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Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
(present-day
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
and
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
), who from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries raided,
pirated Copyright infringement (at times referred to as piracy) is the use of Copyright#Scope, works protected by copyright without permission for a usage where such permission is required, thereby infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the cop ...

pirated
,
trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of r ...

trade
d and settled throughout parts of Europe.Roesdahl, pp. 9–22. They also voyaged as far as the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
,
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
, and
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
. In some of the countries they raided and settled in, this period is popularly known as the
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
, and the term "Viking" also commonly includes the inhabitants of the Scandinavian homelands as a collective whole. The Vikings had a profound impact on the
early medieval The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
history of Scandinavia The history of Scandinavia is the history of the geographical region of Scandinavia and its peoples. The region is in northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower defini ...
, the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
,
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...
, and
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
. Expert sailors and navigators aboard their characteristic
longship Longships were a type of specialised Scandinavian warships that have a long history in Scandinavia, with their existence being archaeologically proven and documented from at least the fourth century BC. Originally invented and used by the Norsem ...
s, Vikings established Norse settlements and governments in the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...
, the
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands ( ), or simply the Faroes or Faeroes ( fo, Føroyar ; da, Færøerne ), are a North Atlantic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of is ...

Faroe Islands
,
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
,
Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an autonomous territory An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administra ...
,
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...
, the
Baltic coast
Baltic coast
, and along the
Dnieper } The Dnieper or Dnipro () is one of the major list of rivers of Europe, rivers of Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills near Smolensk, Russia, before flowing through Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. It is the longest river of Ukraine and ...
and
Volga trade route In the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe si ...
s in what is now
European Russia European Russia (russian: Европейская Россия, russian: европейская часть России, label=none) is the western and most populated part of Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the ...

European Russia
,
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...

Belarus
and
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
, where they were also known as
Varangians The Varangians (; non, Væringjar; gkm, Βάραγγοι, ''Várangoi'';Varangian
" Online Etymol ...
. The
Normans The Normans (Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of N ...

Normans
, Norse-Gaels,
Rus' people 312px, upright=2.2, Map showing the major Varangian trade routes: the the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks (in red) and the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks (in purple). Other trade routes of the 8th to the 11th centuri ...
,
Faroese Faroese ( ) or Faroish ( ) may refer to anything pertaining to the Faroe Islands, e.g.: *the Faroese language * the Faroese people {{Disambiguation Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
and
Icelanders Icelanders ( is, Íslendingar) are a North Germanic ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set ...
emerged from these Norse colonies. The Vikings also voyaged to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...
, and
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...

Arabia
. They were the first Europeans to reach North America, briefly settling in Newfoundland (
Vinland Vinland, Vineland or Winland ( non, Vínland) was an area of coastal North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the no ...
). While spreading Norse culture to foreign lands, they simultaneously brought home slaves, concubines and foreign cultural influences to Scandinavia, profoundly influencing the genetic and historical development of both. During the Viking Age the Norse homelands were gradually consolidated from smaller kingdoms into three larger kingdoms: Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Vikings spoke
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
and made inscriptions in
runes Runes are the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet), a written element of an alphabet * Letterform, a typographic term for alphabetical letter shapes * Rehearsal letter in an orchestral s ...

runes
. For most of the period they followed the
Old Norse religion Old Norse Religion, also known as Norse Paganism, is the most common name for a branch of Germanic religion which developed during the Proto-Norse period, when the North Germanic peoples North Germanic peoples, commonly called Scandinavians ...
, but later became Christians. The Vikings had their own
laws Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
,
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...
and architecture. Most Vikings were also
farmer A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exe ...

farmer
s,
fishermen A fisher or fisherman is someone who captures fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming t ...

fishermen
, craftsmen and traders. Popular conceptions of the Vikings often strongly differ from the complex, advanced civilisation of the Norsemen that emerges from
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
and historical sources. A romanticised picture of Vikings as
noble savage#REDIRECT Noble savage A noble savage is a literary stock character who embodies the concept of the indigene, outsider, wild human, an " other" who has not been "corrupted" by civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any comple ...
s began to emerge in the 18th century; this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century
Viking revival The Viking revival was a movement reflecting new interest in, and appreciation for Viking medieval history and culture. Interest was reawakened in the late 18th and 19th centuries, often with added heroic overtones typical of that Romantic era. ...
.Johnni Langer, "The origins of the imaginary viking", ''Viking Heritage Magazine'', Gotland University/Centre for Baltic Studies. Visby (Sweden), n. 4, 2002. Perceived views of the Vikings as violent, piratical heathens or as intrepid adventurers owe much to conflicting varieties of the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century. Current popular representations of the Vikings are typically based on cultural clichés and stereotypes, complicating modern appreciation of the Viking legacy. These representations are rarely accurate—for example, there is no evidence that they wore
horned helmet Horned helmets were worn by many people around the world. Headpieces mounted with animal horns or replicas were also worn, as in the Mesolithic The Mesolithic ( Greek: μέσος, ''mesos'' "middle"; λίθος, ''lithos'' "stone") is the Ol ...

horned helmet
s, a costume element that first appeared in Wagnerian opera.


Etymology

The etymology of "Viking" is uncertain. In the Middle Ages it came to mean Scandinavian pirate or raider. The Anglo-Saxons regarded the word ''wicing'' as synonymous with pirate and in several Old English sources ''wicing'' is translated into the Latin ''pirata''. It was not seen as a reference to nationality, with other terms such as ''Norðmenn'' (Northmen) and ''Dene'' (Danes) being used for that. In
Asser Asser (died 909) was a Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** ...
's ''Life of Alfred'' the Danes are referred to as ''pagani'' (pagans), but this is usually translated as 'Vikings', in modern English, which some regard as a mistranslation. The earliest reference to ''wicing'' in English sources is from the '' Épinal-Erfurt glossary'' which dates to around 700, whereas the first known attack by Viking raiders in England at Lindisfarne was in 793. The origin of ''wicing'' is disputed, with some believing that it is a loan-word from Old Norse.Etymology Online. Viking. 2014 The form occurs as a personal name on some Swedish
runestones A runestone is typically a raised stone with a inscription, but the term can also be applied to inscriptions on boulders and on . The tradition began in the 4th century and lasted into the 12th century, but most of the runestones date from the ...
. The stone of Tóki víking (Sm 10) was raised in memory of a local man named Tóki who got the name Tóki víking (Toki the Viking), presumably because of his activities as a Viking. The Gårdstånga Stone (DR 330) uses the phrase "''Þeʀ drængaʀ waʀu wiða unesiʀ i wikingu''" (''These valiant men were widely renowned on viking raids''), referring to the stone's dedicatees as Vikings. The Västra Strö 1 Runestone has an inscription in memory of a Björn, who was killed when "''on a viking raid''". In Sweden there is a locality known since the Middle Ages as '' Vikingstad''. The Bro Stone (U 617) was raised in memory of Assur who is said to have protected the land from Vikings (''Saʀ vaʀ vikinga vorðr með Gæiti''). There is little indication of any negative connotation in the term before the end of the Viking Age. Other theories suggest that its origin is from the Old English ''wicing'' and Old Frisian ''wizing'' that are almost 300 years older, and probably derive from ''wic'' itself related to the Latin ''vicus'' "village, habitation". Another less popular theory is that ''víking'' from the feminine ''vík'', meaning "creek, inlet, small bay". Various theories have been offered that the word ''viking'' may be derived from the name of the historical
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...

Norwegian
district of Víkin, meaning "a person from ''Víkin''". There are a few major problems with this theory. People from the Viken area were not called "Viking" in Old Norse manuscripts, but are referred to as ''víkverir'', ('Vík dwellers'). In addition, that explanation could explain only the masculine (''víkingr'') and not the feminine (''víking''), which is a serious problem because the masculine is easily derived from the feminine but hardly the other way around. Another etymology that gained support in the early twenty-first century, derives ''Viking'' from the same root as Old Norse ''vika'', f. 'sea mile', originally 'the distance between two shifts of rowers', from the root *weik or *wîk, as in the Proto-Germanic verb *wîkan, 'to recede'. This is found in the Proto-Nordic verb *wikan, 'to turn', similar to Old Icelandic ''víkja'' (''ýkva'', ''víkva'') 'to move, to turn', with well-attested nautical usages. Linguistically, this theory is better attested, and the term most likely predates the use of the sail by the
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
of North-Western Europe, because the
Old Frisian Old Frisian was a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticl ...
spelling ''Witsing'' or ''Wīsing'' shows that the word was pronounced with a palatal k and thus in all probability existed in North-Western Germanic before that palatalisation happened, that is, in the 5th century or before (in the western branch). In that case, the idea behind it seems to be that the tired rower moves aside for the rested rower on the thwart when he relieves him. The Old Norse feminine ''víking'' (as in the phrase ''fara í víking'') may originally have been a sea journey characterised by the shifting of rowers, i.e. a long-distance sea journey, because in the pre-sail era, the shifting of rowers would distinguish long-distance sea journeys. A ''víkingr'' (the masculine) would then originally have been a participant on a sea journey characterised by the shifting of rowers. In that case, the word Viking was not originally connected to Scandinavian seafarers but assumed this meaning when the Scandinavians begun to dominate the seas. In
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
, the word ''wicing'' appears first in the
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression ...
poem, ''
Widsith "Widsith" ( ang, Widsið), also known as "The Traveller's Song", is an Old English poem of 143 lines. It survives only in the ''Exeter Book The Exeter Book, Exeter Cathedral Library MS 3501, also known as the Codex Exoniensis, is a 10th-centu ...
'', which probably dates from the 9th century. In Old English, and in the history of the archbishops of
Hamburg-Bremen The Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen (german: Fürsterzbistum Bremen), also Archbishopric of Bremen (german: Erzstift Bremen or Erzbistum Bremen), — not to be confused with the former Archdiocese of Bremen, and the modern Archdiocese of Hamburg, ...
written by
Adam of Bremen Adam of Bremen ( la, Adamus Bremensis; german: Adam von Bremen) (before 1050 – 12 October 1081/1085) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or peopl ...
in about 1070, the term generally referred to Scandinavian pirates or raiders. As in the Old Norse usages, the term is not employed as a name for any people or culture in general. The word does not occur in any preserved
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
texts. One theory made by the
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
er Örnolfur Kristjansson is that the key to the origins of the word is "''wicinga cynn''" in Widsith, referring to the people or the race living in
Jórvík Scandinavian York (referred to at the time as ) or Danish York is a term used by historians for the south of Northumbria Northumbria (; ang, Norþanhymbra Rīċe; la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum) was an early medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom in ...
(York, in the ninth century under control by Norsemen), ''Jór-Wicings'' (note, however, that this is not the origin of ''Jórvík''). The word ''Viking'' was introduced into Modern English during the 18th-century Viking revival, at which point it acquired romanticised heroic overtones of "
barbarian A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bioc ...

barbarian
warrior" or
noble savage#REDIRECT Noble savage A noble savage is a literary stock character who embodies the concept of the indigene, outsider, wild human, an " other" who has not been "corrupted" by civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any comple ...
. During the 20th century, the meaning of the term was expanded to refer to not only seaborne raiders from Scandinavia and other places settled by them (like
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
and the
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands ( ), or simply the Faroes or Faeroes ( fo, Føroyar ; da, Færøerne ), are a North Atlantic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of is ...

