Vale of York Hoard Anglo-Saxon Treasure Viking Scandinavia Russian Jewelry Coins

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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,282) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 383861715442 Vale of York Hoard Anglo-Saxon Treasure Viking Scandinavia Russian Jewelry Coins. The Vale of York Hoard by Gareth Williams and Barry Ager. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title.DESCRIPTION: Softcover. Publisher: British Museum (2010). Pages: 48. Size: 8 x 5¾ inches. Discovered in 2007 and acquired by the British Museum and York Museums Trust, the Vale of York hoard was buried in the late 920s in the reign of the West Saxon king Athelstan, in what is now North Yorkshire. The spectacular gold and silver jewelry, ingots and coins in the hoard originally came from regions ranging from Ireland to the Middle East. They represent Christianity, Islam and the worship of Thor, reflecting the amazing cultural diversity, contact and exchange in the Viking world, as well as the scope of Viking raiding and trading. This book describes the individual items in the Vale of York treasure and explores the historical and political context of the burial of this exceptional hoard, offering a fascinating picture of the Viking age. CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. British Museum (2010) 48 pages. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #8656a. PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEWS: REVIEW: The Vale of York Hoard, discovered by metal-detectorists in North Yorkshire in 2007, was buried in the late AD 920s in the reign of the West Saxon King Athelstan. It comprises a rare and beautiful silver gift cup which contained spectacular gold and silver jewelry, ingots and coins, originating from regions as far apart as Ireland and the Middle East. They represent Christianity, Islam, and the worship of Thor, reflecting the amazing cultural diversity, contact, and exchange in the Viking world, as well as the scope of Viking raiding and trading. The size of the hoard is impressive and the presence of some particularly valuable items such as the cup, previously unrecorded coins, and a decorated gold arm-band indicates the extreme wealth of the owner of the hoard, possibly a powerful chieftain. This book details the individual items in the hoard and explores the historical and political context of its burial, offering a fascinating picture of a crucial time in the unification of England.REVIEW: This Viking hoard was discovered in 2007 in North Yorkshire. It was buried in AD 927 and contains 617 silver coins, which were tightly packed into a Frankish silver cup, along with silver bars, and both intact and broken jewelry. This treasure was probably accumulated through a combination of raiding and trading throughout Europe and beyond. Some of the jewelry is Scandinavian, some Russian and some of the coins are from Central Asia. The Vikings originally came from Scandinavia but settled in Scotland, Ireland, Normandy and northern and eastern England. Around AD 920 Britain was divided into a southern Anglo-Saxon kingdom and the Viking kingdom of Northumbria, with its capital in York. The hoard probably belonged to a member of York's powerful Viking elite. The dates of the later coins show that the hoard was buried after the Anglo Saxon king, Athelstan, conquered Northumbria in AD 927. Uniting the two kingdoms, Athelstan was the first king who could claim to rule over the whole of what would become England. REVIEW: The Vale of York Viking Hoard is one of the most important Viking discoveries ever made in Britain. Our new spotlight display shows the fantastic objects within the Capital of the North exhibition. The Hoard tells fascinating stories about life across the Viking world. These displays unravel those intricate tales of travel, wealth and power. The Vale of York Hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in January 2007 by two metal-detectorists, David and Andrew Whelan, who kept the find intact and promptly reported it to their local Finds Liaison Officer. It was declared Treasure in 2009 and was valued at £1,082,000 by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee. The size and quality of the material in the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years. The hoard contains a mixture of different precious metal objects, including coins, complete ornaments, ingots (bars) and chopped-up fragments known as hack-silver (67 objects in total and 617 coins). It shows the diversity of cultural contacts in the medieval world, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe. The most spectacular single object is a gilt silver vessel, made in what is now France or western Germany around the middle of the ninth century. It was apparently intended for use in church services, and was probably either looted from a monastery by Vikings, or given to them in tribute. Most of the smaller objects were hidden inside this vessel, which was itself protected by some form of lead container. As a result, the hoard was extremely well-preserved. Other star objects include a rare gold arm-ring, and 617 coins, including several new or rare types. These provide valuable new information about the history of England in the early tenth century, as well as Yorkshire’s wider cultural contacts in the period. Interestingly, the hoard contains coins relating to Islam and to the pre-Christian religion of the Vikings, as well as to Christianity. REVIEW: The Vale of York hoard was acquired through a unique partnership between the York Museums Trust (York) and the British Museum (London). This major Viking hoard, an important and exciting find, is joint-owned and will be displayed equally between the two partners. The hoard was declared Treasure and was valued at £1,082,000 by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee. The size and quality of the material in the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years. It was discovered in the Harrogate area in January 2007 by two metal-detectorists, David and Andrew Whelan, who kept the find intact and promptly reported it to their local Finds Liaison Officer.Conservation work has recently started on the hoard to restore it to its former glory. More information on the hoard has come to light through this process. The vessel which contained most of the hoard can now be seen to be decorated with niello (a black metal inlay), as well as extensive gilding. New details are also visible in the decoration of some of the silver jewellery fragments, and in the designs and inscriptions of the coins. The hoard contains a mixture of different precious metal objects, including coins, complete ornaments, ingots (bars) and chopped-up fragments known as hack-silver (67 objects in total and 617 coins). It shows the diversity of cultural contacts in the medieval world, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe. The most spectacular single object is a gilt silver vessel, made in what is now France or western Germany around the middle of the ninth century. It was apparently intended for use in church services, and was probably either looted from a monastery by Vikings, or given to them in tribute. Most of the smaller objects were hidden inside this vessel, which was itself protected by some form of lead container. As a result, the hoard was extremely well-preserved. Other star objects include a rare gold arm-ring, and 617 coins, including several new or rare types. These provide valuable new information about the history of England in the early tenth century, as well as Yorkshire’s wider cultural contacts in the period. Interestingly, the hoard contains coins relating to Islam and to the pre-Christian religion of the Vikings, as well as to Christianity. The hoard was probably buried for safety by a wealthy Viking leader during the unrest that followed the conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria in AD 927 by the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan (924-39). The Vale of York hoard is the largest and most important Viking hoard from Britain since the hoard found at Cuerdale in Lancashire in 1840. Objects from the Cuerdale hoard are now on display in several museums around the UK, with the largest group housed in the British Museum. A Viking army conquered the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria in AD 869. The area remained under Viking control until it was conquered by Athelstan in 927. The area had another brief period of independence following Athelstan’s death in 939, which lasted until the death of the Viking ruler Eric Bloodaxe in 954. The Vikings made a lasting impact in Britain, including place-names, sculpture and influence on the English language, as well as archaeological remains. Yorkshire is one of the areas which shows the strongest Viking influence. Mary Kershaw, Director of Collections at York, said: “The Vale of York Viking Hoard is a once in a lifetime find. It will greatly add to the understanding of the early 900's in Yorkshire and its connections with the wider world.” Jonathan Williams, Keeper of Britain, Europe and Prehistory at the British Museum, said: “This find is of global importance, as well as having huge significance for the history of England and Yorkshire. York Museum Trust and the British Museum have worked together to acquire, interpret and exhibit the hoard to make it accessible to the widest possible public. We are hugely grateful to all funders whose generosity has meant we were able to acquire the hoard”. Dr Robert Bewley, Director of Operations at the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: “This archaeological find provides us with a unique and wonderful snapshot of troubled times in Britain and Europe, over a thousand years ago. We’re particularly pleased to see that our funding is helping to facilitate important joint working between the British Museum and York Museums Trust. This should ensure that these treasures can be enjoyed, in a variety of locations, by visitors from both this country and further afield.” Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: “A treasure hunter’s dream, the Vale of York hoard is an extraordinary collection of artefacts that gives new insight into the vast trading networks – from Islamic Central Asia to Scandinavia and the Baltic – of 10th century Britain. The Art Fund is delighted to have helped York Museums Trust and the British Museum acquire this rare and exciting find.” David and Andrew Whelan, the finders of the hoard, said “Being keen metal detectorists we always dreamt of finding a hoard, but to find one from such a fantastic period of history, is just unbelievable. The contents of the hoard we found went far beyond our wildest dreams and hopefully people will love seeing the objects on display in York and London for many, many years to come”. REVIEW: In 2007, in a field in Yorkshire, two men with metal detectors dug a hole and found some pieces of lead and a silver cup filled with soil. They contacted local archaeologists, who took the cup to a conservation laboratory, where the contents could be excavated carefully. Conservators discovered that the cup was packed with over 600 silver coins. It also contained jewellery and chopped-up fragments of silver called hacksilver, which is specifically identified with the Vikings.Viking currency was based on silver; they traded with silver coins, ingots and hacksilver. Status was gained and displayed through portable wealth. Viking leaders displayed their wealth by wearing silver jewellery and gained support and status by giving silver gifts. The search for portable wealth may have been one of the motives for Viking expansion beyond Scandinavia.The silver cup was from the Frankish empire - what is now France, Germany and northern Italy - and was probably intended for use in church services. It may have been looted from a monastery by Vikings, or given to them in tribute. Bands of Vikings had raided monasteries in Britain in the 790s and early 800s, and had attacked the Frankish empire in 799. The Vikings’ longships enabled them to voyage across seas, even reaching North America, and also to penetrate inland by river. They attacked coastal settlements, such as Byzantium (modern Istanbul) and Lindisfarne, a monastery off the coast of northeast England, and towns further inland, such as Rouen in France and York. Not all of their attacks were successful, as a mass grave of male skeletons excavated in Weymouth indicates. Studies of the bones revealed that they were from people of Scandinavian origin, violently killed and buried in a quarry pit, perhaps as the result of a failed raiding mission. The Vikings used their expertise in sailing and warfare to capture slaves and seize treasure, but they also established trading connections. Viking traders opened new trade routes through the Baltic and Russia into the rich markets of Byzantine and Muslim central and western Asia. The Vale of York hoard is evidence of the Vikings’ contacts across western Europe and beyond. Most of the coins in the hoard are Anglo-Saxon, some are Viking and others are Islamic coins from central Asia. Other precious metal objects were made in Ireland, Russia and mainland Europe. Another motive for Viking expansion was the need for land to farm, and from the 850s, they had begun to colonise large areas of northern and eastern England. Towns too, such as Dublin and Cork in Ireland, grew from settlements established by Vikings. In 867, the Vikings won control of the kingdom of Northumbria in the northeast of England. The previous year in 866, they had captured the town that was to become York - Jorvik in Danish - and established the Viking community which lasted there for some sixty years. Then, in 927, the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan conquered Viking York and also took control of Northumbria, uniting it with the south of Britain, already under his rule. This is the first time the north and south of England were united and they have remained so to this day. In 928 Athelstan issued coins inscribed Athelstan rex totius Britanniae, Athelstan, king of all Britain, the first king to claim this. Some of the coins in the Vale of York hoard were issued by Athelstan in 927 and there was also one of his coins from 928. This suggests that it was probably buried in 928 and that its Viking owner had therefore stayed on in Yorkshire after the Anglo-Saxons took control. As silver formed the basis of Viking wealth and status it was often buried in times of unrest. Perhaps the hoard was hidden away for safety during disturbances that followed the Anglo-Saxon conquest of York and Northumbria. As the hoard appears to have been packed and buried carefully, it seems likely its Viking owner intended to return. REVIEW: The most fabulous Viking treasure discovered in the UK in 150 years. The most spectacular single object in the hoard is a gilt silver cup or bowl, made in mainland Europe around the middle of the ninth century. The cup is decorated with running animals; two lions and four beasts of prey each looking rather startled. It was apparently intended for use in church services, and was probably either looted from a monastery by Vikings or given to them in tribute. Most of the smaller objects were hidden inside this vessel, which was itself protected by some form of lead container. As a result, the hoard is extremely well-preserved. Other star objects include a rare gold arm-ring and 617 coins, including several new or rare types. The evidence of the coins allows us to date the hoard very closely to the period 927-928. Remember that the Vikings conquered Northumbria and took York as its capital in AD 869. The area remained under Viking control until it was conquered by Athelstan in 927. Athelstan destroyed York’s fortifications and distributed the wealth of the city amongst his followers. He demanded tributes in silver from the other northern leaders. The hoard was probably buried for safety during this unrest. The hoard shows the range of cultural contacts in Viking Yorkshire, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe. There are coins relating to Islam and to the pre-Christian religion of the Vikings, as well as to Christianity. The hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in January 2007 by two metal detectorists, who thankfully kept the find intact and promptly reported it. It was jointly purchased for more than £1m by the British Museum and York Museums Trust in 2009. REVIEW: The Vale of York Hoard, also known as the Harrogate Hoard and the Vale of York Viking Hoard, is a 10th-century Viking hoard of 617 silver coins and 65 other items. It was found undisturbed in 2007 near the town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. The hoard was the largest Viking one discovered in Britain since 1840, when the Cuerdale hoard was found in Lancashire, though the Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, found in 2009, is larger. REVIEW: Discovered in 2007 and acquired by the British Museum and York Museums Trust, the Vale of York hoard was buried in the late 920s in the reign of the West Saxon king Athelstan, in what is now North Yorkshire. The spectacular gold and silver jewelry, ingots and coins in the hoard originally came from regions ranging from Ireland to the Middle East. REVIEW: Gareth Williams is the owner of one of the most extensive collections of chess memorabilia in Europe, a collection that includes sets, boards, clocks, cards, prints, photos, ceramics, and more. He is author of The Amazing Book of Chess and is also a regular contributor to Chess Monthly and The Chess Collector magazines. REVIEW: Gareth Williams and Barry Ager are both curators at the British Museum. Williams is responsible for early medieval coinage, and Agar for the continental early medieval collection. They describe the January 2007 discovery of the Viking hoard by metal detecting hobbyists in North Yorkshire, on the northeastern coast of England. They explain its excavation and preservation by professionals, its contents, how they relate to similar hoards, and what they reveal about the unification of England at that time and place. The cup that contained the buried hoard was clearly taken from a church in France during a raid, but the Islamic coin suggests that the Viking traded or raided as opportunity presented itself. REVIEW: The Vale of York Hoard was initially called the Harrowgate Hoard after the town close to where it was found, and is considered one of the most important hoards discovered in the UK so far. This is because the artifacts reflect such a huge diversity of cultural influences stretching as far afield as Afghanistan in the east, Ireland in the west, and taking in Russia, Scandinavia as well as continental Europe. Most of the objects had been stored inside a magnificent gilt-silver vessel, which came from either northern France or Germany and dates from the mid-9th century. This rare cup is one of only two that have been found in Britain, and among only six or seven known across the whole of Europe. It appears to have been intended for ecclesiastical use and may have been either looted from a monastery by Vikings, or given to them in tribute. This cup with its contents was retrieved from the ground in tact, thanks to the thoughtful behavior of its finders, metal detectorists David Whelan and his father Andrew. Realizing the archaeological significance of their find, they immediately called in the experts, resisting the urge to examine the pot’s contents further or to attempt to clean the pot itself. They also carefully recorded the exact location of the find for further investigation — which revealed no more evidence — and collected up all the small pieces of scrap metal around the find. These scraps turned out to be the remnants of the lead container which had protected the treasure in the ground. The contents of the cup, were excavated by a conservator at the British Museum, include a fine gold arm-ring, 67 pieces of silver made up of arm-rings and hacksilver, and more than 600 coins – several of which were rare or previously unknown. The coins were a mix of pre-Christian and Christian coins and the inclusion of Islamic coins show proof of 10th-century trade links. Several previously rare coins depict the Anglo-Saxon king Aethelstan (c.AD 924-939); yet there is only once example of a relatively common coin, the Rex Totius Britanniae type, which was first minted in AD 928, suggesting the hoard was buried around this time — before more examples of this usually common coin could be added. Speculation is that the hoard was buried for safekeeping by a wealthy Viking leader during a time of upheaval following the conquest in AD 927 by the Anglo-Saxon king, Athelstan, of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria. This was a turning