'Cattle Die, Kinsmen Die....'
installation — mixed media (collaborative)
Collections of the Artists
Cattle Die, Kinsmen Die....
This quote from the Havamal shows that death was an integral part
of life to the Viking Era Norse. This display demonstrates the range
of goods that would accompany a wealthy land-owning couple to their
afterlife in the mound with their ancestors.
Rich landholders often had some history of being a warrior. This
man is buried with his metal helm, augmented with chainmail and
his sword, spear with pattern welded blade, and linden wood shield.
There is also an axe which could serve both as a weapon and a general
use tool. At his side are a simple pitchfork and sickle, common
tools around the farm.
He is clothed in a pair of wool pants, naalbinded socks, leather
shoes, linen under tunic, woolen over tunic, and coat. At his waist,
he wears a leather belt with a carved bone strap-end and buckle.
His seax (knife) is visible behind his back. Hanging from the belt
is a whetstone and a pouch. Silver coins, blocks of silver, jet,
and amber can be seen spilling out of his pouch; valuables to be
given away or traded. At his neck he wears a silver torc, and a
necklace with glass beads and silver pendants that depict both Norse
and Christian gods.
She has been buried in leather shoes, naalbinded socks, a linen
underdress, woolen overdress, and apron dress. Wrapped around her
is a woolen cloak held closed by a bronze ring-headed pin. The apron
dress is pinned with oval broaches between which lies a strand of
the beads so loved by the Norse. Also hanging from the broaches
are a bone comb and silver personal grooming kit, including an ear
spoon. The Norse were noted by their peers as being concerned with
personal hygiene. A pair of scissors and a needle case with needles
round out the items typically kept near to hand.
Women were largely responsible for the work of producing textiles.
At her waist, she has ready a drop spindle for producing thread
and yarn. Near her head are a pair of wool combs used to prepare
the fibres for spinning. Hanging on the wall nearby is a wool winder,
and a weaving sword for weaving on an upright loom. Near to hand
are some wooden tablet weaving cards.
To aid them in feasting with the ancestors, the couple has a large
bronze pot with a wooden spoon and a covered soapstone pot is nearby.
Two large barrels contain stores of food. A highly treasured glass
cup and horn are close by. He holds another drinking horn to toast
his guests and share his bounty, dipping into the bucket at his
feet for replenishment. At her side is a carved trencher with two
spoons, of wood and horn. Another trencher turned over has a merrels
game about to take place and a box supports a pair of ceramic cups
and a pitcher for liquids. On the box lid, a game of hnefatafl using
soapstone and glass pieces is set up.