Developed with the National Museum of Denmark and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the exhibition focuses on the core period of the Viking Age from the late 8th to the early 11th century.

Take a look at our video-tour, presented by historian Bettany Hughes.

The Vikings' bloodthirsty reputation precedes them, known as raiders, plunderers and pillagers who waged an unrelenting war on the rest of Europe. But revealing new archaeological discoveries present a more complex picture of the seafaring Scandinavians, the subject of this exhibition.

In fact, the Vikings were prolific traders, creating a global network that spanned the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. It was this exposure to other cultures that played a key role in shaping the Viking identity, from the religious beliefs they held to the development of their practical skills.

The extent of their travel is revealed in a series of recent finds, such as The Vale of York Hoard, which was discovered in 2007 by metal detectorists near Harrogate and contains coins and silver from places as far removed as Afghanistan, Ireland, Russia and Uzbekistan.

Represented are three belief systems – Islam, Christianity and the worship of Thor – and examples of peoples who spoke more than seven different languages. Key items include a silver cup predating the burial by more than a century and probably made for a Frankish Church, as well as a silver hoard from Gnezdovo in Russia that highlights a combination of Scandinavian, Slavic and Middle Eastern influences.

Meanwhile, skeletons from a recently excavated ​mass grave near Weymouth in Dorset, reveal what happened when things went wrong for Viking warriors, here on British soil.

British Museum

Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

020 7323 8181

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Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5.30pm (Fri until 8.30pm)

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan

Free to all

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