Faroe Islands
), but also any member of the culture that produced said raiders during the period from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries, or more loosely from about 700 to as late as about 1100. As an adjective, the word is used to refer to ideas, phenomena, or artefacts connected with those people and their cultural life, producing expressions like ''Viking age'', ''Viking culture'', ''Viking art'', ''Viking religion'', ''Viking ship'' and so on. In Eastern Europe, of which parts were ruled by a Norse elite, ''víkingr'' came be perceived as a positive concept meaning "hero" in the Russian borrowed form ()."витязь". "Vasmer's Etymological Dictionary" online
/ref>


Other names

The Vikings were known as ''Ascomanni'' ("ashmen") by the Germans for the
ash Ash or ashes are the solid remnants of fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because th ...

ash
wood of their boats, ''Dubgail and Finngail'' ( "dark and fair foreigners") by the Irish, ''Lochlannaich'' ("people from the land of lakes") by the
Gaels The Gaels ( ; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a g ...

Gaels
, ''Dene'' (''Dane'') by the Anglo-Saxons and ''Northmonn'' by the Frisians. The scholarly consensus is that the
Rus' people 312px, upright=2.2, Map showing the major Varangian trade routes: the the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks (in red) and the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks (in purple). Other trade routes of the 8th to the 11th centuri ...
originated in what is currently coastal eastern Sweden around the eighth century and that their name has the same origin as
Roslagen 300px, Folklands in Svitjod (Uppland and Gästrikland) The coastline has changed considerably in the last millennium due to post-glacial rebound. Originally there was a sea bay coming in from the north all the way into Uppsala. Roslagen is th ...

Roslagen
in
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
(with the older name being ''
Roden Roden is a name of Germanic origin, originally meaning "red valley" or an anglicization of the Gaelic name "O'Rodain". It may refer to: Places *Roden, Bavaria, a town in the Main-Spessart district of Bavaria, Germany *Roden, Drenthe, a town in th ...
''). According to the prevalent theory, the name ''Rus'', like the Proto-Finnic name for
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
(''*Ruotsi''), is derived from an
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
term for "the men who row" (''rods-'') as rowing was the main method of navigating the rivers of Eastern Europe, and that it could be linked to the Swedish coastal area of
Roslagen 300px, Folklands in Svitjod (Uppland and Gästrikland) The coastline has changed considerably in the last millennium due to post-glacial rebound. Originally there was a sea bay coming in from the north all the way into Uppsala. Roslagen is th ...

Roslagen
(''Rus-law'') or ''
Roden Roden is a name of Germanic origin, originally meaning "red valley" or an anglicization of the Gaelic name "O'Rodain". It may refer to: Places *Roden, Bavaria, a town in the Main-Spessart district of Bavaria, Germany *Roden, Drenthe, a town in th ...
'', as it was known in earlier times.Stefan Brink, 'Who were the Vikings?', in
The Viking World
', ed. by Stefan Brink and Neil Price (Abingdon: Routledge, 2008), pp. 4-10 (pp. 6–7).
The name ''Rus'' would then have the same origin as the
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
and
Estonian Estonian may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe *Estonians, people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent *Estonian language *Estonian cuisine *Estonian culture See also

* * La ...
names for Sweden: ''Ruotsi'' and ''Rootsi''."Russ, adj. and n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/169069. Retrieved 25 July 2018. The Slavs and the Byzantines also called them
Varangians The Varangians (; non, Væringjar; gkm, Βάραγγοι, ''Várangoi'';Varangian
" Online Etymol ...
(russian: варяги, , from ''vàr-'' "confidence, vow of fealty", related to Old English ''wær'' "agreement, treaty, promise", Old High German ''wara'' "faithfulness"). Scandinavian bodyguards of the were known as the
Varangian Guard The Varangian Guard ( el, Τάγμα τῶν Βαράγγων, ''Tágma tōn Varángōn'') was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as ...
. The Rus' initially appeared in Serkland in the 9th century, traveling as merchants along the Volga trade route, selling furs, honey, and slaves, as well as luxury goods such as amber, Frankish swords, and walrus ivory.These goods were mostly exchanged for Arabian silver coins, called dirhams. Hoards of 9th century Baghdad-minted silver coins have been found in Sweden, particularly in Gotland. During and after the
Viking raid on Seville The Viking raid on Išbīliya, then part of the Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A calipha ...
in 844 CE the Muslim chroniclers of referred to the Vikings as Magians (Arabic: al-''Majus'' مجوس), conflating them with Zoroastrians from Persia. When
Ahmad ibn Fadlan Aḥmad ibn Faḍlān ibn al-ʿAbbās ibn Rāšid ibn Ḥammād ( ar, أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن راشد بن حماد, 921–22), commonly known as Ahmad ibn Fadlan, was a 10th-century Arabs, Arab Muslims, Muslim traveler, ...
encountered Vikings on the
Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the longest river in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention ra ...

Volga
, he referred to them as ''Rus''. The
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
normally called them Northmen or Danes, while for the English they were generally known as Danes or heathen and the Irish knew them as pagans or gentiles.
Anglo-Scandinavian ''Anglo-Scandinavian'' is an academic term referring to the archaeological and historical periods during the 8th to 13th centuries in which there was migration to - and occupation of - the British Isles by North Germanic peoples, Scandinavians gene ...
is an academic term referring to the people, and
archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote ...

archaeological
and
historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing systems a ...

historical
periods during the 8th to 13th centuries in which there was migration to—and occupation of—the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

British Isles
by Scandinavian peoples generally known in English as Vikings. It is used in distinction from
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression ...
. Similar terms exist for other areas, such as Hiberno-Norse for
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
.


History


Viking Age

The Viking Age in Scandinavian history is taken to have been the period from the earliest recorded raids by Norsemen in 793 until the
Norman conquest of England The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to ...
in 1066. Vikings used the
Norwegian Sea The Norwegian Sea ( no, Norskehavet; is, Noregshaf) is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the s ...
and
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
for sea routes to the south. The
Normans The Normans (Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of N ...

Normans
were descendants of those Vikings who had been given
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society ...
overlordship of areas in northern France, namely the
Duchy of Normandy The Duchy of Normandy grew out of the 911 Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizati ...

Duchy of Normandy
, in the 10th century. In that respect, descendants of the Vikings continued to have an influence in northern Europe. Likewise, King
Harold Godwinson Harold Godwinson ( – 14 October 1066), also called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is be ...
, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, had Danish ancestors. Two Vikings even ascended to the throne of England, with
Sweyn Forkbeard Sweyn Forkbeard ( non, Sveinn Haraldsson tjúguskegg, ; da, Svend Tveskæg; 17 April 963 – 3 February 1014) was king of Denmark The monarchy of Denmark is a constitutional political system, institution and a historic office of the ...

Sweyn Forkbeard
claiming the English throne in 1013 until 1014 and his son
Cnut the Great Cnut the Great (; ang, Cnut cyning; non, Knútr inn ríki ; or , no, Knut den mektige, sv, Knut den Store. died 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England Th ...
being king of England between 1016 and 1035.Lund, Niels "The Danish Empire and the End of the Viking Age", in Sawyer, ''History of the Vikings'', pp. 167–81.Lawson, M K (2004). "Cnut: England's Viking King 1016–35". The History Press Ltd, 2005, .Badsey, S. Nicolle, D, Turnbull, S (1999). "The Timechart of Military History". Worth Press Ltd, 2000, . Geographically, the Viking Age covered Scandinavian lands (modern Denmark, Norway and Sweden), as well as territories under
North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also r ...

North Germanic
dominance, mainly the
Danelaw The Danelaw (, also known as the Danelagh; ang, Dena lagu; da, Danelagen) was the part of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west a ...
, including
Scandinavian York Scandinavian York (referred to at the time as ) or Danish York is a term used by historians for the south of Northumbria Northumbria (; ang, Norþanhymbra Rīċe; la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum) was an early medieval Anglo-Saxon The Ang ...
, the administrative centre of the remains of the Kingdom of
Northumbria Northumbria (; ang, Norþanhymbra Rīċe; la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum) was an early medieval Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social scie ...

Northumbria
, parts of
Mercia Mercia (, ang, Miercna rīċe; la, Merciorum regnum) was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Id ...

Mercia
, and
East Anglia East Anglia is a geographical area in the East of England The East of England is one of the nine official regions of England. This region was created in 1994 and was adopted for statistics purposes from 1999. It includes the ceremonial ...
. Viking navigators opened the road to new lands to the north, west and east, resulting in the foundation of independent settlements in the
Shetland Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or co ...

Shetland
,
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
, and
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands ( ), or simply the Faroes or Faeroes ( fo, Føroyar ; da, Færøerne ), are a North Atlantic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of is ...

Faroe Islands
;
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
;
Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an autonomous territory An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administra ...

Greenland
; and
L'Anse aux Meadows L'Anse aux Meadows () is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the peri ...

L'Anse aux Meadows
, a short-lived settlement in
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (, ) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland and the continental ...

Newfoundland
, circa 1000. The Greenland settlement was established around 980, during the
Medieval Warm Period The Medieval Warm Period (MWP), also known as the Medieval Climate Optimum or the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, was a time of warm climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmos ...
, and its demise by the mid-15th century may have been partly due to
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
. The Viking
Rurik dynasty The Rurik dynasty ( be, Ру́рыкавічы, Rúrykavichy; russian: Рю́риковичи, Ryúrikovichi, ; uk, Рю́риковичі, Riúrykovychi; literally "sons/scions of Rurik"), also known as the Rurikid dynasty or Rurikids, was a no ...
took control of territories in and Finnic-dominated areas of Eastern Europe; they annexed
Kiev Kyiv ( uk, Київ) or Kiev . is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also share ...

Kiev
in 882 to serve as the capital of the
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
. As early as 839, when Swedish emissaries are first known to have visited
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
, Scandinavians served as mercenaries in the service of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. In the late 10th century, a new unit of the imperial bodyguard formed. Traditionally containing large numbers of Scandinavians, it was known as the
Varangian The Varangians (; non, Væringjar; gkm, Βάραγγοι, ''Várangoi'';Varangian
" Online Etymolog ...
Guard. The word ''Varangian'' may have originated in Old Norse, but in Slavic and Greek it could refer either to Scandinavians or Franks. In these years,
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
men left to enlist in the Byzantine Varangian Guard in such numbers that a medieval Swedish law,
Västgötalagen A page of the late 13th century law ''Äldre Västgötalagen''. ''Västgötalagen'' ( or ) or the Westrogothic law is the oldest Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish lang ...
, from
Västergötland Västergötland (), also known as West Gothland or the Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in th ...

Västergötland
declared no one could inherit while staying in "Greece"—the then Scandinavian term for the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
—to stop the emigration, especially as two other European courts simultaneously also recruited Scandinavians:Pritsak 1981:386
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
c. 980–1060 and
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
1018–1066 (the Þingalið). There is archaeological evidence that Vikings reached
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
, the centre of the
Islamic Empire This article includes a list of successive Muslim state An Islamic state is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associati ...

Islamic Empire
. The Norse regularly plied the
Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the longest river in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention ra ...

Volga
with their trade goods: furs, tusks, seal fat for boat sealant, and
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved per ...
. Important trading ports during the period include
Birka Birka (''Birca'' in medieval sources), on the island of Björkö (literally: "Birch Island") in present-day Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries ...

