The Last Kingdom and Vikings defended by expert over historical inaccuracy

Vikings: The Rise & Fall trailer

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The Viking Age continues to be one of the most fascinating periods in history with new discoveries constantly being made. A new documentary series, Vikings: The Rise and Fall, focuses on the ferocious expanse and integration of Scandinavians into cultures and societies from the 8th to 11th century. Professor Søren Michael Sindbæk spoke exclusively to about how historical dramas like Vikings and The Last Kingdom provide a different kind of insight.

Vikings: The Rise and Fall looks at both sagas and archaeology to dispel and embrace various myths about the Viking Age.

World-renowned experts from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, the UK and US reveal groundbreaking new finds.

The series also includes dramatic reconstructions as a unique way of understanding life during this time.

Søren Sindbæk spoke to about historical dramas like Vikings on Amazon Prime Video and The Last Kingdom on Netflix.

He said these dramas are not supposed to provide the same level of historical insight as factual documentaries.

Defending the shows, which have both been called out for including historical inaccuracies, he said: “They are not accurate when you look at it from an archaeological perspective.

“But that is not how you are supposed to look at those kinds of things.

“If you did make them accurate in terms of [for example] dress and hairstyle, the feeling you would get as a modern audience would be quite wrong.

“A modern drama is always about creating a feeling and I think in terms of the feeling, that epic feeling of what it’s like to live outside a state and to live in that kind of society might actually be coming through in a convincing way.

“And that’s also, I think, one of the appeals for modern audiences in seeing drama like this.”

Both shows have now come to an end, with The Last Kingdom finishing with season five earlier this year.

However, they remain two of the most influential historical dramas, with the Viking Age continuing to appeal to new viewers.

Discussing why this time period is one of the most popular, Professor Sindbæk added: “In modern society, the Viking Age probably has an important message for people.

“We tend, because of the way the modern world works, to link back to what we call ‘the greats’.

“The Vikings were something different, they are a group that are pretty well-described in late prehistoric or early historic northern Europe, and in many ways culturally very alien.

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“But also very recognisable to us, and nobody can read about the Vikings and not feel some affinity.

“This is strange because why would you feel affinity with somebody who is ruthless? Everybody can find something there.”

Through sagas and memoirs, audiences are able to recognise how the Vikings built their own faith.

The expert added: “That’s something that strikes us, that people in the past could do so and we today can do so.”

He also opened up about the amount of “drama” that took place during the Viking Age.

He said: “The stories about the Viking Age are not about the everyday humdrum.

“There are big battles, there are cultural clashes, it’s a clash between religions and big cultural systems and at the same time it’s this very personal period.”

Discussing some of the discoveries made during filming for the documentary series, he said new insight into the Great Heathen Army fascinated him.

The Great Army included a group of warriors that operated in England in the 860.

A mass grave was found in Repton which contains the skeletons of warriors from this army.

Vikings: The Rise and Fall airs on National Geographic at 9pm on Tuesday, June 21.

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