What excites us about the Viking Age?

The Viking Age continues to capture the imagination of people all over the world. Our contact with the stories and lives of Scandinavians in the medieval period has almost never been stronger – from the History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ TV series and its successor ‘Vikings Valhalla’ to the Hollywood super hero movies to podcasts, Youtube videos on viking history and mythology. All presenting views and ideas of vikings, real and fictional and their lives, deeds and believes in sometimes confusing and contradictory ways.

Here at Viking Footprints what excites us more than anything is not what appears on the big screen, but what emerges from the ground about those real people who lived 1000 years ago. In archeology, the last 30 years have transformed our knowledge and understanding about almost every aspect of viking history. Yet, in the same breath, has also taught us how little we really know.

We are continually amazed by the knowledge and ingenuity of people in what were previously called the ‘Dark Ages’. They were anything but dark. They were actually full of colour, full of artistic expression and full of inventiveness in thought. This was a time of incredibly forward-looking thinking and organisation. Yes, they were also brutal times. We must also concede that this is fact. The brutality of life and the exercise of power was something common in all European societies at the time, both non-Christian and Christian. We can’t ignore the vikings’ use of slavery and the slave trade to power a lot of their economy.

But to fully understand the real viking story we love to concentrate on the small details. What they looked like? How they produced their clothes? What they ate? What was daily life like? What were they scared of? What did they laugh at? How did the solve problems? And how did thy adapt to change, both in Scandinavia and the wider world?

These, and so many more questions, are what we try to develop an insight into here at Viking Footprints. We would like to share our enthusiasm for these questions. We don’t have all the answers, but we would love you to take away the questions we ask about the viking age and the people who lived it.