The Vikings were seafaring people originating from the lands currently known as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. They raided and settled in broad expanses of Europe and Asia from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries, a turbulent time period generally referred to as the Viking Age. Although largely remembered for their ferocious raids and martial expertise, the Vikings were also exceptionally skilled craftsmen, traders, and explorers. They established settlements throughout the Baltic coast, Russia, Normandy, England, Ireland, and the North Atlantic Isles that had lasting cultural impact. Always with an eye on the west, they explored the North Atlantic, setting up temporary colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland and creating a permanent settlement in the last uninhabited country in modern Europe: Iceland.
Much of what we know about the Vikings comes to us courtesy of the writings of their contemporaries. Though the Vikings had a system of writing based on the runic alphabet, they participated in a primarily oral tradition, with stories and histories being passed down from generation to generation. Many of these stories were recorded by Icelandic scholars in the 13th century, mainly through rich retellings in various Sagas and the . Nearly a thousand years after the close of the Viking Age, Viking studies remains an engaging topic for many scholars, with new information found predominately through archeological discovery and scientific analysis of material remains. The material in this guide was selected to give a broad overview of different aspects of Viking history and culture.
Selector: Elizabeth Clemens
A virtual tour through the lands settled by Vikings during the Viking Age. Includes modern footage of places and additional historical imagery, where available. Covers: Vinland (Canada), Greenland, Iceland, the Orkneys, Faeroe Islands, Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Ireland, England, Normandy, Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark.
A documentary produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that serves as an introduction to the Vikings, including their history and culture, factors that made their sudden rise to power possible, and how they were viewed by their contemporaries.
In conjunction with its exhibition, "Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga," Mystic Seaport Museum gathered an international roster of scholars in Mystic, CT, for a one-day symposium to discuss various aspects of the Vinland Map story, including results of new scientific testing, the map’s role in history and scholarship, medieval Norse sagas, and the archeology of the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America. The symposium and the corresponding exhibit were produced in partnership with the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.