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By , 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 , 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.
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.
The most important primary sources on the Vikings are contemporary texts from Scandinavia and regions where the Vikings were active.
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 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 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.
Viking influence is also evident in concepts like the present-day parliamentary body of the Tynwald on the Isle of Man.
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 Sveinn 's Isle or some of the place names in Normandy like Tocqueville Toki's farm.
Linguistic and 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.
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 rapids on the Dnieper , but this can hardly be seen from the modern names. 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 runestones, Norway has 50 while Iceland has none. The Swedish district of Uppland has the highest concentration with as many as 1, inscriptions in stone, whereas Södermanland is second with The majority of runic inscriptions from the Viking period are found in Sweden.
Many runestones in Scandinavia record the names of participants in Viking expeditions, such as the 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 : Englandsstenarna which is a group of about 30 runestones in Sweden which refer to Viking Age voyages to England.
They were engraved in Old Norse with the Younger Futhark. The Jelling stones date from between and The older, smaller stone was raised by King Gorm the Old , the last pagan king of Denmark, as a memorial honouring Queen Thyre.
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 ,  Greece how the Vikings referred to the Byzantium territories generally ,  Khwaresm ,  Jerusalem ,  Italy as Langobardland ,  Serkland i.
Viking Age inscriptions have also been discovered on the Manx runestones on the Isle of Man. 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 Swedish province of Dalarna.
They spoke the language of Elfdalian , the language unique to Älvdalen. The Elfdalian language differentiates itself from the other Scandinavian languages as it evolved much closer to Old Norse.
The people of Älvdalen stopped using runes as late as the s. Usage of runes therefore survived longer in Älvdalen than anywhere else in the world.
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.
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, native speakers of Elfdalian. 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. 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.
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.
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 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 s, 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 , 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.
Viking society was divided into the three socio-economic classes: Thralls, Karls and Jarls. Archaeology has confirmed this social structure.
Thralls were the lowest ranking class and were slaves. Slaves comprised as much as a quarter of the population. 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.
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. The Jarls were the 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 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.
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 Things.
Like elsewhere in medieval Europe, most women in Viking society were subordinate to their husbands and fathers and had little political power.
Most free Viking women were housewives, and the woman's standing in society was linked to that of her husband.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Scandinavian Vikings were similar in appearance to modern Scandinavians ; "their skin was fair and the hair color varied between blond, dark and reddish".
Genetic studies show that people were mostly blond in what is now eastern Sweden, while red hair was mostly found in western Scandinavia. 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 golden saffron color. 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 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.
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 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 , smoked and whey -preserved meat,  sausages, and boiled or fried fresh meat cuts, were prepared and consumed.
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.
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 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 seals were hunted nearly everywhere.
Oysters , mussels and shrimps 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.
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 and horseradish as evidenced from the Oseberg ship burial  or dill , coriander , and 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 , wild strawberry , blackberry , elderberry , rowan , hawthorn and various wild berries, specific to the locations.
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.
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.
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.
The effects of this can be seen on skeletal remains of that period. Sports were widely practised and encouraged by the Vikings.
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.
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 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. 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 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.
The Vikings are known to have played instruments including harps , fiddles , lyres and lutes. Viking-age reenactors have undertaken experimental activities such as iron smelting and forging using Norse techniques at Norstead in Newfoundland for example.
The remains of that ship and four others were discovered during a excavation in the Roskilde Fjord. Tree-ring analysis has shown the ship was built of oak in the vicinity of Dublin in about Seventy multi-national crew members sailed the ship back to its home, and Sea Stallion arrived outside Dublin's Custom House on 14 August 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.
In the ninth century, Scandinavians mainly Norwegians began to colonize Iceland, an island in the North Atlantic where no one had yet settled in large numbers.
By the late 10th century, some Vikings including the famous Erik the Red moved even further westward, to Greenland.
According to later Icelandic histories, some of the early Viking settlers in Greenland supposedly led by the Viking hero Leif Eriksson , son of Erik the Red may have become the first Europeans to discover and explore North America.
The midth-century reign of Harald Bluetooth as king of a newly unified, powerful and Christianized Denmark marked the beginning of a second Viking age.
