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80 votes
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Why didn't the Norsemen colonize North America?

They actually did try, they just failed. The main problem was that all they really discovered was marginal territory for the purposes of Norse culture. Meanwhile they had to compete with other native ...
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55 votes
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How did people put down a drinking horn?

In short, either when it was empty or it had a stand. Drinking horns were used by many different cultures on different continents (Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe e.t.c.) and in different time ...
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45 votes

Did the Romans ever encounter the Vikings?

The question is illogical because there was no such thing as a viking in the days of the undivided Roman Empire or of the Western Roman Empire. A viking is defined as a Scandinavian pirate or sea ...
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40 votes
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Where did the “vikings wear helmets with horn” stereotype come from and why?

It started with the vikings themselves... Helmets with horns? Depictions of an Iron Age date exist featuring people with horned helmets/heads, such as upon the Golden Horns. Similar images are also ...
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33 votes
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Did viking longboats in fact have shields on the side of the ships?

Yes, archaeological evidence strongly suggest that at least some warships did but, considering the vast numbers of ships that were built during the Viking age - and in many different locations - we ...
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26 votes

Was there a Viking Exchange as well as a Columbian one?

The evidence for this is weak, but interesting and indicative of "on a much smaller scale", but not "as well" as in equally transformative: From East to West: They introduced the mouse to the ...
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25 votes
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Size of Viking armies and raiding parties in 9th-10th centuries?

You might want to find a copy of the 1990 translation of Hans Delbrück, The History of the Art of War - v.II IIRC, if not III. He discusses the size of Viking forces beseiging Paris, and how small ...
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24 votes
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Did Charlemagne's Christian conquest of Germany cause the Vikings to hit back at Britain?

There are many theories on why the Viking expansion occurred and there is no real consensus on which (or which combination) is the correct one. This particular explaination, that Pagan Scandinavia ...
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23 votes
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How did this 900AD key work?

It looks like it might fit a padlock of a design similar to this: The padlock is locked by inserting the shackle (u-shaped part) into the body so that the ward springs (arrowhead shaped part of the ...
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  • 350
20 votes

Did the Vikings practice voluntary human sacrifice?

10th-century writer Ahmad ibn Fadlan describes voluntary human sacrifice in his account of a Viking funeral: When their chieftain dies, his family ask his slave-girls and slave-boys, “Who among ...
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19 votes

Circa 1000, what name would locals in England use for invaders?

Usually "Danes", or the "pagans"[note], or possibly the "Northmen" - though the last was more of a Continental usage. In Francia these Scandinavians were called 'Northmen' or 'Danes' (in ...
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19 votes
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Kissing in early Icelandic law

If the kiss was between unmarried, heterosexual youths the boy would be criminally liable to the girl's father, guardian, or another male family member. "... if a woman was an aggrieved party and ...
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18 votes

How does a runic alphabet work?

A runic alphabet works like other alphabets: one rune corresponds to one or more specific sounds. Runes only really have one significant difference: they are designed to be carved in wood, which means ...
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  • 5,401
18 votes

Is there a genetic link between North America and Vikings?

I am going to say Yes, to the title question, and No to the question in the body. Is there a link... There is a genetic link, but not in the direction you were expecting. An article published on ...
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17 votes

Size of Viking armies and raiding parties in 9th-10th centuries?

Initially, raids were sporadic and for the wealth of monasteries and slaves. They were quick, and would get away once finished with their err... business. So the English could not effectively put up ...
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  • 3,732
15 votes

Did the Vikings use horses in battle?

Short Answer Generally, there is no evidence in medieval sources for the widespread use of cavalry or horsemen in battle by the Vikings. The Vikings in Western Europe (from the late 8th century to the ...
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14 votes

Did the Vikings practice voluntary human sacrifice?

As Yannis says, The "10th-century writer Ahmad ibn Fadlan describes voluntary human sacrifice in his account of a Viking funeral", but note that the designation he uses is "the rus" and it is situated ...
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  • 241
13 votes

Size of Viking armies and raiding parties in 9th-10th centuries?

The numbers involved in Viking raids on 9th and 10th century England are not easy to gauge, but it is possible to come up with some estimates. First though, it is useful to get a clearer overall ...
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13 votes
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What is known about how many Ulfberht swords exist?

TL;DR: We don't know, but at least ~170 swords bearing - in whole or in part - some variation of "VLFBERHT" are known to exist. Number of Extant VLFBERHT swords: I came across the closest available ...
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  • 4,073
13 votes

Why didn't the Norsemen colonize North America?

The crucial question here is: what for? Any colonization, to survive must be profitable. Look at the colonization of N America in the modern times. First British colony failed. Second survived but ...
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  • 37.3k
13 votes

What was the relationship between Angles, Saxons, and Jutes; and the Vikings?

The short answer is we're not sure. When the Roman State was in decline and had to withdraw from England, (coincidentally?) Germanic tribal power was on the increase. That left a power vacuum in ...
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  • 109k
12 votes
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Why are Vikings singled out for raids in Britain and Ireland when records may indicate most raids were by local rulers?

The situation in early medieval Ireland was rather unique, as I explained in an answer to another question. The situation there was largely a legacy of the fact that the early monasteries had been ...
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  • 76.2k
11 votes

Did the Romans ever encounter the Vikings?

I presume you're not talking about the Byzantine half of the Roman Empire here. Those ties are well known. So, taking the subject line of your question, Romans of the western half of the Roman Empire ...
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  • 16k
11 votes
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How prevalent was smallpox among the Norse in Northern Scandinavia, Iceland, & Greenland?

Infectious diseases require a certain critical mass of people to become endemic in a population. Smaller than that, and they burn themselves out by making every susceptible person either immune or ...
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  • 109k
11 votes

Was there a Viking Exchange as well as a Columbian one?

No. The number of viking transfers back and forth were too small to make a significant difference. We only know from recent finds the Vikings did set up a small temporary settlement in Newfoundland. ...
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  • 17.3k
10 votes

Did Charlemagne's Christian conquest of Germany cause the Vikings to hit back at Britain?

No. That theory doesn't make a whole lot of sense. First, while the Vikings and the Germans practiced "pagan" religions, their status as "co-religionists" was tenuous at best. Nor did they have other ...
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  • 103k
10 votes

Are many Russians descended from Varangian Vikings?

There are two ways to answer this question, the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to use language as an indication of lineage. Language is probably the foremost component of a culture, so ...
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  • 109k
10 votes

Why didn't the Norsemen colonize North America?

It's important to remember that European style civilization requires tools and materials that in Europe were sourced from widespread trade and specialization. Iron plows, wooden ships, paper, and so ...
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10 votes

Why didn't the Norsemen colonize North America?

The main reason was that the power base of the Norse explorers was too small, and to a lesser degree that they didn’t find easily exploitable resources. The first Norse expeditions to the North ...
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