The Vikings

The Vikings

Vikings, were a people who lived in the late 8th to the late 11th century A.D in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. They went on many raids in Europe, some parts of Africa, and in some parts of Asia and even North America, where they attacked villages, burning and destroying everything in their way. They made long boats that they used in raids, for exploration, and trading.

Vikings usually went on raids in the summer. They went in parties to undefended locations such as monasteries or villages. In the early beginnings of raiding, vikings did not settle where they raided, but they looted the towns and villages then left for home. Viking raiding parties were led mostly by the men of the viking villages.

The location of their villages on the coast of the sea helped with their raids because they could easily get from one place to another with their longboats. They usually divided into groups when they went into raids, I believe that they did that so that they would be harder to catch. I believe that people did not fight back because they were helpless peasants and monks who were not trained to fight.

In the army of the Vikings, there were two classes, the common soldier and the berserkers. The common soldiers were the brunt of the army, and many fell in battle.

Berserkers were soldiers who ate hen bane, a poisonous plant, that made them go into a state of mind where they killed everything in front of them. Some berserkers were holding off entire armies so that their army could escape.

Not all the vikings were soldiers, some of them lived peacefully and farmed, while others went and fought.

The vikings went in raids so that they could steal gold from monasteries and make slaves. They did this to gain glory, and to show how brave they were. Vikings sometimes did not return home from the raids, but they stayed in the land they raided and settled there.

When the Vikings went on these raids, they used longboats, which were specially made to be able to go really fast and to be able to sail up narrow rivers. The vikings sometimes used shields to decorate the sides of their ships. These ships were described as eagles because they went rapidly.  Some of the ships were big enough to hold tents for the people going on overnight journeys.

Vikings not only went on raids, but farmed and kept animals. I believe that most of the animals that they had in the village were taken from raided towns and villages. Their houses were mainly made from wood, and the people who lived in them had many professions, such as glassmaking, making coins and pottery, melting iron, and weaving.

The vikings had many "gods" and held festivals in their honor. A merchant who visited one of these towns described it as "… a huge town at the very far end of the world’s ocean. It has freshwater wells within the city. A feast was held in honor of their god when I was there. Any man who sacrifices an animal fastens it up on poles outside the door of his house. The town has little property or treasure. The inhabitants’ main food is fish, which is plentiful."  

The Vikings used the stars and the sun to navigate to the lands where they were going. One example of a star that they used to navigate by is the North Star, which shows where the north is. Another example of how Vikings could have used the sun to travel is that they could have observed where the sun rises (the east) and where the sun sets (the west) and based their course on that info. They also used familiar landmarks such as costal mountains to plot their courses.

The name of viking homes were called long houses. In these homes, viking families would dwell with their animals during the winter. Some of the animals that vikings took care of were sheep, cows, chickens, and others. During summer, the vikings would keep their animals outside their homes. The long homes were usually made from logs and were found in many places where vikings had settled.

(to be continued)