What’s on : Lectures

The people behind the runes: Scandinavians in the British Isles

25 Apr 2017
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Prof Judith Jesch

Event Information

The people behind the runes: Scandinavians in the British Isles

by Professor Judith Jesch, University of Nottingham

Joint lecture with York Museums Trust in celebration of its major 2017 exhibition ‘Beyond Jorvik: the Vale of York Hoard and the Viking World’

It has been said that the Vikings were ‘ruffians, but they were cultured ruffians’.  They loved stories, poetry and art.  And they were literate, at least in their alphabet of runes, which they used to inscribe short messages on a variety of objects.  York, despite its rich Viking Age archaeology, has not yet turned up any runic inscriptions.  But from Canterbury in the south to Shetland in the north, Scandinavians left behind runic inscriptions across Britain and these will be the subject of the lecture.  While such inscriptions are few, and many of them appear at first glance to say very little, we can still learn a lot about the individuals who made them by examining the texts and objects closely: their names, gender and status, the language(s) they spoke, their interests and their religion.  The Scandinavian runic inscriptions of Britain provide a new and unusual perspective on the Viking Age.