Well-known Vikings in Historical past That Impressed Vikings: Valhalla on Netflix

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Together with the Spartans of historical Greece, the Samurai warrior caste of Japan, and the Zulus of southern Africa, the Vikings of Scandinavia are broadly considered one among historical past’s best warrior cultures. 

The Viking period has been a staple fodder of common tradition for many years, from movies (How one can Practice Your Dragon, Outlander, Valhalla Rising) and TV reveals (The Final Kingdom, Vikings) to comics (Hägar The Horrible) and novels (Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Lifeless, Terry Jones’ The Saga of Erik the Viking).

Now, with Vikings: Valhalla on Netflix, govt producer/author Jeb Stuart will delve deeper into a number of the most well-known Vikings in historical past, together with legendary explorer Leif Erikson (performed by Sam Corlett) and bold Nordic prince Harald Sigurdsson (performed by Leo Suter).

However regardless of the recognition of the Norsemen (or maybe as a direct results of it), the mythology surrounding these historical explorers typically overwhelms the fact of their existence. Whereas all Vikings have been Norsemen, not all Norsemen have been Vikings. 

In truth, historian Patrick Goodness means that the phrase Viking was initially used as a verb that meant to exit plundering. Solely over time did the which means of the phrase Viking evolve into a reputation for a whole neighborhood of individuals.

Right here we’ll check out the Vikings’ westward enlargement from Scandinavia to North America, together with the explorations of Leif Ericsson and his legendary father, Erik the Crimson. 

READ MORE: The Norse Gods: An Intro to Viking Mythology & Key Websites in Norway

Viking Expansion Map
Viking Growth Map By Max Naylor, through Public Area


Ruling over most of Scandinavia, the Norsemen have been notoriously gifted ship-builders. The Vikings’ earliest explorations took them alongside the coast of northern Europe. 

The Swedish went east to Kiev, the place they based Kievan Rus’ (which fashionable individuals of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine declare as their cultural ancestors).

The Danish settled in Danelaw (now northern and jap England) and Normandy (northern France). 

The Norwegian Vikings have been particularly adventurous, constructing their imposing longships in port cities resembling Bergen and Stavanger after which crusing the fjords of Norway in quest of greener pastures to plow and plunder.

They went across the northern coast of England to the islands of Scotland, the place they fashioned alliances with the Highland clans. However others went even additional of their quest for brand new lands.

READ MORE: A Uncommon Look Inside 900-Yr-Previous Urnes Stave Church, Norway

Best Mountains in the World: Kirkjufell, Iceland
Kirkjufell, Iceland, photograph by Mike Jerrard of Waking Up Wild


There may be some archaeological proof that means that monks from Eire could have gone to Iceland a long time earlier than the Norse settlers arrived.

Hiberno-Scottish crosses carved into the wall of southern Iceland’s Kverkarhellir cave someday round 800 AD recommend that there could have been a small settlement of Gaelic monks there, and a cabin present in Hafnir was deserted someday between 770 and 880s. 

Nevertheless it was the Vikings who established the primary main everlasting settlement in Iceland. They arrived someday across the yr 870, lengthy after the remainder of Western Europe had already been settled. 

Little is thought concerning the circumstances that drew these explorers to cross the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Some historians have surmised that they could have been fleeing battle caused by the efforts of Harald Fairhair (a.okay.a. King Harald I) to beat and finally unite the small kingdoms that might turn into Norway.

Others imagine it was merely a seek for arable land they wouldn’t must struggle (and doubtlessly die) for. 

Iceland’s first recognized everlasting settler is believed to be a Norwegian named Ingólfur Arnarson. On his first go to together with his foster brother, he stayed over winter in what’s now often known as Álftafjörður.

When he returned a number of years later, Arnarson constructed his homestead within the Reykjavik space and claimed a lot of the encircling land for himself.

There have been initially between 311 and 436 settlers that adopted in his wake, however inside 60 years all the arable land in Iceland had been claimed. 

The Landnámabók– the medieval tome that describes the settlement of Iceland by the Norsemen– mentions 1,500 totally different locations and greater than 3,500 individuals.

However some historians estimate that these numbers grew to over 20,000 earlier than the Age of Settlement was over.

Their chieftains established a system of governance (often known as the Althing) in 930 at Þingvellir, lower than 30 miles east of what later grew to become Reykjavik.

It’s now the oldest parliament on this planet, although it was relocated to the nation’s capital in 1844.

READ MORE: Driving the Jotunheimen Mountains in Norway (Photograph Gallery)

Vigur Island Windmill, Iceland -Famous Vikings in History
Vigur Island Windmill, Iceland by Banja-Frans Mulder, through CC BY 3.0

It’s troublesome to think about what these early settlers should have thought after they laid eyes upon Iceland’s dynamic landscapes for the primary time.

From the mountains of what’s now Thingvellir Nationwide Park (a protected UNESCO World Heritage Web site) and the dramatic waterfalls of the Golden Circle to the geothermal exercise of the Geysir Heart, the nation’s pure wonders are simply as over-the-top and otherworldly as these present in Norway. 

The picturesque island of Vigur, which is situated in Westfjords and measures simply 1.2 miles lengthy and .24 miles vast, provides a style of what unspoiled Iceland should have appeared like 1150 years in the past.

The tiny settlement there’s house to the nation’s solely windmill in addition to a Victorian-era home (each property of the Nationwide Museum of Iceland).

However many of the island is totally undeveloped, serving because the summer season house to 1000’s of birds, together with arctic terns, black guillemots, eiders, and puffins.

