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21 October - 17 November
FoSS and ESRC logos

Bodies That Matter: Celebrating the Social History of the Body in the Viking Age

Body politics logo

Lifelong wellbeing theme

What’s on offer?

This interactive exhibition featuring images and models of Viking ‘body-objects’ aims to explore bodies and bodily matters in the Viking Age and invite reflection upon ideas of bodily wellbeing and the social construction of body norms, both past and present.

Attendees are invited to view the replicated body-objects on display from different and unexpected perspectives to celebrate the ways in which they disrupt conventional body images and challenge stereotypes about bodies in the Viking Age. You will be encouraged to respond creatively to the exhibited objects via an array of interactive activities and to engage in direct discussion with a team of expert Viking-Age researchers.

The exhibition aims to stimulate attendees to think more consciously about their own bodies and embodied experiences in modern society and to promote positive bodily wellbeing.

Informal flash talks with Q&As will be held at 1pm and 2pm on the themes: Magical Bodies; Viking Health; Viking Age Pregnancy and Birth; Intoxicated Bodies; Viking Body Modification; Differently-abled Bodies; ‘Art’ and Bodily Ideals; Animal Bodies; Body Adornment (see scheduling information)

What’s it about?

How did Viking women and men do their hair? What was it like to give birth in the Viking Age? How did the Vikings express their identities through clothing, accessories or tattoos? What kinds of bodies did the Vikings revere - intoxicated bodies, shapeshifting bodies, magical bodies? And what can these bodies teach us about our own?

If these questions pique your interest, then come along to the Body-Politics’ interactive exhibition featuring a variety of body objects from the Scandinavian Viking Age and flash talks from experts in archaeology and Old Norse literature. 

History is often dominated by conventional, top-down narratives about warriors, battles, and men but by featuring everyday, often overlooked body-objects we can connect with the untold history of the Viking Age. The body transcends past and present, connecting us with the embodied experiences of those who lived centuries ago. The exhibition will centre the body as a means of disrupting traditional historical narratives to provide alternate perspectives on the Vikings and to connect their experiences with our own.

Who’s leading the event?

Marianne Hem Eriksen, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Leicester, along with the ERC Body-Politics team, including Dr Emma Tollefsen, Dr Katherine Olley and PhD students Elisabeth Aslesen, Renate Larssen and Brad Marshall; in collaboration with the University of Leicester Heritage Hub.

Open to

Young people and adults (this event is not suitable for children). The event is free to attend.

Of particular interest to

This event will be of particular interest to young people and adults with interests in the Viking Age, the social history of the body and bodily wellbeing past and present.

Please Note: This exhibition will include images of skeletal human and animal remains.

Scheduling information

Programme (sessions are repeated at 13.30, commencing with Exhibition Opening presentation).  Exhibition closes at 15:00

12:00-12:10  Exhibition Opening: 10 minute audio-visual presentation from Body-Politics PI Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen

12:10-13:00  Open Exhibition time: explore and reflect on objects and participate in activities

13:00-13:20  Flash talks:  A series of short informative talks (3-5 minutes) from the Body Politics team

13:20-13:30   Q&A