Think of the Vikings and it's not poetry, woodcarving and storytelling that spring to mind, but colourful images of horned helmets, berserkers, longships, Valhalla, the one-eyed god Odin and men dying sword in hand or drinking out of skulls.
And it’s true, the Vikings were pirates who came to plunder and kill, and they spread terror along Europe's coasts. But their reputation is not entirely fair: They were not just ruthless warriors, but also skilled traders, administrators and craftsmen in metal and wood, producing beautiful jewellery and artefacts that survive to this day.
The Vikings were also some of Europe's best storytellers and the Norse sagas continue to fascinate modern audiences. And, by the way, they did not have horned helmets: No self-respecting Viking would want to look like a cow.
We know a lot about what Viking life was like a thousand years ago, and you can experience a little of it today. At Lofotr Viking Museum a traditional Viking longhouse has been built, and the museum also hosts Viking festivals and events where you can get a taste of Viking life and living. And in Oslo you can see the genuine article.
How did such a small and scattered people conquer so much territory? Norwegian Vikings were courageous, cunning and had a fatalistic outlook which made them natural risk takers.
Viking raiding parties seem to have had an amazing ability to shrug off losses, whether in battle or in dangerous sea voyages.
Many men were lost in battles in continental Europe, and in 876 the Vikings lost as many as 4,000 men and 120 ships in a great storm off the south English coast. There was also much infighting between Danish and Norwegian Viking bands, especially in Ireland, where losses were extremely high in relation to the Viking population. Despite all of this this, their appetite for conquest and exploration remained high.
Viking courage is probably also linked to their dark sense of humour, as expressed in the writing of their sagas. Being able to laugh in the face of death and danger somehow explains their resilience in battle and in pioneering sea voyages to far off lands. One of the distinguishing features of Old Norse poetry, legend and saga is a grim gallows humour. It is usually a bad sign when someone cracks a joke in a Viking saga, and the stories contain more jokes than you might think.
Actor David Spinx gets a taste of how Vikings might have lived in Lofoten.
Curator of the Lofotr Viking Museum, Marion Fjelde Larsen, picks some places in Norway well worth a visit to get that Viking feeling.
The Viking Farm is situated in beautiful natural surroundings on the island of Bukkøy and is accessible on…More
The Viking Farm is situated in beautiful natural surroundings on the island of Bukkøy and is accessible on…
Vikings were experts in water transportation as their native fjords stretched for great distances into Norway's heartland. Their longships were narrow, light, wooden boats with a shallow-draft hull designed for speed and easy navigation in shallow waters. Light enough to be carried, the longship was also double-ended, allowing it to reverse direction without needing to turn around. This was a major advantage in a sea filled with concealed icebergs and sea ice.
Longships had oars along almost the entire length of the boat, and later versions combined rowing power with sailing power. In good conditions, a longboat under sailing power could reach a speed of 15 knots.
This resulted in voyages of discovery, trade and opportunistic raiding of coastal cities, towns and settlements across Europe. The voyages began in the latter part of the eighth century and stretched from Greenland in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east. To begin with only a few made the voyages, but the fleets grew until there were hundreds of longships sailing to England, Scotland, France and Ireland.
The Vikings founded many cities and colonies, including Dublin and Normandy. Dublin was held as a major settlement for more than three centuries. Between the years 879 and 920 the Vikings colonised Iceland, which in turn became the springboard for the colonisation of Greenland. The Vikings even reached North America, and remains of a Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland have been carbon dated to around the year 1000.
By the 1100s the Vikings were weakened by domestic unrest. At the same time, many other European countries were becoming stronger and more difficult targets.
The Viking Age ended with the fall of Harald Hardråde, who unsuccessfully tried to conquer England in 1066, and was defeated and killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
Midgard Historical Centre is situated near the Borre burial mounds, which form one of Norway's most important…More
Experience the Oseberg ship The world's most important discovery from the Viking era was made just outside…More
The Slottsfjell Museum offers an exhibition on the Middle Ages, "The history of Tønsberg city" both in the…More
Kaupang Viking town is open during the summer season. Tuesday to Sunday June 21th-August 14th 2016.More
The Vikings have conquered Hollywood and are now returning home to Norway. Join us and meet the Vikings! With…More
"Gildehallen" - The Viking Hall, is a reconstruction of one of the Viking Age's large halls. It is newly found…More
Travel back to the age of the Vikings and discover what life was really like back in the day. Catch a glimpse…More
The Viking farm is situated in beautiful natural surroundings on the island of Bukkøy and is…More
Reconstructed settlement from the Viking Bronze Age. Fertility labyrinth, archery and story-telling.More
A RIB takes you on a trip to Harstads archipelago to see the empire of famous Viking Chieftain, Tore Hund.More
The Saga Siglar Hall - Documentation Centre The remains of the shipwrecked Saga Siglar and Oseberg ships are…More
Karmøy Kulturopplevelser is a different event- and activitiy organizer. Situated on one of the most important…More
Measuring approx. 40 metres in diameter, it is Nordmøre's largest burial mound and is assumed to be the grave…More
Vikingegarden Maurenga is situated approx. 2 km west of Gardermoen. The building, interior and food, etc., are…More
Join us for a 4 day trip between Oppdal - Nidaros - Stiklestad- The tour includes 3 shorter walks along the…More
For 3000 years chieftains and kings controlled the strait Karmsundet – Nordvegen – the shipping…More
For 3000 years chieftains and kings controlled the strait Karmsundet – Nordvegen – the shipping…
Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula with the world's best-preserved Viking ships and finds from Viking tombs around…More
Season: all year. By Hafrsfjord, the monument Sverd i fjell (Swords in rock). This was where Harald Fairhair…More
Do you want to explore the Viking History? For a real Viking experience; Rogaland has several historical sites…More
With Viking Biking you can experience Oslo on a bike – either on a guided tour or on a rented bicycle.…More
The Viking settlement is situated in beautiful natural surroundings on the island of Bukkøy and is accessible…More
The Viking settlement is situated in beautiful natural surroundings on the island of Bukkøy and is accessible…