Birka
,
Hedeby Hedeby (, Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia ...
,
Kaupang Kaupang was a Old Norse, Norse term for ''market-place''. Today, it is generally used as a name of the first town-like market-place in Norway, the ''Skiringssal, Kaupang in Skiringssal'', which is located in Tjølling near Larvik in Vestfold. Ka ...
,
Jorvik Scandinavian York (referred to at the time as ) or Danish York is a term used by historians for the south of Northumbria Northumbria (; ang, Norþanhymbra Rīċe; la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum) was an early medieval Anglo-Saxon The Ang ...
,
Staraya Ladoga Staraya Ladoga ( rus, Ста́рая Ла́дога, p=ˈstarəjə ˈladəɡə); fi, Vanha-Laatokka) is a types of inhabited localities in Russia, rural locality (a ''village#Russia, selo'') in Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, locat ...

Staraya Ladoga
,
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative center of Novgorod O ...

Novgorod
, and
Kiev Kyiv ( uk, Київ) or Kiev . is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also share ...

Kiev
. Scandinavian
Norsemen The Norsemen (or Norse people) were a North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are ...
explored Europe by its seas and rivers for trade, raids, colonization, and conquest. In this period, voyaging from their homelands in
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
and
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
the Norsemen settled in the present-day
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands ( ), or simply the Faroes or Faeroes ( fo, Føroyar ; da, Færøerne ), are a North Atlantic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of is ...
,
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
, Norse Greenland,
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (, ) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland and the continental ...
,
the Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

the Netherlands
,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
,
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
,
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...
,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
,
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
, the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = "O Land of Our Birth The "National Anthem of the Isle of Man" ( gv, Arrane Ashoonagh Vannin) was written and composed by William Henry Gill (1839–1923), with the Manx translation by John J. Kneen (1873–1939). It is often r ...

Isle of Man
,
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...
,
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
, as well as initiating the consolidation that resulted in the formation of the present day Scandinavian countries. In the Viking Age, the present day nations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark did not exist, but were largely homogeneous and similar in culture and language, although somewhat distinct geographically. The names of Scandinavian kings are reliably known for only the later part of the Viking Age. After the end of the Viking Age the separate kingdoms gradually acquired distinct identities as nations, which went hand-in-hand with their
Christianisation Christianization (American and British English spelling differences#-ise.2C -ize .28-isation.2C -ization.29, or Christianisation) was the Conversion to Christianity, conversion of societies to Christianity beginning in late antiquity in the Rom ...
. Thus the end of the Viking Age for the Scandinavians also marks the start of their relatively brief Middle Ages.


Intermixing with the Slavs

and Viking tribes were "closely linked, fighting one another, intermixing and trading". In the Middle Ages, ware was transferred from Slavic areas to Scandinavia, and Denmark could be considered "a melting pot of Slavic and Scandinavian elements". It is argued that the presence of Slavs in Scandinavia is "more significant than previously thought" although "the Slavs and their interaction with Scandinavia have not been adequately investigated". A 10th-century grave of a warrior-woman in Denmark was long thought to belong to a Viking. However, new analyses suggest that the woman may have been a Slav from present-day Poland. The first king of the Swedes,
Eric The given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper na ...

Eric
, was married to Gunhild, of the
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...

Polish
House of Piast The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty of Poland. The first documented List of Polish monarchs, Polish monarch was Duke Mieszko I of Poland, Mieszko I (c. 930–992). The Poland during the Piast dynasty, Piasts' royal rule in ...
. Likewise, his son, Olof, fell in love with
Edla Edla (10th-century - 11th century), was a Slavic Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, th ...
, a Slavic woman, and took her as his '' frilla'' (concubine). She bore him a son and a daughter: Emund the Old, King of Sweden, and Astrid Olofsdotter of Sweden, Astrid, Queen of Norway.
Cnut the Great Cnut the Great (; ang, Cnut cyning; non, Knútr inn ríki ; or , no, Knut den mektige, sv, Knut den Store. died 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England Th ...
, King of Denmark, England and Norway, was the son of a daughter of Mieszko I of Poland, possibly the former Polish queen of Sweden, wife of Eric. Richeza of Poland, Queen of Sweden, married Magnus the Strong, and bore him several children, including Canute V of Denmark, Canute V, King of Denmark. Catherine Jagiellon, of the House of Jagiellon, was married to John III of Sweden, John III, King of Sweden. She was the mother of Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland, King of Sweden, and Grand Duke of Finland. Ragnvald Ulfsson, son of Jarl Ulf Tostesson and the Wendic Princess Ingeborg, had a Slavic name (''Rogvolod'', from Slavic languages, Slavic ''Рогволод'').


Expansion

Colonization of Iceland by Norwegian Vikings began in the ninth century. The first source mentioning Iceland and Greenland is a papal letter of 1053. Twenty years later, they appear in the ''Gesta'' of
Adam of Bremen Adam of Bremen ( la, Adamus Bremensis; german: Adam von Bremen) (before 1050 – 12 October 1081/1085) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or peopl ...
. It was not until after 1130, when the islands had become Christianized, that accounts of the history of the islands were written from the point of view of the inhabitants in sagas and chronicles. The Vikings explored the northern islands and coasts of the North Atlantic, ventured south to North Africa, east to Kievan Rus (now – Ukraine, Belarus),
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, and the Middle East. They raided and pillaged, traded, acted as mercenaries and settled colonies over a wide area. Early Vikings probably returned home after their raids. Later in their history, they began to settle in other lands. Vikings under Leif Ericson, Leif Erikson, heir to Erik the Red, reached North America and set up short-lived settlements in present-day
L'Anse aux Meadows L'Anse aux Meadows () is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the peri ...

L'Anse aux Meadows
, Newfoundland, Canada. This expansion occurred during the
Medieval Warm Period The Medieval Warm Period (MWP), also known as the Medieval Climate Optimum or the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, was a time of warm climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmos ...
. Viking expansion into continental Europe was limited. Their realm was bordered by powerful tribes to the south. Early on, it was the Saxons who occupied Old Saxony, located in what is now Northern Germany. The Saxons were a fierce and powerful people and were often in conflict with the Vikings. To counter the Saxon aggression and solidify their own presence, the Danes (Germanic tribe), Danes constructed the huge defence fortification of Danevirke in and around
Hedeby Hedeby (, Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia ...
. The Vikings witnessed the violent subduing of the Saxons by Charlemagne, in the thirty-year Saxon Wars of 772–804. The Saxon defeat resulted in their forced christening and the absorption of Old Saxony into the Carolingian Empire. Fear of the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
led the Vikings to further expand Danevirke, and the defence constructions remained in use throughout the Viking Age and even up until 1864. The south coast of the Baltic Sea was ruled by the Obotrites, a federation of Slavic tribes loyal to the Carolingians and later the Frankish empire. The Vikings—led by King Gudfred—destroyed the Obotrite city of Reric on the southern Baltic coast in 808 AD and transferred the merchants and traders to Hedeby. This secured Viking supremacy in the Baltic Sea, which continued throughout the Viking Age. Because of the expansion of the Vikings across Europe, a comparison of DNA and Archaeology, archeology undertaken by scientists at the University of Cambridge and University of Copenhagen suggested that the term "Viking" may have evolved to become "a job description, not a matter of heredity," at least in some Viking bands.


Motives

The motives driving the Viking expansion are a topic of much debate in Nordic history. Researchers have suggested that Vikings may have originally started sailing and raiding due to a need to seek out women from foreign lands. The concept was expressed in the 11th century by historian Dudo of Saint-Quentin in his semi imaginary ''History of The Normans''. Rich and powerful Viking men tended to have many wives and concubines; these Polygyny, polygynous relationships may have led to a shortage of eligible women for the average Viking male. Due to this, the average Viking man could have been forced to perform riskier actions to gain wealth and power to be able to find suitable women. Viking men would often buy or capture women and make them into their wives or concubines. Polygynous marriage increases male-male competition in society because it creates a pool of unmarried men who are willing to engage in risky status-elevating and sex seeking behaviors. The Annals of Ulster states that in 821 the Vikings plundered an Irish village and "carried off a great number of women into captivity". One common theory posits that Charlemagne "used force and terror to Christianise all pagans", leading to baptism, conversion or execution, and as a result, Vikings and other pagans resisted and wanted revenge.Rudolf Simek, "the emergence of the viking age: circumstances and conditions", "The vikings first Europeans VIII–XI century—the new discoveries of archaeology", other, 2005, pp. 24–25"Franques Royal Annals" cited in Sawyer, ''History of the Vikings'', p. 20 Professor Rudolf Simek states that "it is not a coincidence if the early Viking activity occurred during the reign of Charlemagne". The ascendance of Christianity in Scandinavia led to serious conflict, dividing Norway for almost a century. However, this time period did not commence until the 10th century, Norway was never subject to aggression by Charlemagne and the period of strife was due to successive Norwegian kings embracing Christianity after encountering it overseas. Another explanation is that the Vikings exploited a moment of weakness in the surrounding regions. Contrary to Simek's assertion, Viking raids occurred sporadically long before the reign of Charlemagne; but exploded in frequency and size after his death, when his empire fragmented into multiple much weaker entities. England suffered from internal divisions and was relatively easy prey given the proximity of many towns to the sea or to navigable rivers. Lack of organised naval opposition throughout Western Europe allowed Viking ships to travel freely, raiding or trading as opportunity permitted. The decline in the profitability of old trade routes could also have played a role. Trade between western Europe and the rest of Eurasia suffered a severe blow when the Western Roman Empire fell in the 5th century. The expansion of Islam in the 7th century had also affected trade with western Europe. Raids in Europe, including raids and settlements from Scandinavia, were not unprecedented and had occurred long before the Vikings arrived. The Jutes invaded the British Isles three centuries earlier, pouring out from Jutland during the Age of Migrations, before the Danes (Germanic tribe), Danes settled there. The Saxons and the Angles did the same, embarking from mainland Europe. The Viking raids were, however, the first to be documented in writing by eyewitnesses, and they were much larger in scale and frequency than in previous times. Vikings themselves were expanding; although their motives are unclear, historians believe that scarce resources or a lack of mating opportunities were a factor. The "Highway of Slaves" was a term for a route that the Vikings found to have a direct pathway from Scandinavia to Constantinople and Baghdad while traveling on the Baltic Sea. With the advancements of their ships during the ninth century, the Vikings were able to sail to Kievan Rus and some northern parts of Europe.


Jomsborg

Jomsborg was a semi-legendary Viking stronghold at the southern coast of the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
(medieval Wends, Wendland, modern Pomerania), that existed between the 960s and 1043. Its inhabitants were known as Jomsvikings. Jomsborg's exact location, or its existence, has not yet been established, though it is often maintained that Jomsborg was somewhere on the islands of the Oder estuary.


End of the Viking Age

While the Vikings were active beyond their Scandinavian homelands, Scandinavia was itself experiencing new influences and undergoing a variety of cultural changes.


Emergence of nation-states and monetary economies

By the late 11th century, royal dynasties were legitimised by the Catholic Church (which had had little influence in Scandinavia 300 years earlier) which were asserting their power with increasing authority and ambition, with the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden taking shape. Towns appeared that functioned as secular and ecclesiastical administrative centres and market sites, and monetary economies began to emerge based on English and German models. By this time the influx of Islamic silver from the East had been absent for more than a century, and the flow of English silver had come to an end in the mid-11th century.


