Viking Prophecy: The Poem Völuspá of the Poetic Edda

Every god has a specific enemy with whom they will do battle and many will be slain, including the chief god Odin. By Irina Manea Introduction The Völuspá (Old Norse: Vǫluspá) is a medieval poem of the Poetic Edda that describes how the world might have come into shape and would end according to Norse[…]

Loki, Villainous Trickster God of Medieval Norse Mythology

Loki is referred to in 13th-century Scandinavian poems and folklore. Introduction Loki is a god in Norse mythology. Loki is in some sources the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By[…]

Art of the Viking Age

Interacting with many cultures and settling in many regions, the Norse were more cosmopolitan than they receive credit for. Introduction Modern representations of the Vikings can be fun, but are often limited to sensationalized depictions of violent, raiding warriors. In reality, Vikings were a small group of a larger community of people called the Norse[…]

The Little-Known Role of Slavery in Medieval Viking Society

The institution of slavery had long antecedents in Scandinavia, probably going back thousands of years before the time of the Vikings. One of the most enduring components of the Viking image is the notion of freedom—the adventure of a far horizon and all that went with it. But for many, this was an unattainable hope.[…]

How Did the Vikings Change East Anglia?

Although the Vikings’ time in East Anglia was relatively brief, they made many contributions to the area’s culture. Their legacies include contributions to language, laws, place names, churches – and even England’s own saint. By Dr. Robert Harding Affiliated Researcher in Indian Languages and Cultures University of Cambridge East Anglia had a special relationship with[…]

Weapons in the Viking Age

Viking swords / Wikimedia Commons Historians have used written accounts and archaeological records to determine that Vikings fought – on foot and on horseback – with swords, shields, spears and axes. Historians also think the Vikings wore defensive armour and helmets (without horns), but archaeological proof has been harder to find. By Dr. Rob Howell Director, Language[…]

What Material Culture Tells Us about How the Vikings Lived

Chieftains house replica / Photo by Juanjo Marin, Wikimedia Commons Archaeological artefacts found in places such as Viking graves and former villages – including animal bones, brooches, weapons, pottery, etc. – can tell researchers many things about the Vikings, including how wealthy they might have been, what they wore, what items they used in their[…]

The Vikings in Ireland

Screenshot from a video game called War of the Vikings showing fighting Vikings, with some of their ships visible, too. / Photo by John Rickne, Community Manager, Paradox Interactive, Wikimedia Commons What exactly motivated the Vikings to set sail for Ireland (or the British Isles in general) is subject to ongoing debate. By Emma Groeneveld / 12.11.2017 Historian In early[…]

Vikings Ships and Seafaring

Viking Longship Replica / Wikimedia Commons The Vikings used a variety of vessels for different purposes, from broad ships to fishing vessels, but the longship is the most iconic ship associated with them. The longship was sturdy enough to traverse the seas but nimble enough to navigate rivers, It could be powered by sails or[…]

The Enduring Appeal of Norse Gods

The stuff of legend. Shutterstock Norse mythology is having a moment as a leading author re-tells the tales for a new generation. By Dr. Carolyne Larrington / 02.21.2017 Professor and Tutorial Fellow in English St. John’s College University of Oxford The Norse gods are back and ready for a new generation in acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman’s newly published book Norse Mythology. Yet the truth is[…]

More than Blood and Bling: Our Many Visions of the Vikings

What does a 21st century Viking look like? Anthony Devlin/PA The Vikings have an enduring appeal in the popular and academic consciousness. By Dr. Steven Ashby / 03.06.2014 Professor of Archaeology University of York The Vikings have arrived at the British Museum. This exhibition, the first of its kind for decades, is notable for its scale and ambition. That[…]

Ragnar Shaggy-Trousers and Eystein Foul-Fart: The Truth behind Viking Names

© MGM With Vikings on trend, it’s high time for a masterclass on the bizarre world of their names. By Keith Ruiter / 02.18.2016 PhD Candidate in Scandinavian Studies University of Aberdeen Vikings are pretty trendy of late. Marvel’s Thor films, for example, gave Viking mythology the Hollywood treatment and plonked its characters in contemporary America. There have been multiple Viking exhibitions, and[…]

