Friday's number: 793...

September 29, 2017

…is generally considered the beginning of the Viking Age. On 8 June 793 the Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast of England in the county of Northumberland.

There was no one Viking people, as such. There were Swedish Vikings, Norwegian Vikings and Danish Vikings. And they were by no means the stupid and primitive barbarians they are purported to be. The Vikings may not have been peaceable people, and they may have spread fear and panic with campaigns of plunder, murder and violence, but they also traded peacefully and shaped the cultural history of Europe. They were considered skilful artisans, technicians, farmers and merchants and excelled at arts and crafts, as evidenced by Viking boats, with their famous dragon heads and serpents. Literature and mythology were very popular and the Vikings also had a reputation for exceptional cleanliness.

The popular children's series Wickie also offers a very positive portrayal of the Vikings. The women wear the trousers in these stories, which is probably a fair reflection of the reality. Women, incidentally, were also responsible for sail-making. Herein lies the secret of why the boats were so fast. They were capable of up to 20 knots (37 km/h).