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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


Battersea Shield

The Battersea Shield

The Battersea Shield

Shield detail

Shield detail

Length: 77.700 cm

P&EE 1857.7-15.1

The Battersea shield is not in fact a complete shield, but only the facing, a metal cover that was attached to the front of wooden shield. The elaborate design is highlighted with twenty-seven framed studs of red enamel (opaque red glass).

The shield was not made for serious warfare; it is too short to provide adequate protection. The thin metal sheet and the complicated decoration would be easily destroyed if the shield was struck by a sword or spear. Instead, it was probably made for flamboyant display. The highly polished bronze and glinting red glass would have made for a great spectacle. It was finally thrown or placed in the River Thames.

On display: Room 50: Britain and Europe