The Vikings!


It is amazing how similar events across the world seem to gravitate in close proximity toward our awareness; showing themselves in a surprising cluster of moments. Cultural forewarnings relay the sinister side of this rationale, such as three on a match or misfortune happening in threes —providing us with the more memorable proof of this. Possibly it has to do with social consciousness, as we all are surely connected in one way or another —or because of our characteristically herd nature. It does not seem to take us long at all to go where someone else is looking—whether it is in science, politics, bargain sales, killing sprees or entertainment —or the simple wearing of pants lower than the hipbone in the more painfully obvious display of how easily we follow any manner of trends. However fortunate, this herd characteristic includes the whole human race, not only one population or nation.

There is a happy and amazing side to the so-called bunching of events; such as the finding of a sunstone shortly after the launching of the History Channel series, Vikings. In the first few episodes of Vikings, the sunstone and its use is at the center of each story. How the sunstone was actually used must rely on the educated guess alone, as nothing has yet been found to provide tangible instruction for today’s user. Still, if you have seen the series Vikings, the projection of how it functions appears very feasible. Check out the two sites below.


Researchers find Viking Sunstone

As a medievalist with a modest knowledge of the historical Nordic regions, I would like to say I look forward to the Viking series. The attention to detail is wonderful, and it portrays the medieval Scandinavians as having more than one side—which is true of most of us. Being known over many decades as brutal and merciless barbarians, plundering their way across the known world continues to overshadow their other, more subtle and equally important traits such as being expert traders, artists and poets. It should never be forgotten that it was these barbarians who introduced the word law into the English language. Or that they brought to the British Isles new art forms and enthusiastic new settlers; they founded and developed great market towns and more notably brought new ways of administration and justice which have left their mark to this day. Crisscrossing half the world in open boats and extending known boundaries; voyaging farther north and west than any Europeans had before, founding new and lasting colonies in the Faroes and Iceland, discovering, exploring and making settlements in Greenland and North America. Penetrating the depths of Russia, founding city-states like Novgorod and Kiev, pioneering new trade routes along formidable rivers such as the Volga and the Dnieper, and opening the route to Asia in order to exploit the exotic markets of Persia and China. They served as hand-picked warriors in the celebrated Varangian Guard, the household troops of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople. They went everywhere there was to go, they dared everything there was to dare – and they did it with the robust panache and audacity which has won the grudging admiration even of those who deplore their depredations.  The Vikings hold a particular place in the history of the West, both symbolically and in the significant impact they had on Northern Europe.*

by Linda Sexton


*The Vikings, Magnus Magnusson (2003)

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