Homelands: Who were the Vikings?

Picture of the landscape of the Viking homeland

Say the name Viking and images leap to mind. But who really were the Vikings and what was the Viking Age? Viking is a term used by modern scholars to refer to the nordic-speaking peoples from southern Scandinavia who raided Europe and the British Isles roughly between A.D. 793-1066. They would have identified themselves as Danes, Svear, Goths, Norwegians, etc. There never really was a single "Viking" culture; only a loose assortment of shared ideas, economies, religious beliefs, and especially a common Germanic language known today as Old Norse. In that sense Viking culture was simply only one stage in the development of modern Scandinavian culture.

By drawing on various sources, a rather complete picture of the Vikings emerges. Vikings were far more than the warriors of popular stereotype; they were also skilled craftsman, poets, politicians, and loyal family members who were proud and conscious of their social status.

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