Beginnings of the Viking peoples: The Scandinavian peoples and tribes from the Vendel Period to the Viking Age

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By Periklis Deligiannis


Dragonhead on the prow of a Viking longship.



The historical districts of Scandinavia. The following probable tribal districts are noted among others:  Uppland (political center of the Svears) including Vendel site, Ostergotland, Vastergotland, Smaland (small territories of other Gott/Gotar tribes), Gotland Isle (land of the Vagoth or Gutar), Oland isle (land of the Vagoth?), Hordaland (land of the Aerothi?), Ringerike (land of the Ragnaricii), Rogaland (land of the Rugii), Vestfold and Viken (main lands of the Raumarike/Raumaricii), Bohuslan (land of the Wulfings?), Halland (land of the Hallin), Blekinge (land of the Bergio?), Skane and Sjaelland (core territories of the Danes), Angel (cradle of the Angles), Jylland (land of the Jutes), Rugen island (probably colonised by the Rugii),  Nordfrisien (North Frisia).


The Vendel Culture period of the history of eastern and southern Scandinavia (including Jutland and the Danish isles) is the era before the classic Viking Age. The Viking Age lasted from AD 793 to the early 11th century, while the Vendel Era lasted from the mid-6th century AD to the end of the 8th century and is characterized by princely burials of warlords and warriors with impressive weapons. The later historical period and the homonym cultural conglomerate (Vendel Culture) took their name from the site Vendel at the historical district Uppland in eastern Sweden, north of Old Uppsala, the ancient centre of the Svear kings. The most characteristic cemeteries were found there. It seems that Uppland – where later the important cities of the Viking age Uppsala and Sigtuna were developed – was very important politically during the Vendel period. The area was rather the political center of the tribe of the Svears (Latin: Suiri and Suirones and according to Jordanes: Suehans, Nordic: Svear, Anglo-Saxon: Sweonas, modern Swedes) who expanded to it earlier coming from Svealand, their core territory in the south. Uppland means the upper land, the land in the north.



Ηow and where the Viking age began

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Republication from Science Nordic

Viking dragon3Dragon heads in the prows of Viking longships.


By Charlotte Price Persson


The story of the Vikings begins in the year 793 AD, after Norwegian Vikings landed in England on the first official Viking raid. To this day, these fierce raids are the most famous of Viking stories.

Now, a new study suggests a more peaceful start to Viking seafaring — and it all began in Denmark.

Three archaeologists from the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of York (UK) have shown that maritime voyages from Norway to Ribe, the oldest commercial centre in Denmark, occurred long before the Viking age officially began.

The study shows that early Vikings travelled to Ribe in South Denmark as early as 725 AD.

The researchers discovered deer antlers in the oldest archaeological deposits of Ribe’s old marketplace and they turned out to be the remains of Norwegian reindeer.

“This is the first time we have proof that seafaring culture, which was the basis for the Viking era, has a history in Ribe. It’s fascinating,” says Professor Søren Sindbæk, one of the authors of the new study, which has just been published in the European Journal of Archaeology.


Danish and Greek archaeologists excavate the ancient Greek harbour town Lechaion

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Republication from  the University of Copenhagen website

01 Aerial photo of the Western Mole (K. Xenikakis & S. Gesafidis)

Underwater archaeology. In Greece, underwater excavations of Lechaion, ancient Corinth’s partially submerged harbour town, reveal the infrastructure of more than a thousand years of flourishing maritime trade. Researchers from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and the University of Copenhagen are using cutting-edge methods to uncover the configuration and scale of the harbour.

Corinth ranked among the most economically and militarily powerful, and enduring, cities of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. The city had an exceptional geographical advantage in the North East corner of the Peloponnese and controlled the Isthmus that facilitated land travel between Northern and Southern Greece, and travel by sea between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.



The last Viking and his magical sword?


Republication from Heritage Daily and University of Oslo

A deadly weapon and symbol of power – jewellery for a man, with magical properties. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior’s strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword.

This sword was found in Langeid in Bygland in Setesdal in 2011. It is a truly unique sword from the late Viking Age, embellished with gold, inscriptions and other ornamentation. The discovery of the sword has not been published until now, when it is being displayed for the first time in the exhibition TAKE IT PERSONALLY at the Historical Museum in Oslo.

The sword must have belonged to a wealthy man in the late Viking Age. But who was he and what magic inscriptions are set into the decoration – in gold? Was the owner of the sword in the Danish King Canute’s army when it attacked England in 1014-15?

In the summer of 2011, archaeologists from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo discovered a Viking burial ground in Langeid in Setesdal in southern Norway. In one of the graves they made a startling discovery.


A million Vikings still live among the British people

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 One in 33 men can claim to be direct descendants from the Norse warriors

  • Around 930,000 people can claim to be of direct Viking descent
  • A study compared Y chromosome markers to estimated Viking DNA patterns
  • The Viking DNA patterns are rarely found outside Scandinavia

Almost one million Britons alive today are of Viking descent, which means one in 33 men can claim to be direct descendants of the Vikings.

Around 930,000 descendents of warrior race exist today – despite the Norse warriors’ British rule ending more than 900 years ago.

A genetic study carried out by BritainsDNA compared the Y chromosome markers – DNA inherited from father to son – of more than 3,500 men to six DNA patterns that are rarely found outside of Scandinavia and are associated with the Norse Vikings.

Amateur Vikings process around their longboat during the annual Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Amateur Vikings process around their longboat during the annual Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland




The Germanic tribes around AD 50. The tribes of the North Sea, the Rhine-Weser area and the Elbe had probably a strong pre-Teutonic (‘Germani’?) ethnic component.


By Periklis Deligiannis
[NOTE: This article is actually a part of my published  book  The Celts, Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek.]
…. Apart from the most considerable Boii and Volcae peoples, other important Celtic tribes of central Europe were the Helvettii who originally were dwelling  in the valley of the river Main (modern Germany) before migrating to modern Switzerland, the Vendelici, the Norici, the Ambisontes, the Arabisci and others.
Of course, the Celts were not the only inhabitants of central Europe. In the 20th century, the study of place names and some archaeological data identified a large ethno-cultral group (and possibly linguistic) in the areas of modern Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and northern Germany, between the rivers Somme and Aller, which group did not speak neither Germanic nor Celtic (Gallic). These people possibly descended from the early Neolithic population of the region and they broadly adopted the Gallic culture but not the Celtic language (at least most of them). The people of the Lusatian culture in modern eastern Germany and Poland which was destroyed mainly by Scythian invaders (6th century BC), and the pre-Germanic inhabitants of Thuringia, northern Bohemia and other regions were possibly members of the same unknown ethnic group or groups. It was an unknown people (perhaps pre-Indo-European) who lived in a broad zone between the Celts and the Teutonics (Germanics) and most probably belonged to more than one linguistic group.


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