Who Were They?
The Viking Age, generally dated to 972 - 1066 AD, was a time when Scandinavian peoples from the modern countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden influenced much of northern Europe and beyond. They traveled further than Europeans had ever gone before and established a network of communications over great distances. They exploited the riches of the East and explored the uncharted waters of the North Atlantic.
Age, settlements spread wherever farming was viable.† Their dependence on agriculture and the growing imposition of royal power were probably the reasons for the Viking expansion.
It is clear that Viking expansion was made possible by the Vikings' legendary shipbuilding technology and their supreme navigation skills, which allowed them to travel further, faster, and more surely than their contemporaries.
For the most part, when the Vikings conquered a place they did not set themselves up as lords.† Instead many of them would move to that area and start a new life.† This lead to the melding of different cultures.† It also led to some of the differences in artifacts between different Viking sites like York and Birka.
Raiding was all very well for sporadic bursts of wealth but only trade could yield a regular income. The achievement of the Scandinavians as traders rather than raiders proved more enduring.† Cities like Birka thrived on trade, growing into large and wealth trading centers.† The island of Gotland also grew because of its location on trade routes.
Recent excavations in Viking Age towns and market places have produced a myriad of evidence for craft industries - debris from the making of everyday and luxury objects of glass, amber, bone, antler, wood, iron, bronze and precious metals, as well as for subsidiary industries such as ship repairing. All of these craftsmen carried out their businesses in workshops spread throughout the town.† The Vikings were highly skilled and industrious craftsman.
While a number of Vikings were merchants, craftsmen and warriors, even more were farmers.† Iceland was settled by Scandinavian farmers. They set up a complex system of laws.† According to the sagas a young man might raiding for a little while to gain enough money to buy a farm and settle down.† Farming was truly at the heart of the Viking expansion.
In summary, the Vikings were a widely varied group of people with many differences.† While some gained fame and fortune from raiding, the majority were more interested in things like farming, craft, and trade.†
The Vikings ravaged Christian Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and they penetrated the heart of the Carolingian Empire and deep into Russia. They stole and extorted massive quantities of silver and gold from their victims. And yet they also took an active part in the development of successful commercial centers from York to Kiev.
The most fertile and easily farmed areas in Scandinavia had been settled since prehistoric times; as the population grew in the Viking