Originally from Scandinavia (today known as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), the Vikings were mainly known as sea-faring people. They traveled far and wide for various reasons which included trading, exploring new land and resource, and raiding expeditions, which they were notoriously known for. It is believed that during the Viking Age more than 200,000 Vikings left their original home to different parts of the world. Eventually, they ended up settling in those different regions.
Unfortunately, The Vikings left behind little to no written records about themselves. So, little is known about them or the exact places they ended up settling around the world. In this article, however, we have managed to gather information about some of the main places where Vikings were believed to have settled. They are as follows:
- 1. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Europe?
- 2. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Britain?
- 3. Where Did The Vikings Settle In England?
- 4. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Yorkshire?
- 5. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Scotland?
- 6. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Ireland?
- 7. Where In France Did The Vikings Settle?
- 8. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Greenland?
- 9. Where Did The Vikings Settle In North America?
- 10. Where Did The Vikings Settle In Canada?
- 11. Where Else Did The Vikings Settle?
- 12. Conclusion
- 13. Viking Jewelry
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Europe?
Although the Vikings traveled far and wide across the world, they are believed to have mostly settled in different parts of Europe. It could be because these regions were closer to their home country or that the lands were more familiar to theirs on richer in resources and not as populated. It could also be that the Vikings found it easy to take over different parts of Europe because they were easier to conquer. Whatever the case, from the eighth century to around the 11th century, the Vikings spread themselves out across the continent conquering one kingdom after the next. Initially, it started with raiding and looting monasteries and taking the treasures back home, but eventually, the Vikings began valuing the foreign lands and choose to settle.
The earliest raid is believed to have started in the British Isles in the late 700s. They ended up settling in different regions including England, part of Wales, Scotland, and the Isles of Man. They spread further to Ireland and Greenland around the ninth century and conquered areas like Dublin. By the 10th century, their expeditions and subsequent invasions had reached France and continued spreading further into Eastern Europe to Russia. In the end, towards the end of the Viking Age, the Vikings had been subdued and forced to adopt the cultures and faith of the regions they once ruled over, slowly wiping out their own culture and beliefs.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Britain?
Vikings were first known as raiders when they came into Britain. The first record of a Viking raid was in 793, at Lindisfarne, on the Ides of June. The raids became regular, targeting mainly monasteries looting them for treasures like gold and silver chalices, crucifixes, plates, and bowls. They would also capture people as slaves. Initially, everything the Vikings acquired from the raids; they would take back to their homes in Scandinavia. Gradually, however, they began settling down.
They started with winter camps in regions like Repton and Torksey, but as they began valuing the land, they started to seize lands in different parts of the British Isles. They took over the north and northwest coast of Scotland as well as, the Islands off its coast, including Orkney, Shetland, and The Hebrides. They also seized the Isle of Man to the west of Britain, small parts of Wales, and the east and north parts of England including Northumbria.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In England?
When it came to England, the Vikings admired their milder climate and richer agricultural landscape, especially in the eastern parts. This is was prompted them to want to settle there and by 866, they had a substantial amount of land under their control. They had even managed to seize modern York and make it it is the capital city and kept pushing south and west to overtake regions like Wessex and Mercia. In 878, however, the great Viking army seemed to have met their match when they were defeated at the Battle of Edington, by King Alfred of Wessex.
Following their defeat, the Viking leader at the time, Guthrum, converted to Christianity and entered a treaty with King Alfred, who then became known as the Great King of England. The treaty divided England into two by the line joining London to Chester. The Vikings ruled over the north, north-east, and east of the line and the English/Saxons ruled over the south. The regions controlled by the Vikings made up the Danelaw since people in these regions were subject to Danish laws. These regions included Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Leicester, Stamford, East Anglia, and Northumbria, now known as Yorkshire.
In 937, however, Alfred’s grandson, Athelstan, led his army to victory over the Vikings at the Battle of Brunanburh, taking back some parts of the Danelaw. By 954, English earls took over York, the capital, when Eirik Bloodaxe the last Viking king of York was killed.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Yorkshire?
Since the Vikings’ first invasion in England, several invasions occurred along the coast of Northumbria, now known as Yorkshire. But the most significant invasion happened in 875 when the great Viking Army, led by Ivan the Boneless managed to take over the kingdom. Before this invasion, Northumbria wasn’t new to fights; Aelle and Osbert, two kings of Northumbria had been at war with each other over who would rule the entire kingdom. Ivan and his army saw their feud as an opportunity and used it to their advantage.