Large-scale raids, often organized by royal leaders, hit the coasts of Europe and especially England, where the line of kings descended from Alfred the Great was faltering.
Crowned king of England on Christmas Day in , William managed to retain the crown against further Danish challenges. The events of in England effectively marked the end of the Viking Age.
Today, signs of the Viking legacy can be found mostly in the Scandinavian origins of some vocabulary and place-names in the areas in which they settled, including northern England, Scotland and Russia.
In Iceland, the Vikings left an extensive body of literature, the Icelandic sagas, in which they celebrated the greatest victories of their glorious past.
But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present.
The Viking Age brought change not only to the regions of Europe plundered and conquered by the Nordic warriors, but to Scandinavia itself.
Beginning around A. While the exact reasons for Vikings venturing out from their homeland are uncertain; some have suggested it was Advances in Shipbuilding and Navigation Perhaps the most striking of Viking achievements was their state-of-the-art shipbuilding technology, which allowed them to travel greater distances than anyone before them.
Their signature longboats—sleek wooden vessels with shallow When did organ music become associated with baseball? Asked By Curt Eichmann.
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Did the Vikings have enemies and allies? A sign of peaceful relations between the indigenous peoples and the Norsemen is noted here.
The two sides bartered with furs and gray squirrel skins for milk and red cloth, which the natives tied around their heads as a sort of headdress.
There are conflicting stories but one account states that a bull belonging to Karlsefni came storming out of the wood, so frightening the natives that they ran to their skin-boats and rowed away.
They returned three days later, in force. The natives used catapults, hoisting "a large sphere on a pole; it was dark blue in color" and about the size of a sheep's belly,  which flew over the heads of the men and made an ugly din.
The Norsemen retreated. She called out to them to stop fleeing from "such pitiful wretches", adding that if she had weapons, she could do better than that.
She pulled one of her breasts out of her bodice and struck it with the sword, frightening the natives, who fled. Purported runestones have been found in North America, most famously the Kensington Runestone.
These are generally considered to be hoaxes or misinterpretations of Native American petroglyphs. Monuments claimed to be Norse include: .
Other nineteenth-century writers, such as Horsford's friend Thomas Gold Appleton , in his A Sheaf of Papers , and George Perkins Marsh , in his The Goths in New England , seized upon such false notions of Viking history also to promote the superiority of white people as well as to oppose the Catholic Church.
Such misuse of Viking history and imagery reemerged in the twentieth century among some groups promoting white supremacy.
Settlements in continental North America aimed to exploit natural resources such as furs and in particular lumber, which was in short supply in Greenland.
For centuries it remained unclear whether the Icelandic stories represented real voyages by the Norse to North America. The sagas first gained serious historic respectability in when the Danish antiquarian Carl Christian Rafn pointed out the possibility for a Norse settlement in, or voyages to, North America.
North America, by the name Winland , first appeared in written sources in a work by Adam of Bremen from approximately The most important works about North America and the early Norse activities there, namely the Sagas of Icelanders , were recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The location of the various lands described in the sagas remains unclear, however. The location of Vinland poses a thornier question.
Archeological findings in at Point Rosee ,   on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, were originally thought to reveal evidence of a turf wall and the roasting of bog iron ore, and therefore a possible 10th century Norse settlement in Canada.
She also expressed doubt that Point Rosee was a Norse site as there are no good landing sites for their boats and there are steep cliffs between the shoreline and the excavation site.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: History of Greenland. The Vinland sagas: the Norse discovery of America.
Penguin Classics. Retrieved Parks Canada. February 18, . Hare, John Bruno ed. The Norse Discovery of America. Saga of Erik the Red. The first winter he was at Eriksey, nearly in the middle of the eastern settlement; the spring after repaired he to Eriksfjord, and took up there his abode.
He removed in summer to the western settlement, and gave to many places names. He was the second winter at Holm in Hrafnsgnipa, but the third summer went he to Iceland, and came with his ship into Breidafjord.
Journal of the North Atlantic. The Vikings and America. New York: Thames and Hudson. Der Spiegel Online. Retrieved 12 January Arctic Anthropology.
Human Ecology. Quaternary Science Reviews.