READ MORE: Climbing Nigardsbreen Glacier, Norway- A He Stated/She Stated Story

Viking Old Church in the historic Hvalsey Viking Settlement, Greenland
Viking Previous Church within the historic Hvalsey Viking Settlement, Greenland through Canva


The traditional Icelandic sagas recommend that there have been different Vikings who tried (and finally failed) to settle Greenland practically a century earlier than the arrival of Erik Thorvaldsson.

However Erik the Crimson (the daddy of Vikings: Valhalla‘s Leif Erikson) – nicknamed for the fiery hair and beard that matched his infamous mood– was the nation’s first everlasting European settler, and finally led its colonization efforts. 

Erik’s household moved to northwest Iceland someday across the yr 960, after they have been exiled from Norway as a result of his father, Thorvald Asvaldsson, had killed a number of individuals.

By 982 Erik had gotten married and settled on a farm within the Dalasýsla area of western Iceland. Quickly after the beginning of his first son, Erik dedicated homicide throughout a property dispute.

Because of this, he was exiled from Iceland for 3 years, so he sailed west in quest of new lands. 

In line with the Saga of Erik the Crimson, he sailed round what’s now often known as Cape Farewell and up the western coast of Greenland.

The period from 900 to 1300 AD is called the Medieval Heat Interval. Historians imagine the nation may very well have been inexperienced on the time, with much less sea ice, extra forests and vegetation, and an extended rising season. 

Within the majestic fjords and fertile valleys, Erik the Crimson noticed the promise of prosperity. So he finally returned house to inform mates and households tales of the “Inexperienced Land.”

The Icelandic Vikings, who have been enduring a famine on the time, have been simply offered on relocating. So in 985 Erik led a fleet of 25 ships loaded with 500 individuals, domesticated animals, and different objects wanted to determine Greenland’s first everlasting settlement. 

Sadly, 11 of these ships failed to finish the journey, however the survivors established homesteads at what’s now often known as Qassiarsuk (the place Erik served as chieftain) and Nuuk.

READ MORE: Wardruna Revives Historic Nordic People Traditions

Top Travel Destinations of 2016- Greenland
Greenland’s Icebergs, photograph by Dave Bouskill of The Planet D

Along with farming, they’d discover summer season sustenance by attempting to find seals and walrus in Disko Bay (which is situated above the Arctic Circle). Inside 15 years, there have been round 3,000 Norsemen residing on 300 to 400 totally different farms. 

The Viking civilization disappeared from Greenland about 500 years later: As temperatures within the area bought colder, the land was not arable.

Some went again to Norway (the place many farmsteads had been deserted after the nation was struck by a plague), whereas others headed even additional west.

However you possibly can nonetheless see remnants of this historical Scandinavian society alongside the Napassorssuaq Fjord, which is uninhabited now however boasts loads of cool & bizarre ocean animals and polar bears.

You possibly can marvel on the breathtaking vistas alongside the Prins Christian Sund, or go to the Halsey Church, which stays the best-preserved Viking spoil within the nation.

If you happen to get an opportunity, head to the Viking museum in Narsaq. There you’ll discover a full longhouse that’s believed to be from Erik the Crimson’s unique Greenland settlement.

READ MORE: Wardruna Revives Historic Nordic People Traditions

Polar Bears Mirroring in Churchill, Manitoba
Polar Bears Mirroring, in Churchill, Manitoba, photograph by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Erik the Crimson isn’t the one well-known Viking explorer in his household. Erik’s second son, Leif Erikson, returned to Greenland after spending time in Norway, the place King Olaf I transformed him to Christianity.

Erikson introduced a number of Christian missionaries together with him, and collectively they constructed Tjodhilde’s Church (named after Leif’s mom), the primary Christian church on the North American continent.

Vacationers to Greenland at present can go to a reconstruction of the tiny church in Qassiarsuk.

In line with the Saga of Erik the Crimson, Leif noticed a spot he known as “Vinland” for the primary time after his ship bought blown astray when he and his crew have been en route from Norway to Greenland in 1000 AD.

Different translations of the Icelandic sagas recommend he had discovered about it from a service provider, who had seen the brand new nation, however by no means truly landed there.

Regardless, Leif later assembled a crew of 35 males and set sail, finally turning into the primary European to set foot on the North American continent. 

Throughout his exploration of what we now name Maritime Canada, he first landed on a rocky, desolate place he known as “Helluland,” which is believed to be Baffin Island.

Going additional, he discovered a closely forested space he known as “Markland,” probably in what’s now Labrador. His third and last cease, Vinland, because the verdant land supplied plentiful grape vines, wheat, and salmon. 

It was right here, in modern-day Newfoundland, that Erikson based the primary European settlement in North America, practically 500 years earlier than Christopher Columbus “found” the continent.

The positioning, often known as Leifsbudir (Leif’s Cubicles), remained undiscovered till the early Nineteen Sixties, when it was recognized as a Norse settlement by Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his spouse, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad.

They unearthed greater than 2,400 historical Viking relics at L’Anse aux Meadows, in northwest Newfoundland. 

Guests to the UNESCO World Heritage Web site at present can discover reconstructed sod homes and boats from the Viking period.

The remainder of Maritime Canada provides a bounty of pure magnificence, together with the arctic animal-crammed Gros Morne Nationwide Park, considerable sea life within the Mingan Archipelago, and beautiful surroundings alongside the St. Lawrence River and the Fjord du Saguenay.  –by Bret Love



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