Viking Age
Overview
 
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian (Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

) Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s
explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland
Settlement of Iceland
The settlement of Iceland is generally believed to have begun in the second half of the 9th century, when Norse settlers migrated across the North Atlantic. The reasons for the migration may be traced to a shortage of arable land in Scandinavia, and civil strife brought about by the ambitions of...

, Greenland, Newfoundland
Norse colonization of the Americas
The Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic, including the northeastern fringes of North America....

, and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. Additionally, there is evidence to support the Vinland
Vinland
Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

 legend that Vikings reached farther south to the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n continent.
In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 the Viking Age began dramatically on 8 June 793 when Vikings destroyed the abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 on Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

, a centre of learning famous across the continent.
Encyclopedia
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian (Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

) Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s
explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland
Settlement of Iceland
The settlement of Iceland is generally believed to have begun in the second half of the 9th century, when Norse settlers migrated across the North Atlantic. The reasons for the migration may be traced to a shortage of arable land in Scandinavia, and civil strife brought about by the ambitions of...

, Greenland, Newfoundland
Norse colonization of the Americas
The Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic, including the northeastern fringes of North America....

, and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. Additionally, there is evidence to support the Vinland
Vinland
Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

 legend that Vikings reached farther south to the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n continent.

Historical considerations

In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 the Viking Age began dramatically on 8 June 793 when Vikings destroyed the abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 on Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

, a centre of learning famous across the continent. Monks were killed in the abbey, thrown into the sea to drown or carried away as slaves along with the church treasures. Three Viking ships had beached in Portland Bay four years earlier, but that incursion may have been a trading expedition that went wrong rather than a piratical raid. Lindisfarne was different. The Viking devastation of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

's Holy Island shocked and alerted the royal Courts of Europe. "Never before has such an atrocity been seen," declared the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin of York. More than any other single event, the attack on Lindisfarne cast a shadow on the perception of the Vikings for the next twelve centuries. Not until the 1890s did scholars outside Scandinavia begin seriously to reassess the achievements of the Vikings, recognizing their artistry, technological skills, and seamanship.

Until Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

's reign in Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, Vikings were portrayed as violent and bloodthirsty. The chronicles of medieval England had always portrayed them as rapacious 'wolves among sheep'.

The first challenges to the many anti-Viking images in Britain emerged in the 17th century. Pioneering scholarly works on the Viking Age began to reach a small readership in Britain. Archaeologists began to dig up Britain's Viking past. Linguistic enthusiasts started to work on identifying Viking-Age origins for rural idioms and proverbs. The new dictionaries of the Old Norse language enabled the Victorians to grapple with the primary Icelandic Sagas.

In Scandinavia Thomas Bartholin and Ole Worm
Ole Worm
Ole Worm , who often went by the Latinized form of his name Olaus Wormius, was a Danish physician and antiquary.-Life:...

, the 17th century Danish scholars and Olaf Rudbeck in Sweden were the first to set the standard for using runic inscriptions and Icelandic Sagas as historical sources. During the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 and Nordic Renaissance, historical scholarship in Scandinavia became more rational and pragmatic in the works of a Danish-Norwegian historian Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg, Baron of Holberg was a writer, essayist, philosopher, historian and playwright born in Bergen, Norway, during the time of the Dano-Norwegian double monarchy, who spent most of his adult life in Denmark. He was influenced by Humanism, the Enlightenment and the Baroque...

 and Swedish Olof von Dalin
Olof von Dalin
Olof von Dalin was a Swedish nobleman, poet, historian and courtier. He was an influential literary figure of the Swedish Enlightenment.-Background:...

. During the latter half of the 18th century the Icelandic Sagas were still used as important historical sources, but the Viking Age was regarded as a barbaric and uncivilised period in the history of the Nordic countries. Until recently the history of the Viking Age was largely based on Icelandic Sagas, the history of the Danes written by Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

, the Russian Primary Chronicle
Primary Chronicle
The Primary Chronicle , Ruthenian Primary Chronicle or Russian Primary Chronicle, is a history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev about 1113.- Three editions :...

and The War of the Irish with the Foreigners
The War of the Irish with the Foreigners
Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib is a medieval Irish text that tells of the depredations of the Vikings in Ireland and the Irish king Brian Boru's great war against them, beginning with the Battle of Sulcoit in 967 and culminating in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, in which Brian was slain but his forces...

. Few scholars still accept these texts as reliable sources; historians today rely more on archaeology and numismatics
Numismatics
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

, disciplines that have made valuable contributions toward understanding the period.

Historical background

The Vikings who invaded western and eastern Europe were chiefly pagans from Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. They also settled in the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 (Caithness
Caithness
Caithness is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic local government area of Scotland. The name was used also for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is...

, the Hebrides
Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

 and the Northern Isles
Northern Isles
The Northern Isles is a chain of islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. The climate is cool and temperate and much influenced by the surrounding seas. There are two main island groups: Shetland and Orkney...

), Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

Their language, Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

, became the mother-tongue of present-day Nordic languages. By 801, a strong central authority appears to have been established in Jutland, and the Danes were beginning to look beyond their own territory for land, trade and plunder.

In Norway, mountainous terrain and fjords formed strong natural boundaries. Communities there remained independent of each other, unlike the situation in Denmark which is lowland. By 800, some 30 small kingdoms existed in Norway.

The sea was the easiest way of communication between the Norwegian kingdoms and the outside world. It was in the 8th century that Scandinavians began to build ships of war and send them on raiding expeditions to initiate the Viking Age. The North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 rovers were traders, colonisers and explorers as well as plunderers.

Probable causes of Norse expansion

Norse society was based on agriculture and trade with other peoples and placed great emphasis on the concept of honour, both in combat and in the criminal justice system. It was, for example, unfair and wrong to attack an enemy already in a fight with another.

It is unknown what triggered the Norse expansion and conquests. This era coincided with the Medieval Warm Period
Medieval Warm Period
The Medieval Warm Period , Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China, New Zealand, and other countries lasting from...

 (800–1300) and stopped with the start of the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

 (about 1250–1850). The start of the Viking Age, with the sack of Lindisfarne, also coincided with Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

's Saxon Wars
Saxon Wars
The Saxon Wars were the campaigns and insurrections of the more than thirty years from 772, when Charlemagne first entered Saxony with the intent to conquer, to 804, when the last rebellion of disaffected tribesmen was crushed. In all, eighteen battles were fought in what is now northwestern Germany...

, or Christian wars with pagans in Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

. Historians Rudolf Simek and Bruno Dumézil theorise that the Viking attacks may have been in response to the spread of Christianity among pagan peoples. Professor Rudolf Simek believes that “it is not a coincidence if the early Viking activity occurred during the reign of Charlemagne”. Because of the penetration of Christianity in Scandinavia, serious conflict divided Norway for almost a century.

With the means of travel (longships and open water), their desire for goods led Scandinavian traders to explore and develop extensive trading partnerships in new territories. It has been suggested that the Scandinavians suffered from unequal trade practices imposed by Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 advocates and that this eventually led to the breakdown in trade relations and raiding. British merchants who declared openly that they were Christian and would not trade with heathens and infidels (Muslims and the Norse) would get preferred status for availability and pricing of goods through a Christian network of traders. A two-tiered system of pricing existed with both declared and undeclared merchants trading secretly with banned parties. Viking raiding expeditions were separate from and coexisted with regular trading expeditions. A people with the tradition of raiding their neighbours when their honour had been impugned might easily fall to raiding foreign peoples who impugned their honour.

Historians also suggest that the Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n population was too large for the peninsula and there was not enough good farmland for everyone. This led to a hunt for more land. Particularly for the settlement and conquest period that followed the early raids, internal strife in Scandinavia resulted in the progressive centralisation of power into fewer hands. Formerly empowered local lords who did not want to be oppressed by greedy kings emigrated overseas. Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 became Europe's first modern republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, with an annual assembly of elected officials called the Althing
Althing
The Alþingi, anglicised variously as Althing or Althingi, is the national parliament of Iceland. The Althingi is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still extant...

, though only goði
Gothi
A goði or gothi is the Old Norse term for a priest and chieftain. Gyðja signifies a priestess.The name appears in Wulfila's Gothic language translation of the bible as gudja for "priest", but in Old Norse it is only the feminine form gyðja that perfectly corresponds to the Gothic form...

