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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Colonialism and independence

1000 franc note-1

CM 1984,6-5.1718

During the twentieth century, Africa saw vast changes with the ending of European colonial rule. One visible outcome of this was the issuing of coins and banknotes by the new governments of independent countries. Money was used to create and celebrate images of nationality and unity, often looking to the past as well as the future.

This banknote from the Republic of Congo represents the changes made in many African countries at independence. Perhaps the most obvious change is political; the first president of independent Congo, Joseph Kasavubu, is in place and is prominently portrayed here. Previously he had worked for the colonial Belgian government and then became leader of Abako, a cultural organisation which became a political and nationalist movement.

The note also looks back to the country's pre-colonial history. Cowrie shells like those on the left of the note were used as money before the introduction of European-style coinage. The image of the carving and the textile celebrate African art and culture; this note serves to tell the user that they can be proud of African achievements.