News: Fellow follows in the footsteps of tenth century Viking in new book
Published: 9 Nov 2017
Ever considered following a Viking explorer’s journey from Norway to Iceland to Greenland? That’s what Alexandra Fitzsimmons did with her Churchill Fellowship.
She chronicles her exploits in ‘Looking for Erik: Adventures in Cold Places’, a new book published by Caper Press. You can order your copy from 16th November here.
Alexandra, a recent archaeology student, began her Fellowship feeling well-equipped to write stories of the past – life in turf houses, life in Viking boats. But as she travelled, and explored, and imagined, it became clear that the present and the past were more entangled than that.
“I met people so different from myself. I met a man who thought it was easy to cross the Atlantic in a Viking ship – who had built a Viking ship to do just that. I met people who find it more natural to eat seal than to eat beef. Where did my assumptions about an ordinary diet come from? Was I more distant from Erik in time (a thousand years of history) or in geography? And what was behind my need to follow a Viking across the North Atlantic anyway? What logic had led me to think I had anything in common with this wild Norse explorer?”
As she follows Erik across the north, Alexandra falls into fjords, delves into Nordic sagas, eats puffin and explores ruined settlements. Her quest is to discover whether a 25-year-old woman from London can become as free as a Viking who lived a thousand years before her.
“As I explored, and wrote, and overcame the stupid small disasters that are inevitable on a journey like this, I discovered what I suspect WCMT understood all along: that sinking deep into another cultural context changes your perspective forever.”