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History: The Vikings

Norwegians Landing on Iceland (detail) by Oscar WergelandThe Vikings sailed in their boats, called longships, from the three countries of Scandinavia: Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Some were craftsmen or traders, but they were mostly farmers with large families. When a farmer died the farm was passed to the eldest son in the family, so many of them had to choose between working on their brother's farm or going overseas in search of fame, fortune or new land.

Many Vikings were great travellers and sailed all around Europe and the north Atlantic Ocean in their longships. They may even have reached America. Some were fierce pirate raiders, stealing goods and animals and killing or enslaving local people. But most Vikings who sailed overseas were just searching for better land to farm.

In 793 AD Viking pirate raiders sailed across the North Sea to a Christian monastery at Lindisfarne in northeast England. They stole its treasures, murdered the monks and terrified everyone. This was followed by other violent Viking raids all over Britain.

In 865 a Great Army of Danish Vikings invaded England. There were fierce battles for several years. In the end the Vikings conquered all of northern, central and eastern England, and seized much of the land for their own farms. This area was called the Danelaw. Eventually most of England was won back by the Anglo-Saxons.

During the same period, Norwegian Vikings sailed to northern and western Scotland, and seized land for their farms around the coast and islands. They also settled in the Isle of Man and parts of Wales.

The Vikings fought battles with swords, spears, axes, bows and arrows. They protected themselves with round wooden shields.

Here's a great website about the Vikings:

The Vikings- from Snaith Primary School in Britain


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