In the Footsteps of the Vikings



Vikings were sailors from the area known today as Scandinavia. In contemporary times the word Viking was reserved for people who went on overseas raiding. During the romantic era the meaning of the word extended to cover almost all Scandinavians who lived in the Viking era. By extension, the term is used to designate the Scandinavian civilization of the Late Iron Age.


While I grab my backpack to direct me to the boat that will carry me on Naeroyfjord, a young Viking appears before me. With a beard, long blond hair, a fur coat thrown over his shoulders, he smiled. According to several experts, the Viking age ended in 1066 with the defeat of the Vikings in England. Yet I constantly meet Norwegian Vikings during my trip.

Viking houses was restored in a few strategic locations. With the help of guides dressed in period costumes, visitors can take a look at the lifestyle of these peaceful farmers who, from time to time, launched into fierce raiding missions on European shores.

One of these privileged places is Avaldsnes, the field of Harald, the great Viking king who unified Norway in 872. The various buildings of a Viking village are all reconstructed on the basis of recent discoveries. While a small drizzle begins to fall, the young man with the brown beard made me get inside a long wooden house and revives the fire before speaking to me far and wide to the everyday life of Vikings. His girlfriend, brings a barley soup full of chunks of vegetables and typical Viking dishes.

At Gudvangen, a Viking village is about to emerge at the end of Naeroyfjord. Over the next four years, we should build nearly forty houses and farm buildings, using traditional methods. Starting this fall, visitors can observe the different phases of construction and learn about Viking life. But already we can admire the reproduction of a ship and learn the basics of archery. For one week in July each year, the site hosts a huge Viking market.

After meeting beautiful Vikings in the flesh, it's time to look at the treasures of the Viking age, which can be found in institutions such as the Archaeological Museum of Stavanger, Oslo Museum of History but above all, the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. The extreme elegance of the ship discovered in 1904 at Oseberg my breath away. This boat, buried around the year 830, was used as a tomb to a Viking princess. The ship was restored, but most of its wood comes from the original boat.

Two other ships are available to public view, the Gokstad ship, also restored, and the boat of Tune, exposed in the state where it was discovered. The Vikings were not as thirsty barbarians blood and gold. They were also skilled craftsmen. But I found the fierce image of the Vikings to the Oslo Museum of History. Swords, spears, axes, chain mail, all for bloodthirsty warrior. And helmet, one of the few iron helmets found in Norway, decorated with a kind of mask to protect the eyes. But no horns. Let it be said, the true Viking helmets never had horns.

Where were vikings originally from

This is the view taken in part of this article. They are often called Normans, that is to say, the men of the North in ancient literature. Unlike other Germanic peoples of the southernmost Europe, they remained pagan until the first half of the xth century. This is one reason why it emerges from the European texts of the early Middle Ages a negative image of their action, reduced to acts of piracy and plunder, characterized by the violence of their raids and their pagan barbarism.

However, most contemporary documentation helped qualify the aim and stresses the positive aspect of their action in some cases, because they were also great sailors, explorers, merchants and warriors who reached the Atlantic coasts of Europe, the Mediterranean, the East and even the America (Vinland), while sometimes establishing trading posts and settlements as in Faroe islands, Orkneys, Iceland, Greenland, etc.

They established new and original States in Normandy and Russia. Their assimilation in colonized countries stems from a deliberate political choice that led to their acculturation in decades. The Viking Age ended after the assertion in Scandinavia of monarchical powers and the conversion to Christianity.

Because of the need in the Scandinavian countries for a national symbol for identification and pride, the Vikings were made the object of unrestrained admiration, especially from the 1840s to the 1940s. Although the then nationalistic embossed representation of the Vikings is toned down significantly in the postwar period, the Vikings are still one of the most famous ethnic symbols in the Nordic countries. Moreover, they are the most famous symbol of the Nordic countries in the world outside Scandinavia.

The meaning of the word Viking is uncertain. Three theories have been proposed to explain the word's origin. One theory is that the term travellers refer to Viking, because they sailed out from Vik (bay) while others relate it to the landscape name Viken, which was the old name of the coast of Oslo Fjord. According to the Danish historian Else Roesdahl, it is a West Nordic word meaning something like one who fights at sea.

Oldest preserved source of the word Viking is from the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith which probably stems from the 800s, siþþan hy forwræcon wicinga cynn (since they chased Viking seed). Mutual Saxon assault was called at the time of the Anglo-Saxons for Viking assault. Attacks from the Scandinavian areas referred to in the same sources usually attacking from Gentiles, Danes or Norwegians.

