VIKINGS

Late in the 8th century, Viking raiders from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden began to sweep across Europe. In their versatile LONGSHIPS, the Vikings sailed vast distances. Their golden age of trade, exploration, and colonization lasted until AD 1100.

WHERE DID THE VIKINGS TRAVEL?

The Vikings raided and settled along the coasts of Britain, Ireland, and continental Europe. They crossed the Atlantic to reach Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. Viking merchants traveled through Russia to Constantinople, exchanging the amber, furs, and whale oil of the north for wine, silks, spices, and silver coins from the Middle East.

HOW DID THE VIKINGS GET THEIR FIERCE REPUTATION?

The Vikings were not Christian, and they saw isolated monasteries and churches as easy targets for hit-and-run raids. But the first people to write about the Vikings were monks who had suffered in these raids. As a result, Viking atrocities were better recorded than Viking achievements.

HOW DID THE VIKINGS WORSHIP THEIR GODS?

The Vikings worshiped their gods in the open air, choosing natural landmarks such as big rocks, unusual trees, and waterfalls. Their most important gods were Odin, the god of knowledge, Thor, the god of metalwork and thunder, and Frey, the goddess of fertility. After around 1000, Viking peoples became Christian.

LONGSHIPS

Viking ships were the best in Europe. Besides the longships used for raiding and war, they had special fishing boats. For long-distance voyages, they built deeper, broader ships called knorrs.

HOW WERE VIKING SHIPS BUILT?

Viking ships were made of planks of oak or pine wood, nailed to a heavy central keel (supporting timber). This made them strong but flexible. The mast was made from a tall tree trunk and supported a huge square sail. There were oars for each crewman, to row the ship when there was no wind.

REPLICA OF A VIKING LONGSHIP

The shallow hull of a longship made it less likely to capsize. It could be sailed in shallow water close to land, to make a surprise attack. Its planks overlapped for extra strength. Tarred wool was crammed between the planks to keep water out.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

highlights

Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks