the dictionary of norse mythology


VIKINGS People of the Inlets Scandinavian warriors who raided the coasts and inlets of Europe and the British Isles from the ninth to the 12th cen-turies the Viking Age. Their greatest achievements were in shipbuilding and navigation see ships and ship burials. The typical longship was a graceful vessel with a high prow adorned with the figure of an animal, often a dragon, and a high curved stern. It had a square sail and was powered by oarsmen who hung their shields over the side of the ship. They ventured as far away as Greenland, iceland and North America, and founded colonies in norway, denmark, and sweden, as well as in the British Isles, around the Mediterranean, in Russia, and in North America.Their mythological and heroic legends form the content of Old norse literature. The Viking Age ended, however, in the 12th century with the coming of Christianity to scandinavia and the rise of Euro-pean states, whose people were able to join together and protect themselves against further Viking inva-sions and raids. Many Vikings settled down in the lands that they had raided. They came to be known by the names of the new states Danes, Norse, Swedes, Normans, and Varangians in Russia.In spite of their reputation for ferocity, not all Vikings were warriors. Most of them were farmers, hunters, and fishermen who led peaceful lives and had a stable social structure. Family and social bonds were vital, for many communities were small and A Viking warrior New York Public Library Picture Collection The prow of the Viking longship was often adorned with the head of a dragon. New York Public Library Picture Collection

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