43 Vicious Viking Battles Facts That Are Absolutely Astonishing! | Kidadl


43 Vicious Viking Battles Facts That Are Absolutely Astonishing!

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

According to the old Norse myths, Scandinavia means 'dangerous land', significantly because of its history of war, raids, battles and you know, just a lot of bloodshed.

The word Viking comes from a language known as Old Norse wherein Viking means 'pirate raid'. Vikings, while of course being a powerful band of people, were resourceful, intelligent, strong fighters, influential military strategists, great sailors, compelling storytellers, and much more.

In fact, to prove how great they were are sailors and seafarers, they extensively spread their voyages to North America, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. The period where the Vikings raided, pirated, traded, colonized, and settled in some countries is known as the 'Viking Age'.

This age lasted from 793-1066 AD. Vikings, apart from being vicious warmongers, were also peace setters, who landed in foreign lands to farm, craft, and display beautiful art and woodworks and spread their Norse culture. The language of Vikings, as previously said, was Old Norse and they created inscriptions using runes. Most of the Vikings were pagans; they worshiped various cultural and sub-cultural gods and followed Christianity only after a long time.

Vikings settled and lived in various parts of Europe, the British Isles, and North America. Places like Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales were inhabited by them.

The band of Vikings mainly consisted of a male-dominated society. Men were responsible for hunting, fighting, ruling, and politics, whereas women’s importance was related to household activities and they were mainly asked to look after children and the home.

Unlike popular assumptions about the personality and appearance of Vikings, which are of course based on popular myths and legends, Vikings were not at all filthy, immoral barbarians. In fact, recent archaeological evidence suggests they gave much importance to being clean, tidy, and hygienic. They did not always cover their head with armor and horned helmets, on the contrary, their style of clothes and hair was a matter of tradition. That is why their choice of clothing varied according to different occasions. It was only during the time of war and battle that they wore armor and used swords and lances just like any other fighter during their time.

One of the modern assumptions about the Vikings remains accurate; their physical appearance was in fact largely muscular and tall so they did have a certain level of advantage compared to their opponents. The most famous Viking, Erik the Red, was one of the most influential Norse explorers of all time. After being banished from Iceland for killing numerous men, he explored other parts of Europe, finding Greenland. The red in his name is due to the color of his exquisite hair and facial hair. Born in the Jaren district of Norway, Erik the Red was known for his violent temperament which ran in his blood. His daddy Thorvald Aswaldsson was a real troublemaker too, who was also known for manslaughter and eventual exile.

Their new world expedition, where they explored North America, was long before Christopher Columbus made his significant travel expedition. Of course, during the time of Vikings they didn’t actually know much about the continent!

Did you know that although Vikings had a reputation for being cold, aggressive barbarians, most of them were farmers, artists, and woodworkers who were instrumental in spreading their cultural and traditional aspects to the world?

The Viking Age lasted for 300 years from 900 to 1066 AD.

Vikings believed in the transfiguration of souls, meaning, they trusted in the otherworldly realms (in Norse culture) where a Viking warrior would go after their death, so they buried the dead in boats adding jewelry, weapons, and even slaves to ease their pain of death.

The gods of Vikings were Thor and Odin. Vikings before the advent of Christianity were pagan worshippers. For more fascinating content, check out Viking arts and crafts facts and Viking armor facts.

Vikings Raid Warfare and Tactics

The history of the Viking raid in Britain dates back to the late eighth century where the most accessible targets from Great Britain were monasteries, which were the livelihood and home for numerous monks and people likewise. The first-ever monastery to be raided by the Norse people was at Lindisfarne. This raid was the first documented raid ever.

A chronicle describes Vikings as heathen men, heathen meaning 'pagan worshipers' who plundered and raided the land of what is now known as the United Kingdom.

The monasteries in those days hosted various luxury artifacts that attracted the invasion of the Vikings, making them an easy target. Over the next few years, many monasteries of what was then known as Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were looted and destroyed. There are some records about extensive plundering in Scotland as well, although the accounts are not clear. Numerous monks were killed during the raid that took place in 806 AD.

Their raids extended from Christian Europe to the land of Russia. The reasons for these successful raids were mostly their fearless and competent features of hand-to-hand combat, resourceful execution of their war tactics and they had these monasteries at the Vikings' mercy because the peace-loving monks were in no way able to match the fearsome Vikings' skilled combat qualities.

