Most spectacular viking finds and burial fields
The history of the Vikings fascinates people of all ages. They were adventurers, seamen, artists, craftsmen, traders, politicians – and warriors. No other place has just as rich memories from the Viking time as here in Vestfold. The traces of our ancestors can be found all over Vestfold and leads to both exciting experiences and knowledge.
Vikings were people from the area that we nowadays call Scandinavia. The name itself was used to describe Nordic traders or sea warrior that took part in trade or plundering missions throughout countries in Western and Eastern Europe.
MASTERS OF THE SEA! Water was essential to the Vikings' lives, and they were among the most skilled shipbuilders, sailors and navigators in the western world of the early Middle Ages; they were masters of the sea. Photographer this image: Asmus Kofoed
Viking attacks on Europe's coastal areas
The Viking era lasted from about 790 – 1100 after Christ., and the first known Viking attack was towards the Lindisfarne chapel in England in 793. During the next two centuries, many stories all over Europe´s coast tell us about different Viking attacks. Small and larger fleets plundered and went back to sea before anyone was able to gather troops to fight back. The Vikings sailed far up the rivers of Germany and France, and conquered large parts of Ireland and England.
Europe, Russia, Middle East, and America
There are also stories about attacks in Spain and Italy, and Nordic settlers settled down along the large Russian rivers. The viking´s missions went as east as the Caspian sea. The Viking believed so strongly in their own progress that Vikings with base in Kiev tried to conquer Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Most of the stories about the Vikings are about the plundering missions, but the Vikings were more than that. Many of them were traders, while others travelled to settle as famers or craftsmen. On the islands north of Scotland, Iceland and Greenland, the Vikings had villages, while Dublin (Ireland) and York (England) were important trading cities.
Much of the history of the Vikings barbaric warriors has become a myth and cliché, both right and wrong.
Sigurd was the first European king who went on a crusade to the Holy Land. Not a single battle was lost on the crusade.
But it is the traditional and bloody Viking missions that most of Norwegians and people abroad associate with Vikings. The frightening stories of the barbaric savages from the north that conquered new land by slaughtering any resistance they met, they stole valuable items from shocked societies all over Europe and the western part of Asia. The conquests often happened in different stages. So when the Vikings settled in one place, some years or a generation passed before they kept conquering.
Were the Vikings all bad?
That so many around the world knows about the horrible attacks of the Vikings in the years from 790-1100 has to do with the unforgettable impression you´re left with after hearing about the rampages.Many parts of the viking´s history has turned into myths and clichés both in the rights and the wrongs. It is a fact that the Vikings attacked and plundered all over Europe, but one often forget about their skilled seamanship, architectural skills, crafting traditions, and that they were not only warriors, but also skilled traders.
Some came to fight, but others came peacefully, to settle. They were farmers, and kept animals and grew crops.
Vikings sailed the seas trading goods to buy silver, silks, spices, wine, jewellery, glass and pottery to bring back to their homes.Water was essential to the Vikings' lives, and they were among the most skilled shipbuilders, sailors and navigators in the western world of the early Middle Ages; they were daring masters of the sea.
Even today, the reputation of the Vikings exists as barbarian fighters as the strongest association people around the world have about the Vikings. Increased knowledge and understanding has given us insight that the life of the Vikings was not only so united. The Vikings were skilled traders, craftsmen, and the art of construction they showed up with the ships, and good seamen is what we admire the most for now.
The Norwegian Crusade
The fact that the Vikings at the end of their era was travelling the world to make other cultures Christian is not something everyone knows.
The Norwegian crusade lasted from 1107 to 1111 after the First Crusade lead by the Norwegian King, Sugurd I Jorsalfare. Sigurd was the first European king that went on a crusade to the Holy Land.
Not one battle was lost during the crusade. The Norwegian crusade reminded a lot about previous Viking missions, but the objective was a lot older this time, seen from the Christian point of view.
Sigurd Jorsalfare and his men left for his famous Viking mission in 1108 (many think Sigurd Jorsalfare left Norway in 1107).
