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The history of Norwegian Vikings

Though the Vikings lived long ago, their strong legacy lives on and there’s no shortage of interest in their history and traditions. There are plenty of ways for interested travellers to experience Viking life and traditions in modern Norway. For history buffs and families with kids, a trip to Norway is a fantastic way to explore Viking history – all over the country, you’ll find museums, tours, Viking villages and more just waiting to be discovered.
Wiking Museum - Oslo, Norway
VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen

When did Vikings exist?

The period we refer to as the Viking Age lasted from around AD 800 to 1050. Vikings had settlements of small farming communities dotted around the Scandinavian countries where a handful of families would live in traditional Viking longhouses.
After a long period of Viking expansion abroad, the Viking era ran its course. The year 1066 is often considered the end of the Viking Age as Harald Hardrada was defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge during the final Viking invasion of England in 1066. After this defeat, there were no more Viking raids. By the early 11th century, the Scandinavian kingdoms were Christian, making the pagan Viking culture obsolete.
Viking battle gear
Ørjan B Iversen

Where do Vikings come from?

The origin of Vikings was in the Nordic countries. Their homelands were what we now know as Scandinavia, but the countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark didn’t come into existence until the end of the Viking era.
Evidence of Viking settlements has been found all over the Nordic countries. Though the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Vikings were separate groups living in different areas, they all shared certain common features and would sometimes form alliances with each other. These Scandinavian seafaring warriors would travel near and far on their distinctive Viking longships, raiding villages, trading goods, and much more.
Vikings in combat
Ørjan B Iversen

Why Northern Europe lived in fear of the Vikings

It’s true, people in lived in fear of the Vikings in Northern Europe as they would often raid coastal settlements for food and valuables, while taking slaves during the process. What’s more, even monasteries were susceptible to these raids which really highlights the brutality of the Dark Ages.
At the same time, we must also remember that the Dark Age was a brutal time in general. In other words, tribes from all over Europe were also pillaging settlements and enslaving the agrarian lands in the south. In fact, this is precisely how the Chinese empire was established with many iconic warlords fighting over the same land.
As if that’s not enough, the fall of the Roman Empire led to great migrations, while the collapse of agriculture in the north resulted in masses moving to what is now Great Britain. For this reason, warlords were in constant competition and now confined to fighting over much smaller regions.
Although why might you need to know this? Because this serves as a reminder that the Vikings were ruthless, but this was also a violent period.
Viking  - Norway
Berge/Knoff/Natural Light/Visitnorway.com

What is the history of Vikings in Norway?

For many people around the world, Norway is the country of Vikings, and Vikings have a long and interesting history in Norway and abroad.
Vikings are generally presented in history and in popular culture as brutal warriors destroying everything in their path, burning villages, plundering and killing – and there’s plenty of evidence for this interpretation of Vikings. However, the truth may be more nuanced, as there’s also evidence of Vikings traveling for the purpose of amicable trading and bartering with other people.
Norwegian Vikings were known for being excellent boat builders and sailors. The Vikings traveled extensively around the world, and they wouldn’t have been able to reach faraway shores if it hadn’t been for their fantastic craftsmanship and ingenuity when it came to their Viking longships.
There’s no doubt that seafaring Vikings were pioneers, brave and adventurous – they set sail for distant lands with no knowledge of what awaited them at foreign shores. At home in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries, Viking communities were generally peaceful, with the main focus being on farmwork, fishing, and boat building.
Vinging batlle - Norway
Victor B Lyyvakvhi/ Unsplash

Do Vikings still exist?

Though Vikings are no longer around, Viking culture, history and tradition is alive and well, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore Norway’s strong Viking past today. Viking traditions are brought to life in the dedicated Viking villages dotted around Norway, and there are a number of fantastic museums that focus on Viking history as well.
The history of the Norwegian Vikings is interesting to locals as well as travelers. If you’re spending time in the capital, Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum is a fantastic place to start. Here, visitors can see the world’s most well-preserved Viking vessels, such as the Oseberg, Gokstad, and Tune longships. If you’re in the north of Norway, the Lofotr Viking Museum located on the stunning Lofoten Islands gives visitors the chance to check out the biggest Viking age longhouse in the world and gain valuable insight into how the Vikings lived.
You can still find modern-day Vikings in the fascinating and unique living history Viking Villages dotted around Norway. Here, kids and adults of all ages can get a taste of true Viking life. The lively Njardarheimr Viking Village in Gudvangen on the picturesque Nærøyfjord is one of the most popular Viking attractions in Norway – and you can visit this unique place on our legendary Norway in a nutshell® tour.
Another great option for those looking to connect to their inner Viking is to visit the well-known Viking Farm at Avaldsnes on the island of Karmøy in Rogaland. This popular Viking-era settlement offers plenty of insight into Viking history and tradition, with guided tours, a history centre and fun activities for kids and adults.

Get active like the Vikings

Vikings

Welcome to a captivating exploration of the legendary Vikings in Norway!
Wiking Museum - Oslo, Norway

The history of Norwegian Vikings

Though the Vikings lived long ago, their strong legacy lives on and there’s no shortage of interest in their history and traditions. There are plenty of ways for interested travellers to experience Viking life and traditions in modern Norway. For history buffs and families with kids, a trip to Norway is a fantastic way to explore Viking history – all over the country, you’ll find museums, tours, Viking villages and more just waiting to be discovered.

Lofotr Vikingmuseum, Lofoten - Norway

Viking villages in Norway

It’s no secret that there’s a strong Viking history in Norway. Even though the Viking era came to an end during the 11th century, the legacy of Vikings lives on. For those interested in learning more about Viking history, culture and tradition, there are several attractions ranging from museums and historical sites to Viking villages that bring history to life and give you a sense of stepping back in time to the Viking Age.

Viking  - Norway

Viking Travels

Many tourists who travel to Norway are eager to learn more about the history of the Vikings. And, we can’t blame them. The Vikings were fascinating, complex people. Although they are primarily known as fierce warriors, they also engaged in trade and transport across much of Europe and built incredibly advanced ships that fascinate historians to this day. Here is some of what we know about how and where the Vikings traveled during the late 8th to the 11th century.

Viking  - Norway

Medieval Viking feasts

A feast is a huge celebratory dinner with everything served in abundance. The Vikings were famed for their glutinous indulgence of food and habit of eagerly drinking beer or mead wine with every meal.