The Vikings were the most powerful people
in northwestern Europe for nearly five centuries from about 750 AD to 1100 AD.
They were the first Europeans to reach North America, arriving at New Foundland
or "Vinland" dating around the year 1001 AD.
Today, a thousand years after they terrorized coastlines
from the eastern Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean, the Vikings of Scandinavia
are remembered as fearless sailors, merciless raiders, wise traders, and
hardy settlers. When thinking of Viking warriors, the picture
of crazy and ruthless barbarians with horned helmets and huge battle-axes
in longships, usually comes to mind. That picture doesn't match reality.
Horned helmets were rare and not used in battles, only in religious ceremonies. Unfortunately, horned helmets came to represent a savage image of brutal Viking
land and sea invaders.
That image has remained through logos and images at schools, businesses,
professional sports, and other organizations of which more than 300 can
be seen here. Enjoy!
Below are images of Viking longships.
Their longships were fast and sleek, powered by sail or oars, they were
ideally suited for raiding because their shallow draught meant that they
could travel up estuaries and rivers. The long, narrow ships packed
with warriors helped to make the Vikings the dominant power in Europe for
nearly five centuries. Two of the most common Viking ships were the
knarr and the longboat. The longboat was the biggest ship and was
used for raiding. It could be up to 100 feet long and 20 feet wide.
The smaller, wider and heavier knarr was used by farmers and merchants
to carry a heavy cargo. The knarr had a front and rear deck.
Shipbuilders took pride in building beautiful ships and usually decorated
the front with a fierce looking carving.
The longboat was built to survive the
stormy seas and to sail on shallow rivers. They were also built light
enough to be carried over land. When the wind was behind a longboat,
the Vikings used large sails. If there wasn't any wind, or it was
blowing in the wrong direction, up to 80 warriors could use oars to power