The Legendary Viking Heroine Blenda

Blenda is the heroine of a Swedish legend that led the rural women of Värend in an attack on a pillaging Danish army and annihilated the invaders. According to the legend, King Alle of the Geats had led the Geats in an attack against Norway. King Alle mustered not only the West Geats, but also the South Geats (or Riding Geats) of Småland.  The king had mustered so many men had left for Norway that the region was virtually defenseless. When the Danes (probably King Harald Wartooth) learned of Småland’s precarious situation, they took advantage of…

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Three things the Ancient Maya and Vikings had in common.

The Norse Vikings and the MesoAmerican Maya were by no means the same. Their cultures were very different and unique from one another.  However, there were a few similarities practiced between the two cultures. 1. Both the Maya and Viking cultures modified their teeth. The Vikings filed their teeth. A Swedish anthropologist analyzed 557 Viking skeletons dating from A.D. 800 to 1050 and discovered that 24 of them bore deep, horizontal grooves across their upper front teeth.  It is believed that they did this to look more fierce to their enemies. Vikings…

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The Creepy Way the Black Death Came to Norway

In the mid 1300s, the Black Death emerged in central Asia and crept steadily across the known World. As the Black Plague claimed people from the near east and southern Europe, the Norse in Scandinavian countries thought they were safe from it. Until it came to them in the most creepiest way.  Creepy enough that it seems more of a cliche’ for a horror movie. Through records and research, we know how the Black Death spread through Europe during the 1340s. We know the bacteria that causes the plague lives in rats and we know fleas from the infected rats spread…

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What did Vikings do to entertain themselves? Play Hnefatafl!

How did Vikings fight boredom? Well that answer’s easy! They raided, burned villages, half naked women, lots of explosions in the background, ham and bacon sandwiches, and a never ending flow of mead. Okay, maybe not.  That’s Hollywood’s version of Viking life.  Not to mention Hollywood’s obsession for horned helmets and warriors that never took off their armor.  In truth, the Vikings were simply like anyone else and occasionally got bored and played games. The Norse played a variety of tafl or hnefatafl (try pronouncing it: “neffa-taffle”) board games. Tafl games are ancient Germanic and…

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The Norse Metallic Ages – Cultural Evolution through Metal

The Norse “Metallic Ages,” so called because they date the time periods when the Norse people are recorded to have been working with metals such as: copper, bronze, and iron. This Age also includes the Migration Period (the Age of Heroes), because it happened during the time of the Germanic Iron Age when there were great southerly migrations of the Nordic people. The Norse Metallic Ages are: The Nordic Bronze Age 1700 BC –500 BC. The Pre-Roman Iron Age 500 BC – 1 AD. The Roman Iron Age 1 AD…

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Stone Age Norse and the Longhouse

The Norse during the Viking Age were well known for their longhouses and mead halls, but how long have they been building them? A longhouse is a type of long, proportionately narrow, single-room building built by peoples in various parts of the world including Asia, Europe, and North America.  Longhouses were a commonly developed technology built by many cultures. In the Northern European region during the period of the Funnelbeaker Culture (Trichterbecherkultur) of around 4300 BC to 2800 BC, people began to live more inland.  They began to build settlements more inland,…

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Viking Battle Tactics: The Boar Formation

One of the battle formations that Norse warriors formed to break through the enemy’s lines was called the “svinfylking” (boar formation). The svinfylking was a battle formation where a group of heavily armed warriors (usually 20 to 30) would interlock their shields to form a wedge that had the center pointing towards the enemy’s formation. The triangular wedge tapered back on each side from the center point to make a tight spearhead. The Viking warriors would get in a “boar formation” wedge and then charge forward in this tight interlocked…

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Norse Trade, more Bang for the Buck

For as long as history can trace, the Norse have been well known as great traders. Their trade reach extended all the way to the Far East, through Russia and the Black Sea, to the Middle East. Regular trade thrived throughout Europe and in the Mediterranean. The Volga trade route along the Volga River connected Norse tradesmen all the way to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea to trade with Muslim countries, sometimes as far as Baghdad through the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers trade routes. The reach of the…

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Norse contact with Native Americans before the Viking Age

When the Vikings reached the New World, they called the native inhabitants (American Indians or Native Americans), “Skræling.” There has been much debate as to what exactly this word or label meant. Some translate it as “skin wearers,” which may be true as to how they described them. The Norse generally wore woolen or linen clothing and North American Natives generally wore animal skins. There was one thing that is puzzling about the Norse describing their interactions or meeting the Skræling. The Viking explorers weren’t curious or baffled by these…

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Glíma, the Martial Arts System used by the Vikings

Viking warriors had the skills to survive against various forms of warfare and combat. The reason for the Vikings fighting prowess is found in the way they trained both with and without weapons. For combat without weapons, the Norse had developed a martial arts system called Glima. To be a good fighter and survive the unpredictability of combat, a warrior must know how to defend themselves unarmed against an armed opponent. The Norse developed Glima, which is a self-defense system that employs throws, blows, kicks, chokes, locks, pain techniques and some weapon techniques. It is comparable…

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