Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Study to Viking Age ?

On 11/04/13 4:33 PM, Shayne  wrote:
I am an aspiring student who is interested in the Viking Age world and culture and wish to attend a University in hopes to study the Vikings and even become an archeologist. I would like to one day work in a Viking Age museum, either doing research or helping to further ongoing research.

Big Problem !

I talked to a couple of people I know (senior students, working archaeologists) at an demonstration DARC just did at the Royal Ontario Museum last weekend. I got pretty much the same response from everyone:

Consider a general archaeology undergraduate program.
- There are a very limited few institutions that have special programs that relate to Norse studies. Often these will be entirely language based, and usually only offered at a senior under grad or worse post grad (masters) level. Even in North America, this may mean major universities (distance and expense). University of Toronto is one such btw.
- Try to find a university / college that might have some individual instructors with a personal interest in Northern European / Norse research. Hope you can link up with one of those. (Kevin Smith out of Brown in Rhode Island is one I know of)
- Take a look at schools that have some kind of experimental archaeology program. (Bill Schindler at Washington College in Maryland is one I know of)

A number of people suggested that if your true desire is to study Norse history / Archaeology, you might even consider looking to a school in England or even Scandinavia.

In North America, there is only ONE historic site / living history museum. That is L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC. The interpretive program there only employs about 6 individuals. This is short season (June through September), and realistically, those jobs go to locals, most of which have been with the program for at least a decade or more.
There is only one fully functioning 'historic entertainment' VA site that I am aware of. That is Norstead - right next to LAM. The staff there fits the same restrictions.
There may be some other fledgling private 'villages' in operation, mainly in the USA. Over the years I have heard a lot of bold plans, but honestly, have never seen any of those result in a stable working situation.

So the long and short is that useful paths inside North America are quite limited. In Scandinavia particularly, there are a large number of living history sites with interpretive programs. These range in size and complexity. Some do offer volunteer programs, some even training possibilities (thinking of the Ribe Viking Centre for the first and Lejre Experimental Centre for the second).

I wish I could offer better advise. I came up via 1800's living history museums in the late 70's and 80's. Back then there was no such thing as education as a historic interpreter. I boldly self promoted myself to get the work designing the Encampment program for Parks Canada at LAM. Its easy to be considered the specialist - when you are the ONLY one in the field! So for me, it has been over 30 years of acquired working experience, rather than formal training.

Talking to Dr Birgitta Wallace, at LAM in 2010 (photo - Paul Halasz)

Hope this is some (limited ) help. For myself, I would say 'just do it'...

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