Viking warriors were very fierce and were often in
battles. The term "viking" basically came from the term to "go a-viking"
or raiding. There are different ideas on what the word actually meant. The
warriors had to be prepared at all times for battle. The sight of a Viking ship pulling onto the shore was
enough to strike terror into the most stout hearted person!
One of the most important things in a Viking's life was his ship or the ship he
sailed on. The Vikings were extraordinary sailors.
The sailed in open
boats in all kinds of weather and on seas no one else had or would. They were
able to raid and plunder like they did because they were able to sail in and out
of almost anywhere.
The flat bottom boat they used allowed them to land on
any beach and go up small rivers. Of course, this ability developed because of
all the fjords or bays in their homeland.
The Vikings invented the true
keel which made sailing much easier. The keel is the part of the boat that goes
down into the water. it stops the ship from being blown about, and makes
steering much easier.
The Vikings had many skilled craftsmen. They had
blacksmiths who made
everything from swords to axes.
There were craftsmen skilled at making
jewelry, combs and other fine things. The Viking men were very proud of their
hair and beards!
The Vikings were probably the first to make and use skis
and ski poles. They also skated using shin bones!
The Viking sagas were handed down word of mouth for many, many years.
Sagas were stories told about their raids, lives and heroes. Their writing was limited even when they developed an alphabet called
Fulthark for the first 8 letters. They wrote on huge stones which were very
decorative. This is the Viking alphabet.
The letters were called runes
and often written on stones which they also believed could tell the future if
tossed and read by the right person.
This was one of the things they gave
up when they became Christians.