Assimilation into Christendom

Christianization of Scandinavia, Christianity had taken root in Denmark and Norway with the establishment of dioceses in the 11th century, and the new religion was beginning to organise and assert itself more effectively in Sweden. Foreign churchmen and native elites were energetic in furthering the interests of Christianity, which was now no longer operating only on a missionary footing, and old ideologies and lifestyles were transforming. By 1103, the first archbishopric was founded in Scandinavia, at Lund, Scania, then part of Denmark. The assimilation of the nascent Scandinavian kingdoms into the cultural mainstream of European Christendom altered the aspirations of Scandinavian rulers and of Scandinavians able to travel overseas, and changed their relations with their neighbours. One of the primary sources of profit for the Vikings had been slave-taking from other European peoples. The medieval Church held that Christians should not own fellow Christians as slaves, so chattel slavery diminished as a practice throughout northern Europe. This took much of the economic incentive out of raiding, though sporadic slaving activity continued into the 11th century. Scandinavian predation in Christian lands around the North and Irish Seas diminished markedly. The kings of Norway continued to assert power in parts of northern Britain and Ireland, and raids continued into the 12th century, but the military ambitions of Scandinavian rulers were now directed toward new paths. In 1107, Sigurd I of Norway sailed for the eastern Mediterranean with Norwegian crusaders to fight for the newly established Kingdom of Jerusalem, and Danes and Swedes participated energetically in the Baltic Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries.


Culture

A variety of sources illuminate the culture, activities, and beliefs of the Vikings. Although they were generally a non-literate culture that produced no literary legacy, they had an alphabet and described themselves and their world on runestones. Most contemporary literary and written sources on the Vikings come from other cultures that were in contact with them. Since the mid-20th century, archaeological findings have built a more complete and balanced picture of the lives of the Vikings. The archaeological record is particularly rich and varied, providing knowledge of their rural and urban settlement, crafts and production, ships and military equipment, trading networks, as well as their pagan and Christian religious artefacts and practices.


Literature and language

The most important primary sources on the Vikings are contemporary texts from Scandinavia and regions where the Vikings were active. Writing in Latin letters was introduced to Scandinavia with Christianity, so there are few native documentary sources from Scandinavia before the late 11th and early 12th centuries. The Scandinavians did write inscriptions in
runes Runes are the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet), a written element of an alphabet * Letterform, a typographic term for alphabetical letter shapes * Rehearsal letter in an orchestral s ...

runes
, but these are usually very short and formulaic. Most contemporary documentary sources consist of texts written in Christian and Islamic communities outside Scandinavia, often by authors who had been negatively affected by Viking activity. Later writings on the Vikings and the Viking Age can also be important for understanding them and their culture, although they need to be treated cautiously. After the consolidation of the church and the assimilation of Scandinavia and its colonies into the mainstream of medieval Christian culture in the 11th and 12th centuries, native written sources begin to appear in Latin and Old Norse. In the Viking colony of Iceland, an extraordinary vernacular literature blossomed in the 12th through 14th centuries, and many traditions connected with the Viking Age were written down for the first time in the Saga, Icelandic sagas. A literal interpretation of these medieval prose narratives about the Vikings and the Scandinavian past is doubtful, but many specific elements remain worthy of consideration, such as the great quantity of skaldic poetry attributed to Poet laureate, court poets of the 10th and 11th centuries, the exposed family trees, the self images, the ethical values, that are contained in these literary writings. Indirectly, the Vikings have also left a window open onto their language, culture and activities, through many Old Norse place names and words found in their former sphere of influence. Some of these place names and words are still in direct use today, almost unchanged, and shed light on where they settled and what specific places meant to them. Examples include place names like Egilsay (from ''Eigils ey'' meaning Eigil's Island), Ormskirk (from ''Ormr kirkja'' meaning Orms Church or Church of the Worm), Meols (from ''merl'' meaning Sand Dunes), Snaefell (Snow Fell), Ravenscar, North Yorkshire, Ravenscar (Ravens Rock),
Vinland Vinland, Vineland or Winland ( non, Vínland) was an area of coastal North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the no ...
(Land of Wine or Land of Winberry), Kaupanger (Market Harbour), Tórshavn (Thor's Harbour), and the religious centre of Odense, meaning a place where Odin was worshipped. Viking influence is also evident in concepts like the present-day parliamentary body of the Tynwald on the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = "O Land of Our Birth The "National Anthem of the Isle of Man" ( gv, Arrane Ashoonagh Vannin) was written and composed by William Henry Gill (1839–1923), with the Manx translation by John J. Kneen (1873–1939). It is often r ...

Isle of Man
. Common words in everyday English language, such as wikt:leg, leg, wikt:skin, skin, wikt:dirt, dirt, wikt:sky, sky, wikt:egg, egg, wikt:kid, kid, wikt:anger, anger, wikt:window, window, wikt:husband, husband, wikt:knife, knife, wikt:bag, bag, wikt:gift, gift, wikt:glove, glove, wikt:guest, guest, wikt:wing, wing, wikt:birth, birth, wikt:law, law, wikt:gate, gate, wikt:scab, scab, wikt:skirt, skirt, wikt:root, root, wikt:skull, skull, wikt:reindeer, reindeer, wikt:happy, happy, wikt:wrong, wrong, wikt:ugly, ugly, wikt:low, low, wikt:weak, weak, wikt:loose, loose, wikt:want, want, wikt:give, give, wikt:take, take, wikt:get, get, wikt:smile, smile, wikt:guess, guess, wikt:seem, seem, wikt:hit, hit, wikt:kick, kick, wikt:scare, scare, wikt:crawl, crawl, wikt:call, call, wikt:lift, lift, wikt:both, both, wikt:they, they, wikt:them, them, and wikt:their, their, stem from the Old Norse of the Vikings and give us an opportunity to understand their interactions with the people and cultures of the British Isles. In the Northern Isles of Shetland and Orkney, Old Norse completely replaced the local languages and over time evolved into the now extinct Norn language. Some modern words and names only emerge and contribute to our understanding after a more intense research of linguistic sources from medieval or later records, such as York (Horse Bay), Swansea (Sven, Sveinn's Isle) or some of the place names in Normandy like Tocqueville (disambiguation), Tocqueville (Toki's farm). Linguistic and etymology, etymological studies continue to provide a vital source of information on the Viking culture, their social structure and history and how they interacted with the people and cultures they met, traded, attacked or lived with in overseas settlements. A lot of Old Norse connections are evident in the modern-day languages of Swedish language, Swedish, Norwegian language, Norwegian, Danish language, Danish, Faroese language, Faroese and Icelandic language, Icelandic. Old Norse did not exert any great influence on the Slavic languages in the Viking settlements of Eastern Europe. It has been speculated that the reason for this was the great differences between the two languages, combined with the Rus' Vikings more peaceful businesses in these areas and the fact that they were outnumbered. The Norse named some of the Dnieper Rapids, rapids on the Dnieper River, Dnieper, but this can hardly be seen from the modern names.


Runestones

The Norse of the Viking Age could read and write and used a non-standardised alphabet, called ''runor'', built upon sound values. While there are few remains of runic writing on paper from the Viking era, thousands of stones with runic inscriptions have been found where Vikings lived. They are usually in memory of the dead, though not necessarily placed at graves. The use of ''runor'' survived into the 15th century, used in parallel with the Latin alphabet. The runestones are unevenly distributed in Scandinavia: Denmark has 250 runestones, Norway has 50 while Iceland has none. Sweden has as many as between 1,700 and 2,500Zilmer 2005:38 depending on definition. The Swedish district of Uppland has the highest concentration with as many as 1,196 inscriptions in stone, whereas Södermanland is second with 391. The majority of runic inscriptions from the Viking period are found in
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
. Many runestones in Scandinavia record the names of participants in Viking expeditions, such as the Kjula Runestone#Sö 106, Kjula runestone that tells of extensive warfare in Western Europe and the Turinge Runestone, which tells of a war band in Eastern Europe. Other runestones mention men who died on Viking expeditions. Among them include the England runestones (Swedish language, Swedish: ''Englandsstenarna'') which is a group of about 30 runestones in
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
which refer to
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
voyages to
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
. They constitute one of the largest groups of runestones that mention voyages to other countries, and they are comparable in number only to the approximately 30 Greece RunestonesJansson 1980:34. and the 26 Ingvar Runestones, the latter referring to a Viking expedition to the Middle East. They were engraved in
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
with the Younger Futhark. The Jelling stones date from between 960 and 985. The older, smaller stone was raised by King Gorm the Old, the last pagan king of Denmark, as a memorial honouring Thyra, Queen Thyre. The larger stone was raised by his son, Harald Bluetooth, to celebrate the conquest of Denmark and Norway and the conversion of the Danes to Christianity. It has three sides: one with an animal image, one with an image of the crucified Jesus Christ, and a third bearing the following inscription: Runestones attest to voyages to locations such as Bath, Somerset, Bath, Greece (how the Vikings referred to the
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
territories generally), Khwaresm, Jerusalem, Italy (as Langobardland), Serkland (i.e. the Muslim world), England (including London), and various places in Eastern Europe. Viking Age inscriptions have also been discovered on the Manx runestones on the Isle of Man.


Runic alphabet usage in modern times

The last known people to use the Runic alphabet were an isolated group of people known as the Elfdalians, that lived in the locality of Älvdalen in the Sweden, Swedish province of Dalarna. They spoke the language of Elfdalian, the language unique to Älvdalen. The Elfdalian language differentiates itself from the other
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
n languages as it evolved much closer to Old Norse. The people of Älvdalen stopped using runes as late as the 1920s. Usage of runes therefore survived longer in Älvdalen than anywhere else in the world. The last known record of the Elfdalian Runes is from 1929; they are a variant of the Dalecarlian runes, runic inscriptions that were also found in Dalarna. Traditionally regarded as a Swedish dialect, but by several criteria closer related to West Scandinavian dialects, Elfdalian is a separate language by the standard of mutual intelligibility. Although there is no mutual intelligibility, due to schools and public administration in Älvdalen being conducted in Swedish, native speakers are bilingual and speak Swedish at a native level. Residents in the area who speak only Swedish as their sole native language, neither speaking nor understanding Elfdalian, are also common. Älvdalen can be said to have had its own alphabet during the 17th and 18th century. Today there are about 2,000-3000 native speakers of Elfdalian.


Burial sites

There are numerous burial sites associated with Vikings throughout Europe and their sphere of influence—in Scandinavia, the British Isles, Ireland, Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Islands, Germany, The Baltic, Russia, etc. The burial practices of the Vikings were quite varied, from dug graves in the ground, to tumuli, sometimes including so-called ship burials. According to written sources, most of the funerals took place at sea. The funerals involved either burial or cremation, depending on local customs. In the area that is now Sweden, cremations were predominant; in Denmark burial was more common; and in Norway both were common. Viking barrows are one of the primary source of evidence for circumstances in the Viking Age. The items buried with the dead give some indication as to what was considered important to possess in the afterlife. It is unknown what mortuary services were given to dead children by the Vikings. Some of the most important burial sites for understanding the Vikings include: * Norway: Oseberg; Gokstad; Borre mound cemetery, Borrehaugene. * Sweden: Gettlinge gravfält; the cemeteries of
Birka Birka (''Birca'' in medieval sources), on the island of Björkö (literally: "Birch Island") in present-day Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries ...

