The Vikings: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192806079

Julian D. Richards
168 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • A fascinating new look at Vikings and the Viking Age, revealing how the identity of these people and their culture has been repeatedly reinvented throughout history, obscuring who the Vikings really were.
  • Examines how Vikings lived - their religious rituals, their towns, their trade, seafaring, colonization and plundering. The author also highlights their impact and influence on the history and people of Northern Europe.
  • The story of the Vikings is brought up to date, by looking at their re-invention from the Icelandic Sagas to 19th century nationalist movements, Wagner, and Nazism.
  • Combines the latest archaeological and historical evidence with tales of Viking heroes, such as Erik Bloodaxe and Harold Bluetooth.

The Viking reputation is of bloodthirsty seafaring warriors, repeatedly plundering the British Isles and the North Atlantic throughout the early Middle Ages. Yet Vikings were also traders, settlers, and farmers, with a complex artistic and linguistic culture, whose expansion overseas led them to cross the Atlantic for the first time in European history. 
Highlighting the latest archaeological evidence, Julian Richards reveals the whole Viking world: their history, society and culture, and their expansion overseas for trade, colonization, and plunder. We also look at the Viking identity, through their artistic expression, rune stones, their ships, and their religion. The Viking story is also brought up to date, by examining their legacy from the medieval Icelandic sagas to 19th Century nationalism, Wagner, and the Nazis.


List of illustrations
1: Vikings then and now
2: Early Scandinavian kingdoms
3: Pagans and Christians
4: Changes in the countryside
5: Towns and trade
6: Across the ocean: ships and seafaring
7: Expansion overseas
8: Vikings in England
9: Raiders and settlers around the Irish Sea
10: Vikings and Picts: genocide or assimilation?
11: Landnám in the North Atlantic
12: The edge of the world: Greenland and North America
13: Re-inventing the Vikings
Further reading


Julian Richards is Professor of Archaeology at the University of York, and co-director of the Centre for Medieval Studies. He specialises in the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England, and has directed several excavations of Viking settlements, including the only Viking cremation cemetery in the British Isles. Previous publications include Viking Age England (Tempus, 2000).