point in English history, the first time the whole country was finally united under one king – and perhaps the evidence of such a wealthy hoard being buried for safekeeping suggests this was a period of more turbulence than the official record at the time would have us believe. REVIEW: Described as the most significant find of its type for 150 years, the hoard was discovered in 2007 by two metal-detectorists in a field between York and Harrogate. A gilded silver cup, 617 coins, 67 silver objects and a single gold arm-ring were found wrapped up in a sheet of lead. The hoard is the largest of Viking Age date which has been found in recent times, and acquired in its entirety by a Museum.Many of the objects within the hoard highlight the importance of wealth and status in the Viking Age. Arm-rings were visual displays of the wealth of the owner. Leaders of men were described as ‘ring-givers’ and were expected to be able to distribute wealth to their followers. The gold arm-ring from the hoard is a very good example of this. It is incredibly unusual, gold is almost never found alongside silver, and it would have marked its wearer as a wealthy and powerful individual. The hoard gives a sense of the extensive international network that the Vikings were a part of. The vessel that contained much of the hoard is elaborately decorated with a hunting scene and a vine around the upper surface. It was made in a French workshop and was likely raided from a French church. Alongside links to the continent there is Irish and Scandinavian metalwork. The most exotic of all the objects within the hoard is a silver coin, known as a dirham, struck at the mint of Samarkand in modern Uzbekistan. It was traded up the rivers into Russia, through Scandinavia and ultimately made its way to Yorkshire. The scale of the hoard and the quality of much of the material that it contains highlights the wealth of Jorvik (the Viking name for York). The amount of silver contained within the hoard was enormous and meant that whoever buried it would have been incredibly wealthy. Many of the objects in the hoard have been broken up, converting them into ‘hacksilver’. Some have also been tested, with small nicks cut into them to check the quality of silver. This is due to the fact that Vikings often valued silver according to its bullion, or weight, value. The mixture of coinage and ‘hacksilver’ in the hoard means that whoever buried it was used to doing business in many different ways. The coins in the hoard highlight the unrest of the Viking Age. Athelstan, king of southern England, gradually reconquered the parts of England that remained under Viking control in the 920s. He captured the town of York in 927 AD. To celebrate his capture of this important town he struck a coin with his name on one side and a depiction of York on the other. This coin has a small building or church in the centre (possibly an early depiction of the Minster) and the lettering EB OR AC around it, which stands for Eboracum, the Latin name for York. Shortly after capturing York, in July 927, Athelstan met kings from Scotland and Wales at Eamont Bridge in Cumbria. They acknowledged his authority over them. To celebrate this fact Athelstan had coins struck with the legend EDELSTAN REX TO BRIE, which translates as Athelstan, king of all Britons. Athelstan was the first king to rule over a united England and has a very important role in English history. There is only one of these coins in the hoard and it is almost new. It is thus likely that the hoard was buried in late 927 or early 928. The hoard has reshaped what we know about the Viking Age in Yorkshire and will continue to offer new perspectives for years to come. REVIEW: In around 920 AD, England was divided into two kingdoms: the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom to the south and the Viking kingdom of Northumbria to the north. In 927 AD, the Anglo Saxon king, Athelstan, conquered Northumbria – uniting all of England. Fearing change, an exalted and decorated Viking collected his valuable treasures together and buried them. For reasons unknown, he never returned to reclaim them, leaving them undisturbed for more than 1000 years. That’s the general consensus among experts regarding the origin of the Vale of York treasure hoard. Then one dreary day in January 2007, David Whelan and his son Andrew set out with their metal detectors in a muddy field near the town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. After about 10 minutes of searching, they picked up a big signal and started digging. They turned up nothing but lead scraps. But they didn’t quit and dug even deeper. Still, there was nothing but lead scraps. They were about to give up when suddenly a large bowl fell out of the wall of the hole they had dug. It was completely caked with dirt, but judging from the artwork on the outside, the Whelans knew it was valuable and turned it over to a Finds Liaison Officer. Afterward, the contents of the bowl were carefully excavated and identified by experts and declared to be the largest treasure hoard ever found in England (it was later beaten out by the Staffordshire hoard in 2009). The treasure is almost entirely silver coins – 617 coins to be exact. All of them were meticulously crammed into a gilded cup, along with about 65 other items, including bits of hacksilver and silver ingots. Because they were packed together so tightly, many of the coins were very well preserved. In addition, they show the breadth of Viking travels, featuring coins from as far away as Russia and Afghanistan. Today, many of the coins contained in the Vale of York hoard are considered extremely rare – making it one the most amazing coin collections in history. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: This text describes the individual items in the Vale of York treasure and explores the historical and political context of the burial of this hoard, offering a picture of the Viking age. Brief but very informative. Exceptional photography. REVIEW: The Vale of York Hoard (previously known as the Harrogate Hoard) was discovered near Harrogate in January 2007. It was an undisturbed tenth-century Viking hoard consisting of over 600 silver coins and other items. The hoard is the largest to be discovered in western Europe since 1840, when the Cuerdale hoard was found near Preston in Lancashire. The hoard dates to c.928 AD and includes coins from Samarkand, Afghanistan and Baghdad, and a fragment of a Russian ring, as well as an Irish arm ring. As such, it demonstrates the wide range of contacts in the Viking world. Highly recommended, particularly for Viking Age history enthusiasts. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: Concise and well-written. Though aimed at the history enthusiast like other 'Objects in Focus' titles, rather than academics, this slim volume packs in a surprising amount of detail. The book details the wider context of this incredible Viking silver hoard found near Harrogate, probably buried during the eventful reign of Athelstan. The accompanying photos allow readers a museum level of detail, and it also contains photo-cameo's from other famous hoards in the BM such as the Cuerdale Hoard. It goes onto explain the systems and importance of silver wealth in the Viking Age while exploring items of note in the hoard, where a narrative develops. It's not hard to image a Viking raider rotting in the Loire Valley of France with plunder from the local monasteries, fought to a standstill by Frankish forces. They leave for pastures new to the Viking heartlands of Britain - Northumbria. Amassing more wealth, perhaps from tenant farmers, trading or raiding, the conscientious Viking buries his prize. But, he doesn't come back to it - why? And that is the question that surrounds all these incredible hoards. The book highlights the importance of these finds in this context, and in a easily readable format. Very much a must-buy for Viking-Age enthusiasts. REVIEW: There's nothing not to like. Its short, easy to read, inspiring and the illustrations and photography are excellent. A great book for interested amateurs. REVIEW: A look at a specific archaeological find - both as the objects themselves and what they allow us to conclude about Dark Age Yorkshire. A short but well written analysis with many excellent photographs. REVIEW: Excellent book on a lost period of British history, a time where political uncertainty resulted in real-life buried treasure that can help us to understand a people long forgotten. REVIEW: I liked it, short but wide ranging view of the hoard, the times it was left in and why it is significant. REVIEW: Very well photographed! Fascinating. REVIEW: Viking age treasure. Exceptionally nice little book! SHIPPING & ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: Viking History: The Vikings were diverse Scandinavian seafarers from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark whose raids and subsequent settlements significantly impacted the cultures of Europe. Those impacts were felt as far as the Mediterranean regions and Russia during the period from 790 AD through about 1100 AD. The Vikings were all Scandinavian but not all Scandinavians were Vikings. The term Viking applied only to those who took to the sea for the purpose of acquiring wealth by raiding in other lands. The term was primarily used by the English writers, not inclusively by other cultures. Most Scandinavians were not Vikings. Those non-Viking Scandinavians who traded with other cultures were known as Northmen, Norsemen, or other terms designating their origin. Beginning in 793 AD and continuing on for the next 300 years, the Vikings raided coastal and inland regions in Europe. They conducted trade as far as the Byzantine Empire in the east. They even served as the elite Varangian Guard for the Byzantine Emperor. Their influence on the cultures they interacted with was substantial in virtually every aspect of life. This was most notable in the regions of Scotland, Britain, France, and Ireland. They founded Dublin, colonized Normandy (“land of the Northmen”) in France, established the area of the Danelaw in Britain, and settled in numerous communities throughout Scotland. Although popularly imagined as warriors wearing horned helmets, this is inaccurate. Horned helmets would have been impractical in battle and were most likely only worn for ceremonial purposes. Further although the Vikings