The Vikings & The Islamic World: Volume 2 (The Vikings and The Islamic World Series)

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Christian influence on burials can be traced to the late 8th century in some parts of Sweden. Additionally, Irish missionary monks were most likely active in some parts of Sweden, as demonstrated by Irish saints that were honored in the Middle Ages. Sweden is traditionally considered to be the last country out of Sweden, Denmark and Norway to adopt Christianity and held on to their pagan beliefs the longest, with rulers such as Blot-Sweyn.

Ansgar made his first visit to Birka in , was granted permission to build a church, and stayed as a missionary until He then returned home and became Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen. Around , he returned to Birka, where he saw that the previous congregation had faded away. Ansgar tried to re-establish it, but it only lasted a few years.

On the same spot, a stone church was built in the earlyth century, and a short distance away, Varnhem Abbey was established in the 12th century. When Emund the Old ascended to the throne, around , he had converted to Christianity. But because of his quarrels with Adalhard , Archbishop of Bremen , independence of the Church of Sweden was not obtained for another century. A decade later, in , King Stenkil ascended to the throne.

However, the people of Uppland , with their centre in Uppsala , still held to their original heathen faith. There are large gaps in the knowledge of the earliest Swedish regents. However, the last king who followed the old Norse religion was Blot-Sweyn , who reigned — According to legend, Blot-Sweyn became king when his predecessor Inge refused to sacrifice at Uppsala.

Vikings: Secrets of the Vikings: Conversions - History

His brother-in-law Sweyn stepped up and agreed to sacrifice, which gave him the nickname Blot , which means sacrifice. Inge took out his revenge three years later, when he entered Uppsala with a great force, set Blot-Sweyn's house ablaze, and killed him as he attempted to flee the burning wreckage. It was not until Eric the Saint —60 that the Church of Sweden was to be organized on the medieval model.

According to a lateth-century legend, Erik undertook the so-called First Swedish Crusade to Finland together with the equally legendary Bishop Henry of Uppsala , conquering the country and building many churches there.


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No historical record remains of the alleged crusade. After the introduction of Christianity the importance of Uppsala began to decline steadily, and the kings no longer made it their residence.


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A cathedral was built on the place for the old Temple of Uppsala. One of the first to be consecrated there was the Swedish King Eric the Saint. The rise of Christianity in Sweden effectively ended the Viking Age since a culture of plunder and raiding was anathema to Christian doctrine. It also put a halt to one of Scandinavia's main exports: slaves. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the sources state how Sweden more or less consisted of self-governing provinces. And after Olof, the reign of the country was on several occasions divided between different rulers.

The greatest medieval statesman of Sweden, and one of the principal architects of its rise as a nation — Birger Jarl the Regent — practically ruled the land from to He is today revered as the founder of Stockholm and as the creator of national legislations. His reforms paved the way for the abolition of serfdom. Both these rulers, by the institution of separate and almost independent duchies, attempted to introduce into Sweden a feudal system similar to that already established in continental Europe; the danger of thus weakening the realm by partition was averted, though not without violent and tragic complications by the opponents, the Folkung party.

The term Folkung also later referred to Earl Birger's descendants, forming the royal Folkunge of Bjelbo dynasty. Finally, in , the severed portions of Sweden were once more reunited. Founded with this institution was a heavily armed cavalry, the kernel of the national army. This study looks at the area from a trans-regional perspective, combining archaeological evidence with written sources, and offering reflections on the many different factors of climate, topography, logistics, technology, politics and trade that shaped travel in this period.

The work offers a nuanced vision of Eastern Viking expansion, in which the Eastern Baltic frequently acted as buffer zone between eastern and western powers. The work was described by the prize committee in the following terms: "The scope of this book is far broader than the title might suggest. It amounts to a substantial rethinking of the history of the eastern Baltic from the tenth to the thirteenth century, based on both archaelogical and written evidence.

The author is by training an archaeologist, and she mounts a powerful criticism of historians who prioritise the written sources and then pick and choose from the archaeological evidence to suit their theories. This book foregrounds the archaeology, which is used to question and consider the written evidence.

The author is also highly and rightly critical of the archaeological scholarship, for projecting back into the past the narrow concerns of the numerous nation states that now exist across the eastern and northern Baltic, or the Great Russian nationalist-materialist-imperialist interpretations of the Soviet period. The resulting picture of commercial, political, and cultural interaction across several cultures, and based on reading in a wide range of languages, is a tour-de-force. Whetstones of light - grey, fine - grained muscovite quartz schist are considered to stem from the quarries in Eidsborg in Telemark Fig.

This rock type is here referred to as light - grey schist. The Eidsborg schist belongs lithostratigraphically to the Eidsborg Formation, the uppermost formation in the Bandak Group of the Proterozoic Telemark Supergroup Oftedahl The proposed Eidsborg provenance of whetstones of light - grey schist is based on the fact that the area encompasses numerous whetstone quarries with evidence for a long history of production, and on the radiometric dating K—Ar of mica, displaying a cooling age between and million years, rather typical of the Precambrian rocks in this region Mitchell and Askvik Macroscopic identification and microscopic studies of thin sections on whetstones of light-grey schist from Kaupang, Hedeby, Wolin, Aggersborg, Ribe, and various sites on the British Isles have demonstrated their origin in Eidsborg Askvik , , ; Crosby and Mitchell ; Hald ; Mitchell and Askvik ; Moore ; Resi A second type of schist considered to have originated in the western Scandinavian Peninsula is a more fine-grained schist that has been referred to under slightly varying terminology, such as muscovite-biotite-quartz-phyllite Ellis , blue phyllite Moore , bluish-grey to dark grey phyllite Kars , dark, blue-purple phyllite Gaunt ; Moore , dark grey, very fine-grained muscovite-quartz schist Askvik , ; Mitchell and Askvik , purple phyllite Crosby and Mitchell , and metasiltstones Hald Such whetstones from Ribe vary from dark grey to purple in colour.

