The World-Tree Project is the first large-scale community collection initiative in the field of Old Norse-Icelandic and Viking Studies. The Project aims to create an interactive digital archive for the teaching and study of Norse and Viking cultures that will be of benefit to both the scholarly community and the wider public. Through community collection, the World-Tree Project will bring together the incredible diversity of resources on the Vikings – ranging from digitised museum collections to reports on living history events – and use this material to create interpretative exhibitions, teaching aids and interactive resources. We will also use the material we collect to begin to map responses to Norse and Viking heritage in Europe and to test new models for heritage engagement and knowledge exchange. The archive will be launched with an international conference on community engagement with the Vikings.
The Project is based in the School of English at University College Cork, and is funded by an Irish Research Council ‘New Horizons’ Grant.
Central Research Questions
- How can we overcome barriers of language, culture and access to create interdisciplinary resources that reflect the diversity of responses to the Viking Age?
- What are the most effective ways to translate and exhibit resources on the Viking Age for different end-users?
- In what ways can digital technologies and crowdsourcing facilitate knowledge exchange, and revolutionise our study of and engagement with Old Norse and Viking cultures?
- How do different communities respond to a shared inheritance, and what are the cultural and historical factors that influence this engagement?
The majority of material in this archive will be collected from members of the public, as well as institutions such as libraries and museums, scholars, organisations and interest groups. The material that contributors donate to the archive will then be made available for use by the wider community. Every item – whether a high-quality image of a digitised manuscript, or a photo of a Viking site – will form a valuable part of the collection.
When you contribute an item, it won’t just sit in the archive. We will describe (and in certain cases translate) the item; tag and contextualise it so that it is connected to different branches of the collection; and bring these resources together to create interactive exhibitions, teaching packs and educational resources. Every item that is submitted will help the World-Tree to grow, and play its part in creating a resource that can be used by everybody.
What Are We Collecting?
We are collecting all items relating to Norse and Viking cultures, including modern reinterpretations of the Viking Age (generally taken to span the late eighth to the late eleventh century). In addition to primary resources (such as Viking sites and Old Norse texts) we are also interested in collecting items relating to the reception of the Vikings, including the use of Norse imagery in branding, illustrations of Norse mythology, and reconstructions.
The legacy of Norse and Viking cultures can be seen in everything from place-names and impressive archaeological remains, to language literature and popular culture. This legacy, and the history of public interest in Viking heritage, is important to catalogue and preserve.
The item that you submit may be an image of a site, object, manuscript, event or reconstruction. It may be a document such as a reading list, teaching material, a translation, or a piece of fiction. It may be a video of a heritage event, an audio recording of a reading or recital, a link to a database or website, an app, an article, or original artwork.
You may submit material in English or any of the Scandinavian languages. We shall ensure that anything submitted in a language other than English is translated to make it more accessible to others.
You will retain copyright over everything submitted to the archive, but by contributing you also agree to let others use your material for educational purposes. By doing so, you are helping to create a resource that will benefit everyone.
For more information see ‘How to Contribute‘
The Project Team
The Principal investigator on the Project is Dr Tom Birkett, lecturer in the School of English, UCC. Tom lectures on Old English and Old Norse literature, and has been involved in several leading public engagement projects in the field of ONVS, including Project Woruldhord, the Orkney Viking Heritage Project, Languages, Myths and Finds, and the translation network ‘Eald to New’.
We are lucky enough to have Dr Roderick Dale working as the IRC ‘New Horizons’ Postdoctoral Researcher on the project. Dr Dale had a career as an archaeologist before returning to academia to complete an MA in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies (2001) and a PhD in Viking Studies (2014) at the University of Nottingham. His thesis was entitled Berserkir: A re-examination of the phenomenon in literature and life. The book he co-wrote with Marjolein Stern, The Viking Experience, is currently being revised for a second edition.