Birka
, a World Heritage Site; Valsgärde; Gamla Uppsala; Hulterstad gravfält, near Alby, Öland, Alby; Hulterstad, Öland. * Denmark: Jelling, a World Heritage Site; Lindholm Høje; Ladby ship; Mammen chamber tomb and hoard. * Estonia: Salme ships – The largest ship burial ground ever uncovered. * Scotland: Port an Eilean Mhòir ship burial; Scar boat burial, Orkney. * Faroe Islands: Hov, Faroe Islands, Hov. * Iceland: Mosfellsbær in Capital Region (Iceland), Capital Region; the boat burial in Vatnsdalur, Austur-Húnavatnssýsla. * Greenland: Brattahlíð. * Germany:
Hedeby Hedeby (, Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia ...
. * Latvia: Grobiņa. * Ukraine: the Black Grave. * Russia: Gnezdovo.


Ships

There have been several archaeological finds of Viking ships of all sizes, providing knowledge of the craftsmanship that went into building them. There were many types of Viking ships, built for various uses; the best-known type is probably the
longship Longships were a type of specialised Scandinavian warships that have a long history in Scandinavia, with their existence being archaeologically proven and documented from at least the fourth century BC. Originally invented and used by the Norsem ...
. Longships were intended for warfare and exploration, designed for speed and agility, and were equipped with oars to complement the sail, making navigation possible independently of the wind. The longship had a long, narrow hull and shallow draught to facilitate landings and troop deployments in shallow water. Longships were used extensively by the Leidang, the Scandinavian defence fleets. The longship allowed the Norse to ''go Viking'', which might explain why this type of ship has become almost synonymous with the concept of Vikings. The Vikings built many unique types of watercraft, often used for more peaceful tasks. The ''knarr'' was a dedicated merchant vessel designed to carry cargo in bulk. It had a broader hull, deeper draught, and a small number of oars (used primarily to manoeuvre in harbours and similar situations). One Viking innovation was the 'beitass', a spar mounted to the sail that allowed their ships to sail effectively against the wind. It was common for seafaring Viking ships to tow or carry a smaller boat to transfer crews and cargo from the ship to shore. Ships were an integral part of the Viking culture. They facilitated everyday transportation across seas and waterways, exploration of new lands, raids, conquests, and trade with neighbouring cultures. They also held a major religious importance. People with high status were sometimes buried in a ship along with animal sacrifices, weapons, provisions and other items, as evidenced by the buried vessels at Gokstad and Oseberg in Norway and the excavated ship burial at Ladby ship, Ladby in Denmark. Ship burials were also practised by Vikings abroad, as evidenced by the excavations of the Salme ships on the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Well-preserved remains of five Viking ships were excavated from Roskilde Fjord in the late 1960s, representing both the longship and the ''knarr''. The ships were scuttled there in the 11th century to block a navigation channel and thus protect Roskilde, then the Danish capital, from seaborne assault. The remains of these ships are on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. In 2019, archaeologists uncovered two Viking boat graves in Gamla Uppsala. They also discovered that one of the boats still holds the remains of a man, a dog, and a horse, along with other items. This has shed light on death rituals of Viking communities in the region.


Everyday life


Social structure

Viking society was divided into the three socio-economic classes: Thralls, Karls and Jarls. This is described vividly in the Eddic poem of Rígsþula, which also explains that it was the god Ríg (Norse god), Ríg—father of mankind also known as Heimdallr—who created the three classes. Archaeology has confirmed this social structure.Roesdahl, pp. 38–48, 61–71. Thralls were the lowest ranking class and were slaves. Slaves comprised as much as a quarter of the population. Slavery was of vital importance to Viking society, for everyday chores and large scale construction and also to trade and the economy. Thralls were servants and workers in the farms and larger households of the Karls and Jarls, and they were used for constructing fortifications, ramps, canals, mounds, roads and similar hard work projects. According to the Rigsthula, Thralls were despised and looked down upon. New thralls were supplied by either the sons and daughters of thralls or captured abroad. The Vikings often deliberately captured many people on their raids in Europe, to enslave them as thralls. The thralls were then brought back home to Scandinavia by boat, used on location or in newer settlements to build needed structures, or sold, often to the Arabs in exchange for silver. Other names for thrall were 'træl' and 'ty'. Karls were free peasants. They owned farms, land and cattle and engaged in daily chores like ploughing the fields, milking the cattle, building houses and wagons, but used thralls to make ends meet. Other names for Karls were 'bonde' or simply free men. Similar classes were churls and Housecarl, huskarls. The Jarls were the Aristocracy (class), aristocracy of the Viking society. They were wealthy and owned large estates with huge longhouses, horses and many thralls. The thralls did most of the daily chores, while the Jarls did administration, politics, hunting, sports, visited other Jarls or went abroad on expeditions. When a Jarl died and was buried, his household thralls were sometimes Human sacrifice in Germanic paganism, sacrificially killed and buried next to him, as many excavations have revealed. In daily life, there were many intermediate positions in the overall social structure and it is believed that there must have been some social mobility. These details are unclear, but titles and positions like ''hauldr'', ''thegn'', ''landmand'', show mobility between the Karls and the Jarls. Other social structures included the communities of ''félag'' in both the civil and the military spheres, to which its members (called ''félagi'') were obliged. A félag could be centred around certain trades, a common ownership of a sea vessel or a military obligation under a specific leader. Members of the latter were referred to as ''drenge'', one of the words for warrior. There were also official communities within towns and villages, the overall defence, religion, the legal system and the Thing (assembly), Things.


Status of women

Like elsewhere in medieval Europe, most women in Viking society were subordinate to their husbands and fathers and had little political power.Magnúsdóttir, Auður. "Women and sexual politics", in ''The Viking World''. Routledge, 2008. pp.40-45"Women in the Viking Age"
National Museum of Denmark.
However, the written sources portray free Viking women as having independence and rights. Viking women generally appear to have had more freedom than women elsewhere, as illustrated in the Icelandic Grágás and the Norwegian Frostating laws and Gulating laws.Borgström Eva : Makalösa kvinnor: könsöverskridare i myt och verklighet (Marvelous women : gender benders in myth and reality) Alfabeta/Anamma, Stockholm 2002. (inb.). Libris 8707902. Most free Viking women were housewives, and the woman's standing in society was linked to that of her husband. Marriage gave a woman a degree of economic security and social standing encapsulated in the title ''húsfreyja'' (lady of the house). Norse laws assert the housewife's authority over the 'indoor household'. She had the important roles of managing the farm's resources, conducting business, as well as child-rearing, although some of this would be shared with her husband.Friðriksdóttir, Jóhanna. ''Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World''. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020. pp.98-100. After the age of 20, an unmarried woman, referred to as ''maer'' and ''mey'', reached legal majority and had the right to decide her place of residence and was regarded as her own person before the law. An exception to her independence was the right to choose a husband, as marriages were normally arranged by the family. The groom would pay a bride-price (''mundr'') to the bride's family, and the bride brought assets into the marriage, as a dowry. A married woman could divorce her husband and remarry.Ohlander, Ann-Sofie & Strömberg, Ulla-Britt, Tusen svenska kvinnoår: svensk kvinnohistoria från vikingatid till nutid, 3. (A Thousand Swedish Women's Years: Swedish Women's History from the Viking Age until now), [omarb. och utök.] uppl., Norstedts akademiska förlag, Stockholm, 2008 Concubinage was also part of Viking society, whereby a woman could live with a man and have children with him without marrying; such a woman was called a ''frilla''. Usually she would be the mistress of a wealthy and powerful man who also had a wife. The wife had authority over the mistresses if they lived in her household. Through her relationship to a man of higher social standing, a concubine and her family could advance socially; although her position was less secure than that of a wife. There was little distinction made between children born inside or outside marriage: both had the right to inherit property from their parents, and there were no "legitimate" or "illegitimate" children. However, children born in wedlock had more inheritance rights than those born out of wedlock. A woman had the right to inherit part of her husband's property upon his death, and widows enjoyed the same independent status as unmarried women. The paternal aunt, paternal niece and paternal granddaughter, referred to as ''odalkvinna'', all had the right to inherit property from a deceased man. A woman with no husband, sons or male relatives could inherit not only property but also the position as head of the family when her father or brother died. Such a woman was referred to as ''Baugrygr'', and she exercised all the rights afforded to the head of a family clan, until she married, by which her rights were transferred to her new husband. Women had religious authority and were active as priestesses (''gydja'') and oracles (''sejdkvinna'').Ingelman-Sundberg, Catharina, ''Forntida kvinnor: jägare, vikingahustru, prästinna'' [Ancient women: hunters, viking wife, priestess], Prisma, Stockholm, 2004 They were active within art as poets (''skalder'') and rune masters, and as merchants and medicine women. There may also have been female entrepreneurs, who worked in textile production. Women may also have been active within military office: the tales about shieldmaidens are unconfirmed, but some archaeological finds such as the Birka female Viking warrior may indicate that at least some women in military authority existed. These liberties of the Viking women gradually disappeared after the introduction of Christianity, and from the late 13th-century, they are no longer mentioned. Examinations of Viking Age burials suggests that women lived longer, and nearly all well past the age of 35, as compared to earlier times. Female graves from before the Viking Age in Scandinavia holds a proportional large number of remains from women aged 20 to 35, presumably due to complications of childbirth. Examinations of skeletal remains also allow us to reconstruct the relative health and nutritional status of boys and girls in the past, using Anthropometry, anthropometric techniques. Burials from
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
and other European countries suggests that, in comparison with other societies at the time, female equality was remarkably high in rural Scandinavia. Females in the rural periphery of Nordic countries during the Viking period and the later Middle Ages had relatively high status, resulting in substantial nutritional and health resources being allocated to girls, enabling them to grow stronger and healthier.


Appearances

Scandinavian Vikings were similar in appearance to modern North Germanic peoples, Scandinavians; "their skin was fair and the hair color varied between blond, dark and reddish". Genetic studies suggest that people were mostly blond in what is now eastern Sweden, while red hair was mostly found in western Scandinavia.Hjardar, Kim. ''Vikings''. Rosen Publishing, 2018. pp.37-41 Most Viking men had shoulder-length hair and beards, and slaves (thralls) were usually the only men with short hair.Sherrow, Victoria. ''Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History''. Greenwood Publishing, 2006. p.389 The length varied according to personal preference and occupation. Men involved in warfare, for example, may have had slightly shorter hair and beards for practical reasons. Men in some regions bleached their hair a Saffron (color), golden saffron color. Females also had long hair, with girls often wearing it loose or braided and married women often wearing it in a bun. The average height is estimated to have been for men and for women. The three classes were easily recognisable by their appearances. Men and women of the Jarls were well groomed with neat hairstyles and expressed their wealth and status by wearing expensive clothes (often silk) and well crafted jewellery like brooches, belt buckles, necklaces and arm rings. Almost all of the jewellery was crafted in specific designs unique to the Norse (see Viking art). Finger rings were seldom used and earrings were not used at all, as they were seen as a Slavic people, Slavic phenomenon. Most Karls expressed similar tastes and hygiene, but in a more relaxed and inexpensive way. Archaeological finds from Scandinavia and Viking settlements in the British Isles support the idea of the well groomed and hygienic Viking. Burial with grave goods was a common practice in the Scandinavian world, through the Viking Age and well past the Christianization of the Norse peoples. Within these burial sites and homesteads, combs, often made from antler, are a common find. The manufacturing of such antler combs was common, as at the Viking settlement at Dublin hundreds of examples of combs from the tenth-century have survived, suggesting that grooming was a common practice. The manufacturing of such combs was also widespread throughout the Viking world, as examples of similar combs have been found at Viking settlements in Ireland, England, and Scotland. The combs share a common visual appearance as well, with the extant examples often decorated with linear, interlacing, and geometric motifs, or other forms of ornamentation depending on the comb's period and type, but stylistically similar to Viking Age art. The practice of grooming was a concern for all levels of Viking age society, as grooming products, combs, have been found in common graves as well as aristocratic ones.


