Full glory of Vendel Era on display at Valsgärde exhibition

Press release
11 June 2008

Adorned helmets, magnificent swords, ceramics and everyday items. The Vendel Period, which took place before the Viking Age, takes centre stage in a new permanent exhibition at Museum Gustavianum, the University Museum of Uppsala.

These unique, untouched graves located in Valsgärde, just outside Uppsala, brings to life Swedish history during the period from the era of the Great Migration all the way up until the Middle Ages.

Vikings and the Viking Age are renowned worldwide. The new permanent exhibition on this era provides a wealth of information, gathered from many years of excavation at Valsgärde, just north of Uppsala. The area is unique because the graves, upon discovery, were completely untouched. They were then excavated between the 1920s and 1950s. Now, the entire area has been thoroughly explored and among the many discoveries is the Nordic region's finest collection of objects from the Vendel Period (AD 550-800).

"It is the ship-graves from the period that have made the burial ground so famous and that have been given a central role in the exhibition," says Karin Bengtsson, Project Manager.

Discoveries of ship-graves are quite unique - burial mounds with cremation graves are much more common. The burial site consists of a boat brought up on land and then filled with everything imaginable that one might require in the next life: bridled horses, weapons, shields, game boards, etc. In other words, there were items for practical purposes as well as pleasure. Objects from the Vendel Period are typically gold-plated and richly adorned. Graves from the Viking Age, on the other hand, typically contain more silver and much plainer weapons and objects. The exhibition is also theme-based, covering such topics as trade and contact with the outside world, as well as everyday life. There are also simpler tombs where women, children and men were buried together.

"Valsgärde was used during a very long period of time and it has been very thoroughly documented. This fantastic continuity has shown us that there was a rather conservative pattern of development with quite stable traditions," says Karin Bengtsson.

"It is really exciting to be able to show this amazing art treasure. This exhibition is the fourth such "highlight" alongside the Augsburg Art Cabinet, the Anatomical Theatre, and the museum building itself," says Head Curator, Ing-Marie Munktell.

The exhibition, "Valsgärde, the Vendel Era - the Viking Age" opens to the public on June 18th. Welcome!

Contact persons: Head Curator, Ing-Marie Munktell, tel: +46 (0) 18 471 75 78, +46 (0) 70 425 05 47 or Public Relations Officer, Anna Sonnevi (e.g., advance viewing by the press, etc.), tel: +46 (0) 18 471 71 31, +46 (0) 70 425 07 68, anna.sonnevi@gustavianum.uu.se


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