Saturday, August 30, 2008
Bog people, Rosencrantz and a fake grave
To Aarhus for the 9th international ESSE conference.'Er indoors accompanied me to this lovely city in Denmark, and we had a great time, both academically and socially. Aarhus has a very pleasant feel to it, and we certainly intend to be back in the future. You can get a flavour of what we saw from the flickr stream on the right.
Highlights included Den Gamle By, or the Old Town, where you can wander about the 17th century buildings; the buzz of the cafes and bars on Aboulevarden; and the Museum at Moesgård where the Grauballe Man is exhibited. This was a really impressive place, and the story of Grauballe Man, and other peat bog sacifices is told very clearly. The exhibit is displayed brilliantly, and I was reminded of how disappointed I was with Manchester Museum's recent Lindow Man exhibition, which focuses, for reasons that escape me, on the lives and times of the people who found it in the sixties. Seamus Heaney's poem about Grauballe Man conveys some of the impact of the sight of this man, apparently sacrificed to the gods of the bog two thousand years ago.
We also went on an organised trip to Rosenholm, castle residence of the Rosencrantz family. There's no real Hamlet conection, though the guide told us that a member of the family and his friend Guildenstern were reportedly in London in the 1590s. The family was very aristocratic, and that's reflected in the grandeur of the castle. It was occupied by the family until relatively recently, and is now run by a trust. As part of the trip we were taken to an unremarkable mound where a stone with a poem about Hamlet is located. It's not Hamlet's grave, but is roughly where it might have been, according to the 1930s councillors who wanted to drum up a little tourist custom.
Did I learn any Danish? No- everybody, but everybody, speaks excellent English. I did note the connection between the By (pronounced Bu) of Den Gamle By and the Orkney word Bu, meaning place of dwelling. On the academic front, there was much of interest, but I'll save that for another post.