They started by taking over York (now known as Jorvik). But by the time the two Northumbria kings caught on to Ivan’s plan and decided to join forces, it was too late. The two kings were killed in subsequent battles. It turned out that the invasion was also Ivan seeking revenge for the death of his father who Aelle killed by throwing into a pit of live snakes. Some years later Halfdan, Ivan’s brother, succeeds him after his death and divided Northumbria among his followers. The Vikings however, did not try to change the English folk who lived alongside them. They instead adapted to living with them, with some converting to Christianity and even intermarrying.
Today, you can see traces of where the Vikings settled in Yorkshire through the place names that end with suffixes borrowed from the Norse language. Such suffixes include, -thorpe for example Companthorpe. It is because when the Vikings settled in many of these places, they were unable to pronounce the original names of these places and therefore renamed them. Some Vikings named the places after themselves based on their ownership. Other places to have had Viking settlements in Yorkshire, especially in York include Threlkeld, Langtoft, Skegness, Selby, Ormskirk, and Lowestoft among others.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Scotland?
Of all the places in Britain invaded by Vikings, Scotland was where their influence was most felt. They started coming into Scotland around the late eighth century, at first, it was to invade and loot the different places. Eventually, it is believed that overpopulation from their original home led them to settle in different areas in Scotland. The Vikings ended up influencing the language, culture, and communities in Scotland. Some traditions are in fact still practiced even today.
As for where they choose to settle, very little is written on it, but archeological findings over the years, and place names of certain regions, have given a clearer idea of where these places could be. They are believed to have crossed the sea from Norway and settled in Hebrides, northern mainland at Caithness, throughout Northern Isles, and islands on the Firth of Clyde. More specifically the regions in the Hebrides are believed to be, Colonsay, a small island in the inner part of the Hebrides, the Isle of Lewis in the outer part, and Eigg south of Skye. Shetland was another region, with evidence found in places like Jarlshof, and Old Scatness an iron village rediscovered in the 1970s with many Vikings artifacts. Other regions include Orkney in places like Scar, a village on Sanday Island, Egilsay Island, Maeshowe, Ophir, Brough of Deerness, Brough of Birsay a tidal island off the mainland, and Kirkwall, Orkney’s vibrant capital.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Ireland?
Vikings began invading Ireland as early as 795. It started with small bands of Viking groups raiding monasteries and settlements along the coast of Gaelic Ireland. By 840, the Vikings had started building longphorts along the coasts. These were fortified encampments where there would live out the winters in Ireland. The first of these longphorts were built in Linn Duachaill and Dublin. In 841, Dublin became one of the most important towns in Ireland, being the hub for trade and expansion for Vikings. They continued raiding larger settlements and moving inwards from the coastlines to regions like Kells, Armagh, Glendalough, Kildare, and Clonmacnoise. By 845, it is believed that Thorgest, the Viking Chief at the time had managed to raid almost the entire midland of the country until he died at the hands of Mael Sechnaill.
In 853, Amlaib, a Viking leader was made the first king of Dublin and over the following decades, the fight between the Irish and Vikings continued. The Vikings also fought among themselves, between the two groups that exited, Finngaill and Dubgaill, fair and dark foreigners respectively. In 902, however, the Scandinavian settlers in Dublin were chased out only for them to return in 914. They re-established their settlement and developed the region into the City of Dublin. Following the next 8 years, the Vikings continued being victorious over the Irish and managed to establish more settlements in Limerick, Waterford, Cork, and Wexford. These places along with Dublin became important trading hubs and the first large towns in Ireland with Dublin being the biggest slave port. In 980, however, the Viking leaders in Dublin were forced into submission by Mael Sechnaill. 30 years later, Brian Boru managed to take back the Viking territories making him the High King of Ireland. Regardless of how much the Vikings tried to fight him, they were unable to overpower Boru. In the end, Vikings adopted the Irish culture while equally impacting it, an influence that can still be felt to date.
Where In France Did The Vikings Settle?
The Vikings are said to have invaded France around the 10th century. They started by raiding the areas around River Seine and extended deep into Frankish territories. This included prominent towns like Paris and Jumiegs and Rouen. At first, the Frankish king Charles the Bald, unable to fight the Viking raids was forced to pay the raiders large sums of silver and gold, but this was a short-lived solution. The raiders kept coming back for more. Eventually, later on, King Charles the simple entered a treaty called the Treaty of Saint-Clair-Sur-Epte with the then Viking leader Rollo in 911. The treaty legally gave Rollo and the Vikings the territory that they had previously conquered as long as they would recognize King Charles the Simple as their overload.
