Viking Houses

by admin on May 20, 2012

In order to understand Viking houses, buildings, and other structures, it is important to first understand something about the Viking culture. As a culture, the Vikings were predominant in the Scandinavian regions from about 794 AD into the mid-11th century. While many people consider the Vikings to be nomads and plunders of small villages (both true, by the way), they were also known for setting up colonies in those areas that they defeated through battle or ambush attacks. This is a key point to remember when considering the types of homes that they built. Another key element to keep in mind is the climate in which they lived.

All ancient peoples had to build homes and other structures that would withstand their local weather patterns. These structures, for the Vikings, had to also protect them from the severe cold that was a routine part of their annual life. To do this, the Vikings often used building techniques that they found in being used by those that they conquered. This is why Viking buildings and houses vary from one region to the next. They basically took what was being used by the locals and enhanced it to shape their own art forms and culture without destroying the underlying benefits of the structure in question.

Over time, the normal Viking house began to resemble a Viking ship in many ways. These homes often had oval sides and could house as many as 40 people at one time. There were, of course, much smaller houses, but one should not forget that Vikings often lived in large houses where the extended family all resided under one roof. These larger Viking houses also were home to any slaves the clan had captured as well as domestic animals that needed shelter from extreme weather elements. To see an example of one of these larger Viking houses, look up the Fyrkat Viking Fortress in Hobro, Denmark online. This form of house was used by a great deal of Vikings during the time period 980 AD.

One common occurrence in Viking houses is the use of poles along the side of the houses. These poles were used to support the roof as well as the walls. Roofs were often composed on wooden tiles and often covered in thatch as well to help better protect the interior of the structure.

The interior of a Viking house was fairly simple and functional. Often there would be a long bench situated along the sides of the home, a firepit would be located in the center of the room and a hole would be cut out of the roof over the pit to allow for smoke removal. If animals were kept inside, they would often be housed on one side of the house in small stables.

For those Vikings that settled in areas were wood was scarce, turf was used as the main building material. This was most often seen in Viking houses that were built in and around Greenland. Others Viking houses were built partly into the ground. The soil removed for the pit in which the house was built around was used as insulation. Generally, pit homes were built by poorer Vikings as the building materials were readily at hand. One simply had to dig it up.


Viking Art

by admin on April 27, 2012

When most people think about the Viking culture and history, they do not think of Viking art. Many people are of the opinion that the Vikings were brutes, murderers and not the sort of peoples that were interested in art. This is not true. Viking art actually has a long and refined history and includes art venues such as paintings, sculptures, and pottery.

To begin, Viking art, or Norse art, is a rather broad term that refers to Scandinavian peoples who lived during the Germanic Iron Age. Viking art can also transcend into the Nordic Bronze Age and this form of art is somewhat similar to what one finds in Eurasian, Celtic and Romanesque art forms.

The Vikings had their heyday from around 794 AD into the middle of the 11th century. While many people know them only for their adventures in looting and ravaging villages, the Vikings were also excellent tradesmen and known for being traders along their coasts. Between their trading ventures and plundering ventures, the Vikings travelled great distances by ship, thus allowing them to experience firsthand various types of arts and crafts that they found along the way. During many of their attacks, they actually colonized their defeated opponents, again, giving them access to new art forms and new knowledge of how to work with metals, stone, and other art media.

Some experts suggest that the greatest art forms left behind by the Vikings are the ships that they built and used in their travels. These great ships expressed a host of design and art forms that were truly unique to their time.

In addition to their exquisite ships, the Vikings were also known for their expertise in crafting brooches, buckles, and knives. Much of their jewelry contains elements of Celtic art as well as elements from earlier Roman art pieces. The level of expertise that is seen in these ornamental pieces has surprised more than one person and expresses a deep knowledge of both metal working and creative design skills.

The Vikings were also known for their high level of skill when it came to pottery. Many artifacts have been discovered showing that the Norse peoples understood not only the basics of pottery making but also understood advanced techniques for pottery design and art forms. The same is true for their skill in sculpture, although sculpture does not appear to have been as popular as the other art forms practiced by the Vikings.

In terms of sculpture, however, it should be stressed that the Vikings ability to craft artfully in wood cannot be disputed. Their skill at woodworking is evident in both the ships that they built as well as in later pieces, especially those associated with the time during the 11th century when many of these people were converted to Christians. Much of this religious woodworking form is abstract in nature, composed mainly of animal forms and plant forms, often intertwined in complex patterns and often seen in ancient churches and other buildings that hosted religious ceremonies.


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The terms “Vikings” and “Viking culture” refer to Norse explorers, warriors, merchants and traders. The Norse people inhabited the northern European region of Scandinavia, which includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as the islands Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Modern Scandinavians share a common cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic heritage—all of […]

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Famous Vikings

September 15, 2011

The Vikings will always be remembered as one of history’s great cultures. Though well-known for their fighting skills, naval abilities and military exploits, they made a number of important contributions to civilization. First, their shipbuilding skills were second-to-none. Their innovative ship designs brought about advances that were never before possible. Their longships were the first […]

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Facts About Viking Ships

September 4, 2011

Alongside the Spartans and the Gladiators, the Vikings are known as one of history’s greatest warrior cultures.  The Vikings worshipped strength and this was reflected in everything they did, especially in their ships. In fact, shipbuilding was one of the Vikings’ greatest achievements. Though they were not the first culture to build warships, they did […]

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Viking History Is Coming…

July 23, 2011

It comes with great pride that I’m able to share everything I’ve learned about Viking History in one place with you now. As a first generation Swede I have Viking heritage and have always been fascinated by the viking culture.  In fact I’m “this close” to getting a Viking Dragon Cross tattooed on my arm.  […]

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