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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Neil Price: Passing into Poetry: mortuary theatre and the afterlife in Viking Age Scandinavia

17th February 2009, 17:30, Seminar Room 1, Department of History

This is the third seminar in the Humanity and the Divine Seminar Series.

The Viking diaspora of the eighth to eleventh centuries AD created the modern nation states of Scandinavia and transformed the northern world. But what animated this extraordinary cultural expansion, how did the early medieval Norse see themselves? The Viking way of death, including some of the most spectacular burial monuments known to archaeology, may offer some clues. Using new research, Professor Price will take us deep into the Viking mind to explore the notion that their funerals may have involved complex elements of mortuary theatre - ritual plays literally enacted at the graveside. The evidence suggests an almost infinite variety of funerary dramas, each providing a poetic passage for the individual dead into a world of ancestral stories. Could these tales be the beginnings of what we know today as Norse mythology?

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