An open-air museum
in Northern memories and the English Middle Ages
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By the Anglo-Scandinavian heuristic, travelling in Scandinavia could serve as a virtual trip through time. The region was necessary, familiar, and even, at times, charming. Yet it was the past: what Britain had been and, in an increasingly evolutionary outlook on human experience, what Britain had moved far beyond. Almost like a folk museum, the Nordic region was a place where travellers could talk with people in period costumes, eat period foods, watch period handicrafts being made, buy souvenirs, and walk through a carefully preserved period landscape. The region was necessary, familiar, and even, at times, charming. Yet it was the past: what Britain had been and, in an increasingly stratified view of human experience (Evolutionary Time, according to Johannes Fabian) what Britain had moved far beyond. Clothing, religion, lifestyle, occupations, buildings, personal habits, food – all of these therefore had authentic and immediate interest as what might be called tropes of tactile historiography, potentially revealing something about moral character, whether that of the current Nordic peoples or of the Britons imagined to have evolved from them.

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