were great warriors, the fact that their name in the present day is almost synonymous with warfare, slaughter, and destruction is an association encouraged by popular media representations. The Scandinavian culture was actually highly developed and the Viking raids on other nations were only one aspect of the civilization. Their settlements in Iceland and Greenland spread Scandinavian culture far across the North Atlantic. Those settlements placed them in an ideal position for further exploration and colonization. The Vikings were the first Europeans to visit North America and establish communities. The Newfoundland site of L’Anse Aux Meadows has been positively identified as an early Viking settlement. Debate continues as to whether other sites from Maine to Rhode Island – and even further south – are evidence of early Viking habitation or at least visitation in North America. The origin of the word 'Viking' is still debated by scholars. The traditional view is that Viking comes from the Norse “vik”. The term denoted a cove or small fjord, i.e., a place where pirates could lurk and prey on merchant ships. Some philologists however hold that the word derives from the Old Norse for “pirate”. Yet other scholars postulate that the term must come from the region of Viken, which flanked the Oslo Fjord. That region was of great value for it was there that the Danes obtained the iron that was produced in Norway. They insist that the word Viking originally referred to the inhabitants of Viken. Cultures other than the English all referred to these same people by different names – but none called them Vikings. The Irish records call them pagans or simply foreigners. The French called them Northmen. The Slavs called them the Rus (which gave Russia its name). The Germans knew them as Ashmen in reference to their use of ash wood for their boats. The Vikings used the word themselves to refer to the activity of armed raids on other lands for the purpose of plunder. The Old Norse phrase fara i Viking (“to go on expedition”) had a distinctly different meaning than going on a sea voyage for the purposes of mere trade. When one decided to “go Viking” one was announcing one’s intention to join in raiding profitable targets in other lands. The Viking culture was Scandinavian, with society divided into three classes. The three classes were the Jarls (aristocracy), Karls (lower class), and Thralls (slaves). Upward mobility was possible for the lower classes but not for slaves. Slavery was widely practiced throughout Scandinavia and was considered one of the prime motivators for the Viking raids on other lands. Women had greater freedoms in Scandinavian/Viking culture than in many other cultures of the time. Women could inherit property, choose where and how to live if unmarried, represent themselves in legal cases, and own their own businesses (such as breweries, taverns, shops, and farms). Women were the prophetesses of either the goddess Freyja or the god Odin and interpreted the gods’ messages for the people. There were no male religious leaders. Marriages were arranged by the men of the clan. A woman could not choose her own mate, but neither could a man. Women’s dress and jewelry were similar to men of their social class, and neither sex wore earrings which were thought to be affectations of lesser races. Women were responsible for raising children and keeping the house but both men and women prepared meals for the family. Most Scandinavians were farmers. However there were also blacksmiths, armorers, brewers, merchants, weavers, luthiers (those who made stringed instruments), drum-makers, poets, musicians, craftsmen, carpenters, jewelers, and many other occupations. A significant source of income was trading amber which they possessed abundance. Amber (the fossilized resin of pine trees) frequently washed up on the shores around Scandinavia. It was worked into jewelry or sold in semi-processed form, especially to the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Scandinavians enjoyed leisure time as much as any other culture and played sports, board games, and organized festivals. Sports included mock-combat, wrestling, mountain climbing, swimming, javelin-throwing, hunting, a spectacle known as horse-fighting (whose details are unclear), and a field game known as Knattleik. Knattleik was similar to hockey. Their board games included dice, games of strategy along the lines of chess, and chess itself. Contrary to the popular image of the Vikings as filthy and savage, they were actually quite refined and paid a great deal of attention to hygiene and appearance. Once trade was established with the east, Viking Jarls often wore silk and expensive jewelry. They braided their hair and were well groomed. Their attire included fine cloaks and intricately-crafted jewelry in the form of necklaces, armbands, and wristbands. Cleanliness was not only a sign of wealth and status but also had religious significance. Vikings made sure to always keep their finger and toenails short because of their belief in Ragnarok. Ragnarok is a series of events, including a great battle, foretold to lead to the death of a number of great figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki). This eclipse of the gods was followed by natural disasters and the submersion of the world in water. At that point in time it was believed that the ship Naglfar would appear floating on the waters unleashed by the great serpent Jormungand. Naglfar was built from the nails of the dead. Thus anyone who died with nails unpared provided ship-building material and hastened the inevitable end. Ragnarok, the end of the world, was predestined. However one could still struggle against it. The gods of the Norse provided the people with the breath of life. It was then up to each individual to prove worthy of the gift. The Norse gods came to Scandinavia with the Germanic migrations sometime around the beginning of the Bronze Age (approximately 2300 - 1200 BC). These were fierce gods who understood their time was limited and lived fully to make the most of it. The gods encouraged their followers to do the same. The main sources for the Norse religious beliefs are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. The Edda is dated to oral traditions of the 9th and 10th centuries CE. The Prose Edda’s origin dates to about 1220AD. It is a collection of tales based on older stories. In the Norse creation story, before the world was created there was only ice and a giant named Ymir. Ymir lived by the grace of the great cow Audhumla. Audhumla fed Ymir milk which ran continuously from her four udders while. At the same time Audhumla licked the ice for her own sustenance. Her licking freed the trapped god Buri who then produced a son, Borr. Borr married Bestla, daughter of Bolthorn the frost giant. She gave birth to the gods Odin, Vili, and Vé. These gods united, killed Ymir, and used his body to create the world. The first human beings were Ask and Embla. Neither had spirit or form until life was breathed into them by Odin. The other gods were responsible for installing reason and passion into the new human beings. The world created by the gods was understood as an enormous tree, known as Yggdrasil. It included nine planes of existence. The most famous of these are Midgard (home for mortals), Asgard (home of the gods), and Alfheim (home of the elves). Another realm, Niflheim was located beneath Midgard where those who died poorly went. Heroic women, especially those who died in childbirth, went to the Hall of Frigg in Asgard. There they spent eternity in the company Odin’s wife. Men who died heroically in battle went to Odin’s hall of Valhalla. The entire universe was established on the principles of order by Odin and the other gods after they had defeated the frost giants. The frost giants lived in their own realm, Jotunheim, but were a constant threat to both Asgard and Midgard. At some point in the future, a great day of destruction would come and chaos would be unleashed. This future day was known as Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods. When Ragnarök came, the sun would be swallowed by the wolf Skoll and the moon by his brother Hati,. The world would be plunged into darkness. At the same time the great wolf Fenrir would ravage through all the planes of Yggdrasil. The god Heimdall would sound his great horn, calling the gods to battle. Odin would call up all the heroes from Valhalla’s halls to join with the gods in defending creation. The gods fight valiantly. However in the end they fall in battle as the entire universe is consumed in flame and sinks into the primordial waters. Although this is the end of the world, it is not the end of existence. Once the present world was destroyed, a new one would be created and rise from the waters. The entire cycle then repeats itself. The Norse gods were honored through the actions of the people who believed in them. No evidence of a religious hierarchy has been found in Scandinavia prior to the coming of Christianity. Women who were touched by the gods were known as Volva. It was believed that they were able to hear the divine words and translate them for other mortals. Although there were some temples erected to the gods, most worship seems to have taken place in natural settings which had some connection to a certain deity. The stories of the gods, creation, and Ragnarök were transmitted orally. They were only written down much later, in Iceland by the 13th century historian/poet Snorri Sturluson. Norse mythology would profoundly influence the Viking culture and encourage their raids. This is because the Viking life emulated that of the gods. Brave warriors went abroad to do battle against forces they saw as chaotic and dangerous. The Mediterranean and European religious belief in a single god and his savior son who needed priests, churches, nuns, books, and rules to be worshiped would have seemed absurd and threatening to the Vikings. There was nothing in the Christian teaching which resonated with Norse ideology. Once the Scandinavians had fully mastered shipbuilding and began to “go Viking,” they showed no mercy to the Christian communities they encountered. However early Scandinavian settlers in foreign lands frequently adopted Christianity. Carvings from Scandinavia dated to between 4000 and 2300 BC show that the people already knew how to build boats. These small ships were driven by paddles, had