Read my new blog post on the Society for the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages blog .
In it I muse on how when someone says Viking funeral, the image that is recalled is of a burning ship. No one really cares whether or not this is an accurate tradition, because while the people who are saying are only cursorily meaning to refer to the Middle Ages. What they mean to refer to is the pre-existing cultural image of something going up in flames. It is more interesting to medievalists than anyone else the process of how it got from the historical act of burying their dead to the current twentieth/twenty first century idea of a 'Viking' burial.