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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


Vikings Live
from the British Museum

At cinemas 24 April 2014

Certificate 12a as live



Supported by BP BP logo

Organised by the British Museum,
the National Museum of Denmark, and the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The Viking World

They journeyed boldly;
Went far for gold,
Fed the eagle
Out in the east,
And died in the south
In Saracenland

Gripsholm Rune-stone (c. AD 1050)

The sophisticated maritime technology of the Vikings enabled them to reach four continents, an unprecedented achievement in world history. These routes opened up opportunities for trade, plunder and settlement that changed the course of European history.

Viking map with routes

North Atlantic route

In the AD 800s and 900s, the Vikings travelled west across the Atlantic to the largely uninhabited Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, and eventually even to North America. Evidence for Viking settlement has been excavated as far afield as L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada.

Western route

From their homelands in Scandinavia the Vikings crossed the North Sea to Britain and Ireland, travelled down the Atlantic coast of France and Spain and onwards to the shores of North Africa and the Mediterranean. Contemporary chronicles describe Viking raids on monasteries and settlements, and Scandinavian communities were later established in places like Dublin, Normandy and northern and eastern Britain.

Eastern route

Vikings made use of extensive river systems in the East to reach the markets of the powerful Byzantine Empire and Islamic Caliphate via the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. In the process they founded new trading settlements in Russia and Ukraine and contributed to the development of a new culture, known to Arab writers as the Rus.

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