Page last updated at 23:51 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 00:51 UK

Conference sees Viking invasion

Ledberg runestone from the province of Östergötland in Sweden [Pic: Stefan Brink]
Experts say interest in the subject has been growing

Experts on Viking or Old Norse mythology and theory from around the world are gathering in Aberdeen for a major conference.

The University of Aberdeen's Centre for Scandinavian Studies is hosting the two-day event from Thursday.

It is thought it could change the understanding of gods, including Thor the god of thunder, and goddesses.

Historians, linguists and archaeologists will be among those taking part.

Interest in the field is said to have been growing since 2005, when Scandinavian scholars assembled in Denmark, to discuss progress in the study of Old Norse mythology.

Scholars say it has captured the public imagination.

Stefan Brink
All new evidences and reinterpretations taken together forces us to rewrite our history of this past
Prof Stefan Brink
Aberdeen's Centre for Scandinavian Studies

Prof Stefan Brink, chair in Scandinavian Studies at Aberdeen, said: "The foundation for the understanding of the Old Scandinavian pagan mythological world up to now was carved out in the 1960s - the main sources being the 13th century Icelandic Historian Snorri Sturluson's Edda and the Old Norse poems.

"Today, literary historians, and especially historians of religions, approach these literary sources with a fresh and more anthropological and sociological point of departure, hence new questions being asked and new information gained.

"It is mainly thanks to archaeology, new information and especially new ideas have arisen, such as Viking burial rituals which suggests the Vikings had no defined religion, but instead made up a set of spiritual beliefs, which were then acted out at the grave."

He explained: "All these new evidences and reinterpretations taken together forces us to rewrite our history of this past.

"We anticipate two days of intensive discussions and we are glad that we have been able to attract some of the leading international experts in the field to come to Aberdeen."

Prof Brink expressed his delight that the newly established Centre for Scandinavian Studies at the University of Aberdeen had been given the opportunity to put the centre and university on the academic map in the field of Viking and Old Norse studies.

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