Viking exhibition lands at museum in Victoria

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

VICTORIA — A few minutes’ walk from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, “Vikings: Lives Beyond the Legends” awaits.

This is the first North American stop for the Swedish History Museum-produced exhibit, on display through Nov. 11 at the Royal B.C. Museum, one of Victoria’s most popular attractions at 675 Belleville St. This is the big summertime show, bringing with it more than 500 artifacts, an IMAX movie, “Vikings: Journey to the New Worlds,” and a series of related lectures and activities.

The exhibition’s attractions range from swords and axes to jewelry and tunics.

And there are vessels — the horses of the sea, as the Vikings called them — and replicas of the runes, their symbol-bearing stones. These objects are arranged in a big, dark room, with illuminated labels explaining class structure, religious beliefs, gender roles and even the Vikings’ “ideal man.”

The creation story involves a god named Heimdall, or Rig. He visited three farms, and nine months later three sons were born: Tral (Thrall) represented the unfree class; Karl was of the free class and Jarl was one of the aristocracy.

When it comes to division of labor and power between men and women, Icelandic Viking sagas tell of the males who attended the Thing, a regional meeting, to represent their families in matters of the community. Women, meanwhile, ruled the household. Their men, according to another “Vikings” label, showed their wealth and rank by wearing decorated belts fully visible over their coats. These proud guys would also carry fine-toothed combs for their beards.

The exhibition shows how the Vikings combined Norse religious symbols with Christian ones. There was Christ, symbolized by a deer in the early church. And there was the Norse goddess Freyja, who had two cats pulling her chariot.

Among the programs coinciding with the “Vikings” show are the “Vikings Are Here” weekend of Aug. 9-10, when the Society for Creative Anachronism will re-create a Viking market site at the museum. The event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days will be included with museum admission.

A gallery tour, with University of Victoria professor Erin McGuire at both
11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Aug. 21, will focus on some of the most important objects in the show.

Royal B.C. Museum admission is $23.95 for adults; $17.95 for seniors age 65 and older, youths.age 6 to 18 and students with valid ID. Children age 3 to 5 are admitted free.

For more information about “Vikings” and the museum, see www.royalbc or phone 1-888-447-7977. Summer hours are in effect through Sept. 27: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Last modified: June 12. 2014 6:47PM
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