Vikings & Sagas & Castles, Oh My!

Dame Aoife shares resources for Medieval Scandinavia, including some tasty Norse and Viking sites. Greetings readers! This week I am covering Medieval Scandinavia. I have tried to approach the subject from varying directions so as to find some sources you may or may not have seen in this column before.

At any rate, please enjoy this list as you are wont to do, and pass it along to those who would also enjoy it, using it to update your own webpages as you see fit.

Cheers

Aoife

Medieval and Prehistoric Northern Europe
http://www.irminsul.org/nw/nwhist.html
A List of Links

European Middle Ages: The Norse
http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/MA/NORSE.HTM
(Site excerpt) The last great waves of European migrations began in the eighth century and picked up dramatically in the ninth and tenth centuries. This time it was a group of relatively sedentary Germanic tribes in the northernmost reaches of Europe, the Norsemen. These were really not one ethnic group, but an entire spectrum of peoples speaking many different languages. For all that, the principal Norsemen that raided and emigrated out of Northern Europe were Norwegians and Danish. Again, however, these are not single ethnic groups-the Danes, for instance, were an entire set of different peoples.

Medieval Scandanavia
http://www.medsca.org/
(Site Excerpt) The tiny wooden temples called Stave Churches, of which a sketch of Rollag Stave Church of Numedal can be seen above, have survived here for nearly 900 years. This kind of churches were once a common sight all over Northern Europe, but for some reason only a few made it into our time. Constructed of Pine, using a technique left by the Vikings, these relics are indeed a "must see" to everyone who visit us.

Telling Time without a Clock: Scandinavian Daymarks
http://hea-www.harvard.edu/ECT/Daymarks/
(Site Excerpt) One simple way to tell time was to divide the daylight time and the night time into segments. Many cultures did this, using different numbers of segments. For example, the Chinese divided one sun-cycle into 12 sections and the Hindus into 60. Very early on, the Egyptians divided the period between sunrise and sunset into 10 sections, an d then added two more sections for the periods of twilight at dawn and nightfall--making 12 sections of daylight time.

Viking Fighting Notes from 23 Sagas
http://thehaca.com/essays/vikingfight.htm
(Site Excerpt) This article is a collection of quotations on the use of arms and armor during the Viking period. Its purpose is to provide students of historical armed combat quick access to information from 23 Sagas without having to read through over 1600 pages to find it. These sagas cover the 9th through the 12th century, and these versions were written down during the 12th through 14th century.

Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas, and Power
http://www.poetry-reviews.com/Medieval_Iceland_Society_Sagas_and_Power_0...
A Book for Sale

Medieval Castles in Finland
http://virtual.finland.fi/finfo/english/castles.html
(Site Excerpt) In Finnish history, the prehistoric era is generally considered to end and the Middle Ages to begin in the 1150s, when, according to a Swedish chronicle, King Erik of Sweden and English-born Bishop Henry undertook a crusade to the southwestern parts of Finland. The chronicle's claim that the Bishop 'baptized' the Finns has later been modified. Archaeological finds have shown that Christianity had reached the Finns as early as the eleventh century, and the main purpose of the crusade was thus to establish Swedish dominion in Finland and organize a bishopric there.

Medieval Society and Economy in Finland
http://countrystudies.us/finland/6.htm
(Site Excerpt) The economy of medieval Finland was based on agriculture, but the brevity of the growing season, coupled with the paucity of good soil, required that farming be supplemented by hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering. All but a small portion of the Finnish population earned their livelihood in this way

Viking Age in Finland
http://www.nba.fi/archaeol/viking/
(Site Excerpt) The Finns lived mainly in the southern part of the Finnish mainland, along the seacoast and on the shores of inland lakes. To the east and north lived hunters and fishers who may either have been ancestors of the Saami (Lapps) or of some other branch, of the widespread Finno-Ugrians. Before the Slavs migrated to the north, vast areas of northern Europe formed the hunting and fishing territories of Finnish tribes, many of which, in contrast to the Finns in Finland, became extinct through assimilation with other peoples.

Medieval Sourcebook:
King Harald Harfager of Norway (r. 860-930):
Laws for Land Property

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/930harald-laws1.html
(Site Excerpt) King Harald made this law over all the lands he conquered, that all the udal (allodial) property should belong to him; and that the bondes, both great and small, should pay him land dues for their possessions.

