The outline of a foot on the Gokstad Ship gives us an inkling of what it might have been like for Vikings to cross the ocean.
He’s crowded into a sleek sailing ship with 65 other men. Scarcely room to move. It’s been days since anybody has seen land − longer since anyone bathed. The old-timers’ repeated tales of bygone raids and voyages are beginning to wear thin.
His place is behind an oar, but there is no need to row continuously on the North Sea. With wind in the sail, the boat surges towards England, where riches await.
But what is there to do while waiting to reach a foreign coast?
Maybe it was a teenager engaged in a Viking version of tagging a school desk. In any case, someone took out his knife, bent down and traced the outline of his foot on the deck of the Gokstad Ship. Read more.
A mysterious Viking sundial found in Greenland may have helped the ancient mariners sail at the same north-south latitude across the Atlantic, new research suggests.
The study, detailed Tuesday (April 9) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A Mathematical and Physical Sciences, suggests that the raiding Norsemen might have been even more impressive sailors than previously thought.
“It is widely accepted that Norse people were excellent mariners. Now it seems they used much more sophisticated navigational instruments than we thought before,” said study co-author Balázs Bernáth, a researcher at Eötvös University in Hungary. Read more.
For centuries, it has been a crystal of legend locked in the verses of Norse myth with little or no evidence that it was ever real. Now it seems scientists at last have grounds for believing that the Viking “sunstone” used to navigate the seas did indeed exist.
Researchers who have spent three years poring over a cloudy crystal discovered in the wreck of an Elizabethan ship sunk off the Channel Islands believe they have proved that it could be the substance described by the Norsemen as helping to locate the sun when obscured by cloud.
The so-called sunstone has long been the subject of scientific intrigue after it was described in one Icelandic saga as a magical gem which, when held up to sky, would reveal the position of the sun even before dawn or after sunset.
The recent excavation of a pair of Viking feet and a tiny silver Anglo-Saxon coin may lack the glamour of the discovery of the last Plantagenet, but it has shone a light on one of the least known periods in the long history of York Minister: the centuries between the fall of Roman empire and the coming of the Vikings, in AD866.
The coin, no bigger than a 5p piece, is a sceat, minted in York. It is in such good condition that experts at the British Museum first thought it was a Victorian fake. So good is its state of repair that marks are legible identifying the maker as Eadwine, who also minted coins for the Northumbrian court. It proves that York had enough status and wealth in the early 9th century to support its own mint. Read more.
The status of Viking women may be underestimated due to the way we interpret burial findings.
“To assume that Viking men were ranked above women is to impose modern values on the past, which would be misleading,” cautions Marianne Moen. She has been studying how women’s status and power is expressed through Viking burial findings. Her master’s thesis The Gendered Landscape argues that viking gender roles may have been more complex than we assume.
Exploring new perspectives of Viking society is a theme which also will be the focus of the forthcoming Viking Worlds conference in March 2013, where Moen is a member of the organising committee. Read more.
Life in the Viking Age was tough and hard, and physical work filled much of their days, but their lives were not without leisure.
In a new study, Leszek Gardela uses archaeological findings and careful reading of Viking sagas to describe how Vikings killed time when they were in mood for entertainment.
The archaeologist paints a vivid picture of Viking life, but the familiarity of many of the activities suggests that while Vikings had shorter lives and arguably vented their frustrations in more violent ways than what most people do today, leisure time in the Viking Age was not too different from leisure time in 2012. Read more.
The discovery of a skeleton in a shallow grave has raised new questions about Wales in the age of the Vikings.
The skeleton, found at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey, has forced experts to revise the theory that five earlier skeletons were the victims of a Viking raid.
Evidence now suggests the men may have spent the first part of their lives in Scandinavia.
Experts say artefacts discovered confirm Llanbedrgoch as a 10th Century manufacture and trade centre.
The site was discovered in 1994, and in the late 1990s, five bodies - two adolescents, two adult males and one woman - were found. Read more.
When Danish Vikings sailed across the North Sea and conquered England, they left their mark on the English language and place names. That’s common knowledge, at least to historians.
What’s perhaps less known is that the influence cut both ways. Although England was under Danish rule in the Viking Age, the English were culturally and politically more sophisticated than their neighbours to the east.
Historian Marie Bønløkke Spejlborg was one of the more than 300 Norse mythology researchers who attended the 15th International Saga Conference held recently in Aarhus, Denmark.
She is currently writing her PhD thesis about how the English some 1,000 years ago left a significant imprint on Danish society. It is, for instance, likely that it was the English who inspired Danes to organise themselves into cities, according to her historical sources. Read more.