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Look, the old tenants left some stuff behind

This place has had so many previous owners, and they left so much of their junk behind. Europe, I mean. It’s tough for an American to take.

F’rinstance. In 1962, five Viking ships were dug up in the Danish town of Skuldelev, so they built a museum to hold them in the nearby city of Roskilde. In 1997, they went to enlarge the museum and accidentally dug up nine more Viking ships in the parking lot.

I know, right?

Anyway, one of them was the longest Viking ship ever found. It’s about a hundred feet long, and there’s maybe twenty percent of it left. Curators boxed the thing in flat-packs, like Ikea furniture, and shipped the whole business over here for a big show about Vikings in the British Museum.

They put a £135M extension on the place to house this (and displays like it). We saw it on TV the other night; it’s way cool. The whole end of the building opens so they can drive big objects right in.

On display with the ship is the Vale of York hoard, a collection of Viking silver found by father and son metal detectorists in a field in Yorkshire in 2007.

There’s a lot of that going on these days, too. Amateur metal detectoring leading to big finds, I mean. And for once, the government got wise and works with detectorists through the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Most detectorists know to stop everything when they make a good find and call in the experts.

By law, individuals have to report precious metal finds to a government officer. But here’s the smart part: if any museums want the artifacts, they have to offer the finder a fair market value. So looting is, like, nonexistent. It’s like having a giant voluntary army of archeologists combing the countryside.

If you’re at all interested in this stuff (and you probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t), any of the links above will take you to hours of thrilling geekery.

March 31, 2014 — 9:15 pm
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