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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

 

Conservation

Treatment date
28 November 2002

Reason for treatment
Loan

Treatment proposal
Clean fittings. Remove tarnish/discolouration.

Condition
February 2002: Shield reconstruction: All fittings slightly dusty and dirty. The electroform replica fittings were dirty and had substantial patches of black tarnish beneath lacquer, or where lacquer had deteriorated. Some small areas on original fittings loose.
On the back: One strap end detached, the other almost detached, owing to deterioration of the 1970s' glue and silk crepeline backing (one strap-end had also obviously been shattered at the tip and roughly repaired at some point [no record]).
There were several weak areas and breaks on the handgrip extensions. Parts of the handgrip and extensions are extremely fragile (corroded iron and de-cuprified copper alloy) and the 1970s' glue and fibre-glass tissue backing has now become weak and embrittled. The lower of the handgrip extensions and its animal-head terminal are very fragile (being crumbly de-cuprified copper alloy) and have many breaks which have been repeatedly broken and re-glued over the years. - Some breaks now consist of several fragments. Some of the glue joins had broken down so that joints were moving. This extension was in two fragments and the animal head was broken away just behind the head. The sides of the animal-head had been roughly handled and the edges had crumbled, with substantial loss.

The handgrip and its two extensions were tied on to the back of the shield with nylon filament. Because of their fragility and existing breaks it was decided to detach them from the shield and retain in the BM for the duration of the loan.

Treatment details
February 2002: The original fittings were gently cleaned where possible with IMS on cotton wool swabs, but this was limited due to the friability of the surfaces. Some loose areas were secured with HMG heatproof and waterproof adhesive (cellulose nitrate).

The electroformed replica fittings (bird tail and wing, two larger strips, domed bosses on the strips) were removed from the shield (prised away with spatula - possible due to embrittled glue) Old lacquer was removed from the strips, bird tail and wing by immersing in and flushing with acetone. They were then steam cleaned, re-gilded (cyanide electroplating), and re-lacquered with Frigilene (cellulose nitrate), and re-attached, with the domed bosses, to the shield using HMG.
The smaller strip could not be removed as the 'sword-ring' could not be detached. This strip was cleaned with acetone and IMS on swabs and tinted with powder colours in Frigilene.
The electroformed rectangular fittings around the rim were re-gilded with transfer gold leaf (painted with dilute HMG and gold leaf applied while tacky) The gold leaf was then toned down with Frigilene tinted with powder colour.
The handgrip and handgrip extensions on the back were detached by cutting the nylon filament.
The shield was then transported to Sutton Hoo for exhibition until November 2002.

On its return the handgrip extensions were repaired: Loose breaks were secured and detached fragments re-attached with HMG and Nylon Gossamer tissue. The lost areas around the edge of the lower animal-head terminal were consolidated with Paraloid B72 (ethyl methacrylate copolymer) in acetone/IMS and filled with glass microballoons bonded with Paraloid B72 (HMG brand) (Fills were coloured on the outside with powder colours in Paraloid) The handgrip and extensions were re-attached to the shield with nylon filament, but representations were made verbally to curator Angela Evans to consider mounting and displaying these separately from the shield in the future.

The strap-ends were re-attached to the replica leather hand-strap with HMG and nylon gossamer tissue.