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UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER -Academic invites readers to make like a Viking and 'go berserk' in new book about runic language

May 29, 2014

ENP Newswire - 29 May 2014

Release date- 28052014 - Literature lovers will be given an opportunity to discover an ancient form of writing in a new book about runes that will evaluate their significance in Viking culture and beyond.

Written by Dr Martin Findell from the University of Leicester'sSchool of History, 'Runes', published by the British Museum Press, explores the development of the runic script, how runes originated and their use and meaning in the modern world.

The book accompanies the 'Vikings: Life and Legend' exhibition at the British Museum which runs between 6 March - 22 June 2014, providing an introduction to Vikings that is suitable for both general readers and historians.

Dr Findell said: 'The book is a short, general introduction to a very complicated subject, which tries to show readers the wide range of uses that people had for runes, and the creativity of the people who wrote with them.

'Putting runes into a modern context, there is a chapter on the uses of runes in modern culture - especially in fantasy literature, film and video games. There's something about runes that captures people's imaginations, which I think reflects how modern people continue to reinvent and re-use the past.'

Visitors to the British Museum's website who enter 'go berserk' into the search bar - a reference to the behaviour displayed by Viking warriors in combat - will be met with a 'runified' web page.

The Viking Age lasted from 800AD - 1050AD and was a period of major change across Europe. The Vikings expanded from their Scandinavian homelands to create an international network connecting cultures over four continents, where artistic, religious and political ideas met, and their written language, expressed in runes, flourished.

Illustrated with a range of beautiful objects that show the runic inscriptions in context, 'Runes' provides a glimpse into the languages and cultures of Europeans over a thousand years ago.

The exhibition will present personal objects, including jewellery, amulets and idols, which help to reveal more about how the Vikings saw themselves and their world. Exquisite objects, including the magnificent Vale of York Hoard, demonstrate the global reach of the Viking network of trade, plunder and power - a network that left a lasting legacy in countries from Ireland and the UK to Russia and Ukraine.

Dr Findell added: 'It would be wrong to think runes are something essentially Viking: they were used long before the Viking period, in Scandinavia, England, Germany and in other parts of Europe; and at least in some parts of Scandinavia, their use continued into the modern period. Nonetheless, they were an important part of Viking-Age culture, and the British Museum exhibition contains some fine examples.'

One such example is a brightly-painted replica of a large runestone from Jelling in Denmark, raised by Harald Bluetooth in the 960s both as a memorial to his parents and as a declaration of his success in uniting and Christianising the Danes.

'Vikings: Life and Legend' is the first major exhibition on Vikings at the British Museum for over 30 years and takes place at the British Museum between 6 March - 22 June.

Dr Findell's book 'Runes' is published by the British Museum Press and can be purchased here:

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Source: ENP Newswire

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