As a published historian, teacher, and author of historical fiction novels about the Vikings, I am often asked what books I recommend for people who want to start learning about the Vikings and the Viking Age. Here is a list of ten highly recommended history books about the Vikings, aimed at a general audience and perfect for those just starting to learn about the Viking Age.
Before diving into the world of Viking history books, it is essential to understand the context and significance of the Viking Age. The Viking Age, spanning from around 793 AD to 1066 AD, was a crucial period in European history, marked by the expansion and exploration of the Norse people from Scandinavia. Their legacy continues to captivate historians, archaeologists, and general readers alike.
During the Viking Age, these fierce warriors, skilled traders, and master shipbuilders sailed across the seas, reaching as far as North America, North Africa, and Central Asia. They established settlements, engaged in trade, and formed alliances with various societies, ultimately impacting the regions they encountered.
Viking history books offer readers the opportunity to explore this captivating era, uncovering its complexities and nuances. While the popular image of Vikings as ruthless raiders is indeed a part of their history, it is only a fraction of their story. Viking history books delve into a wide range of topics, from their extraordinary seafaring abilities and advanced shipbuilding techniques to their complex social structure, religious beliefs, and artistic expressions.
The study of Viking history also provides valuable insights into medieval Europe’s political and cultural landscape. As the Vikings interacted with diverse societies, they influenced and were influenced by the people they encountered. This exchange led to the spread of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices, shaping the development of Europe in significant ways.
By reading Viking history books, you will gain a deeper understanding of the Viking Age and discover the interconnectedness of the broader historical narrative. The Viking Age serves as a fascinating reminder of human societies’ resilience, ingenuity, and adaptability, showcasing the indelible mark left by the Norse people over the course of history.
So, whether you are a history enthusiast, a curious reader, or someone with a keen interest in the Viking Age, this list of Viking history books is the perfect starting point for your journey into the captivating world of the Vikings.
Viking History Books List
- “The Vikings: A History” by Robert Ferguson is a comprehensive account of the Viking Age, exploring their culture, society, and impact on Europe. This is my top pick for people just starting out on the subject.
- “The Age of the Vikings” by Anders Winroth is an engaging book that provides an overview of Viking history, focusing on the intricacies of their society and the factors that led to their rise and eventual decline.
- “The Norsemen in the Viking Age,” by Eric Christiansen, is an accessible albeit heady book that examines the overall impacts of the Viking Age on Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, emphasizing the thorough evaluation of the scholarly work that has informed our narrative for what happened.
- “The Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings” by Neil Price is a fascinating examination of Viking life, culture, and beliefs, shedding light on their rich and complex society.
- “Men of Terror,” by William Short and Reynir Oskarson, is an entertaining and informative guide to the mindset, beliefs, and battle tactics of the Vikings, offering an immersive look at their world.
- “Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga,” edited by William W. Fitzhugh and Elisabeth I. Ward, is a collection of essays and articles covering various aspects of Viking history, culture, and exploration, providing a comprehensive and engaging overview.
- “The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings,” edited by Peter Sawyer, is an illustrated volume that offers a detailed look at Viking history, with contributions from leading scholars in the field.
- “The Viking World,” by James Graham-Campbell, is a well-illustrated and accessible introduction to the Viking Age, providing an overview of their history, culture, and accomplishments.
- “The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings,” by John Haywood, is an atlas that combines informative text with detailed maps and illustrations, offering a visual and engaging journey through Viking history.
- “The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes,” by Carolyne Larrington, is a captivating exploration of the myths and legends of the Vikings, providing valuable insights into their beliefs, values, and worldview.
These books offer a solid foundation for understanding the Viking Age, providing a range of perspectives on their history, culture, and society. They cater to a general audience, making them accessible and enjoyable for readers just starting out in their exploration of a time and place so often mythologized and misunderstood.
If you would like to learn more about the Vikings in other mediums, check out my podcast channel Vikingology: The Art and Science of the Viking Age.