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A photograph of a moored Viking ship

6 Things the Vikings Gave Us

Image Credit: | Above: A photograph of a moored Viking ship

The Vikings traded and raided across Europe and even reached as far as North America, leaving their mark on just about every land they conquered. So much so, that many elements of their heritage and culture still very much exist today. Take a look at just a few things we can thank the Vikings for:

1. Language

The Vikings first attacked England in A.D. 793 and while they never successfully conquered the entire land, they did continue to attempt for several centuries and even formed several settlements on English soil. As a result, Old English and Old Norse (the Vikings language) mixed and many Old Norse words became integrated into the English language. Examples include the word berserk stemming from the Old Norse word "berserker", which meant "bear shirt" or "bearskin" and "klubber" which today we know as club.

2. Shipbuilding

Vikings are remembered as some of the greatest shipbuilders in history - and for good reason. Advanced carpenters, Vikings produced ships that were faster, slimmer and lighter than their contemporaries. Perhaps most revered is their invention of the "longboat" which as the name suggests was a long boat that was capable of carrying up to 60 Vikings and able to both land and take off from shore swiftly.

3. Skis

While skiing originated in China, it was the Vikings that made it popular in the West. In fact, the word ski comes from the Old Norse word "skio." Ancient Norsemen skied for both fun and for transportation, and several of the Vikings Gods were even depicted wearing skis.

4. The City of Dublin

We owe the Capital of the Republic of Ireland to the Vikings. The earliest recording of a settlement here was in A.D. 841, which the Vikings named "Dubh Linn" (which translates to Black Pool), and it developed into a central point for Viking slave trading throughout Europe. For the next few centuries the Vikings maintained control of Dublin, until they were defeated by Irish High King Brian Boru in 1014.

5. Sagas

While the Vikings may not have invented the soap opera, they did create one of the earliest examples of a saga. For example, The Icelandic Sagas, were written by various unknown authors in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries depicted the period of when the Vikings abandoned their Gods and converted to Christianity. Full of mythology and fantasy, historians treat these as valuable historical sources of Viking literature.

6. Hair combs

The Vikings were surprisingly well-groomed, and were even the first known western culture to invent the hair comb. Far from being the unkept warriors traditionally portrayed by literature, Vikings took great pride in their appearance and Viking tweezers and razors have also been excavated.

For more articles about the history and culture of the Vikings, check out our Viking history hub