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The Superstitions of the Vikings

1 Feb

The Vikings came out of the frozen lands of northern Europe – Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden – seeking wealth and conflict. Theirs was a society of rugged and enduring men and women, who revered bloody-handed gods and valued courage and action above all other virtues. For two hundred years, they traded and pillaged across the coasts of England, France and other European countries, demanding tribute, sacking towns and monasteries but also engaging in settlement and commerce. Like giants they strode across history, their axe-wielding beserkers and canny explorers performing feats of bravery and prowess. The golden age of the Viking was between 850 and 1050 AD, when men of iron, free men, strong and proud, would take to the sea when the ice had left the fjords. Those who faltered went down to Hel’s hall, so said the Norse myths, but those who found success were destined to take a place in Valhalla to fight beside the gods at Ragnarok – the final battle at the end of the world. Whilst the days of terrible gods and seafaring warriors are now gone, a few still remember the old ways and the superstitions of the Vikings remain alive among their Scandinavian descendants. As it says in the Havamal, or Book of Viking Wisdom, ‘Cattle die, kinsmen die, but fame is everlasting’.

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