(wealthy landowners) had the right to vote there.

Historic overview

The earliest date given for a Viking raid is 787 AD when, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

, a group of men from Norway sailed to the Isle of Portland
Isle of Portland
The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, long by wide, in the English Channel. Portland is south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A tombolo over which runs the A354 road connects it to Chesil Beach and the mainland. Portland and...

 in Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

. There, they were mistaken for merchants by a royal official. They murdered him when he tried to get them to accompany him to the king's manor to pay a trading tax on their goods. The beginning of the Viking Age in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 is, however, often given as 793. It was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

that the Northmen raided the important island monastery of Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

 (note that the generally accepted date is actually 8 June, not January):
In 794, according to the Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

, there was a serious attack on Lindisfarne's mother-house of Iona
Iona
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

, which was followed in 795 by raids upon the northern coast of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. From bases there, the Norsemen attacked Iona again in 802, causing great slaughter amongst the Céli Dé
Culdee
Céli Dé or Culdees were originally members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages. The term is used of St. John the Apostle, of a missioner from abroad recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 806, and of Óengus...

Brethren, and burning the abbey to the ground.

The end of the Viking Age is traditionally marked in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 by the failed invasion attempted by the Norwegian king Harald III (Haraldr Harðráði), who was defeated by Saxon King Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 in 1066 at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

; in Ireland, the capture of Dublin by Strongbow
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke , Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland . Like his father, he was also commonly known as Strongbow...

 and his Hiberno-Norman
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 forces in 1171; and 1263 in Scotland by the defeat of King Hákon Hákonarson
Haakon IV of Norway
Haakon Haakonarson , also called Haakon the Old, was king of Norway from 1217 to 1263. Under his rule, medieval Norway reached its peak....

 at the Battle of Largs
Battle of Largs
The Battle of Largs was an engagement fought between the armies of Norway and Scotland near the present-day town of Largs in North Ayrshire on the Firth of Clyde in Scotland on 2 October 1263. It was the most important military engagement of the Scottish-Norwegian War. The Norwegian forces were...

 by troops loyal to Alexander III
Alexander III of Scotland
Alexander III was King of Scots from 1249 to his death.-Life:...

. Godwinson was subsequently defeated within a month by another Viking descendant, William
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

, Duke of Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 (Normandy had been conquered by Vikings (Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

) in 911). Scotland took its present form when it regained territory from the Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 between the 13th and the 15th centuries; the Western Isles and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 remained under Scandinavian authority until 1266. Orkney and Shetland belonged to the king of Norway as late as 1469.

In Scandinavia the Viking age is considered to have ended with the establishment of royal authority in the Scandinavian countries and the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion. The date is usually put somewhere in the early 11th century in all three Scandinavian countries. The end of the Viking-era in Norway is marked by the Battle of Stiklestad
Battle of Stiklestad
The Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway. In this battle, King Olaf II of Norway was killed. He was later canonized...

 in 1030. Although Olafr Haraldsson's (later known as Olav the Holy) army lost the battle, Christianity spread, partly on the strength of rumours of miraculous signs after his death. Norwegians would no longer be called Vikings.

The clinker
Clinker (boat building)
Clinker building is a method of constructing hulls of boats and ships by fixing wooden planks and, in the early nineteenth century, iron plates to each other so that the planks overlap along their edges. The overlapping joint is called a land. In any but a very small boat, the individual planks...

-built longship
Longship
Longships were sea vessels made and used by the Vikings from the Nordic countries for trade, commerce, exploration, and warfare during the Viking Age. The longship’s design evolved over many years, beginning in the Stone Age with the invention of the umiak and continuing up to the 9th century with...

s used by the Scandinavians were uniquely suited to both deep and shallow waters. They extended the reach of Norse raiders, traders and settlers along coastlines and along the major river valleys of north-western Europe. Rurik
Rurik
Rurik, or Riurik , was a semilegendary 9th-century Varangian who founded the Rurik dynasty which ruled Kievan Rus and later some of its successor states, most notably the Tsardom of Russia, until 1598....

 also expanded to the east and in 859 became ruler either by conquest or invitation by local people of the city of Novgorod (which means "new city") on the Volkhov River
Volkhov River
Volkhov is a river in Novgorod Oblast and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia.-Geography:The Volkhov flows out of Lake Ilmen north into Lake Ladoga, the largest lake of Europe. It is the second largest tributary of Lake Ladoga. It is navigable over its whole length. Discharge is highly...

. His successors
Rurik Dynasty
The Rurik dynasty or Rurikids was a dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862 AD...

 moved further, founding the state of Kievan Rus with the capital in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

. This persisted until 1240, the time of Mongol invasion.

Other Norse people, particularly those from the area that is now modern-day Sweden and Norway, continued south to the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and then on to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Whenever these Viking ships ran aground in shallow waters, the Vikings would reportedly turn them on their sides and drag them across the shallows into deeper waters. The Eastern connections of these "Varangians
Varangians
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...

" brought Byzantine silk
Byzantine silk
Byzantine silk is silk woven in the Byzantine Empire from about the 4th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.The Byzantine capital of Constantinople was the first significant silk-weaving center in Europe. Silk was one of the most important commodities in the Byzantine economy, used by...

, coins from Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

, even a cowrie shell from the Red Sea, to Viking York
Jórvík
Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by...

.

The Kingdom of the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 under Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 was particularly hard-hit by these raiders, who could sail up the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 with near impunity. Near the end of Charlemagne's reign (and throughout the reigns of his sons and grandsons), a string of Norse raids began, culminating in a gradual Scandinavian conquest and settlement of the region now known as Normandy.

In 911, French King Charles the Simple
Charles the Simple
Charles III , called the Simple or the Straightforward , was the undisputed King of France from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919/23...

 was able to make an agreement with the Viking warleader Rollo
Rollo of Normandy
Rollo , baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent and founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy...

, a chieftain of disputed Norwegian or Danish origins. Charles gave Rollo the title of duke and granted him and his followers possession of Normandy. In return, Rollo swore fealty
Fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas , is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God.In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between...

 to Charles, converted to Christianity, and undertook to defend the northern region of France against the incursions of other Viking groups. Several generations later, the Norman descendants of these Viking settlers not only identified themselves as French but carried the French language, and their variant of the French culture, into England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1066. With the Norman Conquest, they became the ruling aristocracy of Anglo-Saxon England
History of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England refers to the period of the history of that part of Britain, that became known as England, lasting from the end of Roman occupation and establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror...

.

Geography

There are various theories concerning the causes of the Viking invasions. For people living along the coast, it would seem natural to seek new land by the sea. Another reason was that during this period England, Wales and Ireland, which were divided into many different warring kingdoms, were in internal disarray and became easy prey. The Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, however, had well-defended coasts and heavily fortified ports and harbours. Pure thirst for adventure may also have been a factor. A reason for the raids is believed by some to be over-population caused by technological advances, such as the use of iron. Although another cause could well have been pressure caused by the Frankish expansion to the south of Scandinavia and their subsequent attacks upon the Viking peoples. Another possible contributing factor is that Harald I of Norway
Harald I of Norway
Harald Fairhair or Harald Finehair , , son of Halfdan the Black, was the first king of Norway.-Background:Little is known of the historical Harald...

 ("Harald Fairhair") had united Norway around this time, and the bulk of the Vikings were displaced warrior
Warrior
A warrior is a person skilled in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based society that recognizes a separate warrior class.-Warrior classes in tribal culture:...

s who had been driven out of his kingdom and who had nowhere to go. Consequently, these Vikings became raiders, in search of subsistence and bases to launch counter-raids against Harald. One theory that has been suggested is that the Vikings would plant crops after the winter and go raiding as soon as the ice melted on the sea, then returned home with their loot, in time to harvest the crops.

One important centre of trade was at Hedeby
Hedeby
Hedeby |heath]]land, and býr = yard, thus "heath yard"), mentioned by Alfred the Great as aet Haethe , in German Haddeby and Haithabu, a modern spelling of the runic Heiðabý was an important trading settlement in the Danish-northern German borderland during the Viking Age...

