A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
“From the fury of the Northmen, deliver us O Lord”
What is a Barbarian?
Barbarians as we use the term today had a very different meaning to the Ancient Greeks. The term Barbarian was coined by the Ancient Greeks and then used by the Romans. People unfamiliar to the custom and languages of Greece and Roman is what Barbarian meant to the Ancient Greeks.
In the West, they were called Northmen, Norsemen and Danes. In the East, they were known as Rus or Varangians. Vikings came from a word in the Old Norse language meaning “sea raiding”.
While true that a lot of writings from them don’t exist as abundantly as in other cultures, the Barbarians culture was still rich and even advanced at times. Most of what was written about them came from those they attacked.
(Pic. of 10th Century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle showing the Norse Dragon)
The Vikings launched savage attacks on England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.They also attacked settled areas along the coasts and rivers of Germany, the Netherlands and France. Normandy meaning land of Northmen is the area they settled in France. They also traveled west across the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland, Greenland and even North America.
Beginning of the Viking Saga
On the island of Lindisfarne, also called Holy in Northumberland England was one of the most influential monasteries in Europe. In June of 793 C.E. the island was invaded by the raiders, the Vikings.
They burned, looted and stole from the monastery gold, silver, jewels and other treasures.
Recorded by in an early English history called the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (link provided, look at Part 2 read under “AD 793”), the account went as follows:
“A.D. 793. This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery, dragons flying across the firmament. These tremendous tokens were soon followed by a great famine: and not long after, on the sixth day before the ides of January in the same year, the harrowing inroads of heathen men made lamentable havoc in the church of God in Holy-island, by rapine and slaughter. Siga died on the eighth day before the calends of March.”
Another source by Harold Wheeler in a book called The British Navy describes the Vikings as “stinging hornets” and “wolves” in the raid at Lindisfarne.
“…. the pagans from the northern region came with a naval armament to Britain, like stinging hornets, and overran the country in all directions, like fierce wolves plundering, tearing and killing not only sheep and oxen but priests and Levites and choirs of monks and nuns. They came as we before said, to the Church of Lindisfarne and laid all waste with dreadful havoc, trod with unhallowed feet the holy places, dug up the altars, and carried off all the treasures of the holy place. Some of the brethren they killed; some they carried off in chains;many they cast out, naked and loaded with insults; some they drowned in the sea…..”
Here are some pictures from the Lindisfarne Gospels (illuminated Latin manuscripts) that were saved from the destruction:
Land of the Vikings – Scandinavia
The Norsemen came from what we now know as Scandinavia or Denmark, Norway and Sweden. This area of Denmark, Norway and Sweden had harsh landscapes and it was difficult to farm. One peninsula, Jutland, sticks up like a thumb from what is now Germany. However not all land areas were the same. During the time of the Vikings much of the land was covered by deciduous (means trees that lose their leaves in fall) trees like oaks and there were bogs and marshes.
Look at some of these pictures from Norway, and you get a glimpse of what it what looked like then.
Daily Life – Farmers and Hunters
The Vikings were farmers and where it was colder they hunted game and fished. Norse farmers grew barley, rye, oats, cabbage, onions and other root vegetables.
Scandinavians also hunted seals, walruses and whales. They traded furs, reindeer antlers and fish (which could be preserved). Walruses were hard to hunt but their tusks were a main source of ivory during the Middle Ages so it was profitable to hunt them.
Shipbuilders,Traders and Craftsmen/Craftswomen – Soldiers and Sailors
ey had to depend on the sea for so much they become expert boat builders. Some of the distinctive features of a Viking ship are a single mast, a high stem and stern. Their ships were fast and sleek. They used the sails at sea, but the oars for shallow water. Their boat was so shallow that they could run it right up to the beach.
They were both excellent sailors since they could maneuver so easy and soldiers since they knew how to fight too.
Drakkar or Longboats
Vikings were not only raiders but traders. The knarrs (merchant ships) were designed to transport bulky items.
What did the Vikings import? One was silver. Arab coins were assessed by their weight not monetary value. They would melt the silver coins down and make it into jewelry.
Vikings also wanted spices for their food and glass beads were prized. Wine was also imported for wealthy Vikings to drink instead of mead.
Viking women were expected to be brave, resourceful and strong as the men. Spinning and weaving wool was women’s work. The wool masts on the ships were made by the women.
About their Homes
Norse farms were small. The family included not only parents and children but in some cases grandparents and even unmarried aunts and uncles. A typical home was a longhouse, divided into two or three sections. One section inside was for animals at least during winter.
A reconstruction of a Viking longhouse in Iceland
Other units of ours to go with this one.
Glass (Glass Beads were prized by the Vikings)
-Picture shows one way to include minibooks-
Remember our lapbooks are made so that you can choose part of them and add some of your own content or “finds” too. If you want all of the minibooks, they make a complete lapbook as well.
Notebook Pages, Front Pieces for your page, or Coloring Pages.
The pages below can be used to decorate the front of your lapbook, some can be used as coloring sheets and others Notebooking Pages.
Who-were-the-vikings-and-land-of-the-vikings.pdf (2945 downloads)
Viking-Vocabulary.pdf (2242 downloads)
Links we like:
Leif Ericson Viking Ship – About the site: The Leif Ericson Viking Ship, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the study, education and promotion of the fact that Leif Ericson was the first European to set foot upon and explore the North American Continent and of Vikings in general, their times and travels throughout the world.