£850,000 study begins into Viking influences

THE Viking influence on Orkney and Shetland is to be investigated as part of a major international study over the next three years.

An 850,000 funding award has been given to the project involving Dr Alexandra Sanmark, from the Centre for Nordic Studies, part of the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands, in collaboration with colleagues from the universities of Oslo, Vienna and Durham.

The Humanities in Europe Research Awards scheme will fund an investigation into the role of Norse governing assemblies – or "things" – in the creation, consolidation and maintenance of collective identities and kingdoms in medieval Northern Europe.

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The Centre of Nordic Studies, which has campuses in Kirkwall in Orkney and Scalloway in Shetland, is to receive 118,000 towards archaeological fieldwork on outdoor parliament and court sites in the islands, as well as workshops and an exhibition planned for next year.

Orkney and Shetland were ruled by Norsemen for about 600 years and the Viking culture is still apparent through the names of island people, places and streets as well as festivals such as Up-Helly-Aa.