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See the fact file below for more information on the Vikings or alternatively, you can download our 24-page The Vikings worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ORIGIN AND THEIR HOMELAND
- Prior to being known as raiders of England, the Vikings lived in Scandinavia. In their homeland, the Vikings heavily relied on fishing and agriculture.
- Due to mountainous terrain, most Vikings settled in Denmark rather than Norway. As farmers, Vikings cultivated oats, wheat, barley, and rye. The men usually hunted reindeer, lynx, lemmings, elk, and seals for meat.
- In addition to meat, they also used animal skins for clothing, especially during cold winters. During the summer, Viking women dried meat and fish for the winter.
- Viking communities settled near coastlines or rivers. Longhouses made of planks were usually designed with minimal openings, like doors and a tiny hole in the roof.
- In addition to being skilled craftsmen, the Vikings were shipbuilders.
- They were known for their longships that could traverse strong sea waves and shallow rivers. Viking boats were known for their length and narrowness. Made of planks, longships had sails and oars.
- Archeological evidence showed that the Vikings used their longships to trade with other territories, including Russia and Central Asia. Often depicted as raiders, Viking ships were decorated with an animal headpiece like a dragon or snake.
- Between the 8th and 11th century, the Vikings established trading with the Byzantine Empire, the Baltic, the Middle East, Newfoundland, and Greenland.
- There were numerous Viking vessels excavated in Denmark which showed that they used several types of vessel for different purposes: cargo ships called knarr, merchant vessels named knarrwas, and the usual longships.
- Contrary to popular belief which sees the Vikings as barbarians, their society was governed by laws. As a matter of fact, earlier Viking settlements were ruled by Earls who officiated things. A thing was a political gathering of Viking men who owned land. Held annually, a thing was the opportunity to make, amend, and enforce laws.
- Punishments such as death and exile were given to Vikings who broke laws, including murder and adultery.
- Compared to other medieval societies in Europe, Viking society followed a less rigid social hierarchy. Their society was composed of Jarls, Karls, and Thralls.
- The Jarls were nobles who were normally wealthy and influential. The Karls were craftsmen, silversmiths, shipbuilders, and merchants who dominated communities in number. They were often associated with raiding foreign lands. At the bottom of the hierarchy were Thralls, composed of slaves and criminals.
- Members of the nobility or the Jarls were recognized by their clothing, jewelry, and headpieces like metal helmets, while the lower class usually wore leather caps. The Vikings did not wear helmets with horns like how they are depicted in popular culture; instead, their metal helmets were round.
- Viking life was heavily influenced by religion and rituals. The Vikings believed in the existence of nine worlds and several gods, including Odin, Thor, Loki, and Freyr. Their mythology was passed on through the Viking sagas.
- The Vikings believed that Yggdrasil or the world tree was divided into nine realms or worlds. It included Alfheim, where the light elves lived, Asgard, the home of Odin, Vanaheim, where the fertility god Vanir could be found, Midgard or the middle earth home of humans, connected to Asgard through a rainbow bridge, Jotunheim, the home of rock giants, Svartalfheim where the dark elves lived, Nidavellir, the home of talented dwarves, Muspelheim for the fire giants, and Helheim, the underworld ruled by Hel, daughter of Loki.
- Like the Ancient Greeks, the Vikings believed in the afterlife. Dead bodies were usually cremated. Wealthy and influential people were even cremated in burial ships along with goods they might need in the afterlife. Some believed that slaves were also sacrificed along with the death of their master.
- The Vikings also practiced sorcery and divination.
- Before going on a raid, the Vikings practiced battle rituals which included animal sacrifices to receive the favor of the gods.
VIKINGS IN FOREIGN LANDS
- By the mid-8th century, many Vikings populated Russia through the Volga trading route. They later became known as the Rus or Varangians.
- As trade prospered in Russia, the Vikings began to settle and collect tribute from the slaves.
- They also established contact with the Byzantine Empire as early as 838 AD. Based on archeological finds, the Vikings usually traded tin, wheat, wood, wool, fur, leather, and walrus ivory. In return, they bought jewellery, glass, pottery, silk, spices, and slaves.
- After several battles between the Volga Vikings (Rus) and Byzantines, the two factions came to an agreement in 911. The Varangians or the Rus were recruited by the Byzantine emperor to be part of the empire’s military force.
- The Varangians became part of the Tagmata, the division of the Byzantine Army that directly served the emperor.
- After several years, they became the emperor’s elite guards and were given enormous wealth, which was criticized by common Byzantines.
- In 793 BC, the Vikings first arrived in England through Northumbria.
- They initially raided the abbey of Lindisfarne, which was soon followed by other monasteries built on the coastlines.
- After a series of raids in England, the Vikings were labelled as ‘heathens’.
- Upon discovering unguarded great wealth in England, the Vikings raided in large groups. Among them was the infamous Great Heathen Army led by Ragnar Lothbrok’s three sons.
- After Northumbria, the Great Heathen Army raided East Anglia, Mercia, and Wessex. Some kings paid the Vikings for peace, while others like King Edmund fought against them, but were later defeated and killed.
- By the 9th century, the Vikings established settlements in England and were governed by the Danelaw. The Danelaw covered parts of the North and East of England. Fortified towns known as the Five Boroughs were established and ruled by the Vikings. The boroughs were Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stamford, and Lincoln.
- In addition to England, the Vikings also raided and settled in Normandy (part of France), Iceland, Greenland, and North America.
The Vikings Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Vikings across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Vikings worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Vikings which were Scandinavian sea explorers and warriors. They originated from modern-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In popular culture, they were often depicted as pirates who raided England.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Vikings Facts
- Viking Truths
- From Scandinavia
- The Nine Realms
- Viking Society
- Picture Windows
- Something Long
- Vikings in Letters
- Viking Influence
- From the North
- Viking Saga
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.