Farming and cuisine

The sagas tell about the diet and cuisine of the Vikings, but first hand evidence, like cesspits, kitchen middens and garbage dumps have proved to be of great value and importance. Undigested remains of plants from cesspits at Coppergate in York have provided much information in this respect. Overall, archaeo-botanical investigations have been undertaken increasingly in recent decades, as a collaboration between archaeologists and palaeoethno-botanists. This new approach sheds light on the agricultural and horticulture, horticultural practices of the Vikings and their cuisine. The combined information from various sources suggests a diverse cuisine and ingredients. Meat products of all kinds, such as cured meat, cured, smoked meat, smoked and whey-preserved meat, sausages, and boiled or fried fresh meat cuts, were prepared and consumed. There were plenty of seafood, bread, porridges, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts. Alcoholic drinks like beer, mead, bjórr (a strong fruit wine) and, for the rich, imported wine, were served.Roesdahl, p. 54 Certain livestock were typical and unique to the Vikings, including the Icelandic horse, Icelandic cattle, a plethora of sheep breeds, the Danish hen and the Danish goose. The Vikings in York mostly ate beef, mutton, and pork with small amounts of horse meat. Most of the beef and horse leg bones were found split lengthways, to extract the marrow. The mutton and swine were cut into leg and shoulder joints and chops. The frequent remains of pig skull and foot bones found on house floors indicate that brawn and Pig's trotters, trotters were also popular. Hens were kept for both their meat and eggs, and the bones of game birds such as black grouse, golden plover, wild ducks, and geese have also been found. Seafood was important, in some places even more so than meat. Whales and walrus were hunted for food in Norway and the north-western parts of the North Atlantic region, and Pinniped, seals were hunted nearly everywhere. Oysters, mussels and shrimp were eaten in large quantities and cod and salmon were popular fish. In the southern regions, herring was also important. Milk and buttermilk were popular, both as cooking ingredients and drinks, but were not always available, even at farms. Milk came from cows, goats and sheep, with priorities varying from location to location, and fermented milk products like skyr or Filmjölk, surmjölk were produced as well as butter and cheese. Food was often salted and enhanced with spices, some of which were imported like black pepper, while others were cultivated in herb gardens or harvested in the wild. Home grown spices included caraway, Mustard seed, mustard and horseradish as evidenced from the Oseberg ship burial or dill, coriander, and Angelica archangelica, wild celery, as found in cesspits at Coppergate in York. Thyme, juniper berry, sweet gale, yarrow, rue and peppercress were also used and cultivated in herb gardens. Vikings collected and ate fruits, berries and nuts. Apple (wild crab apples), plums and cherries were part of the diet, as were rose hips and raspberry, Fragaria, wild strawberry, blackberry, elderberry, rowan, common hawthorn, hawthorn and various wild berries, specific to the locations. Hazelnuts were an important part of the diet in general and large amounts of Juglans regia, walnut shells have been found in cities like Hedeby. The shells were used for dyeing, and it is assumed that the nuts were consumed. The invention and introduction of the mouldboard plough revolutionised agriculture in Scandinavia in the early Viking Age and made it possible to farm even poor soils. In Ribe, grains of rye, barley, oat and wheat dated to the 8th century have been found and examined, and are believed to have been cultivated locally. Grains and flour were used for making porridges, some cooked with milk, some cooked with fruit and sweetened with honey, and also various forms of bread. Remains of bread from primarily Birka in Sweden were made of barley and wheat. It is unclear if the Norse leavened their breads, but their ovens and baking utensils suggest that they did. Flax was a very important crop for the Vikings: it was used for oil extraction, food consumption and most importantly the production of linen. More than 40% of all known textile recoveries from the Viking Age can be traced as linen. This suggests a much higher actual percentage, as linen is poorly preserved compared to wool for example. The quality of food for common people was not always particularly high. The research at Coppergate shows that the Vikings in York made bread from whole meal flour—probably both wheat and rye—but with the seeds of cornfield weeds included. Corncockle (Agrostemma), would have made the bread dark-coloured, but the seeds are poisonous, and people who ate the bread might have become ill. Seeds of carrots, parsnip, and brassicas were also discovered, but they were poor specimens and tend to come from white carrots and bitter tasting cabbages.Hall, A. R. 1999 "The Home: Food – Fruit, Grain and Vegetable." Viking Age York. The Jorvik Viking Centre. The rotary querns often used in the Viking Age left tiny stone fragments (often from basalt rock) in the flour, which when eaten wore down the teeth. The effects of this can be seen on skeletal remains of that period.


Sports

Sports were widely practised and encouraged by the Vikings.Kirsten Wolf
Daily Life of the Vikings
Greenwood Press ''"Daily life through history"'' series, 2004, , Ch. 7
Sports that involved weapons training and developing combat skills were popular. This included spear and stone throwing, building and testing physical strength through wrestling (see glima), fist fighting, and stone lifting. In areas with mountains, mountain climbing was practised as a sport. Agility and balance were built and tested by running and jumping for sport, and there is mention of a sport that involved jumping from oar to oar on the outside of a ship's railing as it was being rowed. Swimming (sport), Swimming was a popular sport and Snorri Sturluson describes three types: diving, long-distance swimming, and a contest in which two swimmers try to dunk one another. Children often participated in some of the sport disciplines and women have also been mentioned as swimmers, although it is unclear if they took part in competition. King Olaf Tryggvason was hailed as a master of both mountain climbing and oar-jumping, and was said to have excelled in the art of knife juggling as well. Skiing and ice skating were the primary winter sports of the Vikings, although skiing was also used as everyday means of transport in winter and in the colder regions of the north. Horse fighting was practised for sport, although the rules are unclear. It appears to have involved two stallions pitted against each other, within smell and sight of fenced-off mares. Whatever the rules were, the fights often resulted in the death of one of the stallions. Icelandic sources refer to the sport of ''knattleikr, knattleik''. A ball game akin to hockey, knattleik involved a bat and a small hard ball and was usually played on a smooth field of ice. The rules are unclear, but it was popular with both adults and children, even though it often led to injuries. Knattleik appears to have been played only in Iceland, where it attracted many spectators, as did horse fighting. Hunting, as a sport, was limited to Denmark, where it was not regarded as an important occupation. Birds, deer, hares and foxes were hunted with bow and spear, and later with crossbows. The techniques were stalking, snare and traps and ''par force'' hunting with dog packs.


Games and entertainment

Both archaeological finds and written sources testify to the fact that the Vikings set aside time for social and festive gatherings. Board games and dice games were played as a popular pastime at all levels of society. Preserved gaming pieces and boards show game boards made of easily available materials like wood, with game pieces manufactured from stone, wood or bone, while other finds include elaborately carved boards and game pieces of glass, amber, antler or walrus tusk, together with materials of foreign origin, such as ivory. The Vikings played several types of ''tafl'' games; ''hnefatafl'', ''nitavl'' (nine men's morris) and the less common ''Tafl games, kvatrutafl''. Chess also appeared at the end of the Viking Age. Hnefatafl is a war game, in which the object is to capture the king piece—a large hostile army threatens and the king's men have to protect the king. It was played on a board with squares using black and white pieces, with moves made according to dice rolls. The Ockelbo Runestone shows two men engaged in Hnefatafl, and the sagas suggest that money or valuables could have been involved in some dice games. On festive occasions storytelling, skaldic poetry, music and alcoholic drinks, like beer and mead, contributed to the atmosphere. Music was considered an art form and music proficiency as fitting for a cultivated man. The Vikings are known to have played instruments including harps, fiddles, lyres and lutes.


Experimental archaeology

Experimental archaeology of the Viking Age is a flourishing branch and several places have been dedicated to this technique, such as Jorvik Viking Centre in the United Kingdom, Sagnlandet Lejre and in Denmark, Foteviken Museum in Sweden or Lofotr Viking Museum in Norway. Viking-age Historical reenactment, reenactors have undertaken experimental activities such as iron smelting and forging using Norse techniques at Norstead (Newfoundland), Norstead in Newfoundland for example. On 1 July 2007, the reconstructed Viking ship ''Skuldelev 2'', renamed ''Havhingsten fra Glendalough, Sea Stallion'', began a journey from Roskilde to Dublin. The remains of that ship and four others were discovered during a 1962 excavation in the Roskilde Fjord. Tree-ring analysis has shown the ship was built of oak in the vicinity of Dublin in about 1042. Seventy multi-national crew members sailed the ship back to its home, and ''Sea Stallion'' arrived outside Dublin's Custom House on 14 August 2007. The purpose of the voyage was to test and document the seaworthiness, speed, and manoeuvrability of the ship on the rough open sea and in coastal waters with treacherous currents. The crew tested how the long, narrow, flexible hull withstood the tough ocean waves. The expedition also provided valuable new information on Viking longships and society. The ship was built using Viking tools, materials, and much the same methods as the original ship. Other vessels, often replicas of the Gokstad ship (full- or half-scale) or Skuldelev ships, Skuldelev have been built and tested as well. The ''Snorri'' (a Skuldelev ships, Skuldelev I Knarr), was sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland in 1998.


Cultural assimilation

Elements of a Scandinavian identity and practices were maintained in settler societies, but they could be quite distinct as the groups assimilated into the neighboring societies. Assimilation to the Franks, Frankish culture in
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
for example was rapid. Links to a Viking identity remained longer in the remote islands of Iceland and the Faroe Islands, Faroes.


Weapons and warfare

Knowledge about the arms and armour of the Viking age is based on archaeological finds, pictorial representation, and to some extent on the accounts in the Norse sagas and Norse laws recorded in the 13th century. According to custom, all free Norse men were required to own weapons and were permitted to carry them at all times. These arms indicated a Viking's social status: a wealthy Viking had a complete ensemble of a Viking helmet, helmet, shield, Mail (armour), mail shirt, and sword. However, swords were rarely used in battle, probably not sturdy enough for combat and most likely only used as symbolic or decorative items. A typical ''bóndi'' (freeman) was more likely to fight with a spear and shield, and most also carried a seax as a utility knife and side-arm. Bows were used in the opening stages of land battles and at sea, but they tended to be considered less "honourable" than melee weapons. Vikings were relatively unusual for the time in their use of axes as a main battle weapon. The Housecarls, Húscarls, the elite guard of King Cnut (and later of Harold Godwinson, King Harold II) were armed with two-handed axes that could split shields or metal helmets with ease. The warfare and violence of the Vikings were often motivated and fuelled by their beliefs in Norse religion, focusing on Thor and Odin, the gods of war and death. In combat, it is believed that the Vikings sometimes engaged in a disordered style of frenetic, furious fighting known as ''berserkergang'', leading them to be termed Berserker, ''berserkers''. Such tactics may have been deployed intentionally by shock troops, and the berserk-state may have been induced through ingestion of materials with psychoactive properties, such as the hallucinogenic mushrooms, ''Amanita muscaria'', or large amounts of alcohol.