Architecture in Norway
http://odin.dep.no/odin/engelsk/norway/history/032005-990451/index-dok00...
(Site Excerpt) Timber was always available just about everywhere and to everyone. With fairly simple means, small but sufficiently warm dwellings could be built. In our climate, stone houses were a mark of the wealthy. It takes the efforts of many people to cut stone, and unless one can afford a great deal of fuel, the stone house is cold and uncomfortable. This is why stone has been reserved for the largest and the smallest projects; churches and fortresses on the one hand, modest hunters' cabins and fishermen's huts, on the other.

Viking and Medieval Combs from the island of Gotland, Sweden
http://www.arkeodok.com/Vikingcombs/index.html
Images

Hammer in the North: Mjollnir in Medieval Scandinavia
Dan Bray
Sydney University

http://www.mackaos.com.au/Articles/Mjol.html
(Site Excerpt) In the archaeological record of tenth century Scandinavia, there is evidence for the proliferation of small metal amulets representing Mjollnir, the magical hammer of the god Thor. Thor's hammer is recognised as one of the most distinctive religious symbols of the heathen Norse, and for a time was the chief rival of the Christian cross among the peoples of Medieval Scandinavia and Iceland. It was celebrated in Scandinavian mythology as the primary defence of gods and men against destruction at the hands of the fearsome frost-giants.

The Medieval Centre Experimental Museum
http://www.middelaldercentret.dk/english/us_home.htm
(Site Excerpt) We are now entering the realm of Queen Margrethe the First. In the village the smith, the shoemaker, and the sewers operate, and on the hill at the harbour the Dyer lives. On market days the villagers are teeming around the stalls with local and foreign goods, and now and then artists, musicians harlots and riff raff arrive at the village to stay a while. Henrik Svane, the noble Knight, is training with the horses and weapons in magnificiant knight tournaments.

Living words & luminous pictures
12 medieval manuscripts in The Royal Library - Copenhagen

http://www.kb.dk/elib/mss/mdr/index-en.htm
(Site Excerpt) The exhibition, which was open to the public from September 15 to December 30, 1999 in the library's new building "The Black Diamond", showed 150 manuscripts and books, made in the period from the 9th Century up to the end of the Middle Ages.

Medieval Sourcebook:
Waldemar the Victorious of Denmark:
Grant of Market Privileges to Men of Lbeck, 1203

http://www.fordham.edu/HALSALL/source/1203lubeck-waldemar.html
(Site Excerpt) Waldemar the Victorious, King of Denmark, who controlled much of the Baltic lands by reason of his conquests, was able to grant privileges in southern Sweden, the center of the herring trade, to Lbeck, since Scania formed a part of the Danish dominions. Thus the trade of Lbeck expanded in the direction of the North Sea as well as in other directions.

Medieval Beer Mug with Blown Handle (AD 1500, Denmark)
http://www.northerner.com/products/scg646.html
Image and Text

Museums in Denmark
http://www.museums.dk/denmark.html
A List of Links

Medieval Mechanical Artillery
http://home.swipnet.se/~w-64205/artillery.html
(Site Excerpt) The design is a simplification and development of that of an engine built in Denmark in 1989. Differences can be found in the joinery, the trigger mechanism, the addition of a winch and a "counterweight propping beam", and a less complex tower and ground frame structure. In addition, medieval woodworking methods and tools have been used as far as possible.

The Institute for the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark
http://www.chd.dk/
(Site Excerpt) This collection of notes on Books of Hours in Danish Collections is intended for students and scholars already specialized in the analysis of medieval manuscripts.

Medieval North European Spindles and Whorls 1995, 1999, 2000 Carolyn Priest-Dorman
http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/spindles.html
(Site Excerpt) Each of six major published works assembles a number of spindle whorls from medieval Scandinavia and areas of Scandinavian influence. Eva Andersson analyzes over 230 Scanian whorls from fifth through eleventh century Sweden. Jan Petersen refers to 450 whorls and five spindles from Viking Age Norway. Ingvild �e carefully analyzes 410 whorls and 31 spindles from twelfth through fifteenth century Bergen, Norway.

