Real Viking is a resource for exploring the history of the raiders, traders and adventurers known today as the Vikings.
The vikings exploded out of the harsh northern lands of Europe leaving their mark across Europe, Russia and even the Americas. This was during a time period between the 8th and 11th centuries AD known as the Viking Age. The Viking Age was a great age of exploration, migration and conquest which profoundly diverted the course of world history.
Within these pages we sort the facts from the myths. And we bring to light their notable characters, events and conquests. Furthermore we examine their politics, cuisine, clothing, crafts, warfare and laws. And we will explore the deep impact they made on the peoples and lands from Newfoundland to the Kiev and from Ireland to Turkey.
In addition we compare the real history of the Viking Age with some of the popular fictional dramatisations, such as popular TV series The Vikings and The Last Kingdom. We will see where the presentations are accurate and where they are in error.
Also in a more speculative vein we seek to weigh the various theories over the possible causes of the migrations and invasions. And to consider why they came to a close.
If you are interested in this fascinating subject then do bookmark this site for easy access as new material is included all the time.
We derive viking, or vikings, from the Old Norse word vikingr. In Old Norse it referred to sea-voyagers particularly sea-borne pirates and raiders. The “vik” part comes the Old Norse word for a bay or inlet. “ingr” is a suffix that indicates being “from”, thus “vikingr” means “one from the bays”. Naturally sea voyagers and sea-borne raiders would be coastal rather than inland people.
Today we tend to use the word for all the nordic people of the Viking Age. So we may call a sword of a design common at the time of the Viking Age a “viking sword”, though vikings would not be the only ones to have them. Also not all the nordic peoples were vikingr.
It is the sea voyaging of the vikingr which define the age we call the Viking Age.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Thus the geography of Scandinavia may be a particular cause for precipitating the great developments in the craft of sea travel which is distinctive of the Vikings.
The land is harsh and rather poor for farming. This increases the relative importance of fishing for nutrition and so also make coastal dwelling especially desirable.
Moreover the coastline is exceedingly ragged, featuring deep inlets called fjords. These fjords considerably lengthens journeys by land for coastal dwellers by forcing indirect routes. This makes journeys by sea relatively more efficient.
The people with whom the vikings interacted either as raiders or traders probably would not have used the term viking to describe them. Anglo-saxon sources refer to the raiders as the Danes. While those that settled in the British Isles were referred to by the place names of their settlements such as York.