The day had dawned on an eagerly awaited trip to the Viking exhibition at the British Museum with the Brackenfield bandit.

Replica helmet, real jawbone with teeth.

Replica helmet, real jawbone with teeth.

I had heard mixed reports of the exhibition experience from the overcrowding in the exhibit, to the managing of expectations on the remains of the Viking ship.

I have to say that the first part of the exhibition was too crowded for me. You basically had to queue or shove your way to the display cases to see the exhibits. It is timed ticket entry but there is no “crowd” control as such. Okay so people view exhibits at different paces and those who choose an audio tour are immediately going to slow the pace down as there is usually so much interpretation to hear on the audio tours. But it was disappointing.

I’m not sure what the museum can do to keep everything flowing at peak times, e.g. a Saturday afternoon. The temptation to keep selling tickets where there is demand is too great a money collecting opportunity to turn down.

Once in the main hall where the Viking ship dominates there was more room to manoeuvre, marginally. First thing to mention here is that the reconstruction of the ship is impressive, and there is a little bit more of the original timbers around than the rumoured “one plank” Lots of silver and gold to see in the cases in here and a selection of skeletons to prove that the Vikings weren’t that welcome in Dorset and came to a sticky end.

The Lewis chessmen make a typically grumpy appearance and there are various examples of battle equipment to marvel at if that’s your thing.

Over all I am glad I went, rather than just saw the live relay at a cinema. However if you prefer up close and personal then that would be your best bet or buy the catalogue for the smaller items. I think nothing can capture the vision of the ship though and using your imagination as you shuffle around the exhibits with everyone else.

Fierce chap we met in the shop.

Fierce chap we met in the shop.

An added bonus is that the Sutton Hoo exhibits in the British Museum have had a display make over for the event too and that was an interesting display to look at. I hadn’t seen the original helmet before and thought it was now on display at Sutton Hoo. But no it’s currently residing in Bloomsbury 🙂

A day is never enough, always too much to see in the British Museum. So a cuppa in Russell Square had to conclude the trip.

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