Swords, horns, amulets! Vikings are like the rock stars of ancient Europe and the brand new Vikings exhibition at British Museum is certainly pulling the crowds.
We took our mini warriors along to the family press viewing last week and the babes were instantly drawn to the ornate axes, blades, helmets and shields on display.
This is a brilliant exhibition for kids with active imaginations, as practically every aspect of Viking history and their relics are what Ezra (rightfully, for once) describes as ‘epic’.
We were fascinated to see the virtual map of Vikings on their travels – I didn’t know they settled in areas like Russia, the Middle East, even reaching parts of North Africa.
And the boys loved getting a feel of some of the tactile showcases.
One of the main attractions is the Vale of York hoard, shown for the first time since it was discovered by metal detectors near Harrogate in 2007. It’s an incredible stash — 617 coins, 6 arm rings and a quantity of bullion and hack-silver — gathered (or plundered) from across four continents.
But the real star of the show is a 37-metre-long Viking warship that had never been seen before in the UK. The surviving timbres, around 20% of the original ship, have been reconstructed around a stainless steel casing to make for an impressive centrepiece (it looks better in person, I couldn’t capture it properly with my camera phone)!
We sat in the shadow of the warship to hear a storyteller recount Nordic legends: about how the Vikings came to be and about when Thor lost his hammer.
Then we went upstairs for breakfast and craft activities in the Great Court restaurant, where there’s also a ‘Vikings Feast menu’ on offer (guinea fowl, spelt risotto, roast plums and more).
There is so much to explore at British Museum and of course we couldn’t leave without making a quick trip to Ancient Egypt.
The boys also wanted to see some Nigerian treasures in the Africa section but the place was getting crammed with tourists so I promised we’d come back soon.
Here are some of the Family Events at British Museum coming up in April and May.
Vikings: Life and Legend is on at British Museum until Jun 22, 2014
British Museum is at Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG (Holborn/Tottenham Court Rd/Russell Sq/Goodge St tube). 10am-5.30pm (daily); 10am-8.30pm (Fri); adult £16.50/ages 16-18 £14/child under 16 FREE