Were norwegians vikings

In the sagas viking is often the expression pulling the dolphins. The word disappeared from the language in the centuries following the saga time. In Ludvig Holberg in the 1700s, the word was synonymous with piracy. In the next few years after 1810 the word was reintroduced in contemporary language, in Sweden in patriotic poem by Erik Gustaf Geijer and Esaias Tegnér, while it was reintroduced in Danish of the so-called Golden Age poets. In Norway some time later.

During the romantic era in the 1800s the word significance extended beyond recognition so that it came to mean almost anything related to the community a millennium earlier. A Viking was not just the term for those who went on raiding, but a characteristic of all contemporary societies. Today is often used dolphins as a badge of honor for people who are tough and strong, often athletes.

Both archeology and history science rains Viking Age from approximately 800 - ca. 1050. There are no sharp political divide that marks the Viking beginning or end. Older, more militarily and politically oriented historiography scheduled era between the attack on Lindisfarne and respectively battles of Stiklestad or Stamford Bridge. But such accuracy in schedule is considered to be artificial in a more broad understanding of Viking society.

The oldest preserved secure written reference to the Viking activity, the plundering of the monastery of Lindisfarne off the coast of northeastern England on 8. June 793, although similar activity probably took place before this, but without being recorded and preserved for posterity as sources. In 789 mentions the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle a raid against Portland on the south coast of England. Those who carried out the mission should have been from Hordaland, although sources are somewhat unclear about this.

Vikings must be seen in light of the socio-political situation of Europe during the Roman Empire fall in 400. The former empire was now divided into many smaller chief judges. Germanic peoples were wandering and came often in conflict. In many ways you could say that the Viking Age was an extension of the migration period we see in Europe in the centuries before. 814 died in Charlemagne and the empire went in feudal resolution. This meant that there was no overall state power on the European continent that could oppose the Viking conquest attempts and taxation.

During the second half of 1000 the number decreased Viking activity outside their home country and the Viking Age came to an end. Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 was the last Scandinavian attempt to recapture England and Magnus Barefoot fallen in Ireland in 1103 as the last of the Viking kings.

Among the reasons why the Viking Age came to an end inter alia, that the Danish Nordsjøveldet disintegrated, the violence in Norway was facing from external expansion to internal civil war after 1130, further that the European countries had stronger powers, which made them a difficult switch of external aggression. Viking end coincides with the first crusade in 1095.

The proliferation of business travel is the most clearly distinguishes Viking society from the preceding and following. Viking travels stretched from Greenland in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east. Often going conquests in stages, so that the Vikings settled on a place, was there a few years or a generation before they continued conquest on.

What were the reasons for the Viking raids? Most either today to the theory that they were due to lack of arable land. From Norway was particularly from Western Norway they went out on their journeys. Geography dictates that here had to shortage of land will be greatest. It began with trade missions to foreign countries. Later this business over to the pirate expeditions. It was happy farmers and chiefs - most of Western Norway who led these expeditions. At home in Norway would these happily live on storkarsvis with lavish feast and blot gilder, where numerous guests could take care of food and drink.

But resources were too scarce in the overcrowded coastal villages. Designated supply was insufficient. You added therefore in the household by Rob in foreign countries. They could be the Viking summer and live on their farms in the fall, winter and spring. A chief's son who was heir, so the Vikings profession as a viable alternative to farming.

Ravages in foreign countries earned him free assets. Many Vikings were very rich, and besides they could through battles against other Vikings or other countries win great honor at home in Norway. The latter counted often as much as goods and gold. For others who set out on the open sea, was colonization the real and important purpose for Exodus.

In the latter half of the 800 years of organized Vikings from the Nordic countries that history calls the great army. The ravaged France, Ireland and England. When huge amounts of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish Vikings made landfalls, pretended they did not join it. They conquered new lands and founded cities. Nordic merchants and land-hungry peasants followed in their wake.

Norwegian Vikings sailed north along the coast of Norway and the North Sea to the Faroe Islands, Scotland and Ireland. They discovered and populated Island in the late 800s and filed two colonies in Greenland. Eventually let Norwegian kings under his islands in the North Sea, and parts of Scotland and Ireland. Icelander Leif Erikson filed a settlement north of the island Newfoundland on the American side of the Atlantic around the year 1000.

In an easterly direction went Vikings especially from Svea Rike up along the rivers of Russia, some as far as the Caspian Sea. Here was the state Novgorod, which is one of Russia's first major state.

