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The Vikings

The Vikings were fierce warriors that threatened the security of Charlemagne's empire. The Vikings came from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, lands we now call Scandinavia. The Vikings were skilled sailors whose advanced methods of shipbuilding gave them an advantage over other Europeans. The largest Viking ships could hold as many as 100 sailors and travel at high speed. Viking ships required a depth of only three feet, so they could be used on rivers to travel inland. The Viking ships were strong enough to withstand the fury of the sea, but light enough to be carried around waterfalls.


The Vikings used their sailing skills to attack without warning and quickly escape. At first they attacked and left with as much as they could carry. Later, they settled down and colonized areas they conquered. By the tenth century, the Vikings controlled parts of Britain, France, and Russia, and raided lands as far away as Egypt.

Other Vikings sailed west and discovered Iceland. About 980, Erik the Red sailed further west and began a settlement on ice-covered land he called Greenland. Viking legends indicate that Erik’s son, Leif Eriksson, reached North America. The Vikings called their settlement Vinland, or “land of the grapes.” We don’t know the exact location of Vinland, but archaeologists found Viking weapons and tools in Newfoundland, Canada. The Vikings abandoned their settlements after about 35 years. Many historians suggest that Christopher Columbus heard the legends of the Vikings and knew of the possibility of a “New World” when he set sail to find Asia in 1492.

Viking Ship


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Mr. Donn has an excellent website that includes a section on the Middle Ages.

To cite this page (MLA):

Dowling, Mike. "The Vikings at". Updated December 30, 2014. Web. Date of Access. <>

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