Ravensgard Badge Ravensgard Norse FAQ

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The Viking Age is traditionally defined as beginning with the attack by scandinavian raiders on the Monastery of Lindisfarne on the north coast of England in (June) 793 (though there were other raids earlier) and ending with the failure of the Norse invasion of England and the death of King Harald Harðraði at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066 just before the Battle of Hastings. Individual areas of study may use slightly different time periods.
The term "Vikings" is used to refer to the Scandinavians of the Viking Age (q.v.). Many scholars and students of the period object to the term for a number of reasons. Among these reasons are: that the term in Norse means pirates and while this activity took place in the Viking age it does not appear to be any more prevalent than in many other periods and cultures and considerably mischaracterizes the impetus of Norse activity of the period; the term appears to be of foreign origin appearing in, for instance, Anglo-Saxon before it apparently does in Common Scandinavian/Old Norse although available sources are too few to make this certain; and finally no one is certain precisely what it originally meant. The theories on the original meaning of the term include derivations from: (Old Norse) vík, meaning a small bay or inlet (a popular theory now discounted), (Lat.) vicus, meaning a camp or small fortified town (my personal favorite), (Old English) wîc armed camp, (Old Norse) víkja, referring to movement, especially swift movement. The term Norse is often used instead of Viking these days though this refers principally to Norwegians and does not define period. No completely appropriate term has yet been coined.
The term "Vikings" does not refer to all Germanic peoples nor to any other periods of history. The 5th Century invaders of England were not "Vikings".

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Last updated 13/6/06.

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