'Vikings' is the name given to people from Scandinavian countries who are famous for their ferocious raids on European countries from AD 800 to AD 1100. They were certainly fierce people, but many of the written records about them come from the people they attacked, often Christian priests, who were shocked because the Vikings were pagan, and worshipped many gods. Thor was the Viking god of thunder, and the Vikings even named a day of the week in honour of him - Thor's day or Thursday. They believed that if they died honourably in battle, they were taken to live with their gods in Valhalla (the Viking heaven), so leaders were often buried in their ships with all their armour. However, the Vikings were eventually converted to Christianity. |
Because of the cold and difficult climate in Scandinavia the Vikings were very good at surviving any way they could - farming, crafts, fishing and trading. They were excellent sailors and their long ships took them across seas and up rivers. In 1002 Leif Eriksson landed in America, and on the way he stopped in a land he was so happy to see that, even though it was white with snow, he called it Greenland. They also settled Iceland and some Viking legend and history is told in the Icelandic Sagas. The Viking capital of Britain was Jorvik, or York.