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The 13th Warrior Theatrical Poster

Is The 13th Warrior Film Historically Accurate?

It is a question I am often asked when someone finds out I am passionate about and make my living writing about the Vikings: is the movie The 13th Warrior historically accurate? In social circles that know anything about the Viking Age and have seen the movie, the answer is a resounding no, and the movie has picked up quite a few detractors over the years. Yet, the movie is not entirely without merit. In this article, I will deconstruct The 13th Warrior with a historical eye and point out both accuracies and inaccuracies for educational purposes. The 13th Warrior…

Lorenz Frølich's Impression Of Thyra Dannebod Ordering The Foundation Of The Danevirke.

The Danevirke Receives World Heritage Site Status

One of the most important sites for the study of the Viking Age has received recognition this month from the Unesco World Heritage committee. The Danevirke, designated a world heritage site in July of 2018, was discovered in 1897 and has contributed tremendously to our understanding of the Vikings. A world heritage site designation will help to protect and preserve the site for future study and may secure funds from Unesco to further future research.  What is the Danevirke? The Danevirke is a 40 kilometer (25 miles) long series of ditches and fortifications along the southern border of the Danish…

American Vikings

American Vikings: Did the Greenland Norse take Native American Wives?

It’s a well-known fact of history that the Vikings got around, both figuratively and literally. They reached distant lands, as far as Bagdad in the Middle East and Newfoundland in North America, and they tended to leave behind far more than their trade goods. Vikings, as we best understand them, were prolific progenitors all across the world. They took wives in distant lands, they sometimes brought those wives back to Scandinavia, but predominantly they left behind their genes where they roved. Considering all of this, one question about the American Vikings* remains an elusive mystery to us all: did they…

How Tall Were The Vikings?

How Tall Were the Vikings?

There exists a peculiar perception among the general public that the Vikings stood taller than other Europeans of the Viking Age. Books, shows, and even some notable museum displays paint a portrait of tall and powerful men with keen skill at killing others. Luckily, the Vikings buried many of their dead in a way that preserved their bones and, through diligent osteoarcheology, we can say with some degree of confidence how tall Viking Age Scandinavians were. How tall were the Vikings? Read on to find out. How to answer the question: How tall were the Vikings? As with everything to…

The Gotland Stones And Viking Drinking Horns

Drinking Horns: Were They Really Used by the Vikings?

Modern portrayals of the Vikings seem to be obsessed with horns, particularly in regards to those worn on the head (as part of the helmet) and those used for drinking alcohol. While the former has been proven false time and again - THE VIKINGS DID NOT WEAR HORNS - the second use, drinking from a horn, is a much different story. According to modern depictions, Vikings have a pseudo-monopoly on drinking horns, but the Vikings certainly were not the first to use them. Were Viking drinking horns really a thing? They were, but perhaps not exactly how you had envisioned.…

Eric Schumacher

How historical is historical fiction? An Interview with Bestselling Author Eric Schumacher

In July of 2017, I attended a panel discussion on the authenticity of historical fiction at the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds. While several authors of note were present, conspicuously absent were a few who I thought would have meaningfully contributed to the discussion. Chief among them was Bernard Cornwell, whom I interviewed this past September. Today I have the honor of interviewing another author who I believe would have made an excellent addition to the panel: bestselling author Eric Schumacher, author of the book series Hakon's Saga. The topic of the round table was defined as follows: “Fiction…

Why Are The Vikings So Popular?

Why Are the Vikings So Popular?

For those who study the Vikings professionally, there is an intrinsic fascination that drives their desire to study the Viking Age in the same way that others are drawn to ancient times, the medieval period, or even contemporary history. Yet, the Vikings’ popularity also manifests itself in popular culture, and has captivated a wide audience for nearly two centuries. From Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, a 19th century opera based on Norse and Germanic mythology, to today’s Vikings on the History Channel, the Vikings have captivated the imaginations of people across the world. This brings up an intriguing question: Why…

Bernard Cornwell

How historical is historical fiction? An Interview with Bernard Cornwell

This past July, I attended and spoke at the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds. It was a tremendous honor for me to join fellow authors Justin Hill, James Aitcheson, and Kelly Evans on stage for a round table discussion on the topic of historical fiction and the role it plays in presenting the medieval world outside of academia. Yet as I sat among my peers at the session, I could not help but think that for such a prestigious event, with a room full of academics as our audience, one person remained conspicuously absent. That person was…

Who Attacked Lindisfarne?

The Viking Raid at Lindisfarne: Who Attacked the Monastery?

It was an event that shook the Christian world to its core. So traumatic was its destruction that historians have agreed it should mark the official beginning of the Viking Age, even though it was not the first violence the British Isles experienced at the hands of the Vikings. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records ‘terrible portents’ to the events at Lindisfarne in 793 A.D. Located on Holy Island in the far north of England, it is written that the monastery saw powerful storms on the eve of the Vikings’ arrival. Who attacked Lindisfarne? The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes, “793. Here terrible portents…

Do You Use The Word Viking Correctly?

Do You Use the Word Viking Correctly?

A contentious issue that has long plagued both the study of Vikings and the place of Vikings in popular culture is the proper, accepted usage of the word Viking itself. Language matters, and how a person uses language greatly affects their worldview and how they perceive people, objects, and concepts. It is no surprise, then, that there are a growing number of people who are dismayed by today’s liberal use of the word Viking to describe a great number of things that it originally did not. Here I will attempt to clarify the origins of the word Viking, its usage…

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