Life Among the Vikings by Thomas Streissguth

By Thomas Streissguth

Discusses the historical past, settlements, social constitution, faith, occupations, and tradition of the Vikings

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But the Viking settlers to the northwest in Greenland had it even worse. Despite its name, which was created as a propaganda ploy by the Norwegian explorer Erik the Red to attract settlers, Greenland had a growing season much too short for food crops. The Greenlanders had to rely on livestock and especially hunting and fishing to support themselves. Trade from the outside Farmers, Builders, and Traders The first Vikings arrive in Greenland. Because the land was unsuitable for crops, the Greenland settlements died out after cargo ships failed to keep the settlers supplied.

Protective walls of staves (poles or planks) and stones surrounded farming estates, and town defenses were also carefully planned. Historian Gwyn Jones notes that "even as the merchant ship or ferry carried arms, so the towns between which they plied were protected by being sited away from the sea, inside narrow fjords like Hedeby and Lindholm Hoje, on inland lakes like Birka and Sigtuna, on rivers leading from such lakes like Aldeigjuborg, Old Ladoga, or within bays where islands, shoals, and complicated channels made the approach slow and observable.

As much as the adoption of Christianity, these events brought an end to the Viking age. Everyday Life Among the Vikings F or European historians, the Viking age officially begins with the first raids in Britain at Portland and Lindisfarne. Before this time, nearly all the people of Scandinavia lived on farms or in small farming settlements. They raised livestock and grain for their food, and used animal hides, furs, and wool for their clothing. There were few roads or bridges; travel from one isolated region to the next was difficult.

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