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The Viking Way
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Programme III: 'Inform, Educate and Entertain' goes out at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday 16 November 2005
This programme looks at what the Vikings did to relax - their love of board games, insult poems and their dramatic Norse Sagas.  Presented by David Aaronovith.
Inform, Educate and Entertain
16 November 2005
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The Pitney Brooch; An entwined animal and snake in combat. (c) The British Museum
The Pitney Brooch
Anglo-Scandinavian, 2nd half of the 11th century AD Found in Pitney, Somerset, England.
An entwined animal and snake in combat. (c) The British Museum.
Programme III: 'Inform, Educate and Entertain' 
After a hard day's pillaging and plunder, what did a Viking do to relax?

Not surprisingly, alcohol featured a lot in their social activities - and picking a fight with a rival whilst emptying the goblets, was a commonplace occurrence.  However, these were not just drunken brawls - for Norse society had a great love of poetry, and Viking warriors were practised at Insult-Poems: challenging eachother to aggressive poetic contests, each stanza followed by yet another drink... 

Bone, antler and ivory game pieces on fragment of hnefatafl board.

The competitive element also emerged in a love of board-games, which have been described in such detail in Norse Sagas, that historians have a clear idea of the rules and stratagems used to play them.

However, Norse society's chief creative contribution to the world, is the Saga.  These secular narratives were filled with drama, action and adventure - and were as gripping for their audience as soaps are today. Not only did they provide massive entertainment, but they also demonstrated the Viking moral code: of bravery and loyalty, honour and vengeance, and the importance of kith and kin...

Kai Johansen's carving of Thor fishing for the Midgard serpant.

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The Viking Way
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David Aaronovitch
Sue CookDavid Aaronovitch is a broadcaster and journalist. Having been editor of On The Record, he moved onto presenting a number of programmes, including On Air, The Argument and Radio 4's Copy Snatchers.

In 2002 he presented the acclaimed series The Roman Way that looked at life in the Roman Empire and followed this in 2004 with The Norman Way. In 2006 he will be turning his attention to Anglo Saxons in The Saxon Way. 

He also writes regularly for The Times.
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