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Gettlinge Gravfalt

VIKING BURIAL

There are a lot of burial sites that have been discovered that are directly associated to the Vikings. Archaeologists have discovered and are still discovering burial sites built by the Vikings themselves.

In Sweden there's the Gettlinge Gravfalt. Gettlinge is located in the south western part of Oland. This particular burial site is known for its remarkable Viking stone ships located at the center of the burial ground.

Hulterstad, also located in Sweden has another area that served as a Viking burial ground. Noteworthy graveyards can be found there, together with the usual Viking structure - the burial ship. It also stands a few meters away from the Hulterstad Church, which is believed to be as old as the graveyard. And because of their historical relevance, the UNESCO had designated this place as one of the World Heritage Sites.

The city of Vasteras, still in Sweden, houses the Anundshog. This is another burial mound that was built by Vikings. In there a significant runic stone stands, attesting to the credibility that the graveyard was indeed connected to the Vikings. The rune is estimated to be more than a thousand years old. And along with that, five more stone settings could be found, forming the shape of a ship, which has always been a trademark of the Vikings from long ago.

In Denmark, there's the Lindholm Hoje. This is the biggest and most ancient burial ground found in the whole of Scandinavia. This burial ground contains more than seven hundred graves and is believed to date itself back to the Iron Age. Aside from the graveyard, Viking castles and ruins are also found in and around the area.

As well as Sweden and Denmark, burial grounds have also been discovered in England, where the Vikings settled in for quite some time. Just recently, a Viking burial ground was discovered in Cumwhitton, Cumbria. Because of a single metal brooch uncovered, archeologists found the graves of six Vikings, four men and two women, complete with their swords, jewellery, spears, riding equipments, and other tools used to make fire. The Viking heroes would like to go their grave in full glory and valour, that's why the graves that were discovered had several artifacts, including belts and metal bracelets from the Viking era.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 16/01/2007

Added by bgill

VIKING SKULL CAPS

A skull cup is a drinking vessel that is made from a human skull, usually from those individuals whom warriors and enemies killed during a battle.

The Vikings are often associated with barbaric activities. They are generally considered to be large men who raid monasteries and spread violence all throughout Europe. The Viking age was the time when they conquered, settled and reined over a number of islands and small countries. Vikings are said to be people who convey inhuman acts. Because of such a concept, Vikings are related to skull cups.

The use of skull cups by the Vikings is believed to be only a myth and non-factual. This belief basically spread because of the mistranslation use of an Icelandic term. The "Runer seu Danica literatura Antiquissima" of Ole Worm mentioned a drinking session of warriors. This is referred to as "ór bjúgviðum hausa" which literally means curved branches of a human skull. The skulls are said to be "ex craniis eorum quos ceciderunt" which means skull of those people who they have killed in battle. In Scandinavian language, the word "skal" simply means "shell" and "skál/skål" refers to bowl. This means that they are related to shell bowls instead of skull-cups.

The skull cups and the use of a drinking vessel that is made from a human skull, is actually factual. There have been historical instances of this, related to tribes that are German in origin. People with this kind of tradition are nomads originating from Eurasia. It is said that these tribes drink from the skulls of their defeated enemy who lost in battle as a sign of their victory. 

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: Ryan Norfolk
Updated On: 29/11/2006

Added by bgill

The Viking Runes

VIKING RUNES

Given the history of the Vikings, most people believe that they were nothing but an illiterate and barbaric race. It is said that they spent most of their time robbing and raiding monasteries and towns rather than developing their own line of poetry or literature. But still, the Vikings were able to leave behind a large number of writings, as well as documents in stones, metal, and wood. Only, they wrote them in inscrutable symbols called the runes, or what is referred to today as the Scandinavian alphabet.

Although that is the case, the Vikings were not the first people to use runes. It is understood that an early Germanic clan, located in northern Europe, created them. But Vikings believed that their ancestors were the ones who invent them and they soon adapted it for their own use.

Legend has it that the chief Norse god Odin speared his body to a tree so as to understand the meaning of the runes. Once he understood them he then passed on the knowledge to the Vikings. This is the main reason why the Vikings regard the runes as having both magical and divine powers. In fact, they used them to cast spells, provide protection, and tell fortunes. Some soldiers engrave runes in their swords believing that it would give them supernatural strength and powers.

As stated earlier, these runes were not written on parchments or any paper-like material. It was written mostly in stone, so the Vikings used not pen and ink, but chisels to write. This wasn’t a big problem as these runes were not used to write stories or poems. They were used practically, to label objects and belongings, as well as record sold and bought items.

