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Discover life and death in Viking Britain

Culture and tourism

27 January 2022

A boat prepared for a Viking burialDiscover our replica boat dressed for a ship burial

Valhalla at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery will explore Viking attitudes to life and death through 1,000-year-old artefacts and a replica boat dressed for a ship burial.

The exhibition displays significant artefacts from excavations in York, including a Viking-age skeleton that was unearthed in the city, displayed alongside a facial reconstruction. Discover how excavations can reveal the way Vikings commemorated and celebrated their dead using pagan boat burials, grave goods and ornately carved headstones.

Analysis conducted by human bone specialists at York Osteoarchaeology on the Viking-age remains found in York tells visitors more about the person - the life they led, what sort of activities they were involved in and whether they were rich or poor.

“The Valhalla exhibition allows visitors to understand how Vikings celebrated life at its end, from a collection of personal objects that were found with a Viking-age burial in York.

“Osteological analysis can also give us clues about the lives these people once led. Depending on how much of the skeleton was preserved in the ground, this analysis can tell us the sex, age and height of a person and sometimes give us clues as to how that person may have died - whether from disease, injury or from natural causes.

“Looking at this evidence, alongside artefacts found throughout the British Isles, helps tell a more accurate story of Viking Britain and our Viking ancestry.”
Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions for The JORVIK Group, which is owned and operated by York Archaeological Trust

As well as highlighting details of life in Viking-age Northampton, the exhibition includes an interactive area where younger visitors can be inspired by the sagas and tales of the Viking Gods and discover the world of Norse myths through our themed family-friendly content.

“This exhibition promises to offer a fascinating insight into Viking Britain and will help us to understand what Northampton looked like at that time, and how people lived and died.

“One of the key reasons for the redevelopment of Northampton Museum & Art Gallery was to ensure we could attract touring exhibitions like Valhalla and give everyone plenty of reasons to come back again and again.”
Cllr Adam Brown, West Northamptonshire Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Leisure

Valhalla is suitable for visitors of all ages. It will be open from January 29 to April 3, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sundays 1pm to 5pm. Admission is free.

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