I’ve just returned from the Viking World Conference at the University of Nottingham. This was a very intensive 6 days of all things Viking and early medieval Scandinavian and was absolutely fantastic. I’d originally intended to do daily posts about this but the cruel hand of argumentative internet logins made it a bit difficult at first. I did fill 2 notebooks with notes about the sessions, though, so I’ll go over that here in a bit.
First there are some thank you’s due to those who particularly made the trip possible. Sera and Derek kindly put up with me for the majority of my time in the UK and made certain that everything ran smoothly so I could focus on the conference as much as possible. It means a lot but we discussed that before I left so I’ll save the typing here. My friend Matt [who I met once upon a time at the beginning of his BA course] too provided housing and the rare opportunity to hang out. You guys are awesome. Katie Eaton at Pen and Swords and Rebecca Peck at the University of Nottingham’s School of English made certain things went smoothly for providing books.
So- this conference. Reader, its hard to articulate how much fun I had. Timing wise it was four years not quite to the day that I had left the University of Nottingham, where I attended graduate school. I was approached about a logo some months ago and it was really great to see it all over campus. These were long days and jam-packed with making new friends, hearing the latest research and in general taking the conference concept to its utmost extent. The live tweeting has been put into Storify by Dr Judith Jesch and can be found here. If you would like to see the line up the schedule we were following can be found here. Message me if you would like to see my thoughts/notes on specific presentations.
Day 1 The themes covered during Day 1 ranged from Exploration and Advancement, Life and Death, Language Contacts, to Art and Visual Narratives by the end of the day. All the papers were thought provoking in the way that makes for excellent conversation over a good dinner. It’s exactly what I had been missing since returning to California as I not currently in an academic department. What surprised me the most was everyone’s enthusiasm over my Viking Coloring Book Project. It keeps leading my to fun opportunities.
Day 2 Today’s themes began with Viking Law and Rule, moving into Names and Identities and then my session of Land and Sea before Parents and Poetry and finally Burying the Past. Of particular interest to me was Eldar Heide’s presentation on medieval Norse directional names as it is something closely related to my own identity work. Then came my session. I quite enjoyed hearing Val Dufeu speak about fishing sites in Iceland. I was the other speaker in the session and am admittedly always a ball of nerves when public speaking to those outside of a classroom. I didn’t embarrass myself by being ill though so I’ll count that as a tentative win. I got to end things on a high by FINALLY being able to announce the publisher for the Viking Coloring Book. Check out the details on the campaign page here. Once the session was over I got to focus on the rest of the conference more fully.
Day 3 Day 3 began with sessions on Sagas and Mythology as well as Conversion and Kingship. This was a short presentation day to accommodate an excursion to Lincoln. I stayed in Nottingham to have the chance for a pint of scrumpy cider and to see a friend’s band play as I’d not had the opportunity for 4 years.
Day 4 Day 4 session themes began with Cult and Burial, Austrvegr [Eastern Way], Monuments and Memory, Trade Routes of the Viking Age, Carved in Stone, and Disease and Diaspora. Discussions ranged from Cnut to Byzantium and the breadth of medieval culture. These days were long but so incredibly interesting you didn’t realize the length until you fell into bed each night.
Day 5 Day 5 sessions included Contacts and Continuity, Baltic and Beyond, Progression of Resource, and ending with Trade and Traditions. Topics included Runes, onomastic studies, early medieval Poland, and Gotlandic hoards. The day ended with a presentation by Gareth Williams of the British Museum before we broke for our very nice dinner. After that came the conference dance where many of us partied like it was 999.
Day 6 Day 6 session themes ranged from Power and Succession, the Vikings in Ireland and Beyond, Studying the Vikings, ending with Between Myth and Reality. Presentations were strong throughout. The conference ended with well-wishes and general exhaustion/ over-mental stimulation. Picture a small child at the end of their first trip to Disneyland after leaving toddler-hood. Its rather like that.
Many exciting Viking projects are occurring right now. I’ve listed some here in case you are interested.
Blueaxe Reproductions Adam can sort out your need for accurate shinies amongst other things. www.blueaxereproductions.com .
The World-Tree Project My friend Ruarigh, who I met during grad school, is involved in with this fantastic new digital archive. www.worldtreeproject.org .
Several of us are on Instagram and still using #vikingworld16 to tag our photos if you’d like to see that.
My trip, of course, was longer than just the conference. I had some meeting son campus and other more official business I had to take care of with the University while I was local. I got to drop in and say hello with former co-workers. I headed to Norwich and my good friend Matt on the 5th of July, spending the 6th being a medievalist on tour before heading to the airport and eventually California.
Jetlag hit like a ton of bricks and now here I am getting caught up. More to come on new projects in the near future.