One thing that might surprise many is that in Viking society, you only came to age when you were 20 years old. That means you were only considered an adult when you turned 20. By the standards of some countries today, that seems rather old. Of course, the USA would agree completely with the Vikings. 20 seems really old, considering that the average lifespan of a Viking was 40 years old.
Technically, according to the Viking mindset, you were a child for half your life and an adult for the other half. Compared to us in the modern era, it doesn’t sound too bad to be a child for half of your life – only it would look completely different with current life expectancy.
The First Raid
Before the 8th century, few people in the British Isles knew about the menace from the north. After the raid on Lindisfarne monastery, it was clear that there was a new threat in the midst. Lindisfarne was a Holy Island established in the 7th century. In 793, it was raided by Viking warriors. As the Vikings were pagans and believed in their own gods, they didn’t see it as sacrilege to destroy a monastery like other European cultures.
The fact that the Vikings were willing to sack churches and monasteries made them extremely wealthy because these places housed a lot of gold and wealth. Just ask the Knights Templar. However, after the raid on Lindisfarne – it became clear in Europe there was a new threat to be reckoned with.
Globalization on a Minor Scale
Nowadays, it’s not hard to enjoy luxuries and goods from other countries. We can live in New York or LA, eat an English breakfast, drink Brazilian coffee, eat chocolate imported from Belgium, and drive a German car. These are just some of the rewards of living in a globalized world with far-reaching trade routes. Few people know that 1,000 years ago, the Vikings were incredible traders, and they enjoyed this kind of globalization on a smaller scale.
So far-reaching was the Viking trade that they paid with Arabian silver coins, drank imported German wine, wore silks from China, and had a bride from Greenland or Ireland. It’s nothing like modern globalization, but we must give the Vikings credit for their extensive trade; after all, this was 1,000 years ago.
In the modern age, many people strive to be eco-friendly. Though the Vikings didn’t know about contemporary environmental concerns, almost a millennium ago, they were quite the eco-pioneers. The Vikings built “long houses”. Not to be confused with “longboats,” but these were used for storing crops and housing animals like cattle and other domestic animals.
What’s interesting about the longhouses was they were constructed with turf roofs to keep heat inside. In cold months, these longhouses had a lot of utility. And they were eco-friendly because longhouses retained heat. It certainly seems like the Vikings had an affinity for long things like their “longhouses” and “longboats.”
Names of Places in England
England wasn’t only the target of Viking raids, but later parts of the country were subjugated by these foreign legions. During the Norman invasion, Viking rule in England eventually ended, but the Vikings left their mark on the island. The most obvious sign of Viking influence in England is the name of some places.
In Old Norse, “by” meant village. That’s why villages in England often end in the suffix “-by.” For example, “Grimsby” is the name of a village where the Viking Grim lived. Perhaps Grim was a clan leader. On the other hand, the Viking word for church was “kirk,” so “Kirksby” was what the Vikings named a village with a church.