Illuminating York’s Viking Past

mediumEleanor Rosamund Barraclough features on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves programme (23 minutes 40 seconds in), talking about a new sound and light installation in York that is inspired by Old Norse and Old English writing.

It is a thousand years since King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, was named King of England in 1013. The forthcoming Illuminating York Festival marks the city’s Viking history in the form of a Son et Lumiere (sound and light show) based around Old Nordic and Anglo Saxon texts, which will be projected onto Clifford’s Tower.

In this programme, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough previews the soundscape, which is entitled Triquetra. Old Norse is a language that few people understand today, but even if we struggle to grasp its meaning we can still connect with its cadences and contours, its pitches and rhythms. Old Norse poetry and myths were meant to be performed and heard. The designer of the art installation, Karen Monid, has invoked Old Norse and Old English texts that audibly invoke whirlwinds, lightening, and fiery dragons to produce an arresting audio-visual artwork that reawakens our millennium-old linguistic roots for a present day audience.


Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough is one of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers. She will be appearing at the Free Thinking Festival at the Sage Gateshead on 26th October. Her talk is entitled “Boneless, Bloodaxe and Hairy Breeches: What Did The Vikings Ever Do For Us?” and it will examine how the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings struggled for control of England, right up to the earth-shattering events of 1066.

Illuminating York runs from 30th October to 2nd November.


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