Danish Vikings sailed across the North Sea to England, and formed a kingdom in Jorvik (York). From the 830's were Franks subjected to frequent Viking attacks. Here went the Vikings up along rivers in France, but they rarely went far from ships. In what would become known as Normandy in northern France, the area was colonized, and was recognized as an independent kingdom in 911. The landscape was named after the Vikings.

With colonies in Ireland, England and France as a base, the Iberian Peninsula and southern Italy was also vulnerable to raids. In 968, Bishop Sisnando of Compostela was killed and the Curtis monastery was looted. The Norwegians also took hostages whom they freed against ransom. On the peninsula's southern part Vikings sailed up to Guadalquivir River on its looting process in 844, and this was the pretext that Cordoba Kalifatet organized its first fleet.

In 30th century the Viking ideals was misused for political propaganda, where they wanted to emphasize ideals as indomitable courage and the will to win. Meanwhile they highlighted also their actual talent for technical innovations and social organization. After the last war the pendulum swung to one opposite political extreme, where they again brings up the Frankish narratives describing the Vikings' bloody conduct and sovereign contempt for people.

When the Nordic sources like Icelandic family sagas and Snorri Heimskringla tells of landfalls in foreign countries, we find less of this pagan savagery, although brutal scenes were often portrayed in connection with conflicts and wars. Christian Europe naturally took offense at the assault by the Scandinavian armies that were done in the Catholic strongholds in the north, where churches and monasteries were part of the Roman Empire aggressions against the free nations in the north.

In the last two centuries it has been launched a number of theories to explain the Vikings 250 years long military expansionism. Viking society was a clan society, which means that a person's position, status, rights and obligations was fully determined by its kinship or subordination to the big men. The lack of state power, church and police led to the only safety and security a person could secure was the one got through his ættetilhørighet.

The absence of a central state power, clan society, and a very touchy understanding of honor, brought together to endless ættefeider where war was a family matter, not a just a matter of the state. The establishment of institutions such things, church and central states can be interpreted as an attempt to put a damper on this extreme level of violence.

Where do vikings come from originally

It was previously believed that the clan society and blood ties were among the deciding factors that kept society together, but today it seems as if it was the chieftain society and government contract friendship which was the most important. Such friendships and alliances were established by means of gifts and generosity, and wealth, power, influence and number of allies was therefore inevitably linked. One of the consequences of this practice of acquiring allies through gifts was that chieftains constantly had seize any opportunity to acquire income and wealth where this was possible.

In light of ættefeider, the culture of violence was not anything unique in Viking expansionism. The only difference was that naval technology reached such a level that raiding overseas was easier rather than internally. The Viking Expeditions also led to a continuous supply of new populations to the Nordic countries. Recent genetic research has shown that a large proportion of Scandinavian's genetic material can be traced back to Celtics.

Archaeologists have discovered a strong increase in iron production at the start of the Viking Age. This was a prerequisite for the military expansion that followed. The vessels that were used in the Scandinavian countries during the Viking Age was among one of the prerequisites for the success of the Vikings. The ships could sail fast and far. On a day they could well sail over 150 nautical miles (about 280 km) with a force of 200 ships and 5,000 men.

An army of a size that could defend against the Vikings, was only able to gather after the Vikings were gone again. Not least, they could quickly come ashore with a whole army, at a bar, sandy beach, or high up in a small river. The Vikings were not dependent on the ports. The ships could also be transported over land, as a normal horse wagon could carry it.

Viking equipment consisted of an ax, shield and spear. Furthermore, they wore clothes of homespun wool and fur. Based on archaeological knowledge we can say with certainty that only wealthy Vikings had a helmet and breastplate.

Viking sverd klinger could be damasksmidde, i.e., that blade was forged in part by carbonless, partly by opp kullet steel, which gives a beautiful pattern of light and dark steel. Klinger from the Rhineland in the Franks were particularly sought after because of the high quality. Usually stood smith's name as a trade mark on the blade. The Vikings gave according sagas swords name, and believed they had a separate personality.

Kings and captains may have had particularly great helmets, so it was easy for courtiers to follow them and protect them in battle. There is a widespread myth that the Vikings wore helmets with horns. However, this is a romantic idea from the German operaliv of 1900s, where Vikings in including Wagner's opera Der Ring des Nibelungen bar helmets with horns to appear more intimidating.

There are depictions of people with helmets with horns, including by the Danish Gundestrup Cauldron from the year 100 BC. There are also helmets with horns from more southerly parts of Europe. These are not from the Viking era but from Pre-Roman Iron Age, several centuries earlier. The only Viking helmet found in a tomb from the Gjermundbu in Haugsbygd in Ringerike. The helmet is probably made on Gotland.

