For the 4th time I’ve delivered my year-long final-year special option module: Vikings. Yes, the TV series stole my name for it!

The module has explored the Viking world from an archaeological perspective, with a range of lectures on key themes followed by more specialist areas of debate and discussion addressing my interest in death and memory in the Viking world.

We complete the module with two lectures on the politics and popular culture of the Vikings in recent times, including the role of archaeology in these wide discourses on nationhood, religion, ethnicity, class, militarism and race, both in the Nordic countries and worldwide. This last week we’ve looked at 19th-21st-century popular cultures and heritage engagements with the Vikings. Next week: Vikings on film!

How apposite then when I went into my local Lidl supermarket this morning, and found an essential purchase was required to support my teaching and research on the popular reception of the Vikings! It is a giant 1 litre can of Faxe premium lager beer.

Look at all the key modern-Viking symbols and material cultures in the artwork! Key iconic dimensions of the 21st-century Viking include:

  • The winged helmet of the bearded figurehead;
  • the bearded revellers quaffing authentic Viking lager beer from tankards!;
  • the weapons: an axe, spear, sword, knife, shield;
  • the Gjermundbu helmet but with essential added horns!
  • the essential icon of the Viking Age (according to TV shows The Last Kingdom and Vikings): the cattle skull displayed on the wall of the hall;
  • a live lynx;
  • Oh, and I nearly forgot: the tattooed and nearly-naked female red-headed dagger-wielding woman dancing on the tabletop in a lynx-pelt skirt.

So this evening, to celebrate the closing weeks of a gruelling academic year, and to help sustain me through marking and research over the bank holiday weekend, it makes sense that I crack open this self-proclaimed ‘collector’s item’ for 2018: the Faxe Premium ‘Quality Lager Beer’. I’m thus indulging myself by single-handedly imbibing the contents while enjoying the artwork!