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Museums and collections


Lynsey Coombs, Head Attendant 
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

When you think of the Vikings, you imagine, blood, beards and berserkers. You don’t think of them wearing freshly pressed items of clothing; which is why I love the whale bone plaque, thought to have been used as an ironing board during the Viking period. It has made me think again about what I know of the Viking age, and brings forward the somewhat less gory story of domestic life during this period.

Plaques similar to the one at MAA have been found buried in the graves of wealthy women all across Denmark, Sweden and other areas settled by the Vikings. They were often beautifully engraved – on ours you can still make out shallow carvings and decorative holes that have been drilled into it. This suggested it was highly valued as an item and signified the importance of the domestic role that women would have played.

For me, despite the plaque being around 1000 years old and from a time when life was totally different to what it is today, its use is so normal that it gives something that we can relate to, and a greater understanding of the people from the Viking age.