no keel, and would have made long-distance trips perilous. Still there is ample evidence that such journeys were made. Shipbuilding developed past this stage of small ferry boats only around 300-200 BC. They would not develop further until interactions with Roman traders and Celtic and Germanic merchants using Roman maritime technology. This occurred somewhere between 200 and 400 AD. Although it had no sail, the first ship able to navigate the sea easily is known as the Nydam ship. It was built in Denmark around 350 to 400 AD. A number of Scandinavian traders established permanent communities in Europe long before the development of keel or sail. They had assimilated with the Christian culture, forsaking their old religious practices, forgetting the stories of the Norse gods. By 625 AD the West Germanic kinsmen of the Scandinavians had converted to Christianity. Between 650 and 700 new Christian cultures emerged in England, in the Frankish world, and in Frisia (present-day Netherlands). This led to a parting of the ways between the Scandinavian heartland and the new states in the former Roman Empire. This “parting of the ways” was largely due to differences in religious understanding and behavior. The Christian god was alleged to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. This was a significant departure from the Norse gods who. Like other pagan religions each Norse god had their own area of expertise, their own lives and concerns. Each god’s actions explained the observable world in a way the Christian god did not. For the Vikings the universe was full of gods and spirits and supernatural energies. These entities infused a challenging world of adventure. While, to the Christians the world was ruled by one deity who presided over a fallen world of sin. This difference in world views influenced how the Vikings dealt with the Christians they encountered on their raids. It would have been considered dishonorable for a Norse warrior to kill unarmed civilians and take their possessions. But this is precisely what the Vikings did between 793 and approximately 1100 AD. They felt at liberty to so do because those they plundered were not Norse. Those they plundered and murdered were not participants in the same belief system. Thus the rules which maintained Viking society did not apply to their victims. When the Vikings first came to Britain and sacked the priory of Lindisfarne in 793AD, they murdered every monk they found and carried off everything of value. This would have been considered a serious crime if the slain had been Norse. However under the circumstances the monks to the Vikings were simply obstacles to the acquisition of wealth. Further it was abundantly clear that the Christian god had no power to defend his people if they could so easily be killed within the walls of their own place of worship. Like those of the Huns on the Roman Empire centuries earlier, the Viking raids on Christian communities were interpreted by European Christians as God’s wrath on his people for their sins. In Britain late 9th century King Alfred the Great would institute his reforms in education to better his people and appease his God. He also made baptism into the Christian faith a stipulation of treaties with the Vikings. When Alfred defeated the Viking army under Guthrum at the Battle of Eddington in 878 AD, Guthrum and 30 of his chieftains had to submit to baptism and conversion. In the early 9th century Charlemagne in France pursued a much more active course in attempting to forcefully Christianize the Scandinavians through military campaigns. His campaigns destroyed sites sacred to Norse belief and established Christianity as an enemy faith of a hostile people. Charlemagne’s efforts have been cited by a number of historians as the primary motivation for the savagery of the Viking raids. However this claim does not take into account the raids on Britain and Ireland decades earlier between 793 and 800 AD. There is little doubt however that Charlemagne’s evangelical holy wars did little to encourage Scandinavian acceptance of Christianity. They only led to animosity and greater division. In the early years of the Viking Age in Europe, the sea-raiders began as little more than pirates. However the Vikings would eventually arrive as great armies under charismatic and skilled military leaders. They would conquer large territories and establish communities. And finally these Viking hoards would assimilate with the local population. The Viking Age is known for legendary Norse leaders such as 9th century Halfdan Ragnarsson (also known as Halfdane), his brother Ivar the Boneless, and Guthrum. The 10th century was notable for Norse leaders such as Harold Bluetooth and his son Sven Forkbeard. Notable Norse leaders of the 11th century included Cnut the Great and Harald Hardrada (1046-1066). Other notable Norse explorers of the time were early 11th century Eric the Red and Leif Erikson, both who explored and settled Greenland and North America. The Vikings were never defeated en masse in battle and no single engagement ended the Viking Age. The date agreed on by most scholars as the end of the Viking Age is 1066 AD when Harald Hardrada was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. However Viking raids continued after this date. There were many factors which contributed to the end of the Viking Age. The Christianization of Scandinavia throughout the 10th and 11th centuries was certainly among the most significant. The Norse religion was the last of the great pagan belief systems to fall to Christianity. Once it did there was no inspiration in the new faith for one to "go Viking" anymore. The Vikings influenced the culture of every nation they came in contact with and in every conceivable way from architecture to language, infrastructure to poetry and place names, military reforms to food and clothing, and certainly in the areas of warfare and shipbuilding. Regularly depicted by medieval writers as marauding bands of murderous heathens, the Vikings would be re-imagined as noble savages by the early 20th century CE, and this is often how they are still portrayed in the present day. The Vikings were actually neither of these, however; they were a cultured and sophisticated warrior class who understood, based on their religious belief, that in raiding other lands for personal gain they had everything to win and nothing to lose [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Viking Women: Although women in the Viking Age (790 to about 1100 AD) lived in a male-dominated society, they were far from being powerless. Viking Women they ran farms and households. They were responsible for textile production. They moved away from Scandinavia to help settle Viking territories abroad stretching from Greenland, Iceland, and the British Isles to Russia. It’s possible they were even involved in trade in the sparse urban centers. Some were part of a rich upper class, such as the woman, perhaps a queen, who was buried in the ostentatious Oseberg ship burial in 834 AD. On the other end of the spectrum slaves were taken from conquered territories during the Viking expansion. Amongst them were many women, who were integrated into Viking Age society. History is largely dependent on piecing together the lives of Viking Women based mostly on the archaeology of burials and the accompanying grave goods. This includes an occasional runestone that mentions women or was commissioned by one. From those finds researchers know a fair amount about Viking Age women’s clothing, jewelry, and personal items. However much less is known about their effective ‘power’ or the status they held. The landscape was predominated by small rural communities or even remote self-sustaining farmsteads. It follows then that the domestic tasks that were mainly the domain of women were clearly far from unimportant. While their men were away trading or pillaging monasteries along the Northern European coasts, the wives who stayed behind likely took over control of the farm. Over the past few years researchers have even investigated the possible existence of female Viking warriors. However the evidence is quite controversial and inconclusive. One of the less obscure areas when it comes to the lives of women in the Viking Age is their clothing and jewelry. Courtesy of archaeological excavations of burials and their accompanying grave goods, we know that most women seem to have worn outfits comprised of two or three layers. The first layer was a linen or woolen sleeved shift or underdress. It was fastened at the neck with a small disc brooch and sometimes pleated there, too. On top of this a strapped gown or overdress was worn. It was usually made of a rectangular piece wool which was wrapped around the body. It was held up by shoulder straps which at the front of the dress were pinned down by two oval brooches. Also known as tortoise brooches these oval brooches are typical for Viking Age material Culture. When archaeologists find such brooches in graves, a Scandinavian link is usually present. The brooches varied hugely in style. More than 50 styles have been identified. As one researcher postulated, "the differences may reflect changes in fashion. But it is more likely this enormous diversity shows an arcane language of class and regional affiliation we can no longer understand." Alternatively, box brooches could also be used to fasten shawls and the likes. Both types of brooches were usually made of bronze and adorned with knotted patterns. The types of textiles held in place by them could vary greatly too. The range of textiles ran from simple domestic wool to fine oriental silk in the proximity of trading hubs such as Birka in Sweden. Interestingly, the varying qualities of cloth were often present in one and the same (rich) grave. Besides these practical items women in the Viking Age also wore necklaces, arm rings, trefoil buckles and trefoil brooches. The latter were very distinct, made up of three ‘arms’ poking out, embellished with knotwork and/or filigree. Beads are also commonly found in Viking graves. Although a few trade centers did exist, Viking Age homes were mostly located in smaller rural hubs and at isolated farms. A large degree of self-sufficiency would have been needed to survive. A typical Viking Age house was made up of one long room with a central hearth. It could be accompanied by a dairy, sheds, barns, and other outbuildings. Mostly