These territories came to be known as Normandy, derived from the Viking word Northmania which meant Land of the Norse Men. This was where the Vikings were known to have settled in France mainly. They were believed to have even adopted their language and intermarried with the original inhabitants. Still, there seems to be a heavy Danish influence in the language and culture of the people of Normandy.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Greenland?
A Viking by the name Erik the Red is believed to have discovered Greenland. He was exiled for murder from Iceland. He is said to have left Iceland with 25 boats on an expedition and arrived at Greenland 3 years later with 14 surviving boats. The land they found was marginal at best for pastoral farming. By 986, there were two main posts along with the southwest coast of Greenland that were colonized by Norse settlers including Erik the Red. These posts were the Eastern and Western settlements.
The Eastern settlement, known as Eystribyggð, was near the tip south of west Greenland, where Gardar is located. The smaller Western settlement also known as Vestribyggð was located 240miles north from there, along the west coast of modern-day Nuuk. There was also an even smaller Norse colony believed to have existed a bit north from the eastern settlement, called Miðbyggð, a middle settlement, but little to nothing is written on it.
Having arrived in Greenland during the warm phase, the Norse managed to survive by growing short-season crops like barley and rye. They also sheep and goats for their meat, wool and hide as well as hunted walruses for their ivory and meat. They would trade the wool and hide as well as the walrus ivory for other goods like iron. For a long time, there was no governing body since the high competition among farmers kept the power spread equally among all the elite farmers. In 1261 however, Greenland came under the rule of the King of Norway. By the 15th century, the Norse settlers in Greenland started to fade. Little was heard from them and by 1450 there was no contact from them at all. Many scholars speculate that the reason behind their disappearance was the onset of the Little Ice Age period that led to crops failing and trade declining.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In North America?
For a long time, scholars have always had a hunch that Vikings reached America centuries before Columbus discovered it. It is believed, according to Icelandic sagas, that a Norwegian captain named Bjarni Herjólfsson, was the one to first discover North America in 985. He was on his way to Greenland from Iceland when his ship was blown off course. After him, there were others like Leif Erikson, who set out on expeditions, exploring areas to the west of Greenland in search of timber for building.
These explorations led them to places like Ruin Island, Ellesmere Island, and Skraeling Island, where they traded and hunted with the Inuit groups there. There are also accounts that state there were Viking settlements in regions such as Rhodes Island, Maine, and other areas on the Atlantic coast. These are, however, not proven, as little is known about the Viking’s settlement in North America.
The only unambiguous settlement is said to be in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada. This is proven thanks to the dated solar storm that produced atmospheric radiocarbon, allowing scholars to date the timber building found in that region to the year 1021. This proved that the Icelandic saga was not a legend but a fact. The settlement, however, seems to have been short-lived. This was probably due to the conflicts between the Vikings and the Natives, who were said to have more advanced weapons, which led the Vikings to eventually evacuate the area.
Where Did The Vikings Settle In Canada?
In the North American continent, Canada is the most mentioned country when it comes to Viking settlements. When Bjarni Herjólfsson first discovered North America, his boat was blown off course and landed on Canadian coasts. The rest of the Norse explorers like Leif Erikson purposefully traveled to Canada in search of land and other resources like timber and the region’s rich natural resources like salmon and wild grapes.
Not much is known about other settlements in North America let alone Canada, but the only sure Viking settlement known in Canada today is the L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. This was discovered in 1961 when archeologists were able to prove that a settlement existed there in 1021 thanks to examining the wood from the timber structures found in the region. This settlement was believed to have only been active for a short period. It is believed to have acted as a base settlement that Vikings used to allow them safely explore further foreign regions in the country.
Where Else Did The Vikings Settle?
The Viking’s spread did not just stop in the areas mentioned in this article. From France, the Vikings continued spreading east of Europe until they reached the heart of Russia. Although in regions like Kiev and Novgorod, the Vikings were dominant at some point, the extent of this is difficult to assess. They were absorbed rapidly by the Slavonic population and given the name Rus (referring to Russians). Their existence, however, did not last past the year 1050. Other areas in the world believed to have had traces of Viking settlement are the Middle East, Asia, and some parts of North Africa.
As noted from this article, the reach of the Vikings on the world was far and wide. There isn’t much known about them today, and some areas they once settled in have completely erased any existence of them. There are still many areas like Scotland and England where the influence is still felt even today. Who knows, it is even possible that there is yet to be other settlement discovered in more parts of the world.