Introduction to the Viking Age
From the time of the first known raids in Lindisfarne in 793 until
the Battle of Stanford Bridge in 1066 the Vikings were the most
powerful and influencial people of northern Europe. With an extensive
trade from western Europe to the Black Sea they had made themselves
known. They settled in many places of Europe, and were the people
who helped form what today is Russia. They have left marks in almast
every country in Europe and if you travel the Great Britain you
will encounter names of Villages and Streets that will sound Norse.
The Vikings were a great influence from Asia to America for about
200 years. So who were these people of the North and why did
they make such an impact on their surrounding?
There are many theories on why so
many people left Scandinavia during the Viking age to travel and
settle in different parts of the continent. One theory is that there
were a lot of people inhabiting the land and the Kings own most
of it. That limited the freedom for the regular farmer to find his
own piece of land were he could be his own master. The tension of
being limited by rules and regulation as well as deficiencies from
lack of food etc. was probably a major reason to the movements of
people. Another theory is that the Vikings were just greedy and
driven by oppertunism they took advantage of the instability of
the rest of Europe to take over land and other properties.
The Vikings came from the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway
and Denmark). Later they settled on Island, Great Britain, Ireland,
French and Russia. The Vikings that left Norway and Denmark moved
to the south towards the British Isles and Ireland whereas the Swedish
Vikings mainly traveled east into Russia and down Volga to the Black
Sea and Constantinople.
Vikings from Norway and Denmark colonized the Shetlands and Orkneys,
the Isle of Man and conquered three of Englands four kingdoms. They
made Ireland a trading base and controlled many ports along the
cost. They didn't conquer the Celtic land but instead the Celts
and the Vikings had a relationship that allowed the two cultures
to mix and cooperate. The longer the Viking Age past the moe integrated
these two cultures became.
York is another city that has been under great Viking influence.
As a matter of fact they made York, which they called Jorvik, a
trade center. The city grew a lot under the Vikings influence. Today
York has a center dedicated to Viking research as a result of all
the Viking Age findings that have been excavated there. One of the
most fascinating Viking Age findings are from York, the main finding
is the village that was covered by mud. Visit their website here.