resigned to this domestic sphere, one historian commented, "women living in rural areas in the Viking Age spent most of their time in the triangle of cowshed, dairy, and living quarters, providing their families with food and clothing". Food had to be prepared from whatever raw state it came in, quite unlike running to the supermarket. Textile production and the subsequent making of clothes were elaborate processes that almost all Viking Age women were involved in one way or another. The most common grave goods found in female graves from this period are spindle whorls, wool combs, and weaving battens. This is especially true of grave goods from what were rural areas. Other tasks that do not show up in the archaeological record in such a direct way but are traditionally associated with women are child-rearing and caring for the sick or the elderly. Historians also envision women performing chores and odd jobs around the farm, perhaps even some carpentry or leather-working. How exactly children were brought up and whether girls were treated any differently from boys is unclear, although daughters were perhaps be given in marriage at an appropriate age. Women may have had a good degree of control over running the household and were likely left in charge of matters while their husbands were away (or died). Like their contemporaries, although subordinate to their husbands women likely had a high degree of responsibility. Perhaps they even were in control over the running of the household. This was symbolized by the fact they were often buried with keys. Some historians have suggested farms were like firms, "run by husband and wife together. The work of both partners was of equal importance although different and complementary." It must be acknowledged however that people who owned larger farms and more land would have had considerable means. They would likely have belonged to the upper classes within society. As such they were not automatically reflective of all of Viking Age society. Throughout Viking Age society marriage was a pivotal institution used to create new ties of kinship. This included marriage to (non-Viking) Scandinavians as well as locals in conquered or settled areas. Commensurate with the influence women could wield through their husbands, it seems unmarried women had very limited prospects. Before the advent of Christianity throughout Scandinavia and Viking territories around 1000 AD the possession of concubines (often connected to slavery) as well as multiple marriages occurred at least among the royals. In general however it is hard to comment on the exact status of Viking Age housewives. Their domestic role was a very central one. It seems likely that it would not generally have gone unappreciated. The inscription found on a stone as Hassmyra is the only verse found on a Swedish inscribed stone that commemorates a woman. It certainly seems to confirm this. “The good farmer Holmgaut had this raised in memory of his wife Odindis. A better housewife will never come to Hassmyra to run the farm. Red Balli carved these runes. She was a good sister to Sigmund.” There were a few trading centers in Viking Age Scandinavia where a lot more hustle and bustle must have been the norm. Families there would have lived slightly different lives than their more isolated and rural counterparts. The largest of these centers were Birka in Sweden, Ribe in Denmark, Kaupang in Norway, and Hedeby in present-day northern Germany (on the southern edge of Viking Age Denmark). Whereas in the countryside women were often buried with spindle whorls, female graves unearthed at Birka, for instance, hold needles, scissors, and tweezers. Even merchants’ weights, scales, and coins are not uncommon in female burials. These artifacts hint at fine sewing and mercantile endeavors as female occupations. These female grave goods have been found not just around other urban centers in Scandinavia but also in Viking territories across what is now Russia. These archaeological finds strongly imply that Viking woman had also been traders. However directly linking grave goods to actual activities in life is always a bit uncertain. It’s impossible to be absolutely certain of the intentions with which the grave goods were included in a burial. One historian cautions, “…we need to consider whether grave goods really represent the former lives of the dead, or whether some of them could not in fact have more of a symbolic function. The presence of weights in children’s graves does not necessarily mean that they engaged in trading activities too…” A woman buried with weights and scales may simply have belonged to a family of merchants. As has been proposed by other historians, it’s not necessarily an indication that she herself was an active merchant. As with many things regarding women in the Viking Age there is just not enough information to provide a degree of certainty with regard to precisely what an urban Viking Age woman’s life would have looked like. However women in trade centers would certainly have been more directly connected with the wider world. These connections would not merely have been through the inflow of “exotic” trade goods, but also through visitors. Illustrating this is a surviving ancient account that coveys how in the 9th century a Christian mission was sent to Birka and successfully converted the rich widow Frideburg and her daughter Catla. The two then decided to travel to the Frisian market town of Dorestad. If some women were indeed involved in trade this may conceivably have placed them in the upper rungs of society, or least given them means and status. Evidence of the lifestyle of the Viking Age’s rich and powerful reach the modern world in a number of ways. Illuminations their lifestyle include large runestones that were erected across Scandinavia. Excavations of burials ranging from just “rich” to ones so over the top it leaves us no doubt as to the buried person’s importance. Archaeological excavations also establish that the rich and famous were not exclusively male. In the obviously royal Oseberg boat burial dating to about 834AD two women were buried in a lavishly decorated and furnished ship. They were also accompanied by lots of high-quality grave goods. Large stones covered in runes and ornamentation usually erected to commemorate the dead were normally commissioned by wealthy families. They were known as “rune stones”, the runes speaking of their endeavors in life. Not only can one imagine women being important within these families, some stones were actually commissioned by women themselves. The evidence creates at least the suggestion that (perhaps a very few) women attained a very high social status. Runestones also illustrate how important the inheritance of a woman was to facilitate the transfer of wealth from one family to another. Furthermore, some richly furnished female graves (and even boat graves) found in rural settings hint at women possibly climbing to high social positions there as well. As described earlier, there is strong evidence that women might have ended up running the farm in their husbands’ absence. Some 40 graves from Scandinavia and beyond have provided evidence supporting this supposition. Texts and sagas related to the Viking Age also speak of the existence of female 'sorceresses'. These sources describe Seiðr, a type of shamanistic magic mainly connected to Viking women. These women were often described as volva, powerful sorceresses possessing a staff of sorcery and with the power to see into the future. Objects similar to the sorcery staffs described have been discovered in Viking Age burials. They possess clear symbolic overtones. According to one historian’s interpretation these objects may have function as metaphorical staffs used to 'spin out' the user's soul. The graves in which these symbolic objects have been found are often rich in terms of clothes and grave goods. They have often been found to include amulets and charms, exotic jewelry, toe rings, and the remains clearly showed that the women had facial piercings. In a handful of these graves even psychoactive drugs such as cannabis and henbane have been found. No matter how much scientists speculate and postulate, these women's roles in Viking society remains a mystery. Archaeologists have excavated a number of royal female burials. The Oseberg boat burial is amongst the most prominent. The few obviously royal burials uncovered by archaeologists cannot be mistaken for anything other than the monuments of persons with enormous status, wealth and power. Although they share characteristics with other Viking Age burials, they are really in a class of their own. The relationship these two women may have shared in lifer is indeterminable. They could have been queen and handmaiden, two aristocratic women related to each other, or otherwise. Their relationship will likely always remain a puzzle. But the fact that at least one of them was of high status is undeniable. Another woman of plentiful means was the late 9th century Aud the ‘deep-minded’. Historical accounts indicate she was born to a Norwegian chieftain residing in the Hebrides and married a Viking who lived in Dublin. After the death of both her husband and son she took over control of the family fortunes. She arranged for a ship to take her and her granddaughters first to Orkney and the Faroes. Then finally they traveled to Iceland where they settled. In Iceland she distributed land among her retinue. She became an early Christian. Today she is remembered as one of Iceland’s four most important settlers. At the top of the elite category were Viking Age queens. Some were on a smaller local scale, as the big unified Scandinavian kingdoms did not fully crystallize until the end of the Viking Age. Some of them were likely very well-connected. All Viking Age women likely exercised influence through their husbands or sons. The more important their husbands were the more opportunities this may have presented for the women at their sides. In the wake of the Viking raids spilling across northern Europe and beyond, Viking territories sprung up as far apart as Greenland, Newfoundland in North America, and Russia. It is obvious that proper settlement is a hard thing to achieve without women. With their famous “trademark” oval brooches, female Viking Age burials have been excavated throughout all of these areas confirm their presence. It is both difficult to conceive