A fun, fact-filled museum dedicated to teh medieval era of Viking and Norman Dublin

The Viking museum of Dublin

Suspend your Swiftian sarcasm for an hour to examine Viking-era and Norman-era Dublin at this Disneyesque mix life-sized dioramas, audio tours, and earnestly bad video acting that tries, and sometimes succeeds, to bring medieval Dublin to life.

Interactive and edutaining exhibits

A stret scene of medeival Dublin at Dublinia
A stret scene of medeival Dublin at Dublinia
The exhibits are aimed squarely at an adolescent audience so as to engage the most jaded of customers—witness the medieval outhouse, complete with seated mannequin and rather embarassing flatulant-and-relieved-moaning sound effects. (Not kidding. Ostensibly, the purpose of the display is to inform you that the Vikings used moss for toilet paper.)

There's a focus on those aspects of medieval life likely to be most appealing to kids and young teens: medieval fairs, death and diseases (the constant couching in the Black Plague room is a bit much), rime and punishments, Viking raids, etc.

You also get to try on a helmet and chain mail hood, throw "eggs" at a (mannequin) woman in a pillory, do brass rubbings, sit in a stockade, do a bit of archeology, etc.

Fun trivia

The Black Death exhibit at Dublinia
The Black Death exhibit at Dublinia.
There is much of genuine interest despite the focus on trying to appeal to younger set. In fact, perhaps because of it.

The plaques focus on intriguing tidbits and fun historical trivia (as opposed to the usual dry academics), which means you might actually learn a few things, such as:

There's plenty more, so I won't give it all away.

The Wood Quay controversy

The archaeology exhibits on the top floor at Dublinia
The archaeology exhibits on the top floor at Dublinia
On the museum's top floor is an exhibit devoted to the act and science of modern archeology, focused on the dark days in the 1970s when the Dublin city fathers decided to build a new (exceedingly ugly) headquarters for what was then called the Dublin Corporation (known since 2002 simply as Dublin City Council) at a riverside site known as Wood Quay.

In the process of excavating for the foundations at a site by the Liffey (just two blocks north of the museum), workers uncovered the heretofore lost remains of Dublin's Viking-era wooden quay, or wharf, including defensive pallisades, the remains of fourteen houses, paths and streets, and evidence of land reclamations into the river itself, all of it spanning a period roughly from 925 to 1320.

The anaerobic soil had preserved a remarkable amount of wooden and other objects intact, including furniture, toys, jewelry, toys, tool, coins, and artworks.

A display about the protests at Wood Quay, Dublin
A display about the protests at Wood Quay.
It was an unique archeological record of a lost period that had only by accident been preserved for more than ten centuries.

Despite numerous and vociferous public protests that sought to protect this precious heritage, the civic government granted scientists and academics all of four years to work a hurried dig on the site before encasing the whole thing in cement and plowing on ahead with their monstrosity of a new Civic Offices.


In the stocks at Dublinia
Your intrepid author, in the stocks at Dublinia

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in February 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.