. Close to the border with the Franks, it was effectively a crossroads between the cultures, until its eventual destruction by the Norwegians in an internecine dispute around 1050. York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

 was the centre of the kingdom of Jórvík
Jórvík
Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by...

 from 866, and discoveries there (e.g. a silk cap, a counterfeit of a coin from Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

 and a cowry shell from the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf) suggest that Scandinavian trade connections in the 10th century reached beyond Byzantium
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. However, those items could also have been Byzantine imports, and there is no reason to assume that the Varangians travelled significantly beyond Byzantium and the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

.

England

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Viking raiders struck England in 793 and raided Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

, the monastery that held Saint Cuthbert’s relics. The raiders killed the monks and captured the valuables. This raid marks the beginning of the "Viking Age of Invasion", made possible by the Viking longship
Longship
Longships were sea vessels made and used by the Vikings from the Nordic countries for trade, commerce, exploration, and warfare during the Viking Age. The longship’s design evolved over many years, beginning in the Stone Age with the invention of the umiak and continuing up to the 9th century with...

. There was great but sporadic violence from the last decade of the 8th century on England’s northern and western shores: Viking raids continued on a small scale across coastal England. While the initial raiding groups were small, it is believed that a great amount of planning was involved. The Norwegians raided during the winter between 840 and 841, rather the usual summer, having waited on an island off Ireland. In 850 Vikings overwintered for the first time in England, on the island of Thanet
Thanet
Thanet is a local government district of Kent, England which was formed under the Local Government Act 1972, and came into being on 1 April 1974...

, Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

. In 854 a raiding party overwintered a second time, at the Isle of Sheppey
Isle of Sheppey
The Isle of Sheppey is an island off the northern coast of Kent, England in the Thames Estuary, some to the east of London. It has an area of . The island forms part of the local government district of Swale...

 in the Thames estuary. In 864 they reverted to Thanet for their winter encampment. The following year the Great Heathen Army
Great Heathen Army
The Great Heathen Army, also known as the Great Army or the Great Danish Army, was a Viking army originating in Denmark which pillaged and conquered much of England in the late 9th century...

 led by the Brothers Ivar the Boneless
Ivar the Boneless
Ivar Ragnarsson nicknamed the Boneless , was a Viking leader and by reputation also a berserker. By the late 11th century he was known as a son of the powerful Ragnar Lodbrok, ruler of an area probably comprising parts of modern-day Denmark and Sweden.-Invader:In the autumn of AD 865, with his...

, Halfdan
Halfdan Ragnarsson
Halfdan Ragnarsson was a Viking chief and one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok with Aslaug. It has been suggested that Halfdan is the same person as Ragnar's son Hvitserk....

 and Ubbe Ragnarsson
Ubbe Ragnarsson
Ubbe, Ubba or Hubba Ragnarsson was a Norse leader during the Viking Age. Ubbe Ragnarsson was one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok and, along with his brothers Halfdan and Ivar the Boneless, a leader of the Great Danish Army....

, and also by another Viking Guthrum
Guthrum
The name Guthrum corresponds to Norwegian Guttom and to Danish Gorm.The name Guthrum may refer to these kings:* Guthrum, who fought against Alfred the Great* Gorm the Old of Denmark and Norway* Guthrum II, a king of doubtful historicity...

, arrived in East Anglia. They proceeded to cross England into Northumbria and captured York, establishing the Viking community of Jorvik
Jórvík
Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by...

, where some settled as farmers and craftsmen. Most of the English kingdoms, being in turmoil, could not stand against the Vikings. In 867 Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

 became the northern kingdom of the coalescing Danelaw
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

, after its conquest by the brothers Halfdan Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless, who installed an Englishman, Ecgberht
Ecgberht I of Northumbria
Ecgberht was king of Northumbria in the middle of the 9th century. This period of Northumbrian history is poorly recorded, and very little is known of Ecgberht....

, as a puppet king. By 870 the "Great Summer Army" arrived in England, led by a Viking leader called Bagsecg
Bagsecg
Bagsecg was a Viking leader referred to as a 'King' and was possibly a King of Denmark, after Horik II died and ruled Denmark after his death from the 860s to his death in 871...

 and his Five Earls. Aided by the Great Heathen Army (which had already overrun much of England from its base in Jorvik), Bagsecg's forces, and Halfdan's forces (through an alliance), the combined Viking forces raided much of England until 871, when they planned an invasion of Wessex. On 8 January 871, Bagsecg was killed at the Battle of Ashdown
Battle of Ashdown
The Battle of Ashdown, in Berkshire , took place on 8 January 871. Alfred the Great, then a prince of only twenty-one, led the West Saxon army of his brother, King Ethelred, in a victorious battle against the invading Danes.Accounts of the battle are based to a large extent on Asser's "Life of...

 along with his Earls. As a result, many of the Vikings returned to northern England, where Jorvic had become the centre of the Viking kingdom but Alfred of Wessex
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

 managed to keep them out of his country. Alfred and his successors continued to drive back the Viking frontier and take York. A new wave of Norwegian Vikings appeared in England in 947 when Erik Bloodaxe captured York. The Viking presence continued throughout the reign of the Danish King Cnut the Great (1016–1035), after which a series of inheritance arguments weakened power of his descendants. By 1012, the Vikings were in service in England as Thingmen, a personal bodyguard to the King of England. They were offered payment, the Danegeld
Danegeld
The Danegeld was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. It was called the geld or gafol in eleventh-century sources; the term Danegeld did not appear until the early twelfth century...

, which lasted from 1012 to 1066 and stopped Viking raids for almost twenty years. The Viking presence dwindled until 1066, when the invading Norsemen lost their final battle with the English at Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

. Nineteen days later the Normans, themselves descended from Norsemen, invaded England
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 and defeated the weakened English army at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

.

Longphort
Longphort
A longphort is a term used in Ireland for a Viking ship enclosure or shore fortress. Longphorts were originally built to serve as camps for the raiding parties in...

 phase 841–902 

The Vikings conducted extensive raids in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and founded the cities of Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

, Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Dublin and Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

. The Vikings and Scandinavians settled down and intermixed with the Irish. Literature, crafts, and decorative styles in Ireland and Britain reflected Scandinavian culture. Vikings traded at Irish markets in Dublin. Excavations found imported fabrics from England, Byzantium, Persia and central Asia. Dublin became so crowded by the 11th century that houses were constructed outside the town walls.

The Vikings pillaged monasteries on Ireland's west coast in 795 and then spread out to cover the rest of the coastline. The north and east of the island were most affected. During the first 40 years, the raids were conducted by small, mobile Viking groups. By 830, the groups consisted of large fleets of Viking ships. From 840, the Vikings began establishing permanent bases at the coasts. Dublin was the most significant settlement in the long term. The Irish became accustomed to the Viking presence. In some cases they became allies and married each other.

In 832, a Viking fleet of about 120 invaded kingdoms on Ireland’s northern and eastern coasts. Some believe that the increased number of invaders coincided with Scandinavian leaders' desires to control the profitable raids on the western shores of Ireland. During the mid-830s, raids began to push deeper into Ireland, as opposed to just touching the coasts. Navigable waterways made this deeper penetration possible. After 840, the Vikings had several bases in strategic locations dispersed throughout Ireland.

In 838, a small Viking fleet entered the River Liffey
River Liffey
The Liffey is a river in Ireland, which flows through the centre of Dublin. Its major tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac. The river supplies much of Dublin's water, and a range of recreational opportunities.-Name:The river was previously named An Ruirthech,...

 in eastern Ireland. The Vikings set up a base, which the Irish called a longphort
Longphort
A longphort is a term used in Ireland for a Viking ship enclosure or shore fortress. Longphorts were originally built to serve as camps for the raiding parties in...

. This longphort eventually became Dublin. After this interaction, the Irish experienced Viking forces for about 40 years. The Vikings also established longphorts in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford. The Vikings could sail through on the main river and branch off into different areas of the country.

