Viking Age House

18 Sep

Kiran Srinivasan

One of the most intriguing exhibits at the National Museum of Ireland was the “Viking Ireland” exhibit. The ancient music, low-lit mannequins, and skeletal figures gave the whole room a mysterious ambiance. The lives of the Irish Vikings were captivating to me since they settled on the south bank of the River Liffey, which is where I am located in Dublin. After being exiled, the second settlements of the Vikings were a walled town that later became Viking Age Dublin. The representation of the Dublin Viking Age house was very interesting. It was a rectangular building with low walls and a doorway on each end. There were two raised side areas that were most likely used as beds or seats. A stone hearth in the middle of the long living area was probably used to keep warm in the winter. The floor was represented with gravel, straw, and stone.

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This was a great representation of Viking Ireland because it showed how the resources were used in this time period. The wood was used as framework for the house as well as floorboards. The house shows that the doorways could have been paved with stones or covered with wooden planks. Stone was also used in the production of grinding stones and whetstones (a sharpening stone used for knives and other cutting tools), which were widely imported. The walls of the houses in Viking Age Dublin were probably covered with cow dung or mud.

It was fascinating to see the inside of the Dublin Viking Age House, but also note-worthy was the representation of the Dublin Viking Age settlement as a whole. The houses were arranged in clusters with paths meandering through them. While Viking settlers established towns in the 10th Century, Irish society was overwhelmingly rural, and a mixed farming economy was practiced in the countryside.

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Overall, our trip to the National Museum of Ireland was a captivating experience. I learned about one of the earliest settlements in Ireland. I know there is much more for me to discover about Irish history!

References:

http://heritagecouncil.ie/unpublished_excavations/section15.html

http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/list/exhibition-details-vikingireland.aspx

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/a-history-of-ireland-in-100-objects-by-fintan-o-toole-1.1333968?page=2

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