Beardmore: The Viking Hoax That Rewrote History (Carleton Library)

April 8, 2021
Beardmore: The Viking Hoax That Rewrote History (Carleton Library)

In 1936, long before the discovery of the Viking settlement atL'Anse aux Meadows, the Royal Ontario Museum made a sensationalacquisition: the contents of a Viking grave that prospector EddyDodd said he had found on his mining claim east of Lake Nipigon.The relics remained on display for two decades, challengingunderstandings of when and where Europeans first reached theAmericas. In 1956 the discovery was exposed as an unquestionablehoax, tarnishing the reputation of the museum director, CharlesTrick Currelly, who had acquired the relics and insisted on theirauthenticity. Drawing on an array of archival sources, DouglasHunter reconstructs the notorious hoax and its many players.Beardmore unfolds like a detective story as the author siftsthrough the voluminous evidence and follows the efforts of twounlikely debunkers, high-school teacher Teddy Elliott andgovernment geologist T.L. Tanton, who find themselves up againstCurrelly and his scholarly allies. Along the way, the controversydraws in a who's who of international figures in archaeology,Scandinavian studies, and the museum world, includinganthropologist Edmund Carpenter, whose mid-1950s crusade againstthe find's authenticity finally convinced scholars and curatorsthat the grave was a fraud. Shedding light on museum practices andthe state of the historical and archaeological professions in themid-twentieth century, Beardmore offers an unparalleled view insidea major museum scandal to show how power can be exercised acrossprofessional networks and hamper efforts to arrive at thetruth.