Since these Norse people were not Christian during their time, plundering the churches and monasteries wasn't much of a big deal to them at all. A chronicle also suggests that a word of threat began to loom over the entirety of Europe when the tales of murder and robbery were told. Since the targets of this Nordic bunch were religious institutions, they were in for a bad and negative reputation among the people who were under their conquest.

There are, of course, various unaccounted and undocumented Viking raids that took place in present-day England, Scotland, Ireland, and Denmark as well.

Seafaring Military Strategies

Vikings' superiority with regard to their ability to fare across dangerous foreign lands using the Viking longship was exemplary.

They were indeed the best lot when it came to sailing. Their flawless warships and specially designed boats were exclusive to the Viking tribe. Their strategic mobility and a strong grasp of logistics contributed to their successful venture in the open sea.

Vikings were involved in building various kinds of ships that came in handy for them on several occasions. One of their famous constructions was longships, which they used for seafaring. These marvels of the open sea were constructed from different types of woods, usually timber and oak. The ships were constructed in such a way that using them in shallow water was easy for these Norse people.

The use of ships was instrumental in learning about the history of these Vikings and they utilized these ships for not only exporting to a foreign land but for trading goods and possessions. Although Vikings used these ships for the purpose of war and fighting, they proved to be more useful in the process of trading and sailing for long voyages. Since these ships were specially made to sail through the shallow water, Vikings had the advantage of parking them on muddy and sandy blocks near a Viking settlement that was present along coastal villages.

The main intent of Viking raiding was economic, not anything political and territorial. So, whenever they encountered the opportunity to seize the ships, they carefully examined them and added the occupied ships to their fleet.

Most of these naval battles were fought among Vikings themselves. The records of Viking attacks on numerous parts of Europe and Denmark are also documented.

Battle Tactics On Land

Apart from being efficient sailors, the vast majority of Vikings were pretty great at fighting on land too. In the late 860s, the Great Heathen Army was formed, and this band of raiders was made of strong and well-built Viking men.

After landing in certain areas, these warriors parked their ships and marched into the city and with an army like this, it wasn’t much of a competition to fight against them. These large squads of raiders formed together to plunder and attack cities, towns, and homes of people.

A report from archaeology suggests that Vikings were proficient in laying traps and ambushes; their attack always contained a surprise element. If confronted by the opposite forces, they’d use a tactic called wedge formation, combating those enemies using Viking swords and spears. Hand-to-hand combat was notoriously common during the time and Viking warriors excelled at it without a doubt.

Since most of Europe was completely unfamiliar with these battle tactics, Vikings used them to the best of their ability. Some of the ancient myths and sagas of the Viking Age occasionally mention the Berserkers (legendary fabled Viking warriors who were known to have special magical abilities, blessed by the God of War, Odin). One of these special magical powers was said to be healing powers on the battlefield.

Various reports researching the intent of Viking raids suggest that these Norse people were mainly in it to expand their trade opportunities.

New World Expeditions

The Viking’s seafaring capacities literally took them to places far away. They voyaged as far as the Middle East, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and North America. Centuries before the advent of Christopher Columbus's accidental exploration of America, Vikings were documented to have established settlements in North America.

They first landed in Canada in the year 1021 AD on a site called Newfoundland. Numerous archaeological studies pertaining to these landings prove, with evidence collected over many years, that the exploration of the New World was first carried out by Europeans.

During the Viking Age, they established plenty of settlements in the British Isles, Ireland, Greenland, Normandy, and the Baltic Coast. Vikings also had a deep influence on the Middle Age of Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, and the Estonia region.

Using recent technological advancements, scientists and archaeologists can exactly pinpoint the area occupied by the Vikings in the foreign lands. Vikings were the first Europeans to reach North America, and this helped them in spreading Norse culture to these foreign lands, bringing slaves to their homeland, and profoundly influencing the genetic profiles of the current population.

In the opinion of many ancient Icelandic myths and sagas, these Norsemen also settled in Greenland. Norse Greenland was made up of two settlements; the Eastern and the Western settlements and their combined population was around 3000 people who were mainly involved in agriculture, war, and woodworking.

A spear with a wooden shaft was not only a common weapon but also the primary weapon of young men.

The Viking Trelleborg Fortress

The Viking Trelleborg fortress, also known as the Viking ring fortress, is a collection of historical forts and castles built extensively in the Viking Age.

