Night at the Museum - VIKING SHIPS and SETTLEMENTS

VIKING SHIPS and SETTLEMENTS (Illustration) Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Geography Social Studies World History Archeological Wonders Film

Dragon-head post found in the Oseberg Viking Ship when it was discovered at a burial site in Norway.  Copyright, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway, all rights reserved.  Permission to reuse granted if specific instructions are followed.


What does the word "Viking" actually mean? A vikingur was "a hit and run raider."

After building their ships, these Norsemen would sail to places like Britain where they would terrify monks and loot their treasures. (When Vikings first landed on British shores, the defenders did not yet have the sophisticated weapons they would develop later.) "Going Viking" meant to sail away on a plunder-and-loot trip.

It wasn’t just full-time sailors who embarked on such raiding (or trading) adventures. (Click on "Thorkel and the trading voyage.") Sometimes farmers, or craftsmen, also joined in. After a raid, the men returned to their normal occupations either at home or in a new settlement.

For a Viking-settlement overview, take a look at this map. Areas in green depict the locations of frequent raids. You can also see when Vikings were most active:

  • Eighth-century Viking settlements are noted in brown;

  • Ninth-century settlements are red;

  • Tenth-century settlements are orange; and

  • Eleventh-century Viking settlements are yellow.

Norsemen invented the longship, among other vessels, which they sailed to distant places. Archeological evidence reveals that Vikings - just like Anglo-Saxons - occasionally used their ships for underground burials.

One of the most rare, and exciting, discoveries in Britain was the burial ship at Sutton Hoo. Measuring 85 feet (27 meters) long, and 15 feet (4.5 meters) at its widest, the Anglo-Saxon ship (the link depicts an artist’s conception) was placed into the ground sometime during, or shortly after, 625 AD - predating the first Viking incursions. It remained undisturbed until excavations in 1939. (To see many of the solid-gold artifacts found at the site, visit the "British Museum Compass" and search for "sutton hoo.")

Scholars believe Sutton Hoo’s ship burial took place in the 7th century. Are we able to date when Vikings built their boats? Since Viking ships were made from wood, experts can reasonably fix the time frame by using the science of "tree rings." With that method, referred to as Dendrochronology, we can also create a tree-ring chronology with this animated game.

Vikings relied on ships to reach, and explore, new territories. But a Shoshone teenager, named Sacagawea, used a different means of transportation as she helped Lewis and Clark with their Corps of Discovery expedition.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: Mar 18, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"VIKING SHIPS and SETTLEMENTS" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2009. Jan 18, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips