Coming in September 2018: Beardmore: The Viking Hoax That Rewrote History, from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Available for just $31.46 as a pre-order!
In 1936, the Royal Ontario Museum made a sensational acquisition: the contents of a Viking grave that a part-time prospector named Eddy Dodd said he had found on his mining claim east of Lake Nipigon, in northern Ontario. The relics—a broken sword, an axe head, and what was said to be a shield handle—remained on display for some twenty years, changing our understanding of when and where Europeans first reached the Americas. Only in 1956 was the discovery exposed as an unquestionable hoax, tarnishing the reputation of the celebrated museum director, Charles Trick Currelly, who had acquired the relics and insisted on their authenticity.
•Toronto Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society, University of Toronto, September 19. Free and open to all. Details.
•Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Midland, Ontario, October 10. Details to come.
•Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, October 21 (International Archaeology Day). Details to come.
•Thunder Bay Historical Society lecture series, sponsored by the Department of History, Lakehead University. At Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay, Ontario, 7-9 pm, October 23. Free and open to all. Details
Drawing on an array of archival sources, historian Douglas Hunter for the first time reconstructs the notorious hoax and its many players. Beardmore unfolds as a detective story, as the author sifts the voluminous evidence and follows the efforts of two unlikely debunkers, the high-school teacher Teddy Elliott and the government geologist T.L. Tanton, who find themselves up against Currelly and his scholarly allies. Along the way, the controversy draws in a Who’s Who of international figures in archaeology, Scandinavian studies, and the museum world, including anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, whose crusade against the find in the mid-1950s finally causes the authenticity case to collapse
Beardmore offers an unparalleled view inside a major scholarly controversy, shedding light on museum practices and the state of the historical and archaeological professions in the mid-twentieth century. It also shows how power can be exercised across professional networks, hampering efforts to arrive at the truth.
“A fascinating story about the alleged discovery of a Viking grave near Beardmore, Ontario, in the 1930s, and the ongoing controversy over its authenticity. Douglas Hunter uses the whole story as an entry point into thinking about disciplinary power, about what stories matter, whose voices count, and to whom.” – Christopher Dummitt, Trent University, and author of Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life
“Douglas Hunter gives voice to a large, international cast of characters – both the supporters who believed a Viking grave had been found in Beardmore in 1931 and the naysayers who warned of a hoax. Eye-witness testimony, expert opinions, hearsay, and more, preserved in an extensive evidentiary record, cast light on the ins and outs and possible motives animating a coup-turned-scandal that threatened professionals’ reputations and attracted scrutiny into the 1950s.” – Barnett Richling, University of Winnipeg, and author of In Twilight and in Dawn: A Biography of Diamond Jenness
Beardmore: The Viking Hoax That Rewrote History. By Douglas Hunter. McGill-Queen’s University Press | 520 Pages | 6 x 9 | 18 photos, 2 maps | ISBN 9780773554665 | September 2018 | Formats: Cloth | $34.95
Reviewers, bloggers and podcasters: To secure a review copy, contact Jacqueline Davis at McGill-Queen’s University Press.