The Sleipnir

Did you wonder why this strange-looking horse has eight legs ? Sleipnir is a horse from Norse mythology : he is in fact the god Odin’s horse and is said to be the best of horses and able to run extra fast. The reason he is found at Whithorn is that this picture of him is on one of the coins found in the Viking era at Whithorn. Whithorn’s Vikings were not the fierce fighters whose raids were feared by the monks : by the time they reach Whithorn in the 9th and 10th Centuries, they are already mingled in with the Irish Celts at Dublin. They are peaceful traders and much of what was dug up from Viking Whithorn shows them making things and building small wattle homes, well insulated with bracken. They even left their gaming table behind. Things to look out for : they farmed cats for their fur which gave them warm clothing and they carved combs out of antlers !

A lot of names round Whithorn are still Norse in origin – names like Appleby and Sorbie. Their art began mingling with the local traditions in art here at Whithorn, and they developed a unique type of decoration. You can try your hand at making some Celtic interlace designs when you visit the Museum.