The fleet that left in 1108 consisted of 60 ships, according to the sagas. The number was confirmed by a French author at the time, Fulcher from Chartres. The total manpower may have been around 5000 men.
A painting shows the Christian clergy preaching to a Norse settlement. By Tom Lovell. Tom Lovell (1909 – 1997) was an American illustrator and painter.He produced illustrations for National Geographic magazine and many others, and painted many historical Western subjects.The image may not be downloaded or otherwise copied or used. © Visit Scandinavia has purchased a license for this image file.
Apart from two-three cases of ritual helmets that had protruding horns or snakes, no illustrations or excavations of Viking Helmets have suggested that they had horns. In fact, such helmets would have caused their fighting method, which was close combat, to be more problematic to implement.
The general misconception that Vikings had helmets with horns are probably derived from the Gothic federation in Sweden, founded in 1811 for the purpose of promoting Norse mythology as a religion of high artistic perception.
The myth has probably been amplified through nationalism, and through the Viking era has been merged with the Nordic Bronze Age, which was 2000 years earlier. From the Bronze Age, helmets with horn have been found, through archaeological finds and rock carvings, helmets that have probably been used in ceremonies.
The Viking Age
The Viking Age in the Nordic Region is a term of the period from 800 years after Christ to about 1050 years after Christ.
During this period, Vikings from Norway, Denmark and Sweden were on a number of plundering and trade journeys in much of Europe.
The Northern Boats' shipbuilding art was the only prerequisite for the Vikings becoming successful both as traders and as robbers.
A special feature of the Viking ships was that the kettle was very shallow, so the ships were not dependent on ports but could be pulled up on the beaches.
A number of Vikings also settled down and established smaller communities where they traveled, such as in Orkøyene, Shetland, Hebrews, Man, Faroe Islands and Iceland.
In 840, Vikings founded Dublin, which was headed by a Viking Kingdom, whose glory dates from 920-970 years after Christ.
The end of the Viking era is characterized by the introduction of Christianity, the creation of cities and the first national coin.
Tactic and stratagem on the battlefield
A battle could begin in different ways. It could be a planned battle where they prepared and made plans before hand, but a battle could also happen by two groups “bumping into each other”.
The Vikings used stratagem on the battlefields. They often split the army in half before they met the enemy. One half were hiding while the others appeared to be weakened. When the fight started, the hidden part attacked the opponents from behind. No matter how much you practiced, a status as a warrior had to be earned on the battlefield.
The viking´s ravages were feared all over the world.The berserks are referred to as horrible enemies to run into. Is is said that they were so high on the desire to fight that they bit their shields, attacked rocks and trees, and they even killed each other waiting for the battles to begin.
VIKING AGE IN VESTFOLD
The culture heritage is brought forward. A meeting of modern Vikings at the Gokstad mound by Sandefjord.
Vestfold was a central area in the Viking age. Here, queens, chieftains and big traders have built streets and established trading venues. Among the most famous discoveries from the Viking era are the Oseberg ship from Tønsberg, the Gokstad ship from Sandefjord and Borrehaugene outside Horten.
Vestfold is the county in Norway boasting the most tracesof our proud Viking heritage. The region between Mølen in the south and Borre in the north has many places worth visiting. Over a distance of about 60 kilometres (40miles) you will discover large, significant burial mounds,remains of Norway´s first town and where the most important finds from the Viking Age were made. Vestfold even has its own Viking ships, both original and replicas.
The finds show that Borre was more than a burial place, but a true royal power center in Viking times. This location was an important center for power already before the Viking Age. A magnificent lush landscape in the vicinity of the fjord probably made the choice of Borre as the head of the Vikings for a natural and strategic choice of living space.
Borre Mounds - Borre Park - Midgard Viking Center - Gildehallen
What a great nature and location!
Almost right between Horten and Åsgårdstrand is Borre, the viking´s favorite area. It is not hard to understand why the Vikings chose this area as their home when you look at the beautiful nature going down to the Oslo fjord and the fertile soil everywhere you go.
