The Vikings are coming to Norwich Castle

PUBLISHED: 12:03 12 February 2019

The York Helmet (photo: Anthony Chappel-Ross)

The York Helmet (photo: Anthony Chappel-Ross)


Some of the most famous Viking discoveries ever made will bring history to life at Norwich Castle this month for an exciting new exhibition

From an extraordinary Anglo-Saxon battle helmet to the most significant Viking treasure ever discovered in Britain – a new exhibition at Norwich Castle will fire the imaginations and macabre fascinations of all ages.

Viking: Rediscover the Legend brings together star objects from the British Museum and Yorkshire Museum as well as never before seen items discovered here in Norfolk.

The exhibition, which runs until September, will challenge the perceptions of what it was like to live the life of a Viking and how they shaped many aspects of life in Britain, as well as exploring Norwich’s own Anglo-Scandinavian history.

The Ormside Bowl (photo: Anthony Chappel-Ross)The Ormside Bowl (photo: Anthony Chappel-Ross)

Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norfolk Museums Service, said; “We are thrilled to be working with the British Museum and York Museums Trust to explore the legend and legacy of the Vikings through some of the most beautiful and important Viking artefacts ever discovered in the UK. Norwich Castle is an ideal venue to host a show about Vikings. Extensive and important finds of Viking and Anglo-Saxon material have been made throughout Norfolk and the wider East Anglian area, many of which are now in the Norwich Castle archaeology collections.”

Among the artefacts coming to Norwich are the Vale of York, Cuerdale and Bedale Viking Hoards and the extraordinary eighth century York Helmet, discovered in the Coppergate area of the city.

“The Coppergate Helmet is extraordinary. It is the most complete Anglo Saxon helmet ever found and would have been worn when the Vikings were raiding. It is incredibly well preserved, with an engraved inscription on it and the chain mail at the back. It is a thing of real beauty, if you can say that about something used in such brutal conditions,” said Tim.

Among the 43 previously unseen items from the Castle’s own collection are a unique gold brooch from Attleborough, the Hingham Hoard of silver brooches and pennies of King Edmund, and two silver pennies of the mysterious King Æthelred.

The Gilling Sword (photo: Anthony Chappel-Ross)The Gilling Sword (photo: Anthony Chappel-Ross)

“We have a fantastic collection of pieces here, much of which has never been on display before. We felt it was a really important opportunity to tell our own local story within this national story.”

He said the enduring appeal of the Viking story continued to capture the imagination across the generations.

“I think we have a strange interest in the bad guys in history; it’s like people love watching Mafia films and in some ways, the Viking story is a bit like that. These were people who could be brutal, wreaking destruction on communities, yet who in many ways have been re-imagined in historical literature as also often being peaceful traders and farmers.

“And while there is no doubt that there was a terrible violent side to the Vikings – they caused absolute havoc in Anglo Saxon kingdoms and brought many communities virtually to their knees – here in East Anglia we saw the more peaceful side of Viking life.”

The exhibition will be supported by an extensive schools and events programme, with talks, workshops and children’s activities.

Rediscover the Legend, February 9 to September 8.

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