08 November 2023
An intensive week to develop an outreach offer
During the Autumn holiday (9-12 October), the bachelor students in archaeology at UiT visited Lofotr Viking Museum. Their goal was to work in teams to develop an outreach programme. The 16 students take the course, Museum Practice, with the professor and archaeologist Gørill Nilsen, who participated in the archaeological excavations at Borg in 2002. At Lofotr Viking Museum you can experience the Viking Age in different ways. For example, you can learn about the chieftain in Borg and life in the Viking Age through games, activities, and taste experiences, not just by visiting the archaeological exhibition. The outreach offers are diverse and tailored to different age groups. The task given to the students was to produce an outreach offer to be presented to the museum’s guests for one day. The main challenge was to create an authentic and engaging Viking Age dissemination programme and afterwards be hosts at the museum.
Preparation and guidance
The program for the week was rich and varied. On the first day, the students had an in-depth tour with museum director Marion Fjelde Larsen and curator Elisabeth Rosa Brusin. The main focus was on Borg as a centre of power for several centuries, and the political role that the chieftain’s seat at Borg had in the Viking Age in relation to Lofoten, the Nordic countries, and the rest of Europe. Most important were the marine resources and trade, and therefore emphasis was also placed on the boathouse site around Borgpollen.
The following day, Elin Tinuviel Torbergsen gave a presentation of her PhD project, about basic exhibitions and upgrading of dissemination services via digital solutions. Afterwards, the students worked independently to develop ideas for their task. They received guidance and feedback on the academic content from Gørill, Marion, Elin and Elisabeth.
After a long day of developing ideas, there was a cozy Viking feast in the evening. In the Chieftain’s House there were dancing, music, and good food with the chieftain and the lady of the house at Borg.
Hosts for one day
On Wednesday, the students were in full swing getting ready for the big day when they were to present and perform what they have prepared for the visitors..
The students were divided into 6 stations, each with different tasks. Two students greeted visitors, explained the rebus race and handed out maps of the museum. One group worked as gatekeepers and asked the guests questions about the Viking Age, to find out if one was friend or foe. In the feast hall, the lady of the house and chieftain engaged the audience in a rebus run with runes. They were helped by Odin and hindered by Loki. In the living quarters, the exhibit was about Viking jewellery, Viking costumes, and textile production, while in the byre the participants could write or carve runes on sticks. Rune sticks mostly come from medieval Bryggen (Bergen). However, the students were good at contextualizing this and explaining the various runic “alphabets” that were used from approx. 100s until the Middle Ages.
Outside the Chieftain’s House, guests could challenge the god Thor in two physical activities: horseshoe throwing and tug-of-war. It was a lot of fun for both visitors and students. In the end, all participants received a diploma stating that they were real Vikings.