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World-Tree Project

The World-Tree Project

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.

You can visit our collection website here



Aims and Objectives

Through the varied activities of exploring, raiding, trading and settling, the Vikings came to define a dynamic period of European history, characterised by huge disruption to settled
societies but also an unprecedented level of cultural contact and exchange. Because the activities of the Vikings had an impact across Europe, there is a high level of scholarly and public interest in Norse culture internationally, but also significant regional variation in the way that the Viking past is taught, studied and interpreted in a heritage context. Collaborative initiatives such as the recent Vikings exhibition curated by the National Museums of Denmark, Britain and Germany have further highlighted the transnational appeal of the Viking past. However, such initiatives have also drawn attention to the fact that this common heritage is relevant in different ways for different populations within the European Research Area, and that it needs to be translated with collective access and community-specific interaction in mind. There is currently no platform which exploits the possibilities offered by crowdsourcing to draw together information and resources
on the Vikings in a European context, and which showcases the incredible diversity of available resources, from digitised museum collections to teaching materials produced by scholars and amateur enthusiasts.

The specific project objectives are to:

  • Collect digital resources relating to the Viking past, with submissions solicited from both the general public and from targeted individuals and institutions in Ireland, the UK, Denmark and Iceland
  • Collate, describe and contextualise these submissions for scholarly and public use, using Dublin Core metadata standards
  • Create the first open-access digital archive of material relating to the teaching and study of Old Norse-Viking culture in a European context
  • Present the archive as an interpretative exhibit and map responses to Viking heritage across the regions under discussion
  • Interpret the archive via the dedicated community-collection / web-publishing platform Omeka and traditional peer-reviewed publications
  • Launch the archive with an international conference on community engagement with the Viking past

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 in a European context?
  • What are the most effective ways to collect, 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 the Viking past?
  • How do different communities respond to a shared Viking inheritance, and what are the historical and cultural factors that influence this engagement?
  •  What role do virtual archives and exhibits have as teaching resources both inside and outside the academy?

Project Team

The PI on the Project is Dr. Tom Birkett, lecturer in the School of English, UCC Person to Person Interview Tom Birkett

The Postdoctoral Researcher on the Project is Dr Roderick Dale

The World Tree Project is is 15 month project, funded by an Irish Research Council 'New Horizons' Starter Grant

English Department

Roinn an Bhéarla

O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Cork. Ireland