Trade

The Vikings established and engaged in extensive trading networks throughout the known world and had a profound influence on the economic development of Europe and Scandinavia.Gareth Williams
Viking Money
BBC History
Except for the major trading centres of Ribe,
Hedeby Hedeby (, Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia ...
and the like, the Viking world was unfamiliar with the use of coinage and was based on so called bullion economy, that is, the weight of precious metals. Silver was the most common metal in the economy, although gold was also used to some extent. Silver circulated in the form of bars, or ingots, as well as in the form of jewellery and ornaments. A large number of silver hoards from the Viking Age have been uncovered, both in Scandinavia and the lands they settled. Traders carried small scales, enabling them to measure weight very accurately, so it was possible to have a very precise system of trade and exchange, even without a regular coinage.


Goods

Organized trade covered everything from ordinary items in bulk to exotic luxury products. The Viking ship designs, like that of the ''knarr'', were an important factor in their success as merchants. Imported goods from other cultures included:Vikings as traders
, Teachers' notes 5. Royal Museums Greenwich
* Spices were obtained from Chinese and Persian traders, who met with the Viking traders in Russia. Vikings used homegrown spices and herbs like caraway, thyme, horseradish and Mustard seed, mustard, but imported cinnamon. * Glass was much prized by the Norse. The imported glass was often made into beads for decoration and these have been found in the thousands. Åhus in Scania and the old market town of Ribe were major centres of glass bead production. * Silk was a very important commodity obtained from
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
(modern day Istanbul) and China. It was valued by many European cultures of the time, and the Vikings used it to indicate status such as wealth and nobility. Many of the archaeological finds in Scandinavia include silk. * Wine was imported from France and Germany as a drink of the wealthy, augmenting the regular mead and beer. To counter these valuable imports, the Vikings exported a large variety of goods. These goods included: * Amber—the fossilised resin of the pine tree—was frequently found on the North Sea and Baltic Sea, Baltic coastline. It was worked into beads and ornamental objects, before being traded. (See also the Amber Road). * Fur was also exported as it provided warmth. This included the furs of pine martens, foxes, bears, otters and beavers. * Cloth and wool. The Vikings were skilled spinners and weavers and exported woollen cloth of a high quality. * Down feather, Down was collected and exported. The Norwegian west coast supplied eiderdowns and sometimes feathers were bought from the Samis. Down was used for bedding and quilted clothing. Fowling on the steep slopes and cliffs was dangerous work and was often lethal. * Slaves, known as thralls in Old Norse. On their raids, the Vikings captured many people, among them monks and clergymen. They were sometimes sold as slaves to Arab merchants in exchange for silver. Other exports included weapons, walrus ivory, wax, salt and cod. As one of the more exotic exports, Falconry, hunting birds were sometimes provided from Norway to the European aristocracy, from the 10th century. Many of these goods were also traded within the Viking world itself, as well as goods such as soapstone and Sharpening stone, whetstone. Soapstone was traded with the Norse on
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
and in Jutland, who used it for pottery. Whetstones were traded and used for sharpening weapons, tools and knives. There are indications from Ribe and surrounding areas, that the extensive medieval trade with oxen and cattle from Jutland (see Hærvejen, Ox Road), reach as far back as c. 720 AD. This trade satisfied the Vikings' need for leather and meat to some extent, and perhaps hides for parchment production on the European mainland. Wool was also very important as a domestic product for the Vikings, to produce warm clothing for the cold Scandinavian and Nordic climate, and for sails. Sails for Viking ships required large amounts of wool, as evidenced by experimental archaeology. There are archaeological signs of organised textile productions in Scandinavia, reaching as far back as the early Nordic Iron Age, Iron Ages. Artisans and craftsmen in the larger towns were supplied with antlers from organised hunting with large-scale reindeer traps in the far north. They were used as raw material for making everyday utensils like combs.


Legacy


Medieval perceptions

In England the Viking Age began dramatically on 8 June 793 when Norsemen destroyed the abbey on the island of Lindisfarne. The devastation of
Northumbria Northumbria (; ang, Norþanhymbra Rīċe; la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum) was an early medieval Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social scie ...

Northumbria
's Holy Island shocked and alerted the royal courts of Europe to the Viking presence. "Never before has such an atrocity been seen," declared the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin of York. Medieval Christians in Europe were totally unprepared for the Viking incursions and could find no explanation for their arrival and the accompanying suffering they experienced at their hands save the "Wrath of God". More than any other single event, the attack on Lindisfarne demonised perception of the Vikings for the next twelve centuries. Not until the 1890s did scholars outside Scandinavia begin to seriously reassess the achievements of the Vikings, recognizing their artistry, technological skills, and seamanship. Norse Mythology, sagas, and Old Norse literature, literature tell of Scandinavian culture and religion through tales of heroic and mythological heroes. Early transmission of this information was primarily oral, and later texts relied on the writings and transcriptions of Christian scholars, including the
Icelanders Icelanders ( is, Íslendingar) are a North Germanic ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set ...
Snorri Sturluson and Sæmundur fróði. Many of these sagas were written in Iceland, and most of them, even if they had no Icelandic provenance, were preserved there after the Middle Ages due to the continued interest of Icelanders in Norse literature and law codes. The 200-year Viking influence on History of Europe, European history is filled with tales of plunder and colonisation, and the majority of these chronicles came from western witnesses and their descendants. Less common, though equally relevant, are the Viking chronicles that originated in the east, including the Nestor the Chronicler, Nestor chronicles,
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative center of Novgorod O ...

Novgorod
chronicles, Ibn Fadlan chronicles, Ibn Rusta chronicles, and brief mentions by Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, regarding their first attack on the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. Other chroniclers of Viking history include
Adam of Bremen Adam of Bremen ( la, Adamus Bremensis; german: Adam von Bremen) (before 1050 – 12 October 1081/1085) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or peopl ...
, who wrote, in the fourth volume of his ''Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum'', "[t]here is much gold here (in Zealand (Denmark), Zealand), accumulated by piracy. These pirates, which are called ''wichingi'' by their own people, and ''Ascomanni'' by our own people, pay tribute to the Danish king." In 991, the Battle of Maldon between Viking raiders and the inhabitants of Maldon, Essex, Maldon in Essex was commemorated with a poem of the same name.


Post-medieval perceptions

Early modern publications, dealing with what is now called Viking culture, appeared in the 16th century, e.g. ''Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus'' (''History of the northern people'') of Olaus Magnus (1555), and the first edition of the 13th-century ''Gesta Danorum'' (''Deeds of the Danes''), by Saxo Grammaticus, in 1514. The pace of publication increased during the 17th century with Latin translations of the Edda (notably Peder Resen's ''Edda Islandorum'' of 1665). In Scandinavia, the 17th-century Danish scholars Thomas Bartholin and Ole Worm and the Swede Olaus Rudbeck used runic inscriptions and Icelandic sagas as historical sources. An important early British contributor to the study of the Vikings was George Hickes (divine), George Hickes, who published his ''Linguarum vett. septentrionalium thesaurus'' (''Dictionary of the Old Northern Languages'') in 1703–05. During the 18th century, British interest and enthusiasm for Iceland and early Scandinavian culture grew dramatically, expressed in English translations of Old Norse texts and in original poems that extolled the supposed Viking virtues. The word "viking" was first popularised at the beginning of the 19th century by Erik Gustaf Geijer in his poem, ''The Viking''. Geijer's poem did much to propagate the new romanticised ideal of the Viking, which had little basis in historical fact. The renewed interest of Romanticism in the Old North had contemporary political implications. The Geatish Society, of which Geijer was a member, popularised this myth to a great extent. Another Swedish author who had great influence on the perception of the Vikings was Esaias Tegnér, a member of the Geatish Society, who wrote a modern version of ''Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna'', which became widely popular in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Fascination with the Vikings reached a peak during the so-called
Viking revival The Viking revival was a movement reflecting new interest in, and appreciation for Viking medieval history and culture. Interest was reawakened in the late 18th and 19th centuries, often with added heroic overtones typical of that Romantic era. ...
in the late 18th and 19th centuries as a branch of Romantic nationalism. In Britain this was called Septentrionalism, in Germany "Wagnerian" pathos, and in the Scandinavian countries Scandinavism. Pioneering 19th-century scholarly editions of the Viking Age began to reach a small readership in Britain, archaeologists began to dig up Britain's Viking past, and linguistic enthusiasts started to identify the Viking-Age origins of rural idioms and proverbs. The new dictionaries of the Old Norse language enabled the Victorians to grapple with the primary Icelandic sagas.The Viking Revival By Professor Andrew Wawn at
BBC
Until recently, the history of the Viking Age was largely based on Icelandic sagas, the history of the Danes written by Saxo Grammaticus, the Russian ''Primary Chronicle'', and ''Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib''. Few scholars still accept these texts as reliable sources, as historians now rely more on archaeology and numismatics, disciplines that have made valuable contributions toward understanding the period.


In 20th-century politics

The romanticised idea of the Vikings constructed in scholarly and popular circles in northwestern Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries was a potent one, and the figure of the Viking became a familiar and malleable symbol in different contexts in the politics and political ideologies of 20th-century Europe. In Normandy, which had been settled by Vikings, the Viking ship became an uncontroversial regional symbol. In Germany, awareness of Viking history in the 19th century had been stimulated by the border dispute with Denmark over Schleswig-Holstein and the use of Scandinavian mythology by Richard Wagner. The idealised view of the Vikings appealed to Germanic supremacists who transformed the figure of the Viking in accordance with the ideology of a Germanic master race. Building on the linguistic and cultural connections between Norse-speaking Scandinavians and other Germanic groups in the distant past, Scandinavian Vikings were portrayed in Nazi Germany as a pure Germanic type. The cultural phenomenon of Viking expansion was re-interpreted for use as propaganda to support the extreme militant nationalism of the Third Reich, and ideologically informed interpretations of Viking paganism and the Scandinavian use of runes were employed in the construction of Nazi mysticism. Other political organisations of the same ilk, such as the former Norwegian fascist party Nasjonal Samling, similarly appropriated elements of the modern Viking cultural myth in their symbolism and propaganda. Soviet and earlier Slavophilia, Slavophile historians emphasized a Slavic rooted foundation in contrast to the Normanist theory of the Vikings conquering the Slavs and founding the
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
. They accused Normanist theory proponents of distorting history by depicting the Slavs as undeveloped primitives. In contrast, Soviet historians stated that the Slavs laid the foundations of their statehood long before the Norman/Viking raids, while the Norman/Viking invasions only served to hinder the historical development of the Slavs. They argued that Rus' (name), Rus' composition was Slavic and that Rurik and Oleg' success was rooted in their support from within the local Slavic aristocracy.. After the dissolution of the USSR,
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative center of Novgorod O ...

