Contents Who Were The Vikings? The Viking Settlements Viking Raids The Viking Ships Viking Trading
Who Were The Vikings? The Vikings were both a warrior and farming society from the region now known as Scandinavia. They were also seafaring explorers who sailed beyond their homelands not only to raid, but also to build settlements in other parts of the world.
The Viking Settlements Typical Viking settlements were centred around the longhouse, a large barn like building in which the family lived. Other buildings included storehouses, where grain and food supplies were kept, and workshops, where weapons and farming tools were made. Because the Vikings were skilled seafarers, many of their settlements were near water, and they used their well-constructed boats for fishing, for trade, and to raid other settlements and villages.
Viking Raids The Vikings began to raid their southern neighbours around 800 AD. These raids, and the subsequent invasions, took many forms and and reached out in many directions. In the British Isles and parts of France, there was a fairly uniform evolution; raids gradually changed from hit and run to larger ambitious forays in which bands of sailor-raiders carved out holdings or base camps where they stay for winter. Eventually, by the mid-to late 9 th century, the armies grew in size.
The Viking Ships When the Vikings were going to raid, they used huge boats called longships. These longships could hold to about 30 or more men and could withstand massive storms because of its design. All the viking ships used the ‘Clinker’ design which long planks of wood were overlapped and nailed over the support ribbing and then covered with wool covered in tar to keep water from coming in. Some of these ships had their front prow carved like a dragon to scare people.
Viking Trading The Vikings were the international tradesmen of their time. In Constantinople (Istanbul) they traded silk and spices for slaves that they had brought from Russia. Amber they found in the Baltic area. From the north and Greenland in the west, they brought furs, skins and walrus tusk ivory to the trading towns in western Europe. The Vikings founded trading cities in Scandinavia such as Birka, Ribe, Hedeby and Skiringsal. In Ireland they founded Dublin and in England they made York flourish to become the most important trading town outside of London.