The Vikings : a very short introduction


The Vikings : a very short introduction

Julian D. Richards

(Very short introductions, 137)

Oxford University Press, 2005

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Timeline: p. [134]-[135]

Includes bibliographical references (p. 137-139) and index



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. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • 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. Landnam in the North Atlantic
  • 12. The edge of the world: Greenland and North America
  • 13. Re-inventing the Vikings
  • Further reading
  • Index

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