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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


Bronze medal of Vittoria Colonna

Michelangelo had a number of close friends despite his reputation as prickly and solitary. Most of them were men, many of whom are depicted on medals of the day. His circle included the celebrated writer and humanist Bembo, who was closely connected to the papal court and was made a cardinal in 1538. He also formed a deep and lasting friendship with Tommaso de' Cavalieri, a young Roman noble he met in 1532.

This medal shows Vittoria Colonna, whom Michelangelo first met around 1536. She was his closest female friend; widowed in 1525 at the age of 35 she is shown here wearing a widow's veil. From then until her death in Rome in 1547 she devoted herself to meditation and writing poetry, spending much time in convents. During her intense friendship with Michelangelo he dedicated poems to her and presented her with drawings.