VIKINGS: THE NORTH ATLANTIC SAGA
Annals: Records of yearly events of interest; in the Middle Ages these were written by monks and later by persons in the king's or queen's court.
Boat: A small water craft such as a rowboat not usually used for deep sea voyaging.
byre [buyer]: A place to keep livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs) either a pen, separate building or a room in the Longhouse.
Chronicles (as in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles): Records of important events of the year written by monks. The same as Annals.
crozier [Crow-zheer]: The curved top of the staff carried by a bishop, archbishop, or abbot of a monastery in the Catholic Church. Croziers were usually made of valuable metals or ivory. Also spelled crosier.
Jelling [YELL-ing]: A location in Denmark, site of the famous Jelling Runestone.
futhark [FOO-thark]: The name of the old Scandinavian/Germanic alphabet based on its first six letters. Its letters, known as "runes," are stick-like symbols.
Hnefatafl (also Hneftafl) [NhEHV-eh-TAH-Full]: "King's table or board," a popular board game during the Viking Age similar to but earlier than chess.
Leif Ericson (Eriksson or Eiriksson) [LAYF ERIKS-son or EYE-RICKS-son]: The son of Eric the Red, who sailed from Greenland to explore the lands sighted by Bjarni [BYAR-nee] Herjolfsson [HAIR-yallfs-son] several years earlier. He established a base camp for further explorations which is probably the site of L' Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
Long Hearth: The long rectangular hearth or fire pit in the center of the Longhouse.
Longhouse: The Old Norse houses were long rectangular houses, 50 to 120 feet long, which generally had at least three rooms: a place to cook and weave, a long hall or living-dining-work and bed-room, and another room for storage or indoor craft work. In Greenland and later in Iceland, some houses added rooms including a place to keep animals in winter. Very wealthy families had a separate building or hall for feasting, music, games, and storytelling and a sleeping chamber for the head of the household.
Longship: Also known a Norse or Viking Longship. The long, narrow wooden ships with double prows (front and back,) square sails and oars,that were the fastest, most maneuverable ships of the Viking or Early Middle Ages. This was one of a number of different kinds of Scandinavian ships and boats.
Nordic: Refers to the northwestern European countries of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) plus Iceland and Finland.
Norse [NOR-s] 1) Name for Scandinavians from the Viking Age to today. 2) Norwegian.
Old Norse: The Northern Germanic language of the Scandinavians in the Viking Age.
pagan: Refers to a religion that is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. The Norse religion had many gods and spirits. Pagan also means people who have a pagan religion.
parchment: Book pages made from cow-, sheep- or goat-skin. Many books of the Middle Ages were written on parchment.
rivet: In Viking times, an iron bolt to fasten wood planks (strakes) together.
rune(s) [ROON; ROONZ]: The letters of the alphabet of the Scandinavians and ancient Germanic peoples. The symbols are stick-like for ease of carving on stone and wood. Runes are thought to be based on the Etruscan alphabet with some added Latin letters. It is called Futhark [FOO-thark] after its first six letters.
runestone: A standing rock on which runic inscriptions are carved, usually within ornamentation, often along a dragon or serpent's long winding body.
saga [SAH-gah]: Oral history or stories about heroic exploits and trials of Viking Age ancestors. The sagas were written down about 200 years after the exploits occurred. Sagas are famous as literature and also because they were among the first works written not in Latin but in the language of the people, Old Norse. [Saga is both an Old Norse and an English word.]
Scandinavia [SKAHN-dee-NAVY-ah]: 1) The Scandinavian Peninsula off northwestern Europe; 2) The Scandinavian-speaking countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, 3) The Scandinavian countries plus Iceland.
ship: A water craft more than 30 ft. long for sailing on the open ocean. (Norse: skibet). Thing: An assembly of local people that discussed important issues and served as a place where law cases could be heard. Since there were no police, each citizen was responsible for carrying out the thing's decisions. The Scandinavian things became the basis of many European parliaments. In Iceland, the national thing was called the Althing. (al=all).
vellum [vel-um]: book pages made from the processed calf-skin. Most of the sagas are written on vellum.
Viking [VEYE-king; VEEK-ing]: First used by Anglo-Saxons in England for the sea-based Scandinavian or Norse raiders of the Viking Age. Scandinavians or Norse were Vikings only when they went on raiding parties in the summer. When they returned home, they were Norse farmers and fishermen.
Viking Age or Era: The time period in Scandinavian and European history from variously given from 750 AD to 1050 AD or from 793 AD to 1050 or 1066 AD.
whetstone: A stone used to sharpen metal tools such as knives, scissors, needles, axes, swords, etc. Men and women carried a small whetstone with them to sharpen tools when needed.