The Vikings

From about 790 A.D. until the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D., the Vikings sailed the world.   They were warriors, raiders, traders, merchants and discoverers.  They discovered America long before that Columbus fellow.  And they sailed their longships (oars and sails, shallow draft and symmetrical bow and stern to permit instant reversal of course) wherever the wind would carry them.   

The Vikings came from Scandinavian countries –Denmark, Sweden and Norway.   French Normans were descended from Danish and Norwegian Vikings who were made feudal overlords in Northern France.  The Vikings who raided – and remained behind in Ireland (often because they had met a young women) – were given the name “Doyle” which is from the Celtic Ó Dubhghaill, which means “son of the dark (or evil) foreigner.”    

As Christianity spread through Scandinavia, the Viking raids diminished and by the end of the 11th Century, the great Viking Age came to an end – not with a bang but a whimper.  

My father’s great grandparents were from Lyngby (just north of Copenhagen), Denmark.  They were caretakers of the local cemetery.  As they would dig graves, they uncovered various artifacts from the Viking Age.  And long before.  I have at home two beautiful stone axe heads they found — displayed on a shelf.  Great paperweights but still sharp . . . . and ready to use. . . .