It’s true that most Vikings were Scandinavian, but Vikings were not a defined nationality. Rather it referred to a class of people. Contemporary linguists aren’t exactly sure what “Viking” means, but it’s believed that the Old Norse term “Vikingr” typically meant “pirate raid”. Many people living in Scandinavia during this time may not have been “Vikings.”
However, some left Northern Europe to conduct raids and pillage England, Scotland, Ireland, and northern France. During the Middle Ages, it was after this group of raiders and pirates that the term “Viking” became associated with. Interestingly, the term “Vikingr” may have been used in Old Norse, suggesting that the Scandinavians themselves had called these sea-faring raiders “Vikings” to distinguish themselves from them.
The Largest Cemetery Outside Scandinavia
When we think of Vikings, we generally think of blond-haired Scandinavians. We don’t generally think of Ireland. However, for those of you who love your history, you probably associate Vikings with Ireland, as this country became a major Viking settlement. Outside of Scandinavia, Ireland is the country with the largest Viking graveyard.
From 1962 to 1981, excavations were carried out in Ireland, and archaeologists have unearthed 50 Viking burial sites at Kilmainham and Islandbridge. Excavators found not only the graveyards but also weapons and treasures which the Vikings were buried with. If you’re looking for somewhere spooky, Kilmainham is your best bet, as it has the most Viking burial sites outside of Scandinavia.
Though Dublin may be the financial center of Ireland, few people know that the Vikings settled the Irish capital. Historians still aren’t sure why the Vikings originally left Scandinavia, but in roughly 795, the Vikings arrived in their longboats in Dublin. They spent the next 60 years establishing a settlement in the city.
From Dublin, over the next centuries, their reach only grew. Dublin may be crucial to Ireland in the modern age, but it was equally important to the Vikings during the Viking age. The settlement helped the Vikings to expand their trade with the rest of Europe. Of course, as the Vikings were raiders, they also used the Irish settlement as a base from which to conduct raids into England, Scotland, and France.
If you were a Viking, you knew that breakfast was the most important and biggest meal of the day. There was no such thing as too much or too big of a breakfast. You had to make sure you had every bit of energy to get through the tough day that lay ahead. The children ate porridge, and the adults would eat big portions of leftover stew, fruit, and bread.
Usually, dessert follows dinner, but the Vikings had dessert with their breakfast. Their desserts included ale, buttermilk bread, and dried fruit with honey. We imagine all of this tasted absolutely delicious!
Weak Children Were Abandoned
The Vikings were very similar to the Spartans of Greece in the sense that health and strength were two very necessary qualities in children. They knew that in order to be strong, one had to be healthy. It’s a shame, but if a child seemed weaker than the others, it was left behind. That's how things were.
Their way of life was very different from ours, considering children were supposed to be able to work, learn to fight in battle, and contribute to society just like any other person would. Only about 80% of Viking children lived to the young age of five.