University compiling world's largest online Viking database

Soaring interest in the Vikings has prompted an Irish university to try to set up the world’s largest online information service about them.

Dr Roderick Dale and Dr Tom Birkett, of the World-Tree Project, with Elena Coderoni and Shane Broderick, of UCC's Medieval and Renaissance Society.

UCC decided the timing was right, as the popularity of the TV series Vikings, has created huge interest in the ferocious Norsemen, who ruled the waves from 800-1066 AD. They roamed so far they left settlements all over Europe, Greenland, and even North America.

Interest in them is likely to peak with actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ role in the fifth season of Vikings.

UCC has launched the ‘World-Tree Project’ to ‘crowdsource’ as much information as it can from all over the globe, enlisting the public’s help to develop an interactive digital archive for the teaching and study of Viking culture.

Crowdsourcing has previously been used to create educational resources, from collective transcription for the ‘Letters of 1916’ project to citizen science projects. This Irish Research Council-funded project, which is based at UCC’s School of English, is inviting the public to submit everything, from translations of Norse poetry to films of Viking re-enactments, to original artwork.

Principal investigator on the project, Dr Tom Birkett, said the Vikings had never been so popular, thanks to glossy TV dramas, blockbuster exhibitions, and high-profile finds, and UCC aims to capitalise on this enthusiasm. “The time is certainly ripe for such a collection: interest in Ireland is at an all-time high, in the wake of the Battle of Clontarf millennial, and there’s a need for a resource that fulfils an appetite for more information about the Vikings,’’ Dr Birket said.

“Everyone knows that the Vikings travelled huge distances, colonising Greenland, exploring North America and leaving a legacy across Europe. What we’re hoping is that the public will help us to gather together this wealth of material, by taking photos in their local area and submitting items to the project,’’ researcher, Dr Roderick Dale, said.

The project is as interested in modern interpretations of the Vikings as in original material. “If we hope to learn anything about how people perceive and use the Viking past, we need to understand how the Vikings are being used in tourism and popular culture,’’ Dr Dale said.

‘’In this sense, a Viking brand, or a souvenir, is as interesting to us as the legacy they left in the form of literature, language, and material culture,” Dr Dale added.

The collection will be curated by researchers at UCC and developed into a series of exhibitions for everyone.

This initiative starts and ends with Vikings in the community, as a resource developed by the public for everyone to enjoy.

To follow the World-Tree Project and contribute items, log onto www.worldtreeproject.org.



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