The runes contain futhork, the Viking alphabet, which form 24 letters, was reduced down to 16. This is the main reason why, to this day, it is still difficult to translate anything written in runes. Also carvers themselves found the spelling difficult, due to the reduced number of letters, which failed to include all the sounds commonly used in their language.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 16/01/2007

Added by bgill

VIKING HORNED HELMETS

The modern image of a Viking can be described as a large and buffed man with battle gears complete with a horned helmet. The horned helmet is a popular icon related to Vikings. It has been a symbol for power although it is believed to be mainly used as a head protection during a battle. The horns that are in Viking helmets are basically considered as an adornment. During 789 A.D., horns are considered as a decoration in most part of Western Europe. Horns are believed to be a symbol of virility, potency and masculinity of the bull.

Horned helmets are actually of Celtic influence. Some bronzed helmets buried inVisko, Denmark in 1976 were related to Vikings and shows a pair of curved horn adornments. This particular relic may have been used in ceremonial offerings.

The actual evidences of the existence of horned helmets are often related to ceremonial events and not during the Viking's actual warfare. There is no exact proof or evidence that horned helmets were used by Vikings during their raids and battles.

A typical helmet used during battles is a simple hemispherical headgear with a face guard. To date, actual Viking horned helmets are yet to be discovered. Helmets are believed to be used by Viking chieftains who also wore armours. Other historians also suggest that chieftains wore horned helmets as a symbol of their rank.

During the Bronze Age, there were evidences of the existence of horned helmets. A cauldron was discovered in Zealand, Denmark that shows an image of a helmet with stag antlers as horns. This relic is also believed to be related to ceremonial sacrifices.

A portrayal of a Viking with a horned helmet and spears was illustrated in a 5th AD metalwork which originated from the Swedish coast. The image was thought to be a Viking complete with battle gears with a horned helmet who worshipped their god in a ceremonial dance.

Figures of horned helmets continue to appear in a lot of relics that are mostly found in regions of England. Proofs and figures of the existence of horned helmets are commonly discovered in burial sites, cauldrons, decorative plates, tapestries and amulets.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 15/07/2008

Added by bgill

VIKING RAIDS

ou have seen it all before: period movies showing a thousand or so extras in horned helmets, weapons and full battle gear fighting with each other in their quest to rule over the land. This is what might come into your mind when you think about the raids during the Viking Age in European history.

The Viking Age started from 796 A.D., and lasted for three centuries. This period consists of Viking warriors raiding, pillaging and sailing all throughout Europe,Asia, Africa and America.

When Viking warriors left their homeland, they started conducting small raids through several lands in Europe. These Viking warriors are Norsemen who originated from Scandinavia. They were primarily seafarers with superior navigational, fighting and trading skills.

The famous Viking ships were instrumental in their success over the raiding of the European coasts. From the first slew or raids that they conducted in the earlier part of 793 A.D., they have moved on to explore the rest of the British Isles.

One of the most fascinating aspects in the Viking Age was the raid conducted by the Viking warriors. Just picture an army of huge, blond men who carry weapons to use for pillaging and raiding lands. The extent of their exploration, as well as their exceptional skills made the world-famous Viking raids successful.

Here are some factors that are believed to have contributed to the success of Viking raids:

1. The Viking ships
The ships used by Viking warriors during their time were truly cutting-edge. As compared to the ships designed then, a Viking ship is symmetrical ingenuously constructed. The body of the ship is long, the sail square and the hull or head of the ship built like a dragonhead. The efficient Viking ship sails through the ocean with sufficient speed and made it possible for these Scandinavian traders to sail through the coasts of the British islands.

2. The sailing expertise of the Vikings.
Another factor contributing to the success of Viking raids all throughout Europe are their exceptional seafaring and navigational skills. The Vikings were trained to use different methods of navigating from one coast to another. Their skills in crafting different ship designs also resulted to an evolution and emergence of other designs of Viking ships.

3. The conflict between the small European kingdoms during the Viking Age.
The success of the Vikings may be connected by the fact that the European nations were far from united during that time. The entire continent was subdivided into small kingdoms, making it easier for the Scandinavian warriors to settle over the lands, and pillage and raid the people. They often attacked farms, monasteries and churches.

The Norse or Viking raids all throughout England, Ireland, France and the rest of Eastern Europe all involved trading, raiding, exploration and settling on the land.

The Vikings looked for people to be sold as slaves. They also raided to get loots such as jewellery, clothing, weapons and tools. The Vikings usually launch a sudden attack, surprising the people, thus making the raids more shocking yet effective.

The start of the decline of the Viking raids was in 1066, when the King of Norway died. From here, the influence of the Vikings gradually decreased, signalling the end of the Viking age on that era.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 07/07/2008

Added by bgill

The Vikings in Gaul

Gaul is a region in Western Europe that consists of Belgium, Italy, France, Switzerland, as well as the Netherlands and Germany. During the Viking raids in Gaul, there are three parts making up the lands, which were controlled by Charles the Bald: East Francia, Western Francia and Middle Francia. This is the France that you know today.

Western Francia, or Gaul, is the one that is most affected by the Viking raids during this period of the Viking Age. East Francia and Middle Francia were not as severely attacked as Gaul.

