Once upon a time, there was an online community of mamas who all liked to sew. And a couple of times, mamas from all over the country traveled to Seattle to attend an expo and hang out together and make memories.
Many of us have stayed in touch on Facebook, and one of those mamas recently posted about the Viking exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. My interest was piqued because I found out from my Ancestry.com DNA testing that I'm more Scandinavian than anything else, but having grown up hearing, "We're German," I didn't know much of anything about Scandinavia.
Reproduction boat in Viking style.
There were many displays of jewelry and clothing adornments.
There was also a display of reproduction clothing, in various styles. What would have been worn by a free man or woman, what would have been worn by a servant, etc.
If you've ever wondered how far back people have been losing their keys, apparently, it's been going on for a long, long time.
Upper right is part of a comb.
Bottom is the remains of a sword.
Woolen tapestry in remarkably good shape for being 900+ years old.
The homeschooler in me thought it was very cool that they had the recipe for Viking bread up for people to photograph and try at home.
We can make guesses about their pride in personal appearance from archaeological finds. Top center, re-usable q-tip. Oh, they call it an "ear spoon," but basically...
Jewelry wasn't just decorative. These were amulets, with spells to harm or protect the wearer.
There were several displays that talked about the religious transition from ancient Norse mythology to present day Christianity. Vikings, like many Native Americans, had no problem adding another god to their pantheon of gods, but it took a longer progression for the old ways to die off.
I was impressed with the intricacy and delicacy of some of the pieces.
The runes here reminded me of the runes illustrated in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books I grew up with.
It's amusing to think of ancient graffiti surviving until today. Somehow I had it in my head that all written history must be serious, scholarly materials. Although, I have a lumber receipt that belonged to my great grandfather, so one would think I would know better.
Can you imagine this as the clasp of a thick cloak? It would have been lovely.
And these crosses are not so different from religious jewelry and accessories we see today. The crucifix with the loop reminds me of a key chain.
Weapons looked to be designed with function, rather than beauty in mind.
Brooch, see description below.
I feel like I should get some library books and acquaint myself with Norse mythology and Scandinavian history, but the passionate curiosity just isn't there right now. I tried with a book of Irish tales for children, and I only made it through one--and it was rather depressing. Maybe when I actually find specific ancestors to research the interest will come. I spent hours pouring over a small town Colorado newspaper archive that had several mentions of my great grandmother in it.
The metal pieces are what's left after the wood planks they were holding together have all rotted away. They're held in position with fishing line, showing the outline shape of the boat they came from.
I expected to feel some sort of personal connection in this exhibit, some kind of "these are my people" type feeling, but the closest I came was in seeing these sewing scissors...
...and wondering if the lady Viking who owned them had to tell her husband and sons not to use them for anything except fabric.
Swords and daggers.
Booty? Plunder? Trade? Coins from what is now England and Germany, found in Sweden.
Bits of silver.
Limestone carved with battle scene.
This is a reproduction of a rune stone. Rune stones have been found in all Scandinavian countries except Finland, but most have been discovered in Sweden.
Another reproduction rune stone. Some commemorated an event, others honored the dead.
Some gold and silver jewelry.
The museum was amazing, and I really enjoyed our time there. We ended with lunch at their little cafe, where I had a green tortilla quesadilla.
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