Battle of Clontarf

One of the last major battles involving Vikings was the Battle of Clontarf
Battle of Clontarf
The Battle of Clontarf took place on 23 April 1014 between the forces of Brian Boru and the forces led by the King of Leinster, Máel Mórda mac Murchada: composed mainly of his own men, Viking mercenaries from Dublin and the Orkney Islands led by his cousin Sigtrygg, as well as the one rebellious...

 on the 23 April 1014, in which Vikings fought both for the Irish over-king Brian Boru
Brian Boru
Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, , , was an Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill. Building on the achievements of his father, Cennétig mac Lorcain, and especially his elder brother, Mathgamain, Brian first made himself King of Munster, then subjugated...

's army and for the Viking-led army opposing him. Irish and Viking literature depict the Battle of Clontarf as a gathering of this world and the supernatural. For example, witches, goblins, and demons were present. A Viking poem portrays the environment as strongly pagan. Valkyries chanted and decided who would live and die.

Scotland

While there are few records, the Vikings are thought to have led their first raids in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 on the holy island of Iona
Iona
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

 in 794, the year following the raid on the other holy island of Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

, Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

.

In 839, a large Norse fleet invaded via the River Tay
River Tay
The River Tay is the longest river in Scotland and the seventh-longest in the United Kingdom. The Tay originates in western Scotland on the slopes of Ben Lui , then flows easterly across the Highlands, through Loch Dochhart, Loch Lubhair and Loch Tay, then continues east through Strathtay , in...

 and River Earn
River Earn
The River Earn in Scotland leaves Loch Earn at St Fillans and runs east through Strathearn, then east and south, joining the River Tay near Abernethy. The Earn is about long. It passes by Comrie, Crieff and Bridge of Earn....

, both of which were highly navigable, and reached into the heart of the Pictish kingdom
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

 of Fortriu
Fortriu
Fortriu or the Kingdom of Fortriu is the name given by historians for an ancient Pictish kingdom, and often used synonymously with Pictland in general...

. They defeated Eogán mac Óengusa
Uen of the Picts
Uuen [Wen] or Eogán in Gaelic was king of the Picts, or of Fortriu , in what is now Scotland....

, king of the Picts, his brother Bran
Bran
Bran is the hard outer layer of grain and consists of combined aleurone and pericarp. Along with germ, it is an integral part of whole grains, and is often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. When bran is removed from grains, the grains lose a portion of their...

 and the king of the Scots of Dál Riata
Dál Riata
Dál Riata was a Gaelic overkingdom on the western coast of Scotland with some territory on the northeast coast of Ireland...

, Áed mac Boanta
Áed mac Boanta
Áed mac Boanta is believed to have been a king of Dál Riata.The only reference to Áed in the Irish annals is found in the Annals of Ulster, where it is recorded that "Eóganán mac Óengusa, Bran mac Óengusa, Áed mac Boanta, and others almost innumerable" in a battle fought by the men of Fortriu...

, along with many members of the Pictish aristocracy in battle. The sophisticated kingdom that had been built fell apart, as did the Pictish leadership, which had been stable for more than a hundred years since the time of Óengus mac Fergusa
Óengus I of the Picts
Óengus son of Fergus , was king of the Picts from 732 until his death in 761. His reign can be reconstructed in some detail from a variety of sources.Óengus became the chief king in Pictland following a period of civil war in the late 720s...

 (The accession of Cináed mac Ailpín
Kenneth I of Scotland
Cináed mac Ailpín , commonly Anglicised as Kenneth MacAlpin and known in most modern regnal lists as Kenneth I was king of the Picts and, according to national myth, first king of Scots, earning him the posthumous nickname of An Ferbasach, "The Conqueror"...

 as king of both Picts and Scots can be attributed to the aftermath of this event).

Earldom of Orkney

By the mid-9th century the Norsemen had settled in Shetland, Orkney (the Nordreys- Norðreyjar), the Hebrides
Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

 and Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

, (the Sudreys- Súðreyjar - this survives in the Diocese of Sodor and Man
Diocese of Sodor and Man
Sodor and Man is a diocese of the Church of England. Originally much larger, today it covers just the Isle of Man and its adjacent islets.-Early history:...

) and parts of mainland Scotland. The Norse settlers were to some extent integrating with the local Gael
Gaël
Gaël is a commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine department of Brittany in north-western France.It lies southwest of Rennes between Saint-Méen-le-Grand and Mauron...

ic population (see-Gall Gaidheal
Norse-Gaels
The Norse–Gaels were a people who dominated much of the Irish Sea region, including the Isle of Man, and western Scotland for a part of the Middle Ages; they were of Gaelic and Scandinavian origin and as a whole exhibited a great deal of Gaelic and Norse cultural syncretism...

) in the Hebrides and Man. These areas were ruled over by local Jarls, originally captains of ships or Hersir
Hersir
A hersir was a local military commander of a hundred and owed allegiance to a jarl or king. They were also aspiring landowners, and, like the middle class in many feudal societies, supported the kings in their centralization of power. The hersir was often equipped with a conical helmet and a short...

s. The Jarl of Orkney
Earl of Orkney
The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse jarl ruling Orkney, Shetland and parts of Caithness and Sutherland. The Earls were periodically subject to the kings of Norway for the Northern Isles, and later also to the kings of Alba for those parts of their territory in mainland Scotland . The Earl's...

 and Shetland however, claimed supremacy.

In 875, King Harald Fairhair
Harald I of Norway
Harald Fairhair or Harald Finehair , , son of Halfdan the Black, was the first king of Norway.-Background:Little is known of the historical Harald...

 led a fleet from Norway to Scotland. In his attempt to unite Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, he found that many of those opposed to his rise to power had taken refuge in the Isles. From here, they were raiding not only foreign lands but were also attacking Norway itself. He organised a fleet and was able to subdue the rebels, and in doing so brought the independent Jarls under his control, many of the rebels having fled to Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

. He found himself ruling not only Norway, but the Isles, Man and parts of Scotland.

Kings of the Isles

In 876 the Gall-Gaidheal of Man and the Hebrides rebelled against Harald. A fleet was sent against them led by Ketil Flatnose
Ketil Flatnose
Ketill Bjǫrnsson, nicknamed Flatnose , was a Norwegian hersir of the 9th century.-Biography:Ketill Bjǫrnsson was the son of Bjorn Grimmson. He was from Romsdal , a valley in the county of Møre og Romsdal, between Nordmøre and Sunnmøre...

 to regain control. On his success, Ketil was to rule the Sudreys as a vassal of King Harald. His grandson Thorstein the Red
Thorstein the Red
Thorstein the Red or Thorstein Olafsson was a viking chieftain who flourished in late ninth-century Scotland. He was born around 850 AD and was the son of Olaf the White, King of Dublin, and Aud the Deep-minded, who was the daughter of Ketil Flatnose...

 and Sigurd the Mighty
Sigurd Eysteinsson
Sigurd Eysteinsson was the second Viking Earl of Orkney, who succeeded his brother Rognvald Eysteinsson. He was a leader in the Viking conquest of what is now northern Scotland. Bizarrely, he was killed by the severed head of one his enemies, Máel Brigte, who may have been mórmaer of Moray...

, Jarl of Orkney invaded Scotland were able to exact tribute from nearly half the kingdom until their deaths in battle. Ketil declared himself King of the Isles. Ketil was eventually outlawed and fearing the bounty on his head fled to Iceland.

The Gall-Gaidheal Kings of the Isles continued to act semi independently, in 973 forming a defensive pact with the Kings of Scotland and Strathclyde
Kingdom of Strathclyde
Strathclyde , originally Brythonic Ystrad Clud, was one of the early medieval kingdoms of the celtic people called the Britons in the Hen Ogledd, the Brythonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and northern England. The kingdom developed during the post-Roman period...

. In 1095, the King of Mann and the Isles Godred Crovan
Godred Crovan
Godred Crovan was a Norse-Gael ruler of Dublin, and King of Mann and the Isles in the second half of the 11th century. Godred's epithet Crovan may mean "white hand" . In Manx folklore he is known as King Orry.-Ancestry and early life:...

 was killed by Magnus Barelegs, King of Norway. Magnus and King Edgar of Scotland
Edgar of Scotland
Edgar or Étgar mac Maíl Choluim , nicknamed Probus, "the Valiant" , was king of Alba from 1097 to 1107...

 agreed a treaty. The islands would be controlled by Norway, but mainland territories would go to Scotland. The King of Norway nominally continued to be king of the Isles and Man. However, in 1156, The kingdom was split into two. The Western Isles and Man continued as to be called the "Kingdom of Man and the Isles", but the Inner Hebrides
Inner Hebrides
The Inner Hebrides is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, to the south east of the Outer Hebrides. Together these two island chains form the Hebrides, which enjoy a mild oceanic climate. There are 36 inhabited islands and a further 43 uninhabited Inner Hebrides with an area greater than...

 came under the influence of Somerled
Somerled
Somerled was a military and political leader of the Scottish Isles in the 12th century who was known in Gaelic as rí Innse Gall . His father was Gillebride...

