From April 14 to April 20, Kirkwall hosted the field school of The Orkney Viking Heritage Project. Eight current (and three former) members of the ASNC Department travelled to Orkney together with fellow students and collegues from the universities of the Highlands and Islands, Oxford, Nottingham, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Kings College London. The Orkney Viking Heritage Project is an AHRC-funded interdisciplinary training programme. It brings together scholars and heritage professionals to explore the literature, history and material culture of Viking Orkney and provide hands-on experience of a heritage landscape.
[photo credit: Nicola Lugosch]
During the course of the week, we saw viking grafitti on neolithic monuments at the Ring of Brodgar and the spectacular burial chamber of Maeshowe, and visited the ruin of St Magnus Kirk on the small island of Egilsay where Earl Magnús was killed, along with the imposing St Magnus Cathedral, which St Rögnvaldr established on the Mainland.
[St Magnus Kirk, photo credit: Bernadette McCooey]
Through presentations, discussions and excursions, we reconsidered medieval texts and artefacts in situ in order to contextualise our understanding of the past within the reality of the physical landscape. With the help of local academics, heritage professionals and Orkney residents, we also explored how this past, and modern perceptions of it, continue to inform the way current islanders define and relate to the landscape around them.
For more information on the project, including our blog, photos, podcasts and other resources, see the Orkney Project website. You can also find information about our travelling exhibition, which made its first stop at the Midlands Viking Symposium at the University of Nottingham on April 27.