Viking raiders stole this box. But the real surprise is what they did with it!

It’s no bigger than four decks of cards stacked one on top of the other — a tiny box raided from an Irish church. In Ireland, the box held the holy remains of a saint. What a mound of sand, some leftover nails and the box itself tell us about the Viking raiders who stole it — and what they did with it when they brought it back to Norway.


Our guests for this episode were Aina Heen-Pettersen, a PhD candidate at NTNU, and Griffin Murray, who is a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at University College Cork.

 The reliquary itself is at NTNU’s University Museum in Trondheim. You can see it virtually if you register to view the museum’s Online Collections and search for “shrine”.

 A transcript of today’s show is available here.

Here are some of the academic articles on the reliquary research:


Heen-Pettersen, A. (2019). The Earliest Wave of Viking Activity? The Norwegian Evidence Revisited. European Journal of Archaeology, 22(4), 523-541. doi:10.1017/eaa.2019.19

 Pettersen, Aina Margrethe Heen. (2018) Objects from a distant place: transformation and use of Insular mounts from Viking-Age burials in Trøndelag, Central Norway. Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History. vol. 21.

Pettersen, Aina Margrethe Heen; Murray, Griffin. (2018) An Insular Reliquary from Melhus: The Significance of Insular Ecclesiastical Material in Early Viking- Age Norway. Medieval Archaeology. vol. 62 (1).

Pettersen, Aina Margrethe Heen. (2014) Insular artefacts from Viking-Age burials from mid-Norway. A review of contact between Trøndelag and Britain and Ireland. Internet Archaeology. vol. 38.

And here are the books that are mentioned in the podcast:

Brunning, S. (2019). The Sword in Early Medieval Northern Europe: Experience, Identity, Representation. Boydell & Brewer. doi:10.1017/9781787444560

 Etting, V. (2013) The Story of the Drinking Horn: Drinking Culture in Scandinavia During the Middle Ages

Volume 21 of Publications from the National Museum / Studies in archaeology & history: Publications from the National MuseumISSN 0909-9506

 Lowenthal, D. (2015). The Past is a Foreign Country — Revisited. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139024884

A transcript of today’s show is available here.


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