, a Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic language
Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Primitive Irish....

 speaker, who was styled 'King of the Hebrides'. His kingdom was to develop latterly into the Lordship of the Isles
Lord of the Isles
The designation Lord of the Isles is today a title of Scottish nobility with historical roots that go back beyond the Kingdom of Scotland. It emerged from a series of hybrid Viking/Gaelic rulers of the west coast and islands of Scotland in the Middle Ages, who wielded sea-power with fleets of...

.

In eastern Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 unitary council areas in Scotland and a lieutenancy area.The present day Aberdeenshire council area does not include the City of Aberdeen, now a separate council area, from which its name derives. Together, the modern council area and the city formed historic...

 the Danes invaded at least as far north as the area near Cruden Bay
Cruden Bay
Cruden Bay is a small village in Scotland, on the north coast of the Bay of Cruden in Aberdeenshire, 26 miles north of Aberdeen.Just south of Slains Castle, Cruden Bay was the site of a battle between Danes and Scots under King Malcolm II in 1012...

.

The Jarls of Orkney continued to rule much of Northern Scotland until 1196, when Harald Maddadsson
Harald Maddadsson
Harald Maddadsson was Earl of Orkney and Mormaer of Caithness from 1139 until 1206. He was the son of Matad, Mormaer of Atholl, and Margaret, daughter of Earl Haakon Paulsson of Orkney...

 agreed to pay tribute to William the Lion, King of Scots for his territories on the Mainland
Mainland
Mainland is a name given to a large landmass in a region , or to the largest of a group of islands in an archipelago. Sometimes its residents are called "Mainlanders"...

.

The end of the Viking age proper in Scotland is generally considered to be in 1266. In 1263, King Haakon IV of Norway
Haakon IV of Norway
Haakon Haakonarson , also called Haakon the Old, was king of Norway from 1217 to 1263. Under his rule, medieval Norway reached its peak....

, in retaliation for a Scots expedition to Skye
Skye
Skye or the Isle of Skye is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillin hills...

, arrived on the west coast with a fleet from Norway and Orkney. His fleet linked up with those of King Magnus of Man
Magnus III of the Isle of Man
Magnús Óláfsson was a mid 13th century Manx-Hebridean king, the son of Óláfr Guðrøðarson, King of the Isles. Magnús and Óláfr descended from a long line of Norse-Gaelic kings who ruled the Isle of Mann and parts of the Hebrides. Several leading members of the Crovan dynasty, such as Óláfr, styled...

 and King Dougal of the Hebrides. After peace talks failed, his forces met with the Scots at Largs
Battle of Largs
The Battle of Largs was an engagement fought between the armies of Norway and Scotland near the present-day town of Largs in North Ayrshire on the Firth of Clyde in Scotland on 2 October 1263. It was the most important military engagement of the Scottish-Norwegian War. The Norwegian forces were...

, in Ayrshire. The battle proved indecisive, but it did ensure that the Norse were not able to mount a further attack that year. Haakon died overwintering in Orkney, and by 1266, his son Magnus the Law-mender
Magnus VI of Norway
Magnus VI Lagabøte or Magnus Håkonsson , was king of Norway from 1263 until 1280.-Early life:...

 ceded the Kingdom of Man and the Isles, with all territories on mainland Scotland to Alexander III
Alexander III of Scotland
Alexander III was King of Scots from 1249 to his death.-Life:...

, through the Treaty of Perth
Treaty of Perth
The Treaty of Perth, 1266, ended military conflict between Norway, under King Magnus VI of Norway, and Scotland, under King Alexander III, over the sovereignty of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man....

.

Orkney and Shetland continued to be ruled as autonomous Jarldoms under Norway until 1468, when King Christian I pledged them as security on the dowry of his daughter, who was betrothed to James III of Scotland
James III of Scotland
James III was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.His reputation as the...

. Although attempts were made during the 17th and 18th centuries to redeem the Shetlands, without success, and Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 ratifying the pawning in the 1669 Act for annexation of Orkney and Shetland to the Crown
1669 Act for annexation of Orkney and Shetland to the Crown
The 1669 Act of Annexation was a Parliamentary Act passed during 1669 by the Parliament of Scotland to establish Orkney and Shetland's status as Crown Dependencies following a legal dispute with William, Earl of Morton, who held the estates of Orkney and Shetland.The Act made Orkney and Shetland...

, explicitly exempting them from any "dissolution of His Majesty’s lands", they are currently considered as being officially part of the United Kingdom.

Wales

Wales was not colonised by the Vikings as heavily as eastern England. The Vikings did, however, settle in the south around St. David's, Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales and serves as the County's principal commercial and administrative centre. Haverfordwest is the most populous urban area in Pembrokeshire, with a population of 13,367 in 2001; though its community boundaries make it the second most populous...

, and Gower
Gower Peninsula
Gower or the Gower Peninsula is a peninsula in south Wales, jutting from the coast into the Bristol Channel, and administratively part of the City and County of Swansea. Locally it is known as "Gower"...

, among other places. Place names such as Skokholm, Skomer, and Swansea remain as evidence of the Norse settlement. The Vikings, however, did not subdue the Welsh mountain kingdoms.

Iceland

According to Sagas, Iceland was settled by Norwegians fleeing the oppressive rule of Harald Fairhair (late 9th century). While harsh, the land allowed for a pastoral farming life familiar to the Norse. According to the saga of Erik the Red
Erik the Red
Erik Thorvaldsson , known as Erik the Red , is remembered in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. The Icelandic tradition indicates that he was born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Thorvald Asvaldsson, he therefore...

, when Erik was exiled from Iceland he sailed west and pioneered Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

.

Greenland

The Viking Age settlements in Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 were established in the sheltered fjords of the southern and western coast. They settled in three separate areas along approximately 650 kilometres of the western coast. While harsh, the microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

s along some fjords allowed for a pastoral lifestyle similar to that of Iceland.
  • The Eastern Settlement
    Eastern Settlement
    The Eastern Settlement was the largest and first of the three areas of Greenland, settled in approximately 985 AD by Norse farmers from Iceland . At its peak it contained approximately 4,000 inhabitants...

     (61°00′N 45°00′W). The remains of about 450 farms have been found here. Erik the Red settled at Brattahlid on Ericsfjord.
  • The Middle Settlement (62°00′N 48°00′W) near modern Ivigtut, consisting of about 20 farms.
  • The Western Settlement
    Western Settlement
    The Western Settlement was the smaller of the two main areas of Greenland settled in around 985 AD by Norse farmers from Iceland ....

    , at modern Godthåbsfjord (64°00′N 51°00′W), established before the 12th century. It has been extensively excavated by archaeologists.

Southern and eastern Europe

The Varangians
Varangians
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...

or Varyags (Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, , Varyagi) sometimes referred to as Variagians were Scandinavians
Scandinavians
Scandinavians are a group of Germanic peoples, inhabiting Scandinavia and to a lesser extent countries associated with Scandinavia, and speaking Scandinavian languages. The group includes Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, and additionally the descendants of Scandinavian settlers such as the Icelandic...

, often Swedes, who migrated eastwards and southwards through what is now Russia and Ukraine mainly in the 9th and 10th centuries. Engaging in trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

, piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 and mercenary
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 activities, they roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, reaching the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

.
Contemporary English publications also use the name "Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

" for early Varangians in some contexts.

The term Varangian remained in usage in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 until the 13th century, largely disconnected from its Scandinavian roots by then.
Having settled Aldeigja (Ladoga) in the 750s, Scandinavian colonists were probably an element in the early ethnogenesis of the Rus' people
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

, and likely played a role in the formation of the Rus' Khaganate
Rus' Khaganate
Rus' khaganate is a historiographical term for the formative phase of the Rus state in the 9th century AD....

