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In Defense of the Word ‘Viking’

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Some popular articles and internet commentary push back against the authenticity of the word, ‘Viking.' Increasingly, one hears gross overstatements and incorrect assertions, like “Vikings is a modern word,” or that the term did not appear until the 19th century. Some have even opined that there is little connection between the 8th-century ad hoc raids (such as Lindisfarne) with the empire-building of Cnut the Great or Harald Hardrada almost 300 years later. One recent article published in a mainstream popular history magazine went so far as to claim, “Vikings never existed.” We will prove these statements false below.

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Viking Berserker Warriors

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Viking Berserkers Berserkers were battle-frenzied warriors devoted to the god Odin, who fought in a state of complete fury and reckless abandon. Berserkers were said to channel the bear's spirit (or, in the case of the the úlfheðnar, the wolf's spirit) and take on the berserkergangr – the berserker’s rage – to become almost invincible. But this incredible valor and prowess were accompanied by highly erratic behavior – howling and bellowing, biting the rims of their shields, bizarre physical movements, and sometimes even foaming at the mouth. Furthermore, according to some sagas, once the animal spirit had spent itself, the berserker underwent a period of weakness, apathy, and exhaustion. These strange manifestations have left many people believing that berserkers took drugs before...

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Amleth: The Real Viking Behind The Northman Movie

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  (and Shakespeare’s Best Play) The Northman is already being hyped by some as "the definitive Viking movie" and the "most accurate Viking film ever made." Director Robert Eggers is well known for his artistic creativity, attention to fine detail, and respect for his source material. His previous movies include The Witch and The Lighthouse. Eggers co-wrote The Northman with Sjón, the Icelandic novelist and poet, and the project immediately attracted a stellar cast. In addition, an elite team of consultants worked on the film, including Swedish University Archeology Chair Dr. Neil Price (Children of Ash and Elm and The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia), Oxford scholar Dr. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir (Valkyrie: The Women of...

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Dwarves and Elves in Norse Mythology

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Norse mythology has made tremendous contributions to popular folklore and today’s fantasy. Elves and dwarves are but two of these elements that have become ubiquitous. Today, the word “elf” might make people think of Santa’s helpers or Elf on the Shelf or 'The Lord of the Rings’. However, the original elves and dwarves were not the "wee folk" of Victorian storybooks, nor the alternative humanoid races of modern sword & sorcery. They were supernatural beings that played a significant role in the world's past, present, and future, as the Vikings saw it. This article looks at what we know – and what we don’t know – about Viking elves (light and dark) and dwarves.

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Vikings and Skiing

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The oldest depiction in Scandinavia skiing is a rock carving in Norway from about 4,000 B.C. Skis were found in Finland from 3,300 B.C. and a pair recovered from a Swedish bog date to 2,700 B.C. When 18th century explorers bumped into the Inuit and other aboriginals of northern Greenland, Canada, and Alaska, they found that they were as comfortable on skis as natives in Siberia.

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When England was Part of a Viking Empire

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The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok refers to London as “the finest city in Scandinavia."  This seems like quite a mistake, considering London is the capital of England and sits on the east coast of Britain.  However for the skalds who composed the old saga, London was indeed in Scandinavia, for England was once part of a Viking empire.  This part of English history is almost always glossed over or simply not mentioned at all. The tidier narrative is that Vikings invaded Britain in the 9th century, quickly knocked down most of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, but were eventually halted by the founder of England, Alfred the Great.  Most history books are silent on what happens after that, before picking up the national...

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Historic Arabic Accounts Describing Vikings

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“I have never seen bodies more perfect than theirs. They were like palm trees. They were fair and ruddy. They wear neither coats nor caftans but a garment that hangs on one side and leaves one hand free. Each of them carries an axe, a sword, and a knife and is never parted from any of the arms we have mentioned. Their swords are broad-bladed and grooved like the Frankish ones. From the tips of his toes to his neck, each man is tattooed in dark green with designs and so forth. All their women wear on their bosoms circular brooches, made of iron, silver, copper, or gold according to their husbands’ wealth … around their necks each woman wears...

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Viking Diet: Why you should eat like the Vikings did!

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“I have never seen bodies more perfect than theirs."
-Ahmed Ibn Fadlan (Arabian diplomat describing Vikings that he traded with)

This article investigates common day to day Viking foods, how and when they liked to eat them, and how Viking nutrition contributed to their success.

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History of Viking Arm Rings / Oath Rings

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It is no exaggeration to say that life in the Viking Age was held together by oaths. In fact, in the East, Vikings were known as “Varangians,” which meant “Sworn Companions.” A man or woman’s word was binding, and any person of merit would far rather die than violate their word. There was literally a special place in Hel for oath breakers in the Viking belief system ...

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Mead

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Probably the best-known mention of mead in Norse lore is also one of the most famous stories of Odin, the wandering wizard chief god of Norse mythology. In a tale of treachery, murder, battle, shapeshifting, fantastic realms, narrow escapes, and plenty of sex, Odin steals the 'Mead of Poetry' (Norse: Óðrœrir, or “the Source of Inspiration) from fearsome giants (Jotunn). Upon drinking this mead, Odin gains the gift of understanding and mastering the most-treasured Norse art form. This may be another reason why the three interlocking drinking horns of the Triskele (found carved onto numerous runestones) is considered a symbol of Odin. It was said that great poets were blessed by Odin and shared in his mead, while less-talented poets only got the spittle that Odin dropped behind.

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