The World of the Vikings

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“Gives the nonspecialist reader a fascinatingly detailed picture. . . . Without doubt the most attractively presented study of the
Vikings currently available.”—Historian
Here is the complete story of the Vikings from their origins in Scandinavia during the early first millennium AD, through the incredible period of raiding, trading, and settling known as the Viking Age, to the last surviving Viking settlements in fifteenth-century Greenland. Following in the footsteps of Viking merchants, raiders, and emigrants, we track their journeys from the first documented raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne in 739 to the semi-mythical travels of individuals such as Eirik the Red and the expansive kingdoms of Viking leaders. The book explores Viking life and culture in detail: their appearances, warfare, targets, crafts, and weapons, as well as their stunning pattern-welded swords and helmets. Drawing on the latest discoveries and augmenting textual evidence with archaeological detail, this is a vivid picture of the Vikings at home and abroad in an era that laid many of the foundations of the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In a very readable narrative, Hall (director of archaeology, York Archaeological Trust, U.K.; The Viking Dig) ably presents Viking civilization, from its origins during the early first millennium C.E. to the final 15th-century settlements in Greenland. He also uses archaeological evidence to refute misconceptions perpetuated by the media (e.g., that Vikings wore horned or winged helmets). Among the hundreds of black-and-white and color illustrations are photographs of archaeological sites, drawings reconstructing Viking ways, color maps, and wonderful, mostly color photographs of Viking antiquities, some of which are fine examples of Viking art. Other features are sidebars with summaries of topics related to each chapter's time period, a gazetteer of where to find Viking archaeological sites and museums, and a time line of Viking history. Hall provides a wonderful introduction to the world of the Vikings, for whom he clearly has a great affinity. Recommended for history collections in public and academic libraries.
—Br. Benet Exton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500051443
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 3/26/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Hall, widely regarded as one of the world’s authorities on the Viking Age, was Director of Archaeology at York Archaeological Trust, England.

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Table of Contents

Who were the Vikings?
Who and What was a Viking?     8
Cradle of the Vikings     12
Before the Vikings: Scandinavia and the Roman Empire     14
New Signs of Power     17
Political Mergers: The Rise of the Regions     19
The Viking Age: An Outline History     24
Viking Life and Culture
The Peoples of Scandinavia     32
Viking Women     34
Costume and Appearance     36
At Home with the Vikings     40
Crafts and Technology     44
Ships: Catalyst of the Viking World     50
Trade     56
Viking Towns     58
Raiders and Invaders
The Viking Warrior     68
Targets and Tactics     72
Vikings in Frisia     76
The Carolingian Heartlands     79
The 'Great Heathen Army' in England     82
Ship-Bases in Ireland     86
The Scottish Enigma     91
Uninviting Wales?     92
Iberia, North Africa and the Mediterranean     93
Invaders and Settlers
Vikings in the East     96
The Settlement of England     102
Irish vikings in Northwest England     110
Jorvik: The Viking Age City ofYork     114
The Welsh Experience     118
Phase Two in Ireland     120
The Viking Age City of Dublin     122
Settlers in Scotland and the Northern Isles     127
Innse Gall: Vikings in the Western Isles     134
Coming to the Nub: The Isle of Man     138
Normandy     143
New Found Lands
The Faeroe Islands     146
The Settlement of Iceland     150
Greenland     156
Further West: Vinland     160
Expressions of Identity: Religion and Art
A Pagan World     166
Art and Craft Mysteries     174
The Later Viking Age
The Cult of Kings at Jelling     182
King Harald's Power Bases     186
Svein Forkbeard's Invasions of England     188
Cnut's Anglo-Scandinavian Empire     192
Town Life in Scandinavia     196
The End and After
Harald Hardraada and the Last of the Vikings     200
Lost Kingdoms in the West     202
Ending the Earldom in the Northern Isles     206
From Norsemen to Anglo-Normans in Ireland     210
From Feuds to Feudal Iceland     211
Greenland: Extinct/Exterminated/Exited?     212
Nationalists, Romantics, Madmen, and Scholars
Rediscovering the Vikings in their Colonies     218
Rediscovering the Vikings in their Homelands     222
Meanwhile in America...     226
The Vikings: Past, Present and Future     229
Gazetteer     230
Further Reading     232
Illustration Credits     234
Acknowledgments     235
Index     236
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