. The Varangians (Varyags, in Old East Slavic
Old East Slavic language
Old East Slavic or Old Ruthenian was a language used in 10th-15th centuries by East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and states which evolved after the collapse of the Kievan Rus...

) are first mentioned by the Primary Chronicle
Primary Chronicle
The Primary Chronicle , Ruthenian Primary Chronicle or Russian Primary Chronicle, is a history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev about 1113.- Three editions :...

 as having exacted tribute from the Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 and Finnic
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

 tribes in 859. It was the time of rapid expansion of the Vikings in Northern Europe; England began to pay Danegeld
Danegeld
The Danegeld was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. It was called the geld or gafol in eleventh-century sources; the term Danegeld did not appear until the early twelfth century...

 in 859, and the Curonians of Grobin faced an invasion by the Swedes at about the same date.

In 862, the Finnic and Slavic tribes rebelled against the Varangian Rus, driving them overseas back to Scandinavia, but soon started to conflict with each other. The disorder prompted the tribes to invite back the Varangian Rus "to come and rule them" and bring peace to the region. This was a somewhat bilateral relation with the Varagians defending the cities that they ruled. Led by Rurik
Rurik
Rurik, or Riurik , was a semilegendary 9th-century Varangian who founded the Rurik dynasty which ruled Kievan Rus and later some of its successor states, most notably the Tsardom of Russia, until 1598....

 and his brothers Truvor and Sineus
Truvor and Sineus
Truvor and Sineus according to the 12th-century Primary Chronicle were the brothers of Rurik of the Varangian Rus tribe.While Rurik settled in Novgorod, Sineous established himself at Belo Ozero, on the shores of lake Beloye. Truvor established himself at Izborsk.Truvor and Sineus died shortly...

, the invited Varangians (called Rus'
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

) settled around the town of Novgorod (Holmgard).

In the 9th century, the Rus' operated the Volga trade route
Volga trade route
In the Middle Ages, the Volga trade route connected Northern Europe and Northwestern Russia with the Caspian Sea, via the Volga River. The Rus used this route to trade with Muslim countries on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, sometimes penetrating as far as Baghdad...

, which connected Northern Russia (Gardariki) with the Middle East (Serkland
Serkland
In Old Norse sources, such as sagas and runestones, Særkland or Serkland was the name of the Abbasid Caliphate and probably some neighbouring Muslim regions....

). As the Volga route declined by the end of the century, the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks was a trade route that connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire. The route allowed traders along the route to establish a direct prosperous trade with Byzantium, and prompted some of them to settle in the territories of...

 rapidly overtook it in popularity. Apart from Ladoga and Novgorod, Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo or Gnyozdovo is an archeological site located near the village of Gnyozdovo in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. The site contains extensive remains of a Slavic-Varangian settlement that flourished in the 10th century as a major trade station on the trade route from the Varangians to the...

 and Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

 were major centres for Varangian trade.

Western historians tend to agree with the Primary Chronicle that these Scandinavians founded Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 in the 880s and gave their name to the land. Many Slavic scholars are opposed to this theory of Germanic influence on the Rus' (people)
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

 and have suggested alternative scenarios for this part of Eastern European history.

In contrast to the intense Scandinavian influence in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, Varangian culture did not survive to a great extent in the East. Instead, the Varangian ruling classes of the two powerful city-states of Novgorod and Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 were thoroughly Slavicised by the end of the 10th century. Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 was spoken in one district of Novgorod, however, until the 13th century.

Central Europe

Viking Age Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n settlements were set up along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, primarily for trade purposes. Their appearance coincides with the settlement and consolidation of the Slavic tribes in the respective areas. Scandinavians had contacts to the Slavs since their very immigration, these first contacts were soon followed by both the construction of Scandinavian emporia and Slavic burghs in their vicinity. The Scandinavian settlements were larger than the early Slavic ones, their craftsmen had a considerably higher productivity, and in contrast to the early Slavs, the Scandinavians were capable of seafaring. Their importance for trade with the Slavic world however was limited to the coastal regions and their hinterlands.
Scandinavian settlements at the Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

ian coast include Reric
Reric
Reric or Rerik was one of the Viking Age multi-ethnic Slavic-Scandinavian emporia on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, located near Wismar in the present-day German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Reric was built around 700, when Slavs of the Obodrite tribe settled the region...

 (Groß Strömkendorf) on the eastern coast of Wismar Bay, and Dierkow
Dierkow
Dierkow near Rostock, Mecklenburg, was a Viking Age Slavic-Scandinavian settlement at the southern Baltic coast in the late 8th and early 9th century. Neither the site itself, nor the adjacent Slavic burghs Kessin and Fresendorf have yet been sufficiently researched.-See also:*Pomerania during the...

 (near Rostock
Rostock
Rostock -Early history:In the 11th century Polabian Slavs founded a settlement at the Warnow river called Roztoc ; the name Rostock is derived from that designation. The Danish king Valdemar I set the town aflame in 1161.Afterwards the place was settled by German traders...

). Reric was set up around the year 700, but following later warfare between Obodrites and Danes, the merchants were resettled to Haithabu. Dierkow prospered from the late 8th to the early 9th century.

Scandinavian settlements at the Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

n coast include Wollin
Wolin (town)
Wolin is a town situated on the southern tip of the Wolin island off the Baltic coast of Poland. The island lies at the edge of the strait of Dziwna in Kamień Pomorski County in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship....

 (on the isle of Wollin), Ralswiek
Ralswiek
Ralswiek is a municipality in the Vorpommern-Rügen district, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.-External links:*...

 (on the isle of Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

), Altes Lager Menzlin
Altes Lager Menzlin
Altes Lager is a site 1,5 km south of the Menzlin village near Anklam, Western Pomerania, Germany. The site at the banks of the river Peene was an important Viking trade post during the Middle Ages...

 (at the lower Peene
Peene
The Peene is a river in Germany. The Westpeene, Kleine Peene and Ostpeene flow into the Kummerower See, and from there as Peene proper to Anklam and into the Oder Lagoon....

 river), and Bardy-Świelubie
Bardy-Swielubie
Bardy-Świelubie or Bartin-Zwillipp near modern Kolobrzeg was a Viking Age Slavic-Scandinavian settlement on the southern Baltic coast...

 near modern Kolobrzeg
Kolobrzeg
Kołobrzeg is a city in Middle Pomerania in north-western Poland with some 50,000 inhabitants . Kołobrzeg is located on the Parsęta River on the south coast of the Baltic Sea...

 (Kolberg). Menzlin was set up in the mid-8th century. Wollin and Ralswiek began to prosper in the course of the 9th century. A merchants' settlement has also been suggested near Arkona
Cape Arkona
Cape Arkona is a cape on the island of Rügen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Cape Arkona is the tip of the Wittow peninsula, just a few kilometres north of the Jasmund National Park....

, but no archeological evidence supports this theory. Menzlin and Bardy-Świelubie were vacated in the late 9th century, Ralswiek made it into the new millennium, but at the time when written chronicles reported the site in the 12th century it had lost all its importance. Wollin, thought to be identical with legendary Vineta
Vineta
Vineta or Wineta was a possibly legendary ancient town believed to have been on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It was commonly said to be on the present site of Wolin in Poland or of Zinnowitz on Usedom island in Germany. Today it is said to have been near Barth in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

 and semilegendary Jomsborg
Jomsborg
Jomsborg was a semi-legendary Viking stronghold at the southern coast of the Baltic Sea , that existed between the 960s and 1043. Its inhabitants are known as Jomsvikings. Jomsborg's exact location has not yet been established, though it is maintained that Jomsborg was somewhere on the islands of...

, base of the Jomsvikings
Jomsvikings
The Jomsvikings were a possibly-legendary company of Viking mercenaries or brigands of the 10th century and 14th century AD, dedicated to the worship of such deities as Odin and Thor. They were staunchly pagan, but they reputedly would fight for any lord able to pay their substantial fees, and...

, was destroyed by the Danes in the 12th century.

Scandinavian arrowheads from the 8th and 9th centuries were found between the coast and the lake chains in the Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

ian and Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

n hinterlands, pointing at periods of warfare between the Scandinavians and Slavs.