of women taking an active part in the Vikings’ initial raiding waves and military expeditions. It is also difficult to find any tangible evidence that this occurred. However late 9th century Anglo-Saxon and Frankish sources relate how Viking forces traveled together with their women and children. Archaeological finds at winter camps such as that at Torksey (England) do reveal evidence of textile manufacture. Of course such families or camp-followers need not necessarily have been Scandinavian women. Viking armies raided both the continent and the British Isles. Likely they would have picked up at least some of the women from there. However whether this scenario was common is unclear as well. On the other hand more clarity arrives with the first proper settlement waves. Settlement dates varied with different Viking territories. However Scandinavian immigrant families arrived in the British Isles in phases during the 9th and 10th centuries. Toward the end of the 9th century Iceland was settled, shortly thereafter followed by Greenland and beyond. These latter areas were fully Scandinavian except for some influx of often female slaves, for example, taken from Ireland. On the other hand in the British Isles as well as throughout Russia there was more mixing with the pre-existing populations. For instance on Orkney the 9th or early 10th century burial of the so-called “Westness Woman” is of a Norse woman in her twenties along with her newborn child. She was buried with grave goods which included a pair of bronze oval brooches as well as a Celtic pin. A rich Scandinavian female grave on the Isle of Man (the ‘Pagan Lady of Peel’) shows an even stronger image of a mixed community . The grave is mixed with thirty-odd Christian runic monuments. Those monuments are essentially Celtic crosses with runic inscriptions, including both Norse and Celtic personal names. The Celtic crosses feature Scandinavian-style ornamentation. The famous Icelandic sagas of the 13th century relay stories set in the earlier Viking Age. They add another possible layer of depth to the role of women. The sagas describe strong women taking action, stoking up revenge, standing up to their husbands or even engaging in fights. However these sagas were composed centuries after the time they wrote about. They were written from a different context and perspective. Thus it is simply too much of a stretch to directly extrapolate this imagery of women and impute it to actual conditions of the Viking Age. Nevertheless the stereotype of a ‘strong Viking woman’ runs wild in popular imagination. It even infects academics. A study of a Viking Age grave originally found in Birka, Sweden in the 1800s came to the conclusion that the grave contained proof positive of a female Viking warrior. The bones were identified as female, and the burial was alongside various weapons and horses. One would presume these to be the attributes of a warrior. However the skeleton had no traumatic injuries, not something one would expect from an active warrior. And the remains showed no sign of strenuous physical activity or well-developed musculature. Again, it is a difficult leap to link grave goods to a person’s actual life. In this instance the woman most likely was buried with warrior’s gear for another reason, perhaps symbolic. As of yet the archaeological and historical evidence is not sufficient to confirm this Birka woman having been an active warrior. Here, too, the lives of women in the Viking Age remain more shrouded in mystery than that of their male counterparts [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. The Ancient Norse-Viking Diet: In many media depictions of Vikings a group is often seen gathered around a flaming pit while an animal of some type, usually a boar, turns on a spit above. While the people of Scandinavia certainly ate meat, it was not a central part of their diet. They seem to have relied more on dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. The Norse diet, including those known as Vikings, was far more diverse than how it is represented in modern-day media. The historical and archaeological evidence indicates that their diet included a wide range of food types. The most common foods were:---Dairy products (milk, cheese, curds, whey). ---Grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats). ---Fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, crab-apples, apples). ---Nuts (hazelnuts and imported walnuts). ---Vegetables (peas, beans, onions, cabbage, leeks, turnips). ---Fish (as well as eels, squid, seals, and whales). ---Meat (cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, chickens, ducks, seabirds). Salt was expensive to make as the usual method would be to boil down salt water. This required a significant amount of timber for the fire. It also required a significant amount of time and effort to complete the process. Salt was more often imported, making it a luxury not everyone could afford. Meat then had to be consumed shortly after the animal was killed because for most there was no means of preserving it. The foods most commonly stored were dairy products sealed in barrels or ceramic jars (especially skyr, a kind of yogurt), dried fruit and vegetables, and grains. The most common drink was ale, for both for men and women, as well as for children. Popular as well was an alcoholic dairy-based beverage known as syra. Syra was a by-product of making skyr (yogurt). Mead (a honey-based drink) and wine from grapes (imported from places like Germania or Francia) were both expensive. The cost for either was out of reach for most. Scandinavian wines were fruit-based (apple wine, strawberry wine). Like ale, syra, and mead, wines were initially made by women. The Norse of Scandinavia and the Viking raiders who traveled on raids overseas required a significant amount of energy on a daily basis. The diet described above seems to have been sufficient to sustain those activities. There is little evidence to suggest that the Vikings were underfed or suffered from nutritional deficiencies. Historians deduce that an adequate supply of food must have been available year-round, at least most of the time. When the Norse went on raids abroad they carried enough provisions for the trip and for at least a few meals once they reached their destination. Afterwards the raiders would have lived off the land. While at home the evidence suggests a plentiful supply of food was provided by each person’s farm and the surrounding environment. Agricultural technology in Scandinavia was fairly primitive during the Viking Age. The metal plow was unknown in Scandinavia. Fields were cultivated using an ard-plow. The ard was a light plow with a wooden spiked share which cut the soil. It was pulled by an ox and steered by the farmer. The scythe was also unknown and fields were harvested using small hand-scythes. The most common Scandinavian dish was skyr. Skyr is a variation on yogurt. It is still produced and consumed in the present day, especially in Iceland. Skyr would be flavored with berries, apples, or other fruits as well as with grains which were also easily preserved. It was not just the lack of technological innovations which made farming so difficult. There was also a short growing season, lack of steady sunlight, as well as the basic nature of the environment. One historian noted, “in Norway, geographical factors, such as considerable differences in elevation and the limited amount of arable land, made it difficult to survive solely on crop growing”. The people therefore relied more on hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry. Cows were kept for their milk; and the cheese, curds, and whey that could be made from that milk. The most common Scandinavian dish included or was solely skyr. Skyr may have been popular but does not seem to have been one’s preferred meal if there were other options. It was regarded more as a common staple, and was thought a paltry offering to a guest. A a number of Icelandic sagas in which skyr features as a telling detail to the detriment of the character of a host. Still, skyr was a staple of the Scandinavian – especially Icelandic – diet. Grains were made into ale, mead, and bread, and there is plentiful evidence of fermented grains kept in ceramic pots. Fermentation of grains produced a sour-tasting bread and resulted in the popular sour bread still enjoyed today. Scandinavians also ate the eggs of chickens and ducks as well as the fowls themselves. These were often slow-cooked into a stew over a fire, with assorted vegetables and herbs. Evidence of the consumption of fruits and vegetables comes primarily from archaeological excavation, in which seeds or even preserved fruits have been found. Excavations at a number of sites have been able to determine the difference between cultivated fields and kitchen gardens which would have been used by the woman of the house in preparing meals. There is also evidence in the form of an abundance of walnut shells at certain sites strongly suggesting they were a popular snack even though they would have had to be imported. Likewise peaches, also an import, were popular as a flavoring, in wine-making, and as a dried snack. The kitchen garden seems to have focused on both vegetables and herbs. Kale and gale were the most common vegetables in these gardens. However sage and possibly the opium poppy were also grown. Both would have been grown most likely for medicinal or ritualistic purposes. Sage was both in ancient and contemporary times thought to be a potent herb for use in cleansing a home of bad spirits. Cultivated fields produced turnips and a variety of legumes as well as onions, cabbage, and celery. Aside from the vegetarian diet, Scandinavians took full advantage of the rivers, streams, and the sea. Fish from fresh and salt water as well as eels, squid, seals, walruses, and whales were eaten frequently. Seafood could be preserved through drying or fermenting in brine and remained fresh as a staple food. Whales are mentioned a number of times in the Icelandic Sagas. However the are almost always as having been washed up on the shore and killed and harvested there rather than hunted. Both whale and seal meat were considered delicacies and the oil was used for lamps. In the case of seal oil it was an alternative to butter. As with other creatures hunted for food, every part of the whale was used for some necessary aspect of life. However to