Vikings - facts and myths

We all think we know the Vikings, from the stories of raiding and plundering to Norse mythology and those horned helmets. But how much of this is fact, and how much is myth?

Viking market

The Viking age

The Viking age is generally accepted to have lasted from the first Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery in Northern England in 793 to the decisive Battle of Hastings in 1066. 

Viking ship

Vikings as explorers

During this period, Vikings travelled far and wide across what was then the known world.

Contrary to popular belief, Vikings did not only engage in raiding and pillaging. They were also adept traders, and established many successful settlements in England, Scotland, Ireland, Normandy and Iceland.

In addition to terrorising the entire North Atlantic coastal line, Vikings went south to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople and the Middle East.

Indeed, the first Europeans to set foot in North America were Vikings, who established a short-lived settlement in present-day Canada under the leadership of Leif Eriksen. 

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Viking facts

- The Viking age lasted from around 793 to 1066

- Vikings came from across Scandinavia

- Vikings were the first Europeans in North America

- Vikings had their own runic alphabet, "futhark"

Viking myths

- Vikings did not wear horned helmets

- Vikings were not wild savages

- Vikings did not drink from skulls

- Vikings did not solely use battle-axes

- Vikings did not play the lure

- Vikings were not typically burried in a dolmen

Viking Denmark

Danish Vikings

The merciless ancient Danes that still strike fear into the hearts of people around the world.