few key items which strengthen this evidence and compliment other sources, such as place names, historical documents, maps and personal names.
One class of artefact helping to shed light on this period are brooches. Work by Jane Kershaw, which included PAS data, has highlighted the production of Scandinavian style brooches in England, known as ‘Anglo-Scandinavian’ and has also highlighted the number of Scandinavian imports, which are likely to have been brought over by settlers or traded from home. Either way this highlights the female contribution to building evidence for Scandinavian settlement . We have recorded three ‘Anglo-Scandinavian’ disc brooches in Leicestershire, such as this example from near Melton LEIC-782CD2, but we also have two Scandinavian brooches in the exhibition. A Trefoil brooch LEIC-BD8163 from near Loughborough and LEIC-E7A016 a rare Scandinavian ‘Borre’ style gilded brooch, found in Cossington.
Other more enigmatic objects also hint at Scandinavian presence or influence. Vikings were magpies and were very fond of Carolingian (modern France) style mounts, some of which are thought to be the inspiration for Trefoil brooches. These are often found by Detectorists and one example, from Barrow Upon Soar (LEIC-C5F14A), clearly shows the link. This is a well made mount and has niello inlay and was gilded. To appreciate this in its full glory a replica of it and many other objects have been made for the exhibition by Blueaxe reproductions.
Lastly we have a seriously enigmantic object. It has no parallels and its function is unknown, but it screams Viking at you with its interlace, moustached face mask and triskele wearing bearded beasts heads LEIC-0A4CB4.
‘Viking: Rediscover the legend’ – Djanogly Gallery, runs from Saturday 25 November 2017 to Sunday 4 March 2018. Admission is free.
‘Danelaw Saga: Bringing Vikings back to the East Midlands’ – Weston Gallery, runs from Friday 15 December 2017 to Sunday 8 April 2018. Admission is free