The Viking raids in Gaul resulted to the destruction of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century. To help prevent the invasion of the Vikings in his kingdom, Charles the Bald, the first king of Grance, enforced the "Edict of Pistres".

This edict is one of the few times when Charles the Bald, known for his lousy military decisions and bad governance, proved that he is capable of making good decisions for his people.

The Edict of Pristes indicates that the city of Gaul and its countryside should be protected from Viking warriors. Charles the Bald wanted the Vikings defeated, and he tried to do so by signing this edict that aims to defeat the Vikings and prevent Gaul from experiencing future attacks.

Charles the Bald built an army of men whom he can call for during a Viking attack. He also ordered for the building of bridges on the rivers and towns of Gaol. During that time, the sight of a Viking ship is enough to send the people fleeing, that is why he wanted to prevent the war ships from sailing across.Most of the Vikings attack in Gaul landed from 864 to 865 A.D.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 28/07/2008

Added by bgill

The Vikings in Iberia

The middle of 900 A.D. was the start of the Vikings raids through the coasts of the Kingdom of Asturias. This kingdom, established by King Pelayo, was a Christian community in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Iberian Peninsula is located on the Southwestern part of Europe. However, the Viking attacks were mostly concentrated on the northwest part of the Iberian Peninsula. Under the rule of Alfonso III, the Viking attacks damaged his reign and leadership because during that time, the lines of communication between the province of Galicia and the rest of Europe was already dismal. From 844 to 858 A.D., the Scandinavian warriors attacked and raided their coastlines.

The Vikings frequently attacked monasteries and religious places during that time, and in 968 A.D., they killed a prominent bishop in Compostela. These Scandinavian warriors sailed through an inner town in the Iberian Peninsula called Lugo where they continued the raids.

In 1015 A.D., the daughters if Amarelo Mestaliz were captured and held for ransom. This signaled the onslaught of raids and attacks on the leaders of small kingdoms through the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Vikings, however, are not just known for raiding and pillaging. They also settled and traded on the lands. Some of places in Iberian Peninsula where they settled include Povoa de Varzim, located in the northernmost part of Portugal.

The colourful Viking saga continued from the coasts of Iberia through the rest of Europe for a time. The raids did not end with one particular event, however by 1066, with the death of King Haraldr of Norway, the last of the major Scandinavian raids were seen. This signals the end of the Viking Age.

 

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: Ryan Norfolk
Updated On: 29/11/2006

Added by bgill

Vikings Icelandic Sagas

VIKINGS ROWING

The Vikings Icelandic Sagas have played a big role in world literature. It is established that anonymous authors wrote most of the entries in the sagas between 13th and 14th century. It has 40 narratives, all of which describe the life stories of either famous Vikings or the entire Viking community as a whole.

The narratives are about the Vikings and their way of life starting from the year 1000. Such was the time when the Vikings stopped being pagans and embraced Christianity. However, the stories were not written down as they happened. Instead, stories were handed down verbally through many centuries before being finally set down in writing.

Some of the narratives contained in the sagas can pass off as history, while others prove to be rather fantastic. Some of them stating that the women warriors are the source of Iceland's strength, others are even humorous. But for all they’re worth, these sagas, even if they were not written by the Vikings themselves, project both a specify time in history and the native's creativity.

Throughout history, the Vikings were referred to as barbaric people, raiding peaceful kingdoms. But the Icelandic sagas portray them in an entirely different light. In the narratives, the Vikings are regarded as heroic people, full of honour and glory. The narratives mainly contain themes of bravery and strength.

Some stories involve regular people, although the main characters are usually the kings and noblemen belonging to the higher class. Generally, the sagas narrate how Iceland had settled and how it was during the 11th century.

These sagas have always been highly treasured by Icelanders. And as for the whole world, its popularity has never really diminished. Many references have been made to these narratives over time. In depth studies of the literature would surely touch upon these sagas and its significance in the world, as we know it today.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 16/01/2007

Added by bgill

Viking's Uncleanliness

The modern image of a Viking is generally portrayed as a group of men with barbaric behaviour, unkempt hair and poor hygiene. This is actually one of the false portrayals of these Scandinavian warriors.

As historians unearth Viking relics, they discovered that they used hygienic tools for grooming. They have seen Viking remains such as combs, tweezers and ear spoons. The unhygienic image is also far from reality since the Vikings actually make their own soap. They use soaps to clean and bleach their hair. They try as they might to keep their hair blonde in color. Blonde is actually the ideal shade and the customary hair color of Vikings. Also, a comb is something that they are familiar with, since most of artefacts found, that relates to Vikings, are actually combs.

During the era when bathing is seldom done, bathing once a week is already considered as good amount of hygiene. Vikings who settled in England are even known for their "excessive cleanliness" because of their habit of bathing every week. One particular tradition was even related to the said regular hygiene of the Vikings. Laugardagur, a term referred to as "wash day", is related to the Viking's routine of taking a bath every Saturday. 

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: Ryan Norfolk
Updated On: 29/11/2006

Added by bgill

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