Scandinavian settlements existed along the southeastern Baltic coast in Truso
Truso
Truso, situated on Lake Druzno, was an Old Prussian town near the Baltic Sea just east of the Vistula River. It was one of the trading posts on the Amber Road, and is thought to be the antecedent of the city of Elbląg . In the words of Marija Gimbutas, "the name of the town is the earliest known...

 and Kaup
Kaup
Kaup may refer to:*Kapu, Karnataka, a village in Udupi district, Karnataka, India*Johann Jakob Kaup , German naturalist*Kaup–Kupershmidt equation, the nonlinear fifth-order partial differential equation...

 (Old Prussia
Prussia (region)
Prussia is a historical region in Central Europe extending from the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea to the Masurian Lake District. It is now divided between Poland, Russia, and Lithuania...

), and in Grobin (Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

).

France

The French region of Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 takes its name from the Viking invaders who were called Normannorum, which means ‘men of the North.’

The first Viking raids began between 790 and 800 along the coasts of western France. They were carried out primarily in the summer, as the Vikings wintered in Scandinavia. Several coastal areas were lost during the reign of Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

 (814–840). But the Vikings took advantage of the quarrels in the royal family caused after the death of Louis the Pious to settle their first colony in the south-west (Gascony
Gascony
Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a...

) of the kingdom of Francia, which was more or less abandoned by the Frankish kings after their two defeats at Roncevaux. The incursions in 841 caused severe damage to Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 and Jumièges
Jumièges
Jumièges is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A forestry and farming village situated in a meander of the river Seine, some west of Rouen, at the junction of the D65 and the D143 roads...

. The Vikings attackers sought to capture the treasures stored at monasteries, easy prey given the monks' lack of defensive capacity. In 845 an expedition up the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 reached Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. The presence of Carolingian deniers
French denier
The denier was a Frankish coin created by Charlemagne in the Early Middle Ages. It was introduced together with an accounting system in which twelve deniers equaled one sou and twenty sous equalled one livre...

 of ca 847, found in 1871 among a hoard at Mullaghboden, County Limerick, where coins were neither minted nor normally used in trade, probably represent booty from the raids of 843-6. After 851, Vikings began to stay in the lower Seine valley for the winter. Twice more in the 860s Vikings rowed to Paris, leaving only when they acquired sufficient loot or bribes from the Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 rulers.

The Carolingian kings tended to have contradictory politics, which had severe consequences. In 867, Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 signed the Treaty of Compiègne
Treaty of Compiègne
The Treaty of Compiègne of 10 June 1624 was a peace treaty between France and the Netherlands. It allowed France to subsidize the Dutch war effort against Spain in the Dutch War of Independence after the end of the Twelve Years' Truce...

, by which he agreed to yield the Cotentin Peninsula
Cotentin Peninsula
The Cotentin Peninsula, also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy, forming part of the north-western coast of France. It juts out north-westwards into the English Channel, towards Great Britain...

 to the Breton
Breton people
The Bretons are an ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Brythonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain in waves from the 3rd to 6th century into the Armorican peninsula, subsequently named Brittany after them.The...

 king Salomon, on the condition that Salomon would take an oath of fidelity and fight as an ally against the Vikings. Nevertheless, in 911 the Viking leader Rollon
Rollo of Normandy
Rollo , baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent and founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy...

 forced Charles the Simple
Charles the Simple
Charles III , called the Simple or the Straightforward , was the undisputed King of France from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919/23...

 to sign the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, under which Charles gave Rouen and the area of modern Haute-Normandie
Haute-Normandie
Upper Normandy is one of the 27 regions of France. It was created in 1984 from two départements: Seine-Maritime and Eure, when Normandy was divided into Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy. This division continues to provoke controversy, and some continue to call for reuniting the two regions...

 to Rollon, establishing the Duchy of Normandy
Duchy of Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy stems from various Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo-Danish invasions of France in the 9th century...

. In exchange, Rollon pledged vassalage to Charles in 940, agreed to be baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, and vowed to guard the estuaries of the Seine from further Viking attacks.

While many buildings were pillaged, burned, or destroyed by the Viking raids, ecclesiastical sources may have been overly negative as no city was completely destroyed. On the other hand, many monasteries were pillaged and all the abbeys were destroyed. Rollon and his successors brought about rapid recoveries from the raids.

The Scandinavian colonization was principally Danish, with a strong Norwegian element. A few Swedes were present. The merging of the Scandinavian and native elements contributed to the creation of one of the most powerful feudal states of Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. The naval ability of the Normans would allow them to conquer England
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 and southern Italy
Norman conquest of southern Italy
The Norman conquest of southern Italy spanned the late eleventh and much of the twelfth centuries, involving many battles and many independent players conquering territories of their own...

, and play a key role in the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

.

Spain

After 842, when the Vikings set up a permanent base at the mouth of the Loire River, they could strike as far as northern Spain. They attacked Cadiz in AD 844. In some of their raids they were crushed either by Kingdom of Asturias
Kingdom of Asturias
The Kingdom of Asturias was a Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula founded in 718 by Visigothic nobles under the leadership of Pelagius of Asturias. It was the first Christian political entity established following the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom after Islamic conquest of Hispania...

 or Emirate armies. These Vikings were Hispanised in all Christian kingdoms, while they kept their ethnic identity and culture in Al-Andalus.

In 1015, a Viking fleet entered the river Minho
Minho River
The Minho or Miño is the longest river in Galicia, Spain, with an extension of 340 km.Both names come from Latin Minius...

 and sacked the episcopal city of Tui (Galicia); no new bishop was appointed until 1070.

Portugal

In 844, many dozens of drakkars appeared in the "Mar da Palha" ("the Sea of Straw", mouth of the Tagus
Tagus
The Tagus is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It is long, in Spain, along the border between Portugal and Spain and in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. It drains an area of . The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course...

 river). After a siege, the Vikings conquered Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 (at the time, the city was under Muslim rule and known as Al-Ushbuna). They left after 13 days, following a resistance led by Alah Ibn Hazm and the city's inhabitants.
Another raid was attempted in 966, without success.

North America

In about 986, Bjarni Herjólfsson
Bjarni Herjólfsson
Bjarni Herjólfsson was a Norwegian explorer who is the first known European discoverer of the mainland of the Americas, which he sighted in 985 or 986.-Life:...

, Leif Ericson
Leif Ericson
Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer who is regarded as the first European to land in North America , nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus...

 and Þórfinnr Karlsefni
Thorfinn Karlsefni
Thorfinn Karlsefni was an Icelandic explorer who circa 1010 AD led an attempt to settle Vínland with three ships and 160 settlers. Among the settlers was Freydís Eiríksdóttir, according to Grœnlendinga saga and Eiríks saga rauða, sister or half-sister of Leif Eriksson...

 from Greenland reached North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and attempted to settle the land they called Vinland
Vinland
Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

. They created a small settlement on the northern peninsula of present-day Newfoundland, near L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland...

. Conflict with indigenous peoples and lack of support from Greenland brought the Viking colony to an end within a few years. The archaeological remains are now a UN World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

Old Norse influence on the English language

The long-term linguistic effect of the Viking settlements in England was threefold: over a thousand Old Norse words eventually became part of Standard English
Standard English
Standard English refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an Anglophone country...

; numerous places in the East and North-east of England have Danish names, and many English personal names are of Scandinavian origin. Scandinavian words that entered the English language included landing, score, beck, fellow, take, busting and steersman. The vast majority of loan words did not appear in documents until the early 12th century; these included many modern words which used sk- sounds, such as skirt, sky, and skin; other words appearing in written sources at this time included again, awkward, birth, cake, dregs, fog, freckles, gasp, law, moss, neck, ransack, root, scowl, sister, seat, sly, smile, want, weak and window from Old Norse meaning "wind-eye". Some of the words that came into use are among the most common in English, such as to go, to come, to sit, to listen, to eat, both, same, get and give. The system of personal pronouns was affected, with they, them and their replacing the earlier forms. Old Norse influenced the verb to be; the replacement of sindon by are is almost certainly Scandinavian in origin, as is the third-person-singular ending -s in the present tense of verbs.