Scots and Irish May Have Settled Iceland a Century before the Vikings

Too late lads, the Scots are already there. Oscar Wergeland Iceland was one of the last island groups on Earth to be settled by people.  By Dr. Kristján Ahronson / 05.23.2015 Lecturer in Archaeology Bangor University Remarkably similar carvings and simple cross sculptures mark special sites or places once sacred, spanning a zone stretching from the Irish[…]

Vikings didn’t Find Faroes First – They Were 500 Years Late

Mikladalur, Faroe Islands / Photo by Davide Gorla, Wikimedia Commons The Faroe Islands could have been inhabited 500 years earlier than was previously thought.      By (left-to-right) Josephine Lethbridge, Dr. Andrew Jennings, and Dr. Mike Church / 08.20.2013 Lethbridge: Interdisciplinary Editor, The Conversation Jennings: Post-doctoral Research Associate in the UHI Centre for Nordic Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands Church: Senior[…]

Alfred the Great May Not Have Been So Great

The Last Kingdom. BBC/Carnival/Des Wille New research suggests his military achievements might have been exaggerated. By Dr. Stuart Brookes / 03.17.2017 Senior Research Associate in Archaeology University College London The Last Kingdom – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second[…]

The Art and Architecture of Early Medieval Europe

Torhalle Lorsch / Photo by Immanuel Giel, Wikimedia Commons Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 04.29.2018HistorianBrewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – The Early Middle Ages 1.1 – Introduction The Early Middle Ages began with the fall of the Roman Empire and ended in the early 11th century; its art encompasses vast and divergent forms of media. The Middle[…]

How to Recreate a Viking Funeral – Minus the Human Sacrifice

Viking funerals remain shrouded in mystery. StockCube Why an intrepid trio went to the Isle of Eigg armed with Viking shields and poetry torecreate a funeral ceremony from 1000 years ago.      By (left-to-right) Carlos Galan-Diaz, Dr. Frances Wilkins, and Dr. Shane McCleod / 03.20.2015 Galan-Diaz: Research Impact Officer, University of Glasgow Wilkins: Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, University of Aberdeen McCleod: Impact Research Fellow, University of Stirling When most people[…]

Vikings Struck Deep into the West of England – and May Have Stuck Around

There’s something in the water. Shutterstock The reach of the Vikings in England went further than we thought. By Dr. Derek Gore / 04.18.2016 Teaching Fellow of Archaeology University of Exeter It’s well chronicled that wave after wave of Vikings from Scandinavia terrorised western Europe for 250 years from the end of the eighth century AD and wreaked particular havoc across vast areas of[…]

What Medieval Sources Reveal about the True Nature of the Vikings

Image via Shutterstock Much of what the English know about the Vikings comes from the court of King Alfred – who didn’t like them much. By Dr. Clare Downham / 04.26.2017 Senior Lecturer in Irish Studies University of Liverpool We’ve seen it all in documentaries and dramas. The Viking Age begins as hordes of Vikings leap ashore from their long-ships, in a lightening raid against defenceless clerics and lay[…]

What Does the Word ‘Viking’ Really Mean?

Late Viking Age Swedish rune-stone commemorating a man called Víkingr. Swedish National Heritage Board, Photo Bengt A. Lundberg, CC BY What the Old Norse for Viking can tell us about the Scandinavian explorers. By Dr. Judith Jesch / 04.05.2017 Professor of Viking Studies University of Nottingham We all know about the Vikings. Those hairy warriors from Scandinavia who raided and pillaged,[…]

Viking Men Weren’t the Only Travelers

Mum’s gone to Iceland. Creatista/Shutterstock The traditional picture of Vikings is one of boatloads of hairy men pillaging their way along the coasts of Europe.  True to some extent, they and Norsewomen were also explorers and settlers. By Dr. Daniel Zadik / 12.16.2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of Nottingham The traditional picture of Vikings is one[…]