BODIES OF THE BOGS
http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/bog/
(Site Excerpt) ver the past centuries, remains of many hundreds of people--men, women, and children--have come to light during peat cutting activities in northwestern Europe, especially in Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark. These are the "bog bodies." The individual bog bodies show a great degree of variation in their state of preservation, from skeletons, to well-preserved complete bodies, to isolated heads and limbs. They range in date from 8000 B.C. to the early medieval period. Most date from the centuries around the beginning of our era. We do not know exactly how many bog bodies have been found--many have disappeared since their discovery.

A DANISH GOSPEL
Frescoes in Danish Churches

http://www.folkekirken.dk/leksikon/fresco/fresco-eng.htm
(Site Excerpt) THERE IS A STONE IN JUTLAND, AT JELLING, on which is written in the ancient Danish runic alphabet that it was set up by Harold Blue Tooth, "who made the Danes Christian." It was not as simple or as quick as that, but certainly the Danish Vikings had decided that they had had enough of being pirates on the edge of civilisation. They wanted to come out of the cold and to embrace civilisation as it then was in Europe. This was Christendom, and they became Christians.

The 92 medieval churches of Gotland
http://www.stavar.i.se/churches/mapindexeng.html
Click on the map to see images of the churches

Medieval Sourcebook:
Rimbert: Life of Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801-865

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anskar.html
(Site Excerpt) When one of Anskar's followers suggested to him that he could work miracles he replied, " Were I worthy of such a favour from my God, I would ask that He would grant to me this one miracle, that by His grace He would make of me a good man." No one can read the "Life" written by Rimbert his disciple and successor which, after being lost for five hundred years, was fortunately rediscovered, without feeling moved to thank God for the accomplishment of the miracle for which Anskar had prayed. He was a good man in the best and truest sense of the term. In the character presented to us by his biographer we have a singularly attractive combination of transparent humility, unflinching courage, complete self devotion, and unwavering belief in a loving and overruling providence

Dear Viking Answer Lady: I'd like to learn more about the Viking trade center at Birka. Can you help? by Christie Ward
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/Birka.htm
(Site Excerpt) Birka sits upon the island of Bj�k�at the entrance of the M�ar Sea (sometimes called Lake M�ar), not far from the site of modern Stockholm. Birka therefore acted as the trade center and gateway for all of Central Sweden. The major east-west trade route passed along the southern Swedish coastline, through Bornholm, Oland, and Gotland, but Birka was the richest trade center of all. Traders came to Birka from Frisia, Anglo-Saxon England, Germany, the Baltic countries, Greeks from Byzantium, and Orientals. (See also her pages dedicated to: General Viking Age Information and History, Daily Life In Viking Age Scandinavia, Science, Engineering and Technology In Viking Age Scandinavia, Viking Age Agriculture, Farming, and Animal Husbandry Warfare and Combat in the Viking Age, Art and Literature In Viking Age Scandinavia, Mythology and Religion In Viking Age Scandinavia, Viking Expansion, Raids, Trade, and Settlements in the Viking Age, Books, Articles, and Other Resources Dealing with the Viking Age).

Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway
The Ynglinga Saga, or The Story of the Yngling Family from Odin to Halfdan the Black
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #15b

http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/ynglinga.html
(Site Excerpt) It is said that the earth's circle which the human race inhabits is torn across into many bights, so that great seas run into the land from the out-ocean. Thus it is known that a great sea goes in at Narvesund (1), and up to the land of Jerusalem. From the same sea a long sea-bight stretches towards the north-east, and is called the Black Sea, and divides the three parts of the earth; of which the eastern part is called Asia, and the western is called by some Europa, by some Enea.

An Archaeological Guide to Viking Men's Clothing
http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/mensgarb.html
(Site Excerpt) Only by playing the part of a Viking from a specific time and place can one bring to the status of an SCA Viking its appropriate glory and respect. It is a sad fact that no one really respects generic Vikings. But hang a date and a locale on your persona, and be able to demonstrate it in your choice of clothing, and poof! Instant respect! This pamphlet is designed to help you design Viking clothing ensembles that look like they come from a particular time and/or place. By dint of assiduous documenting, it is also designed to help guide those who are interested in further research.

Resources for Viking Women's Clothing
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/clothing.htm
A Listof Sites and resources