There are more than 1,500 Scandinavian place names in England, mainly in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (within the former boundaries of the Danelaw
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

): over 600 end in -by, the Scandinavian word for "farm" — for example Grimsby, Naseby and Whitby; many others end in -thorpe ("village"), -thwaite ("clearing"), and -toft ("homestead").

The distribution of family names showing Scandinavian influence is still, as an analysis of names ending in -son reveals, concentrated in the north and east, corresponding to areas of former Viking settlement. Early medieval records indicate that over 60% of personal names in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire showed Scandinavian influence.

Technology


The Vikings were equipped with the technologically superior longships; for purposes of conducting trade however, another type of ship, the knarr
Knarr
The Knarr is a Bermuda rigged, long keeled, sailing yacht designed in 1943 by Norwegian Erling L. Kristofersen. Knarrer were traditionally built in wood, with the hull upside down on a fixed frame, then attaching the iron keel after the hull was completed. The hull planks were manufactured with...

, wider and deeper in draft, were customarily used. The Vikings were competent sailors, adept in land warfare as well as at sea, and they often struck at accessible and poorly defended targets, usually with near impunity. The effectiveness of these tactics earned Vikings a formidable reputation as raiders and pirates. Chroniclers paid little attention to other aspects of medieval Scandinavian culture. This slant was accentuated by the absence of contemporary primary source documentation from within the Viking Age communities themselves. Little documentary evidence was available until later, when Christian sources began to contribute. As historians and archaeologists have developed more resources to challenge the one-sided descriptions of the chroniclers, a more balanced picture of the Norsemen has become apparent.

The Vikings used their longships to travel vast distances and attain certain tactical advantages in battle. They could perform highly efficient hit-and-run attacks, in which they quickly approached a target, then left as rapidly before a counter-offensive could be launched. Because of the ships' negligible draft, the Vikings could sail in shallow waters, allowing them to invade far inland along rivers. The ships' speed was also prodigious for the time, estimated at a maximum of 14–15 kn (27.4–29.4 km/h). The use of the longships ended when technology changed, and ships began to be constructed using saws instead of axes. This led to a lesser quality of ships.

While battles at sea were rare, they would occasionally occur when Viking ships attempted to board European merchant vessels in Scandinavian waters. When larger scale battles ensued, Viking crews would rope together all nearby ships and slowly proceed towards the enemy targets. While advancing, the warriors hurled spears, arrows, and other projectiles at the opponents. When the ships were sufficiently close, melee combat would ensue using axes, swords, and spears until the enemy ship could be easily boarded. The roping technique allowed Viking crews to remain strong in numbers and act as a unit, but this uniformity also created problems. A Viking ship in the line could not retreat or pursue hostiles without breaking the formation and cutting the ropes, which weakened the overall Viking fleet and was a burdensome task to perform in the heat of battle. In general, these tactics enabled Vikings to quickly destroy the meagre opposition posted during raids.

Together with an increasing centralization of government in the Scandinavian countries, the old system of leidang
Leidang
The institution known as leiðangr , leidang , leding, , ledung , expeditio or sometimes lething , was a public levy of free farmers typical for medieval Scandinavians. It was a form of conscription to organise coastal fleets for seasonal excursions and in defence of the realm...

— a fleet mobilization system, where every skipen (ship community) had to deliver one ship and crew — was discontinued. Changes in shipbuilding in the rest of Europe led to the demise of the longship for military purposes. By the 11th and 12th centuries, European fighting ships were built with raised platforms fore and aft, from which archers could shoot down into the relatively low longships.

The nautical achievements of the Vikings were exceptional. For instance, they made distance tables for sea voyages that were remarkably precise. They have been found to differ only 2-4% from modern satellite measurements, even on such long distances as across the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

The archaeological find known as the Visby lenses
Visby lenses
The Visby lenses are a collection of lens-shaped manufactured objects made of rock crystal found in several Viking graves on the island of Gotland, Sweden, dating from the 11th or 12th century...

 from the Swedish island of Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

 may be components of a telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

. It appears to date from long before the invention of the telescope in the 17th century. Recent evidence suggests that the Vikings also made use of an optical compass as a navigation aid, using the light-splitting and polarization-filtering properties of Iceland spar
Iceland spar
Iceland spar, formerly known as Iceland crystal, is a transparent variety of calcite, or crystallized calcium carbonate, originally brought from Iceland, and used in demonstrating the polarization of light . It occurs in large readily cleavable crystals, easily divisible into rhombs, and is...

 to find the location of the sun when it was not directly visible.

An archaeological find in Sweden consists of a bone fragment fixated with in-operated material; the piece is as yet undated. These bones might be the remains of a trader from the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

Trade centres

Some of the most important trading ports during the period include both existing and ancient cities such as Aarhus
Aarhus
Aarhus or Århus is the second-largest city in Denmark. The principal port of Denmark, Aarhus is on the east side of the peninsula of Jutland in the geographical center of Denmark...

 (Denmark), Ribe
Ribe
Ribe , the oldest extant Danish town, is in southwest Jutland and has a population of 8,192 . Until 1 January 2007, it was the seat of both the surrounding municipality, and county...

 (Denmark), Hedeby
Hedeby
Hedeby |heath]]land, and býr = yard, thus "heath yard"), mentioned by Alfred the Great as aet Haethe , in German Haddeby and Haithabu, a modern spelling of the runic Heiðabý was an important trading settlement in the Danish-northern German borderland during the Viking Age...

 (Germany), Vineta
Vineta
Vineta or Wineta was a possibly legendary ancient town believed to have been on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It was commonly said to be on the present site of Wolin in Poland or of Zinnowitz on Usedom island in Germany. Today it is said to have been near Barth in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

 (Pomerania), Truso
Truso
Truso, situated on Lake Druzno, was an Old Prussian town near the Baltic Sea just east of the Vistula River. It was one of the trading posts on the Amber Road, and is thought to be the antecedent of the city of Elbląg . In the words of Marija Gimbutas, "the name of the town is the earliest known...

 (Poland), Kaupang
Kaupang
Kaupang was in Old-Norwegian a word that means a market-place. It is today used as a name of the first urban market-place in the area that today is Norway, also named Kaupang in Skiringssal...

 (Norway), Birka
Birka
During the Viking Age, Birka , on the island of Björkö in Sweden, was an important trading center which handled goods from Scandinavia as well as Central and Eastern Europe and the Orient. Björkö is located in Lake Mälaren, 30 kilometers west of contemporary Stockholm, in the municipality of Ekerö...

 (Sweden), Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 (France), York
Jórvík
Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by...

 (England), Dublin (Ireland) and Aldeigjuborg
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

 (Russia).

Settlements outside Scandinavia

British Isles
  • Danelaw
    Danelaw
    The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

  • Dyflin
    Early Scandinavian Dublin
    The First Viking Age lasted from 795, when Viking raids on Irish settlements began, until 902, when the ruling Norse dynasty was expelled from Dublin. This period of Irish history is characterised by a series of conflicts involving the native Irish and two Viking factions that the Irish called...

     (Dublin)
  • Jórvík
    Jórvík
    Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by...

     (York
    York
    York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

    )
  • Hlymrekr (Limerick
    Limerick
    Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

    )
  • Mann
    Isle of Man
    The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

  • Norðreyjar (Orkney and Shetland)
  • Suðreyjar (Hebrides
    Hebrides
    The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

    )
  • Veðrafjǫrðr
    History of Waterford
    Waterford city is situated in south eastern Ireland, on the river Suir [pronounced Shure] about seventeen miles from where the river enters the sea. Practically the entire city is built on the south bank of the river...

     (Waterford
    Waterford
    Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

    )


Eastern Europe
  • Garðaríki
    Garðaríki
    Garðaríki or Garðaveldi is the Old Norse term used in medieval times for the states of Kievan Rus'...

     (Russia)
  • Seeburg
    Grobina
    Grobiņa is a town in western Latvia, eleven kilometers east of Liepāja. It was founded by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. Some ruins of their Grobina castle are still visible. The town was given its charter in 1695....



Atlantic
  • Faeroe
  • Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

  • Greenland
    Greenland
    Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...



North America
  • L'Anse aux Meadows
    L'Anse aux Meadows
    L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland...

     (and possibly a larger area called Vinland
    Vinland
    Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

    )

External links


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