A spectacular new Viking exhibition has opened to enthusiastic reviews at the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim, Norway. 

The exhibition – named simply Viking – tells the story of the Viking Age through a range of incredible artifacts, including rare swords, silver coins, and an array of ornate Norse jewelry. 

"Filling in the facts" 

As the exhibition director, Ellen Grav, explains to The Viking Herald, the decision to hold the exhibition was partly an attempt to make good use of the wealth of Viking artifacts held by the museum. 

"The idea of making a Viking exhibition came from the Institute of Archaeology and Cultural History," Ellen tells us. 

"We are one of five state museums that take care of prehistoric artifacts from Norway, so we have a lot of them in storage here." 

"The Viking Age is not very visible in our other exhibitions, and the audience – in particular, foreign tourists – really want to learn more about this period," Ellen adds. 

"The Viking Age is very popular in movies, TV series, computer games, and elsewhere, and we believe it is important to present research on these items so we can fill in some of the facts." 

"We have a lot of archeological objects from this period, and many of the artifacts are on display for the very first time." 

The exhibition displays artifacts plundered from churches and monasteries, illustrating the Vikings' roles as both traders and warriors. Photo: NTNU University Museum

Showcasing Viking culture 

The exhibition is divided into five sections, and it seeks to present both the research carried out at the museum and provide new insight into the Viking Age. 

"The artifacts in this exhibition tell the story of this dramatic era," Ellen tells us. "It starts in a society built around the farm and the Norse gods and ends with a state under one king and one God."

"The first section tells us about the Viking ships – we don't have a ship here in Trondheim, but we wanted to show that ships were the main factor for the success of the Vikings as seafarers," Ellen explains. 

"The second section tells of the Vikings as traders. There was much trade in this period, and many people traveled to the Viking towns to exchange furs, horns, whetstones, and other commodities from the central Norway region for beads, jewelry, textiles, and food (amongst other things)." 

"The third part of the exhibition shows us the Viking hunger for silver and contains more than 900 silver coins, crucifixes, and other objects, while the fourth section tells the story of Vikings as plunderers and warriors," Ellen continues. 

"We display some objects plundered from churches and monasteries. In the final part, the focus shifts to the Viking warrior, showcasing axes, spears, and swords to illustrate the different weapons a true Viking needed." 

"Here, there will be about 200 objects on display – all of which were found in central Norway." 

The final section of the exhibition focuses on the Viking warrior, showcasing approximately 200 objects, including axes, spears, and swords, all discovered in central Norway. Photo: NTNU University Museum

Stunning swords 

For many visitors, the highlight of the exhibition will come in this final section, where the museum presents a peerless range of Viking swords. 

"There are 11 swords on display and two fragmentary pieces," Ellen says. 

"One of these is a sword pommel from the late ninth century. It is decorated with two or three kinds of metal plates with a beautiful pattern, indicating it must have been a very prominent sword."

"Another notable sword was found in the Norwegian municipality of Sunndal. It is a late-ninth-century Anglo-Saxon artifact with silver plating and ornamentation," Ellen tells us. 

"This sword is also very beautiful and still has a grip of horn or wood. The most special sword we have on display, however, is a sword from Melhus in central Norway." 

"This is a Carolingian sword with an Ulfberht blade. The ornamented, silver-inlaid lower hilt contains the inscription HILTPREHT, and it is one of only four finds of this type in the whole of Europe." 

The museum plans to expand the exhibition over the next three years, adding new sections on farm life and religious practices. Photo: NTNU University Museum

Here to stay 

The exhibition opened on June 20, 2024, and has been warmly received by visitors. 

"The exhibition has received great reception from both the public and the media," explains museum communication coordinator Frid Hansen. 

"We've had a lot of visitors coming only for the Viking exhibition, and several local newspapers have written about the exhibition, as well as the Norwegian broadcaster NRK." 

Fortunately, there is still plenty of time for anyone interested in seeing the exhibition in Trondheim. 

"The exhibition will run for at least seven years," Ellen tells us, "but we will gradually expand it over the next three years. In 2025, we will build a new section that focuses on the farm and everyday life." 

"In 2026, we will have a section that focuses on religion and rituals in the Viking Age, presenting stories of pagan burials and gods, as well as how and when Christianity came to this part of the world." 

The exhibition is open from 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday to Friday, and from 11 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday. To find out more about the exhibition and other parts of the museum, please see the NTNU University Museum website

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