Novgorod
acknowledged its Viking history by incorporating a Viking ship into its logo.


In modern popular culture

Led by the operas of German composer Richard Wagner, such as ''Der Ring des Nibelungen'', Vikings and the Romanticist Viking Revival have inspired many creative works. These have included novels directly based on historical events, such as Frans Gunnar Bengtsson's ''The Long Ships'' (which was also released as a The Long Ships (1963 film), 1963 film), and historical fantasies such as the film ''The Vikings (1958 film), The Vikings'', Michael Crichton's ''Eaters of the Dead'' (movie version called ''The 13th Warrior''), and the comedy film ''Erik the Viking''. The vampire Eric Northman, in the HBO TV series ''True Blood'', was a Viking prince before being turned into a vampire. Vikings appear in several books by the Danish American writer Poul Anderson, while British explorer, historian, and writer Tim Severin authored a trilogy of novels in 2005 about a young Viking adventurer Thorgils Leifsson, who travels around the world. In 1962, American comic book writer Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber, together with Jack Kirby, created the Marvel Comics superhero Thor (Marvel Comics), Thor, which they based on the Norse god of the same name. The character is featured in the 2011 Marvel Studios film Thor (film), ''Thor'' and its sequels ''Thor: The Dark World'' and ''Thor: Ragnarok''. The character also appears in the 2012 film ''The Avengers (2012 film), The Avengers'' and its associated Marvel's Avengers Assemble (TV series), animated series. The appearance of Vikings within popular media and television has seen a resurgence in recent decades, especially with the History Channel's series ''Vikings (2013 TV series), Vikings'' (2013), directed by Michael Hirst (writer), Michael Hirst. The show has a loose grounding in historical facts and sources, but bases itself more so on literary sources, such as Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, fornaldarsaga Ragnars saga loðbrókar, itself more legend than fact, and Old Norse Eddic and Skaldic poetry. The events of the show frequently make references to the ''Völuspá'', an Eddic poem describing the creation of the world, often directly referencing specific lines of the poem in the dialogue. The show portrays some of the social realities of the medieval Scandinavian world, such as slavery and the greater role of women within Viking society. The show also addresses the topics of gender equity in Viking society with the inclusion of shield maidens through the character Lagertha, also based on a legendary figure. Recent archaeological interpretations and osteological analysis of previous excavations of Viking burials has given support to the idea of the Viking woman warrior, namely the excavation and DNA study of the Birka female Viking warrior, within recent years. However, the conclusions remain contentious. Vikings have served as an inspiration for numerous video games, such as ''The Lost Vikings'' (1993), ''Age of Mythology'' (2002), and ''For Honor'' (2017). All three Vikings from ''The Lost Vikings'' series—Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout—appeared as a Player character, playable hero in the crossover title ''Heroes of the Storm'' (2015). ''The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim'' (2011) is an Action role-playing game, action role-playing video game heavily inspired by Viking culture. Vikings are the lead focus of the 2020 video game ''Assassin's Creed Valhalla'', which is set in 873 AD, and recounts an alternative history of the Viking invasion of Britain. Modern reconstructions of Viking mythology have shown a persistent influence in late 20th- and early 21st-century popular culture in some countries, inspiring comics, movies, television series, role-playing games, computer games, and music, including Viking metal, a subgenre of heavy metal music. Since the 1960s, there has been rising enthusiasm for historical reenactment. While the earliest groups had little claim for historical accuracy, the seriousness and accuracy of reenactors has increased. The largest such groups include The Vikings (reenactment), The Vikings and Regia Anglorum, though many smaller groups exist in Europe, North America, New Zealand, and Australia. Many reenactor groups participate in live-steel combat, and a few have Viking-style ships or boats. The Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League are so-named owing to the large Scandinavian population in the US state of Minnesota. During the banking boom of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Icelandic financiers came to be styled as ''útrásarvíkingar'' (roughly 'raiding Vikings').


Common misconceptions


Horned helmets

Apart from two or three representations of (ritual) helmets—with protrusions that may be either stylised ravens, snakes, or horns—no depiction of the helmets of Viking warriors, and no preserved helmet, has horns. The formal, close-quarters style of Viking combat (either in shield walls or aboard "ship islands") would have made horned helmets cumbersome and hazardous to the warrior's own side. Historians therefore believe that Viking warriors did not wear horned helmets; whether such helmets were used in Scandinavian culture for other, ritual purposes, remains unproven. The general misconception that Viking warriors wore horned helmets was partly promulgated by the 19th-century enthusiasts of ''Geatish Society, Götiska Förbundet'', founded in 1811 in Stockholm. They promoted the use of Norse mythology as the subject of high art and other ethnological and moral aims. The Vikings were often depicted with winged helmets and in other clothing taken from Classical antiquity, especially in depictions of Norse gods. This was done to legitimise the Vikings and their mythology by associating it with the Classical world, which had long been idealised in European culture. The latter-day ''mythos'' created by National Romanticism, national romantic ideas blended the Viking Age with aspects of the Nordic Bronze Age some 2,000 years earlier. Horned helmets from the Bronze Age were shown in petroglyphs and appeared in archaeological finds (see Bohuslän and Vikso helmets). They were probably used for ceremonial purposes. Cartoons like ''Hägar the Horrible'' and ''Vicky the Viking'', and sports kits such as those of the Minnesota Vikings and Canberra Raiders have perpetuated the myth of the horned helmet. Viking helmets were conical, made from hard leather with wood and metallic reinforcement for regular troops. The iron helmet with mask and mail was for the chieftains, based on the previous Vendel-age helmets from central Sweden. The only original Viking helmet discovered is the Gjermundbu helmet, found in Norway. This helmet is made of iron and has been dated to the 10th century.


Barbarity

The image of wild-haired, dirty savages sometimes associated with the Vikings in popular culture is a distorted picture of reality. Viking tendencies were often misreported, and the work of Adam of Bremen, among others, told largely disputable tales of Viking savagery and uncleanliness.


Use of skulls as drinking vessels

There is no evidence that Vikings Skull cup, drank out of the skulls of vanquished enemies. This was a misconception based on a passage in the skaldic poem Krákumál speaking of heroes drinking from ''ór bjúgviðum hausa'' (branches of skulls). This was a reference to drinking horns, but was mistranslated in the 17th century as referring to the skulls of the slain.


Genetic legacy

Margaryan et al. 2020 analyzed 442 Viking world individuals from various archaeological sites in Europe. They were found to be closely related to modern Scandinavians. The Y-DNA composition of the individuals in the study was also similar to that of modern Scandinavians. The most common Y-DNA haplogroup was Haplogroup I-M253, I1 (95 samples), followed by Haplogroup R1b, R1b (84 samples) and Haplogroup R1a, R1a, especially (but not exclusively) of the Scandinavian R1a-Z284 subclade (61 samples). The study showed what many historians have hypothesized, that it was common for Norseman settlers to marry foreign women. Some individuals from the study, such as those found in Foggia, display typical Scandinavian Y-DNA haplogroups but also Southern European autosomal ancestry, suggesting that they were the descendants of Viking settler males and local women. The 5 individual samples from Foggia were likely
Normans The Normans (Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of N ...

Normans
. The same pattern of a combination of Scandinavian Y-DNA and local autosomal ancestry is seen in other samples from the study, for example
Varangians The Varangians (; non, Væringjar; gkm, Βάραγγοι, ''Várangoi'';Varangian
" Online Etymol ...
buried near lake Ladoga and Vikings in England, suggesting that Viking men had married into local families in those places too. The study found evidence of a Swedish influx into Estonia and Finland; and Norwegian influx into Ireland, Iceland and Greenland during the Viking Age. However the authors commented "Viking Age Danish-like ancestry in the British Isles cannot be distinguished from that of the Angles and Saxons, who migrated in the fifth to sixth centuries AD from Jutland and northern Germany". Margaryan et al. 2020 examined the skeletal remains of 42 individuals from the Salme ships, Salme ship burials in Estonia. The skeletal remains belonged to warriors killed in battle who were later buried together with numerous valuable weapons and armour. DNA testing and isotope analysis revealed that the men came from central Sweden. Female descent studies show evidence of Norse descent in areas closest to Scandinavia, such as the Shetland and Orkney Islands, Orkney islands. Inhabitants of lands farther away show most Norse descent in the male Y chromosome, Y-chromosome lines. A specialised genetic and surname study in Liverpool showed marked Norse heritage: up to 50% of males of families that lived there before the years of industrialisation and population expansion. High percentages of Norse inheritance—tracked through the R-M420 haplotype—were also found among males in the Wirral Peninsula, Wirral and West Lancashire. This was similar to the percentage of Norse inheritance found among males in the Orkney Islands. Recent research suggests that the Celtic warrior Somerled, who drove the Vikings out of western Scotland and was the progenitor of Clan Donald, may have been of List of haplogroups of historical and famous figures, Viking descent, a member of haplogroup R-M420. Margaryan et al. 2020 examined an elite warrior burial from Bodzia Cemetery, Bodzia (Poland) dated to 1010-1020 AD. The cemetery in Bodzia is exceptional in terms of Scandinavian and Kievian Rus links. The Bodzia man (sample VK157, or burial E864/I) was not a simple warrior from the princely retinue, but he belonged to the princely family himself. His burial is the richest one in the whole cemetery, moreover, strontium analysis of his teeth enamel shows he was not local.  It is assumed that he came to Poland with the Prince of Kiev, Sviatopolk I of Kiev, Sviatopolk the Accursed, and met a violent death in combat. This corresponds to the events of 1018 AD when Sviatopolk himself disappeared after having retreated from Kiev to Poland. It cannot be excluded that the Bodzia man was Sviatopolk himself, as the genealogy of the Rurikids at this period is extremely sketchy and the dates of birth of many princes of this dynasty may be quite approximative. The Bodzia man carried haplogroup I1-Haplogroup I-Z63, S2077 and had both Scandinavian ancestry and Russian admixture.


See also

* Faroese people * Geats * Gotlander * Gutasaga * Oeselians * Proto-Norse language * Scandinavian prehistory * Swedes (Germanic tribe) * Ushkuiniks, Novgorod's privateers * Viking raid warfare and tactics


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * Jesch, Judith, ''Women in the Viking Age'', 1991, Boydell & Brewer Ltd,
google books
* * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * Blanck, Dag. "The Transnational Viking: The Role of the Viking in Sweden, the United States, and Swedish America." ''Journal of Transnational American Studies'' 7.1 (2016)
online
* * Downham, Clare (2011). "Viking Ethnicities. A Historiographic Overview", ''History Compass'' 10.1 (2012), pp. 1–12
PDF Academic.edu
* * * * * * * *


External links


Vikings
– View videos at The History Channel


BBC: History of Vikings

Borg Viking museum, Norway

Ibn Fadlan and the Rusiyyah, by James E. Montgomery, with full translation of Ibn Fadlan

Reassessing what we collect website – Viking and Danish London
History of Viking and Danish London with objects and images * Wawm, Andrew
The Viking Revival
– BBC Online, Ancient History in Depth (updated 17 February 2011) {{Portalbar, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Russia, Germany, Belarus, Ukraine, Italy, Latvia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Oceans Vikings, Articles containing video clips Medieval pirates