In hindsight, the view of the Viking era was heavily influenced by situation. Most of the written sources that have been used as report about the Viking age have either been retold orally and has been recorded several centuries after the fact, or are strongly colored by being recorded by Viking opponents who regarded them as ungodly heathens.

Sources from the saga tradition is recorded in a Christian høymiddelalderstat which differed greatly from the pre-Christian Viking society that was described. However sagas include many squares as opposed to sagas of Viking events in relation to contemporary.

Vikings lived before written culture spread. The ability to recite poems were highly appreciated. Because poems follow completely determined spondee and alliteration, we can put our faith in poems from this era is handed down in almost unchanged form until they were written in the Middle Ages. 3-4 poem is preserved from the 800s, a few dozen of 900s. These have been preserved because they were incorporated into Icelandic saga literature in the 1200s.

As a tool to understand the Viking Era, historians sang for higher source value than saga literature that is recorded several centuries after the Viking era. Most surviving poems are written to preserve the memory of deeds of Vikings perceived as heroic and to strengthen reputation for posterity.

Were vikings swedish or norwegian

Rune stones are an important contemporary source for Viking expeditions and the names of the different players. Such stones are several places in the Nordic countries . An example is Ingvar stones in Mälardalen in Sweden, which was erected to commemorate the fateful Viking voyage into today's Russia, in the early 1000's. In addition to being a source of Viking, these rocks also sources of how society was in the Nordic areas at this time.

The first smaller trading centers in Scandinavia was founded before 800. Many were founded with royal authority, such as for example Hedeby and Bergen, as the royals had no interest yielded tax from trade.

The trade was intensified throughout the Viking era and the end of the 900s it had spread from Iceland to the Caspian Sea . The traders in Scandinavia were looking for silver from the East. This was replaced in goods such as furs, honey, wax, weapons and slaves. Other items that were imported to Scandinavia from the East were glassware, silk and metal work. Most of these items were probably imported from Byzantium . Goods from the Western world is more everyday such as textiles and basalt to millstones. However, it was also imported luxury items such as pottery, wine and drinking glasses.

Kaupang is a place name that was used on various trading markets, which KAUPANG in Skiringssal, Kaupanger in Sogn, Koppang in Østerdalen, KAUPANG in Trondheim and Hamarkaupangen. The oldest Norwegian merchant town we know, it is in Skiringssal, which was mentioned by Ottar.

Kaupang name was used alone (one Kaupang within a larger area, which KAUPANG in Trondheim) or with place names. In areas Skåne and Halland in Sweden there are a number of smaller merchants who all have names that end with köping. All venues are located near the coast and a river.

Birka was a Swedish trading town in Viking times, on a par with Kaupang in Norway. Birka lay on Björkön Uppland. The town was established in 700 AD and had in its heyday around 1000 inhabitants. Birka is mentioned in the 800s as Birca, which is considered to be of Björkö. Birka mentioned by Adam of Bremen. Hit came the holy Ansgar and filed the first Christian church on the Scandinavian Peninsula in 829. Approximately seven hundred people stayed at Birka when the city was at its strongest. Merchants from near and far even from the Arabian Peninsula with precious merchandise searched into the city, but most foreigners seem to have been Frisians. Towards the end of the 900s was Birka abandoned in favor of Sigtuna.

Birka has been the focus of research since the 1600s. The first systematic surveys were however conducted by archaeologist Hjalmar Stolpe between 1871 and 1895. The biggest modern excavations took place between 1990 and 1995, when Björn Ambrosiani examined the so-called black earth where the main settlement should have been.

The main area is located at Björkö and covers approximately 7 hectares. The archaeological investigations revealed traces of settlements and burial. From these studies, the authors concluded that there may have lived as many as 1,000 people in Birka, when the city was at its greatest. It is not known how the houses within the palisade looked like, but it is likely that they were built of wood.

The archaeological investigations revealed that Birka was a very active trading point and that it was home to traders, craftsmen and farmers. Here it partly dealt in Arabic silver, Russian beads, iron and furs. Apart from two to three cases of ritual helmets that had protruding horns, or snakes, no illustrations or excavations of Viking helmets indicated that they had horns.

The general misconception that Vikings had horned helmets stems probably from the Goth connected in Sweden, which was founded in 1811 with the intent to promote the Norse mythology as a religion of high artistic reputation. The myth has probably been reinforced through nationalism and through the Viking era have been mixed up with the Nordic Bronze Age, which was 2000 years earlier. From the Bronze Age has been found horned helmets, through archaeological finds and petroglyphs. Helmets presumably have been used in ceremonies.

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