actually go and hunt a whale was considered too dangerous. The Colloquy of Aelfric, Abbot of Eynsham (written about 1000AD) relates the story of a Norse fisherman discussing his daily routine. He began by boarding his boat and casting his net into the river, followed by a hook, bait, and basket. He sells his fish to the people of nearby towns who eagerly buy his eels, pike, minnows, turbot, trout, and lampreys. Sometimes the man fishes in the sea, but not often. It takes a lot of rowing to get there. When he does fish in the sea, he catches herring, salmon, porpoises, sturgeon, crabs, flounder, and lobster, among many other things. When asked why he does not catch whales, the fisherman replies that it is very risky to go after whales. He explains that it is far preferable to catch a small fish that can easily be killed than to chase a large animal that can kill him with a single stroke. Fish and other sea creatures were also used in stews. Stews were one of the most popular meals because the cauldron containing it could be left over a fire to keep for days. However fish were also preserved through salting, drying, smoking, or fermenting in brine. The Norse also harvested dulse, a red alga. This came from the seashore. Dulse was an important source of vitamins and frequently included as part of one’s daily diet. Fishing was such an integral aspect of Norse life that it frequently features in the Icelandic Sagas as a plot device. The mention of livestock in the sagas is also noteworthy. However cattle were kept primarily for milk production and working the land (in the case of oxen). They were not kept as a major food source. All evidence suggests that cows were only slaughtered after they had stopped giving milk. The same was true of sheep with respect to wool production, and to goats. They were slaughtered when they were old and no longer productive. Most meat dishes came from wild game that was hunted such as rabbits, wild boar, elk, deer, seabirds, bear, reindeer, and squirrels. Pigs were kept as a meat source. Horse meat was also eaten only rarely as horses were highly prized and very expensive. Dogs and cats were kept as pets and companions and were never a food source. The Norse valued the cat and dog so highly that one of the most popular goddesses, Freyja, rides in a chariot drawn by cats. Dogs were thought to accompany their masters into the afterlife. In fact more dog skeletons have been found in Norse graves than in those of any other culture. Seabirds were frequently caught and eaten. However some birds were strictly off limits as game. Most notably these were hawk and falcon, which were prized by royalty, and could command high prices. Meat was prepared in a number of ways but was most often boiled (as were many other dishes). Boiling food was the most common means of preparation because one could complete other tasks while the food was cooking and the meal could feed a large number of people. The meat would be cut up and put into a cauldron over fire, to which, presumably, would be added various spices and vegetables. The result could be a stew or simply boiled meat with vegetables, served with a chunk of bread. Meat might also be cooked over an open fire on a spit, as in the famous contemporary Hollywood depictions of Viking meals. Meat was also slow-roasted in soapstone pots placed on hot stones in a pit. Family meals were eaten in a common room of the house. This meal was often either a stew served with bread or, in Iceland at least, skyr and cheese with bread. The Norse ate two meals a day: one, the dagveror (day meal) shortly after waking in the morning. The other, the nattveror (night meal), was eaten in the evening, roughly around 9:00 pm. These meals were served in wooden bowls and eaten with wooden spoons. Everyone had a personal knife which was an all-purpose tool. At the table it served as both knife and fork. The fork as we know it was unknown in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. However a pointed stick was sometimes used for the same purpose. The family would gather at a table in the central room of the house and sit on benches. Most tables were of rough wood but wealthier families had crafted and polished wooden tables covered by a linen table cloth. Aside from the daily meals, there were ritual feasts. These might be at weddings and funerals or to seal a business contract. And of course there was the famous sumbl, the Viking drinking party. The sumbl involved far more drink than food. As with the meal in one’s home, the sumbl was prepared and presented by women. One could not have a meal without a drink, and one would not have had the drink without women. One historian noted, “serving the drinks was the defining role of women in the Viking Age”. Women were also the first brewers and wine-makers until, as in other cultures, men became involved and eventually dominated the process. Ale, mead, and wine were made in roughly the same way. A cauldron or vat would be filled with water and placed over a fire to heat. Then honey was added and yeast (for mead). The mixture was brought to a boil. The vat was then placed beneath some sort of fruit-bearing tree to catch the wild yeast. To make ale the honey was left out and malted barley was substituted. To make wine fruit was used instead of barley. Alcohol content was regulated by the amount of sugar added (from tree sap). Honey was supplied by bees which were kept in special hives on the property. Aside from tree sap honey was the only sweetener available in Viking Age Scandinavia. Once the ale or mead was brewed it was left to settle and then strained into ceramic jugs and stored. Neither ale nor mead was carbonized because the vat (and later jugs) were not air-tight. The brew would be left alone while the brewer returned to the cauldron or vat to process the dregs for making barneol, ale for children. Everyone, of every age, drank alcohol for health reasons since alcohol was so much safer to drink than water. The most popular alcohol was ale. Even so mead was considered the drink of choice if one could afford it. The primary difference between ale and mead was honey. Not everyone could afford their own private hive of bees or the time and effort it would take to locate a hive in the wild. Wine made from grapes was the most expensive alcoholic beverage because it had to be imported. Wine was so rare and expensive that it was said to be the only drink of Odin, chieftain of the gods and also the Norse God of Alcohol. Besides these drinks, there was syra. Syra was a sour brew by-product of making skyr or the buttermilk known as misa. Syra was made from skimmed milk and rennet (curdled milk from the stomach of a newborn calf). It was left to ferment for at least two years before it could be served. Like skyr, syra was a popular and cheap drink but it was not considered honorable to offer it to guests. The Norse placed a high value on hospitality. Hosts were expected to offer guests only their best in food and drink. If the host had ale or mead in the house merely offering a guest syra was a serious social offense. Clearly there was far more to the Norse and Viking diet than just the roast boar turning on the spit. Contemporary depictions of Vikings are routinely of savage, disheveled warriors whose diet and personal hygiene were the least of their concerns. In reality Vikings actually took an acute interest in both. Excavations of ancient fortifications, homesteads, and communities include sifting through ancient garbage pits and toilet facilities. These reveal that the Norse diet was quite varied and no doubt healthier than that of most people living in the modern day. All of the food consumed by the Norse of Scandinavia was made and served fresh. The lack of means for preservation meant that animals slaughtered were consumed quickly. Even when meat or fish was preserved, it was probably eaten a short time later. The foods most often preserved for long periods, such as through the hard months of winter, were grains and dairy products (like skyr) or bread. There was no need for any particularly restrictive diet because the Norse were quite active. To maintain the energy for such a lifestyle food was probably eaten in great quantities at a sitting. As with all other aspects of life to the Norse, food was a gift from the gods. It was meant to be enjoyed. It was even better in the company of friends and family. Even the most meager meal was prepared with the possibility of uninvited guests appearing at one’s door who would require hospitality. Even the most mundane meal would be celebrated through the companionship of those around the table [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $17.99 to $48.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through,, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. Please note for international purchasers we will do everything we can to minimize your liability for VAT and/or duties. But we cannot assume any responsibility or liability for whatever taxes or duties may be levied on your purchase by the country of your residence. If you don’t like the tax and duty schemes your government imposes, please complain to them. We have no ability to influence or moderate your country’s tax/duty schemes. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less any non-refundable fees imposed by eBay. Please note that eBay may not refund payment processing fees on returns beyond a 30-day purchase window. So except for shipping costs, we will refund all proceeds from the sale of a return item. Though they generally do, eBay may not always follow suit. Obviously we have no ability to influence, modify or waive eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Eastern Europe and Central Asia several times a year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient/antique jewelry and gemstones, a reflection of our academic backgrounds. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia antique gemstones are commonly dismounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them originally crafted a century or more ago. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: BRAND NEW. SPlease see detailed condition description below (click "additional details" button on your cell phone or tablet)., Length: 48 pages, Dimensions: 8 x 5¾ inches; ½ pound, Publisher: British Museum (2010), Format: Oversized softcover

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