Midgard Viking Center and the Borre Park
At Borre in Horten county is Midgard historic center, which can offer experiences and activites for all ages. Inside, you can visit exhibitions with original items from the Viking era in Vestfold, as well as see relevant, international exhibitions.
We recommend visiting the Midgard´s Viking playground. This is where the young ones can play archeologists and excavate treasures from the ground, or practice their balance through a obstacle run. The older ones can test their bow and arrow skills, or try throwing axes. The whole family can play a log game, how about the children vs. adults? If you want to challenge your tactical skills, we recommend playing the viking´s own board game, Hefnatafl.
The center has a café with a panorama view of the Borre mounds. You can enjoy vaffles or other temptations in the café or on the outside terrace.
Midgard Vikingsenter. At Midgard, they emphasize a combination of experience and solid research to convey knowledge about the Viking era. You learn better if you can not only read, but also try out what you learn about. They are therefore seeking to bring the Viking Age to the lives of visitors.
The exhibitions in
Midgard Vikingsenter aims to create and convey knowledge about the Viking era. Here you will experience a mix of good knowledge based on research, mixed with experiences. Here you can feel that you go back in time, not just reading the theory about the Vikings. Here you can see and experience some of the time the Vikings lived, how the swords looked, what food they ate and what they were wearing.
At Midgard you will experience different exhibits with exciting themes for reflection. How was living 1000 years ago? How does our older history affect the present Norwegian society? How much has man and society really changed over the centuries?
On April 28, 2018, Midgard Viking Center's new exhibition opened Hauger, halls, sea. This is Midgard's biggest exhibition initiative since the center opened in 2000, where you can experience the Viking history of Vestfold and Borre, and learn about the people who lived here through a variety of multimedia films and animations. The exhibition also presents a number of the finest artefacts on Borre, as well as other findings from Vestfold.
Only one of the big hills on Borrefeltet is completely excavated, it occurred in 1852, and it is from this pile that Borre's well-known finds come from. A number of these items are exhibited at Midgard and can be seen in the exhibition "Borre i viken, Borre i verden". Midgard also shows the history of the Iron Age in the exhibition "Hauglagt - the vikings burial at Gulli" and "There are no borders from space".
Midgard Viking Center
Immerse yourself in the Viking history. Midgard Vikingsenter conveys the history and culture of the Vikings.
Outside the lawn, a series of wooden sculptures lead you to Midgard's Viking Square. Play was important also in the Viking age, and served as a way to train important skills you needed as an adult. One had to learn to master different weapons, have good fitness, precision and balance.
A ticket to the centre includes access to the playground – and the other way round. Combined with the majestic mounds in the Park and the sandy beach below them, everything is ready for wonderful adventures – so allow for plenty of time when you are visiting Borre – there’s a lot to do here!
The playground is open on weekends during school summer holidays, even though June 20th until August 16th.
Borre - the mounds and the park
Midgard is connected to the Borre park which has North Europe´s largest collection og large mounds from the young iron age (Viking era). The park has seven large mounds, around 40 smaller mounds, three rockeries and two star shaped mounds (“treodder”).
It was believed to be all of one family, the Yngling family, that was buried in the mounds, but new research based on DNA analytics, suggests that large grave yards like these usually contains remains from different families. But there are no doubt that there are some very important people of the Viking era buried at Borre.
Just one of the large mounds at Borre is completely excavated, which happened in 1853, and this is where the valuable findings at Borre were found. Many of the items found at Midgard can be seen in the exhibition “Borre in the bay, Borre in the world”. Midgard also exhibits great findings from the iron age in the exhibition “Mounded – the viking´s burials at Gulli” and “There are no borders from space”.
The Borre park is a favored hiking area for the locals, and is great of picnics and trips in summer time. Maybe a little swim is tempting if the weather is hot? Only a short walk between the park from Midgard is between you and the beautiful Borre beach with a view of the Oslo fjord´s outlet!
Source: Kulturhistorisk Museum, Wikipedia, Midgard Vikingsenter, og Vestfold Fylkeskommune
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