Photos and copyright: Netty Leistra
Despite of all my visits to London I had never been in the British Museum. As I thought the present exhibition might be interesting, I decided on Tuesday morning I finally was going to visit the museum. As I didn’t have a pre-ordered ticket for the exhibition, I arrived there soon after the museum had opened its doors (9am). I can tell you now the museum is more than worth a visit, and you could actually spend a whole day there. When you enter the building you already will be surprised to see a huge white and light hall, which is interesting enough to have a look at. You can see it even from a different angel from one of the floors of the museum. Don’t miss the inscription on the top of the “tower” restaurant in the middle of the hall. It says among others “Dedicated to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II AD 2000”.
But of course I came for the present exhibition, “Vikings, life and legend”, opened by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark on 6 March. I was lucky to be allowed in with a group at 10am, leaving me enough time to see it before my departure from London. Already quite a few people interested had arrived to see it, including children. Unfortunately it was not allowed to take photos of the exhibition. On display are lots of artifacts from Viking times coming from Denmark, Norway, Great Britain and other countries: weapons, jewelry, even skeletons, and on the walls beautiful contemporary pictures of places the Vikings have reached. From the Vikingship in Roskilde, Denmark, boat number 6, that was found in the fjord near Roskilde in the late 1990s, was on display. I am not quite sure it was already in the museum in Roskilde when I was there the last time in May 2004. But it remains interesting to see and read about the Vikings. See for more information about the exhibition Vikings, life and legend
I just had enough time left to see some other items in a room on the third floor. The banner “Marvel at the Anglo-Saxons. Sutton Hoo and Europe AD 300-1100” intrigued me immediately when I arrived at the museum. As most of the museum you can see it for free.
Landowner Edith Pretty in 1939 asked archaeologist Basil Brown to explore the largest burial mound on her estate at Sutton Hoo, an area where more burial mounds can be found. Some others nearby turned out to be emptied long time ago, but this one turned out to be different. Inside was the imprint of a decayed ship studded with iron rivets, and a central chamber filled with treasures. It has never been revealed who had been buried in the intact burial mound, and the body wasn’t found anymore, but it must have been the final resting place of a very important person, maybe even an Anglo-Saxon king. On display in the British Museum (room 41) are a few items found inside the burial mound, including Mediterranean silver and gorgeous jewelry.