So you’ve been watching the latest Vikings season? It’s pretty exciting. But how many things do you actually know about the history of Northmen? Let’s take a look at 10 facts about Vikings and see how much of the series is actually true.
10. The End of Viking Sagas
There are only a couple of ancient facts about Vikings that describe their trips to the New World, we are talking here about The Saga of Erik the Red and The Saga of the Greenlanders.
The problem with their accuracy is that both of them have been written after a long period following the trips, so the specialists have serious doubts regarding some of the facts told there, especially the part after the Vikings’ departure from the New World.
Recently, several houses presumed to have pertained to members of Thorfinn Karlsefni have been discovered in Glaumbaer. These settlings present similarities with Viking architecture, but it also has clear signs of a contemporary design and they show the Viking ancestry of some places in Iceland.
9. The Discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows
This is the name of a historical place that hosted a small Viking community of Norse expeditions from Iceland, situated in Canada (Newfoundland) and occupied for around 10 years.
At the start of the 19th century, Canadian historians have discovered ancient Icelandic manuscripts with reports about the Vikings from the year 900. These were named “Erik’s Saga” and “The Greenlander Saga” presenting the expeditions of Erik the Red, Thorvald Arvaldson or Leif Erikson, all of them being descendent of the same group of Norse adventurers.
8. Teeth Filling
These new facts about Vikings represent the first traditional example of ceremonial teeth modifications on the European continent. The bones that were examined have been discovered at several Viking funeral sites in Denmark and Sweden.
The skeletons with filled teeth all belonged to men of different ages, suggesting a long tradition in this area. The marks were deeply cut into the enameled surface and they appeared to be decorative rather than for health purposes
7. Viking’s Sunstones
Historical specialists have speculated that the Vikings used unique gems to guide their ways under the less clear skies. Even if none of such famous “sunstones” have been discovered at the Viking traditional locations, an amazingly piece of evidence found in an Icelandic shipwreck might help confirm that the Vikings indeed used them.
Chemical researches proved that the rock was from Icelandic Spar, known also as calcite crystal, considered to be the Vikings’ preferred element for their legendary sunstones.
6. The Viking Burials
An essential resource of details that we have about Viking lifestyle has proved to be their funeral rituals. The Vikings considered that after this life they would be a part of their gods’ army, just like here on Earth.
In the afterlife they would need the same kind of things that were required during their life, so they took all their stuff with them into their funeral sites. Men usually had their weaponry and parts of their business, while the women were buried with household items and all jewelry.
5. The Settlement in Dublin
The first recorded documents of Dublin start with long Viking raids during the 8th century. They led to the organization of a settlement located on the south side Liffey, known as Dubh Linn (or Black Pool). Despite rock fortifications, all areas of Dublin were sacked several times by Vikings over the next 200 years, but they always recovered. In the 11th century, the region of Dublin was prosperous, mainly thanks to the economical deal with Northern Europe.
4. Viking Slaves
Like most ancient individuals, the Vikings had a strictly stratified caste order. At the bottom of the public system were those that were unfree: such people were known as þræll and “thrall”, this indicates basically a slave. Slavery (ánauð) was a concept experienced sometimes, especially when referring to a person captive after combat and raids. The generations of thralls were called foster and might have had a more positive relation with the owners.
The thralls were known as “bond-servants” due to the tradition that it was possible for a thrall to buy his/her independence by paying his owner the entire cost or present value.
3. The Viking Cities
The Vikings are popular for raiding, overthrowing and pillaging, but these actions do not seem in accordance with the cautious style and preparing of their places. Yet a number of geometric fortresses presenting accurate designing were built by the Viking Lord Harald Bluetooth in 980 A.D. and they give us ideas about the settlements and plans in a Viking age.
These historical sites are clearly well planned and they match both of the actions in any city even for today’s modern architectural requirements: standardization among different areas and synchronization of all structures within these cities.
2. Viking Origins
The Viking Age sources the first documented raid in 793 until Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. During these years, the expansion of the Scandinavian tribes reached all sides of the North European countries, and many other regions discovered the Viking tribes raiding their shorelines.
The further revealed information about Vikings was a few decades before in Baghdad for dealing with products like fur, tusks or animal fats. The Viking raids on the priests in Lindisfarne, a little isle situated off the northern shore of Britain, is considered the beginning of the migrations from Scandinavia.
1. Reaching North America
The Viking travelers might have been the original Westerners to land in America, but today a Genoan sailor is seen as the discoverer of these regions. Thanks to proof that until now has been comprised only of simple ancient facts and a lot of Icelandic tales, Vikings could change all of that. Biologist and historical specialists have established that a large part of the DNA and settlements of some populations in North America today can be traced back to their Scandinavian origins.
All this new evidence supports what was already known by few historians: the contact with the Native Americans was made long before Christopher Columbus, but the majority of the initial proves were destroyed later over the centuries by the wars between European colonists and the indigenous people.