The Norwegian Vikings were more oriented towards the East than we have previously assumed, says Marianne Vedeler, Associate Professor at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo in Norway. After four years of in-depth investigation of the silk trade of the Viking Age, she may change our perceptions of the history of the Norwegian Vikings. The silk trade was far more comprehensive than we have hitherto assumed.
The Norwegian Vikings maintained trade connections with Persia and the Byzantine Empire. A network of traders from a variety of places and cultures brought the silk to the Nordic countries. Her details are presented in the book “Silk for the Vikings”, to be published by Oxbow publishers this winter, but in this article you can glimpse some of her key findings. Read more.
Archaeologists in Sweden said Thursday they have unearthed the remains of unusually large wooden monuments near a pre-Viking Age burial ground.
As archaeologists dug in preparation for a new railway line, they found traces of two rows of wooden pillars in Old Uppsala, an ancient pagan religious center. One stretched about 1,000 yards (1 kilometer) and the other was half as long.
Archaeologist Lena Beronius-Jorpeland said the colonnades were likely from the 5th century but their purpose is unclear. She called it Sweden’s largest Iron Age construction and said the geometrical structure is unique. Read more.
Archaeological sites on the Estonian island of Saaremaa reveal early Scandinavian sailing ships from before the historical beginning of the Viking Age.
History books generally state that the Viking Age began with the raid on Lindisfarne in 793CE. The Estonian site is dated between 700-750CE and contains the remains of 33 individuals and a 38-foot-long war boat. A neighboring site from the same period contains a 55-foot-long boat capable of open sea voyages.
These two sites provide the earliest evidence of sailing in the Baltic Sea by Scandinavian explorers and suggest that Viking voyages began long before the infamous attack on Lindisfarne.
Danish chemist Kaare Lund Rasmussen has helped to develop a new methodology that would help archaeologists learn “an unheard amount of details from very shortly before a person’s death”.
Rasmussen worked with anthropologists on the excavation of an 800 year old child’s grave in Ribe, Denmark. Soil samples were taken from the precise locations the child’s organs would have occupied before they decomposed. By performing a chemical analysis on these soil samples Rasmussen was able to determine that the body was exposed to large amounts of mercury - which was previously used in medicine - shortly before the child’s death.
This technique has been used by Rasmussen’s team on 19 other medieval burial sites in two cemeteries.
Amalienborg Palace is the winter residence of the Danish royal family, consisting of four identical buildings in Copenhagen.
Built from 1750-1760, the palace itself was originally built for four noble families, but was purchased by the royal family after a fire at Christiansborg Palace in 1794, which had been the royal family’s permanent residence.
Amalienborg is at the center of Frederiksstaden, a district in Copenhagen developed to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the House of Oldenberg taking the Danish throne. The district also includes Frederik’s Church and the new Copenhagen Opera House.
Storsjöodjuret is a cryptid, an animal not recognized by science, said to live in Lake Storsjön in Jämtland, Sweden.
The lake is up to 91 meters (300 feet) deep and was formed during the ice age. Storsjöodjuret (Great Lake Monster) is said to be a serpent with fins across its back and the head of a dog.
The first record of the monster is from 1635 in a legend penned by folklorist Morgens Pedersen. The legend tells of two trolls brewing something in a cauldron by the shore of the like. After brewing for years they heard a wailing coming from the cauldron, and the serpent leapt out and disappeared into the lake, where it has supposedly been living happily ever since.
The first recorded sightings of the creature came in the 1890s, and several sightings prompted a group of locals to attempt capture of the monster, an enterprise supported even by king Oscar II. The most recent siting was in 2008, when a documentary crew claimed to have caught the creature on film.
Karhunpäivä, the Day of the Bear, is a holiday celebrated on July 13 in Finnish Paganism, the opposite day of their midwinter celebration.
Despite the solstice happening about a month beforehand, this is considered the hottest and sunniest part of the summer. Celebrations often included the ritual hunting of a bear, followed by an elaborate feast and ritual to ensure that the bear would reincarnate back into the forest.
Recent peaceful Viking rebrands are smashed in a vast and bloodthirsty show that will soon set sail for London
All around the hull of the longest Viking warship ever found there are swords and battle axes, many bearing the scars of long and bloody use, in an exhibition opening in Copenhagen that will smash decades of good public relations for the Vikings as mild-mannered traders and farmers.
“Some of my colleagues thought surely one sword is enough,” archaeologist and co-curator Anne Pedersen said, “but I said no, one can never have too many swords.”
The exhibition, simply called Viking, which will be opened at the National Museum by Queen Margrethe of Denmark on Thursday, and to the public on Saturday, will sail on to to London next year to launch the British Museum’s new exhibition space. Read more.
Vegvísir is one of many magical staves used commonly in Iceland for protection, healing, or luck during the middle ages and later. The images of these staves are preserved in a number of grimoires dating from the 17th century and on.
The origin of this particular type of magic is not know, although some of the staves bear similarities to Norse runic culture. Each symbol has a specific meaning relevant to the worries of Icelanders at the time.
Vegvísir is said to protect the bearer from harsh weather.
New archaeological evidence points to a previously unknown Viking exploration of Notre Dame Bay in Newfoundland, Canada.
Archaeologists even suggest that the voyage, which lead from L’Anse aux Meadows and deep into the bay, may have lead to the first contact between Vikings and Native Americans.
The evidence for this comes largely from two jasper artifacts used by the Norse to start fires. The artifacts themselves were found at L’Anse aux Meadows close to a known Viking site, but chemical analysis suggests they originated in the Notre Dame Bay some 140 miles away.
Last month the Finnish Defense Forces made live an online archive of 160,000 WWII era photographs.
Taken between 1939-1945, the photographs document all three conflicts that Finland was involved in during this time (the Winter War, Continuation War, and Lapland War). They include images like the above Finnish soldier with a pack reindeer, the aftermath of battles, and Hitler’s only visit to Finland.
(Source: The Atlantic)
Mímir, or Mim, is a Norse god associated with wisdom.
At the end of the Æsir-Vanir War Mímir was beheaded. Odin preserved his head and carried it with him in order to hear Mímir’s wisdom and counsel.
[Picture: Odin approaching Mímir beneath Yggdrasil.]
The Greater Wrath (“Isoviha” in Finnish) is a term used to refer to the Russian invasion and occupation of Finland from 1714-1721; a part of the Great Northern War (1700-21).
During the period of occupation Finland was governed by military authority. Resistance movements cropped up in the form of partisan warfare, but in response Russian authorities forced Finnish peasants to pay heavy reparations to the occupying forces. The period is marked by plundering, looting, and forced deportation. Potentially tens of thousands of Finns were taken for slave labor in Russia, few of which returned. Most of Finland’s clergy and nobility fled to Sweden, leaving peasants to fend for themselves.
An estimated 60,000 Finns were killed or forced into slavery.
The occupation was finally ended with the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, which handed over Swedish Estonia, Livonia, and a portion of Southeastern Finland to Russia.
[Picture: Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt’s “Isoviha”.]
Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenberg (1511-71) was the wife of Christian III of Denmark. She was a woman of very strong opinion and considerable influence.
In 1540, Dorothea assisted in freeing Birgitte Gøye from her forced engagement, which lead to a law banning arranged marriages for minors. She is said to have helped negotiate the Treaty of Speyer between Denmark and the Holy Roman Empire in 1544.
After Christian III’s death, she repeatedly criticized his successor, her son, Frederik II, and plotted an arranged marriage between her younger son and a princess of Sweden. For this Frederik labeled her a traitor and had her exiled to Sønderborg Castle, where she remained until her death.