Norse code

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The Independent Culture
Picture an assault craft that's sturdy enough to travel across the North Atlantic, but small enough to sail up a shallow river. It's superbly armed, and the crack troops on the vessel have a mythic status that gives them a psychological edge. No, it's not the ship of tomorrow, it's the ship of yesterday. The Vikings, in their time, were at the cutting edge of maritime technology. A French monk said of them: "Never before was such a horrible act perpetrated in England by these pagan barbarians. The way they sailed on the seas was impossible." Fuelled only by herrings and lager, the ships enabled their sailors to settle the lion's share of northern Europe. The Danish Cultural Institute in association with the Viking Ship Museum of Roskilde, brings the highly successful exhibition, "The Viking Ships" (it is booked to tour until 1998), which highlights the most recent research on these craft, to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum from 23 January. The museum points out that it wasn't all rape and pillage. Many Vikings were merchants or peaceful settlers, even if we only remember them for the fighting that was, quite literally, their idea of heaven.

RICHARD TURNER

Welsh Maritime Museum, Cardiff Bay, Bute Street, Cardiff (01222 481919) 23 Jan to 21 Apr

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