On the eve of the Viking exhibition opening at the British Museum in London, Denmark is taking on England in an international friendly. Most people expect England to win, though at half time it’s still 0-0. But having lived in Copenhagen now for almost nine months, I find myself secretly hoping that the Danes will show some Viking courage. I’m experiencing what it feels like to have split loyalties.
It’s not that I even like football! But it’s that David and Golliath thing – a country of just five million taking on a rival with a population of more than ten times that (around 53 million people live in England alone).
I suppose that’s part of the Viking ‘myth’ – that these warriors showed no fear. I visited the ‘Vikings: Life and Legend’ exhibition when it was on in Copenhagen. It was rather disappointing to learn that the real Vikings didn’t have helmets with horns or even wings.
Instead I discovered that they possessed many of the same characteristics that we associate with Denmark today, namely craftsmanship, diplomacy and even a sense of humour. If you’re a Dane with a Viking heritage, no wonder you think you’re always right!
That doesn’t mean Danes always win. Since the Vikings, Denmark has seen its size and power greatly diminished. But what I like about the people who live here is that they always give it a go – even if they know they’re unlikely to be celebrating a victory at the end.
Read more about ‘Vikings: Life and Legend’ at the British Museum here.