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The Vikings

Articles on the culture, history, and peoples of the Viking Age

Articles on the culture, history, and peoples of the Viking Age


Viking Literature: Stories, Sagas and Myths

Viking culture was rich in stories, tales and poems. Kings, brave heroes, beautiful women, dangerous journeys, battles, fearsome dragons and otherworldly creatures were all subjects of tales told by skalds and everyone else. In the Viking Age, no one wrote them down, but everyone knew them, mostly by heart. Long…


Viking Navigation: Sailing the Open Seas

Most Viking journeys followed coasts or rivers, yet Vikings also possessed the ability to sail out of sight of land across the sea to new lands. This ability astonished their contemporaries, who were in awe of these fearless mariners and warriors. How did the Vikings cross the Atlantic Ocean to…


Viking Ships for War, Trade and Exploration

The technological innovation in Scandinavian ship building gave the Vikings the tactical superiority they needed to raid and subdue most of Europe and Russia during the Viking Age. Viking longships were fast, strong enough to cross open ocean, light enough to carry over portages and easy to maneuver with a…

viking art

Viking Art: The Six Art Styles

Viking art is emblematic of the surprisingly ornate material culture of the Northerners. Vikings loved elaborate decorations and they decorated many of the things they used: weapons, jewelry, runestones, ship woodwork and even their common, everyday items. They loved abstract and intricate animal designs and multiple interlacing lines. The animals…

viking weapons

Viking Weapons and Armor: A Partial Summary

For more information on Viking weapons and other counter-intuitive facts of ancient and medieval history, see Anthony Esolen's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization.   There are a few things to keep in mind as you read about Viking weapons and armor. First, free, adult male Vikings were always armed; they…


Vikings as Raiders

So far, we’ve explored Vikings in their roles of farmers, blacksmiths, traders and weavers. However, it’s important to realize that for three centuries, most of Europe saw Vikings in their most ferocious, primal role—as feared raiders. For most of the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, Vikings ravaged European communities in…


Viking Trade Towns

Before the Viking Age, there weren’t any real towns in Scandinavia. Instead, the landscape was dotted by small farming or fishing villages where the self-reliant population worked and lived. Nearly everything a Viking family needed, they made themselves. However, they also grew extra crops or raised extra livestock to use…

viking traders

Viking Traders: How Exactly Did They Trade?

Viking traders went west as far as Newfoundland in the New World, and East as far as the Volga River, down to Constantinople. When the Vikings left their homelands in the beginning of the Viking Age in the 790s, they didn’t just go to raid and loot. Many of them…


Viking Skalds and Storytellers

Like many older cultures, the Vikings had a professional class of poets and storytellers who carried the history, literature and mythology of the Norse culture in their heads. No poetry or sagas were written in the early years of the Viking Age; rather the history of the Norsemen and the…


Viking Runes and Runestones

Runic Alphabet The Germanic people, including the Norse Vikings, had developed a written alphabet as early as A.D. 100. This alphabet is known as the futhark, named for the first six letters. There are three main forms, the Elder Futhark, with 24 characters, predominantly used from A.D. 100 to 800;…

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