Vikings Season 3: Walking with the Dead


Ragnar funeral22

Scholars of ‘the Vikings’ anticipate, and sometimes find stark archaeological evidence for, the drama and spectacle of movement in mortuary ritual. Perhaps most famously we have whole or fragments of boats deployed in funerals and boats under sail depicted on Gotlandic picture stones. These and other images of horse-riding reveal conveyance in life, travel to the grave and maybe also aspirations to afterlife journeys converging in the commemoration of the dead. I’ve published on the geographies of Viking funerals twice, in 2010 and 2014 and a brief summary of my thoughts are presented here.

Ragnar funeral21
One criticism that might be levelled at the mortuary rituals portrayed in Seasons 1 and 2 of the popular History Channel drama ‘Vikings’ is that they are too static. Funerals happen at places, rather than between places. For while the funerals in the series attempt to convey pre-Christian cultic and ceremonial elements, and they also portray the range of material…

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