Viking Helmets Never Had Horns & Other Things You’ll Learn at the New Vikings Exhibit in Denver
Note from the Mayor: This exhibit is in its final weeks at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The Vikings sail away for good on August 13 (final day of the exhibit).
So you think you know about the Vikings, but did you know that the word “viking” isn’t a noun? That’s right, it’s actually a verb. You’ll learn tidbits like this and a lot more at the new Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
My husband was ecstatic about this exhibit because he’s a history nerd and loves anything to do with Vikings, Barbarians, Romans, etc. If they carried swords, he’s into it. So we set up a tour of the new exhibit with curator Steve Nash. When you’d visit, I’d encourage you to pick up the audio guide before going through this exhibit. This is akin to a tour with a curator.
I’m not going to tell you all the things we learned while going through this exhibit, because I need to leave a few mysteries for you to discover for yourself. However, one fascinating tidbit is the meaning of the word “viking.” While it’s frequently used to define a group of people as in, “the Vikings.” In actuality, the people we call Vikings would “go on a viking.” It’s a verb used to describe the act of going on a journey (most likely a raid).
Boat building is one thing that set this group apart and one of the best pieces in this exhibit is a replica of a Viking river boat. It does not look like a comfortable ride, especially when laden down with men and supplies.
The Vikings were a mixture of people hailing from the northern parts of Europe, but they traveled quite far from their homes during their vikings. In fact, we were surprised to learn that they infiltrated Russia and as far south as North Africa.
These trips weren’t always about raiding and these people, were, in fact, traders of many things including slaves, a popular commodity during this time.
As with any exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the goal of Vikings: Beyond the Legend, is to educate visitors, but in this show, they especially want to enlighten the public about the people behind the barbarian stereotype.
In addition to raiding, the so-called Vikings were farmers and craftsman. This exhibition is filled with artifacts that highlight the artistic ability of these people who lived so long ago — approximately 750 to 1100 BCE. I was impressed with their decorative brooches that featured intricate details.
I learned that as a 40-year-old woman, I would have been ancient in Viking times where life expectancy was 30, but a lot of people died at the ripe old age of 23.
I also learned that my Ullr Fest helmet is a sham because Viking helmets did not have horns. Where did the horn adaptation come from? You’ll have to visit Vikings: Beyond the Legend to find out.
This exhibit runs through August 13, and you will need to purchase a special exhibition ticket to gain entry.
Plan to spend an hour and a half walking through this exhibit — longer for those like my husband who have an intense interest in the subject.
The museum provided media entrance passes for the two of us. Thank you, DMNS!