Whenever people hear or read about Vikings they imagine them to be angry, mean guys ready to slash throats for what they want. Recently new research has discovered some interesting things about them.
At first, it appeared that the Vikings had begun their travels in 793 A.D. However it was later discovered that Norwegian Vikings has begun traveling from Norway to Ribe, one of the earliest Scandinavian towns as early as 725 A.D. Once they had arrived in Ribe they were interested in traveling on to Denmark. It was these travels by boat that helped the Vikings to learn and master the skills of boating and navigation. Soon they were able to explore and plunder countries near and far.
For over three centuries whenever anyone heard the shout, “Vikings!” their hearts trembled and they felt terrible fear in Medieval Europe. However, these ancient Norsemen weren’t just horrible raiders they also established all kinds of trade routes and often settled in the lands which they plundered.
Vikings Were Amazing Sailors
The Vikings were able to show everyone that they were great and competent sailors and could easily maneuver the wind and the sea. They managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean many times and settled in Greenland and Iceland. Most medieval sailors sailing in the Mediterranean liked to keep close to the shore. The Vikings were much bolder and sailed for thousands of miles on the open seas sometimes not seeing land for a very long time. When it came time for them to navigate in the Land of the Midnight Sun they used intricate wooden sundials to be able to travel along the north-south latitude.
On days that were cloudy, the Vikings used “magic crystals” known as Viking sandstones which polarized daylight and helped them with orientation.
Norse sagas tell about furious Viking warriors who wound up becoming uncontrollably filled with rage while doing battle. In a study done by a psychiatry journal, it was supposed that these rages were the result of drugs especially hallucinogenic mushroom species known as Amanita muscaria. When overpopulation threatened the resources in Scandinavian farming culture people eventually took to looting their southern neighbors for slaves and war booty. As a result, the reputation of the terrifying Vikings was set. However, the bloody raids were not the very center of Viking culture. These ancient seafarers were also responsible for setting up elaborate trading routes, distributing walrus ivory and polar bear skins from Greenland, silks, and spices from Constantinople and amber from the Baltic throughout Europe and Asia.
Another myth depicted in cartoons was that Vikings had helmets with horns and wings. The reality was that a helmet from a 10th-century chieftain’s grave in Gjermundbu, Norway showed a simple iron covering with a peaked cap and a plain guard about the eyes to protect the wearer’s nose. As for the Viking women they dressed in rich, colorful robes and wore sparkly metal breastplates with a pair of broaches placed at the top in order to show off their figures.
Belief in Different Gods
Norse god Odin
Throughout a great deal of their history, Vikings were pagans. They believed in many different gods among them Odin, his son Thor and the fertility goddess Freya. These gods supposedly lived in Asgard, an alternate world that was connected to Earth by a rainbow-like bridge known as the Bifrost. In Norse prophecy, it was foretold that an epic battle called Ragnarok would wipe out the gods and unleash a cataclysmic flood which then would destroy the Earth. The Vikings were determined to become rich before anything else could happen.
In the ninth century Vikings invaded Ireland and founded the Norse kingdom of Dublin, which at that time was known as Dyflin. There they ruled for over 300 years. Even though these rulers had Viking roots after a time they melded with their Gaelic subjects and created an amalgam culture. Among the Vikings favorite targets during the eighth and eleventh centuries were monasteries and medieval churches just filled with treasures along the coast of Europe. Most of the Vikings had converted to Christianity by the twelfth century.