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More Than Just Vikings

Vikings were those who sailed the northern Atlantic seas to run raids or settle in new lands. The word Viking is technically the verb for “making a sea voyage” in the Old Norse language, so the Norsemen would “go Viking.” 

The period is now 800 C.E. and the Norsemen have mastered shipbuilding in a way that allowed them to navigate rough seas as well as narrow rivers with dexterity. The people are eager and strong, ready to venture to new lands. Many warriors were sailing across the Atlantic or traveling the Mediterranean, some strategizing river access to major cities across Europe, and others accessing the far regions of the East through the Baltic channels of trade. Other Norse-Icelandic people even attempted to settle in the Americas. The headgear they wore never consisted of horned helmets, as is usually portrayed in media, but rather simple iron helmets. This misrepresentation was established through Christian-influenced literature.

The pièce de résistance was their ability to sail. Building ships that were both agile and strong, they designed them with planks that followed the tree’s grain, making them naturally stronger. The clinker method, which was a pattern for building the hull with overlapping planks riveted together, was ingenious in allowing flexibility with a comparatively lightweight and shallow depth structure. This allowed smooth navigation during raids where speed and maneuverability were crucial. With the addition of sun stones and sun charts that would track the sun’s path over the sky during adverse weather, the Vikings were unstoppable.

Making use initially of water advantage, stealth, speed, and brute strength, the Vikings later evolved into a more sophisticated and political force and what some widely considered the reason the Viking Era ended.

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