These forts were constructed across numerous parts of Scandinavia. The Trelleborg, as they are simply called, possesses a circular shape with roads and gates pointing in their fundamental direction.

The Trelleborg hosted various activities and celebrations throughout the year like Viking markets, camps, and their famous midsummer celebrations.

There are only seven known Trelleborg establishments of Vikings on Swedish soil. During one of many archeological excavations, some of the axes and tools used in the construction of these forts came to light. The earth wall was around 19.7 ft (6 m) tall covered with palisades (defensive walls). Most of the Trelleborg are located in Denmark and Sweden and these castles on these locations were built around 980 AD on the behalf of the king of Denmark, Sven Forkbeard. You read that right, that was indeed his name and unlike the humorous sounding name, Sven was a rather stern and unkind king who ruled over these parts of Scandinavia during this time.

Over time, as the changes began to drastically overtake the regions of Europe, Vikings saw fewer profits and advantages in the trade. So, most of the Norsemen after the golden age of the Vikings began to settle in parts of Europe. By the end of the Viking Age, many parts of Europe saw a rise in central authorities and trained and capable armies who developed effective defenses against the Vikings' attack. Although Vikings had their fair share of battle strategies and skills, the rise of these new armies supported by an influential king made it harder to break the defenses and Vikings ultimately had to accept this fact.

When the raids stopped, and times changed, the great Viking Age came to an end. Technically, Vikings weren’t wiped out or conquered, but the drastic changes in Europe made them end the livelihood they were practicing. This is one of the significant reasons for the age of Vikings ending.

In modern times, these Norsemen are well known all over the world, having their own unique history and stories. Influencing the culture and traditions of their descendants, their legacy remains largely underrated.

Viking is the modern name for a group of seafaring people from Scandinavia (modern-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) who raided, pirated, traded, and settled throughout Europe from the late 8th -11th centuries. They traveled throughout the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and North America. This period is recognized as the Viking Age in parts of the nations where they raided and settled, and the name 'Viking' is also used to refer to the population of the Scandinavian homelands as a whole. The early medieval history of Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Estonia, and Kievan Rus' was profoundly influenced by the Viking kings.

Archaeological artifacts, visual representations, and to some extent, accounts in the Norse sagas and Norse laws documented in the Norse language in the 13th century, all contribute to our understanding of Viking Age armaments and armor. All free Norse males were obligated to own weapons and were allowed to carry them at all times, according to custom. A wealthy Viking wore a complete costume of a helmet, shield, mail shirt, and sword, indicating his social rank.

The Vikings explored the northern islands of the North Atlantic Ocean and beaches, as well as North Africa, Kievan Rus (now Ukraine, Belarus), Constantinople, and the Middle East. Seafood was significant, even more so than meat in some regions. Seals were hunted practically everywhere, and whales and walrus were killed for food in Norway and the northwestern regions of the North Atlantic.

Large quantities of oysters, mussels, and shrimp were consumed, and cod and salmon were popular fish. Herring was also significant in the southern regions. The word 'wicking' first appears in Old English in the Anglo-Saxon poem 'Widsith', which is thought to date from the 9th century. The phrase mainly referred to Scandinavian pirates or raiders in Old English, as well as in Adam of Bremen's 'History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen', written around 1070 AD.

Assimilation of the embryonic Scandinavian kingdoms into the cultural mainstream of European Christendom impacted the goals of Scandinavian society and Scandinavian kingdoms who could travel abroad, as well as their relationships with their neighbors. According to the Norman conquests, the Viking forces were very strong. The Viking ship carried many Viking fleets. The majority of Viking-era runic inscriptions may be discovered in Sweden.

The Kjula Runestone, which tells of massive Viking combat in western Europe, and the Turing Runestone, which tells of a war band in eastern Europe, are two examples of runestones in Scandinavia that record the names of participants in Viking warfare. Vikings built Norse towns and governments in the British Isles, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Normandy, the Baltic coast, and along the Dnieper and Volga trade routes in what is now European Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, using their distinctive Viking longships (where they were also known as Varangians).

As per Norse mythology, most women in Viking society, as in the rest of medieval Europe, were subject to their husbands and fathers and had no political authority. Written records, on the other hand, show free Viking women as possessing autonomy and rights. As seen by the Icelandic Grágás and the Norwegian Frosting and Gulating statutes, Viking women appear to have enjoyed more independence than women elsewhere.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Viking battles facts then why not take a look at Viking culture facts, or Viking axes facts?

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?