Exhibition Review. Valhalla: examining Viking burials in the British Isles.

The Valhalla: In Search of the Viking Dead exhibition in York, curated by York Archaeological Trust in association with the Chapter of York Minster and Manx National Heritage, takes a broad brush to examine the archaeological evidence for Viking burial in the British Isles using illustrative material from the recent Hungate excavations in York and the Isle of Man.

First impressions are excellent, the exhibition utilises the space in the former shop well with nicely lit displays and professionally designed boards, and is well positioned round the corner from the famous Jorvik Viking Centre. The intention of the exhibition is obviously to build upon the groundwork of knowledge established by other presentations in and around York, particularly Jorvik, exploring the more esoteric, religious aspects of Viking life in the city and elsewhere. During our visit we were fortunate enough to catch one of the excellent tours by one of the attendants (dressed in Viking garb) who provided an engaging and entertaining overview of the Viking burial evidence in Britain. This highlighted the continued importance of the well-informed guide when compared to more consistent, and often dehumanised, audio-visual displays which have become the vogue in many museum presentations.

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Memorials at the Isle of Man TT Races

Guy Martin. ©Fran Caley

Raced over the 37¾ mile ‘Mountain Circuit’, where speeds reach in excess of 200mph, where the lap record stands at 17m 12.3s and where participants pass within inches of stone walls, lamp posts and other street furniture; the Isle of Man TT (or Tourist Trophy) Races remain one of the oldest and most prestigious events in the motorcycle racing calendar. The danger associated with racing at such high speeds over what are essentially public roads has seen as many column inches within the press devoted to reporting accident and injury to any other aspect of the event, or its results. To date over  136 competitors have been killed in the events 105 year history (with a total of 239 killed if those killed at the Manx Grand Prix (MGP) are included). It is no wonder, therefore, that there have seen repeated calls for the event to be scrapped. Yet, while death and danger are pervasive realities at the TT Races; fans, residents and competitors vehemently defend the event as one of the last bastions of personal freedom, indeed the event has been hailed as ‘the greatest motor sport event in the world’.

Following fatality the bereaved often feel compelled to mark the location of death, feeling a close connection with the place where the deceased was last alive. The scene of the accident may be marked by memorials that can last from a few hours to a matter of weeks, whilst sometimes these ‘temporary’ monuments may be replaced by more permanent monuments that become the focus for successive visits. Initially these memorials are transient, comprising those objects close at hand (including programmes, beer or cigarettes laid by fans and locals), but are soon replaced by more ‘traditional’ tributes (cards, flowers or wreaths) laid by those closer to the deceased.Sometimes the bereaved feel compelled to construct more permanent memorials to the deceased; these vary considerably in form from simple plaques and benches, to more elaborate monuments, statues and gardens.

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Manx Research

Welcome to the Manx Research blog which has been created to enable those who are undertaking research about or connected with the Isle of Man to publicise and discuss their own research, comment on the research of others, and to ask other researchers for assistance. It has developed from an awareness that while there is currently lots of excellent research being undertaken by both amateurs and professionals into Manx topics, there are only limited avenues for this research to be shared with like-minded individuals and to promote collaborative research on the Isle of Man and beyond. The blog forum has been specifically chosen because it provides an informal and friendly environment for researchers to highlight their own research to a wider, and disparate, community in short and concise way.

This blog will only survive if people contribute, so if your undertaking Manx research simply drop us an email at manxresearch [at] gmail.com to register for access, or send us your blog entry and we’ll add it for you.

Happy blogging!