The name Viking calls up the image of ravaging warriors. Vikings, also called Norseman, colonized huge areas of Europe from the 8th century to the 11th century in a period known as the Viking Age . In Old Norse, the word ìVikingî means ìto go on an expeditionî and thatís what the Vikings did! They spent most of their time raiding and exploring.
The Viking Age began in 793 when the Vikings destroyed an abbey in England. Afterwards, skirmishes were very common. In 840, they captured the city of Dublin. Eventually, the Vikings possessed all of what is now Scotland and Ireland. In 865, they began settling in eastern England. In 866, they managed to take York, the Danish capital of England. Nottingham, Thetford, and Wessex were next. Eventually, the Danish King Alfred had control of most of England. However, it wasnít to last. The Viking Age came to an end in 1066 when William the Conqueror of Normandy won control of England.
Ships were an integral part of a Vikingís life, and many ships have been recovered , giving us a great understanding of how they were built. The largest ships were known as Knarrs. All of them were made of wood . The trees were cut down and then shaped. As metal was expensive, they would use trenails, wooden pins that were split and wedged, to hold pieces of the ships together. The travails would be driven into holes and then at the ends of the dowel where a split is cut and a wedge is driven in to keep it from moving. Sometimes they would also lash pieces together using cords that were soaked in pitch.
Berserkers were Viking warriors who wore coats of animal skin, usually bear or wolf, and were believed to fight in an ì uncontrollable trance .î They would whip themselves up into ìbattle frenzyî when they seemed to be impervious to pain. They were both a help and a hindrance on the battlefield because they would be so blind with rage that they attacked even their own people!
Clothing style for a Viking depended on many things: their importance in their village; how rich they were; and where in Scandinavia their village was located. However, clothing tended to have a few things in common no matter what station a Viking belonged. The clothes would be heavy and snug to block out the cold. Vikings enjoyed bright colors as well so all of their clothes were dyed in bright colors like reds, blues, greens, and yellows.
Viking women wore ankle-length dresses that were usually made of linen. Their shoes were be made of leather and they would wear knee-length wool leggings to keep warm. Men wore tunics and leggings in several layers to keep warm. Outside of these, they wore jerkins or three-quarter coats and belts. Like women, they wore leather shoes.
Food was also very important for the Vikings. Viking women spent the majority of their time cooking. Many types of fish were their main sources of protein. They also ate whales, seals, shellfish, and seaweed. On land, the Vikings ate wild boar, elk, lamb, and red deer . Often, they would put the meat inside two slices of bread with butter. Honey was often used as a sweetener and they also drank liquids like buttermilk, skim milk, beer or mead, which they drank out of drinking horns.
Vikings believed in what is now called Norse Mythology . They worshipped many gods, although their chief god was Odin. They made sacrifices and gave offerings to the gods to keep them happy. The Vikings also believed that only someone who died in battle was able to enter Valhalla , their version of Heaven. People who did not make it there would go to Hel.
Viking celebrations were usually large gatherings. Viking weddings were always held on Freyaís Day, or Friday. Most were held outdoors. They would usually sacrifice an animal to gain the attention of the gods. Then, the groom would present the bride with one of his ancestorís sword. She would hold it in trust for their son. The pair would then exchange words and then rings. The brideís would be offered to her on the hilt of her groomís sword and vice versa. Afterwards, there would be a great feast.
Funerals often involved cremations. The deceased was laid into a boat and were given grave offerings. They were then covered in stones and soil to create a tumulus. The ship would then be set on fire, cremating them. However, lower-class people at the time were buried in simple holes in the ground. Some people were also cremated on land.
The Vikings left their mark on the world. Few other peoples have managed to spread their influence so far so quickly, and their legacy is still felt in many parts of Europe today.