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Time Piece

A look at everyday objects from the past

SMOOTH OPERATOR

Every man needed to look his best before going on a raid

Ironing is one of those household chores many loathe having to do. However, removing the creases from your linen is not a modern task: the Vikings did it too. This whalebone plaque, found in a burial barrow in Norway, dates to the ninth-century. Multiple uses have been suggested for the plaque, decorated with horse’s heads, including a smoothing board – a precursor to the ironing board – or a chopping board. Similar plaques have been found in the graves of rich Viking women in Ireland and Scotland.

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About BBC History Revealed

When faced with an obstacle as imposing as the Great Wall of China, most attackers would be forced to admit defeat. Not Genghis Khan. He simply went around it and invaded China by the back door. And that's not the end of his tale - we explore how the nomadic pauper created the largest contiguous land empire in the whole of human history. Plus: The spectacular falling out between Henry II and Saint Thomas Becket, how World War I birthed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, five key moments in the American Revolutionary War, and more.