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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


Dazzling the enemy:
shields from the Pacific

14 May – 16 August 2009

Exhibition closed

Room 91

This exhibition explores conflict and social life in the islands of the western Pacific. In particular, it highlights the many remarkable shields used across the region to dazzle and demoralise an enemy both in warfare and ritual.

On display are over forty shields from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and West Papua. Included is one of the oldest Pacific shields in the world, dating back to 1851, as well as contemporary shields collected in the 1980s. Many of the shields in the exhibition have never been displayed before. Historical and contemporary photographs illustrating the shields in action are also on display.

The exhibition reveals how warriors in the western Pacific were not camouflaged, but how their appearance was itself a form of psychological warfare, designed to daunt opponents. Shields decorated with bold and dazzling designs were a key feature of this strategy to visually intimidate an enemy.

Bowman’s shield