The Caledonides in Europe occur in a belt crossing Scandinavia, England, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as in a zone in central Europe. In the latter zone, the Caledonian rocks are covered by post-Caledonian deformation, meaning that a central European origin of Caledonian whetstones can be excluded Askvik England is not a likely source area due to the relatively small numbers of whetstones of the Caledonian type found there Crosby and Mitchell Scotland and Shetland have been suggested as a possible origin; however, the Shetland schist is more coarsely grained than the Caledonian whetstones discussed here Crosby and Mitchell Therefore, a Scandinavian provenance seems plausible, where the Caledonian belt covers the approx.

This type of whetstone is common at the same Viking Age sites in Northern Europe where Eidsborg whetstones are found. The first study of whetstones from Ribe, conducted by archaeologist Siri Myrvoll and geologist Niels Hald in , included a total of whetstones from excavations during —6.

Based on macroscopic identification and thin sections, Myrvoll and Hald identified several petrographic groups, such as grey schist, siltstones, sandstones, and miscellaneous Hald ; Myrvoll , indicating a variety of origins. They also identified whetstones of both the light - grey schist and the very fine - grained schist. The former were identified as whetstones from Eidsborg; 17 of the pieces examined by Myrvoll and Hald, Based on datings of the find contexts, Myrvoll concluded that the distribution of whetstones from Eidsborg began in the ninth century Hald ; Myrvoll , , The stones have fairly variable colour nuances: they considered whetstones with a purple colour to share a common provenance, whereas stones with a grey colour were thought to represent a different group Hald ; Myrvoll This delineation was not firmly established, and the provenance of the whetstones could not be identified beyond a possible origin in the Scandinavian Caledonian belt Hald ; Myrvoll Purple to grey, very fine-grained quarts-rich schist, ranging from schist to metasiltstone, Caledonian, slightly comparable.

Poor information, but situated in Caledonian phyllite and graphite bearing mica schist. Probably not comparable. In addition to the quarries in question within the two quarry areas, we added similar analyses for some of the less likely candidates, for the sake of visualising petrographic and geochemical contrasts. The latter was included also for confirming or rejecting that Eidsborg really was the source for the light grey schist in Ribe, and thus also for providing further evidence of the viability of the chosen methods.


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  8. The rock that is quarried for whetstones occurs as thin inliers within largely volcanic rocks. Visual characterisation of whetstones from Ribe pieces on site in order to identify whetstones with a possible provenance within present-day Norway. Collection of representative samples from these lithological groups 21 pieces. Four of these 14 pieces overlap with the 11 Ribe pieces chosen in step 4.

    Lithological groups with a possible provenance within present-day Norway, and number of analyses carried out from the different groups. Thin section analyses, examples crossed polarizers. Sample numbers from Ribe are given on top right corner. Photos: Tom Heldal. Thin sections of 11 whetstones from Ribe compared with quarries in present-day Norway. Whetstones with no match or a poor match come from an unknown source. Nine of the samples were of the very fine - grained schist , three were of light grey schist assumed Eidsborg , and two were biotite schist.

    These were compared to a total of 60 samples from the quarries selected for comparison see above. Al 2 O 3 versus MgO define two distinct trends; one following the Mostadmarka and the Soknedal quarries, and one defined by the Telemark quarries. Further to the right is the Hardanger quarry. The very fine-grained schist from Ribe plots clearly within the Mostadmarka quarries, except for one sample that also fits with the Soknedal quarries.

    Light grey schist from Ribe is clustered within the samples from the Telemark quarries, while the two biotite schist samples do not fit any of the quarry areas. Illustration: Tom Heldal, Ingvild T. Moreover, one of the biotite schists plots clearly outside the quarry areas. SiO 2 versus MnO, showing that all the Ribe samples of very fine-grained schist plot within the Mostadmarka cluster, and none within the Soknedal cluster. Note that the Ribe light grey schist are confined entirely to the Telemark quarry cluster.

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    The two biotite samples do not fit into any of the quarries; they both show deviating geochemistry in at least one of the three plots. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that they have their origin somewhere other than the sampled quarries. Considerable overlap among major-element plots of samples from the two quarries in Mostamarka precludes determining whether the Ribe whetstones originate either from one of the quarries exclusively, or from both.

    Our study thus indicates that quarries within two large production sites within present-day Norway, Eidsborg and Mostadmarka, were major suppliers of whetstones to Ribe.

    Silk for the Vikings [Paperback]

    Whetstones from ASR 7 Sct. Nicolajgade assumed to originate from Eidsborg and Mostadmarka. Only one of 11 whetstones from pre is west-Scandinavian, increasing to more than half of the material post Only four whetstones date between and ; three of them originate from the quarries in Mostadmarka. In total, whetstones from Mostadmarka are over four times as common as Eidsborg stones.

    Neil Price

    Following the procedure in Feveile and Jensen , stones that cannot be related more precisely than to two subsequent phases are placed in the youngest phase e. The numbers of such finds are italicised. Two whetstones from ASR 9, one possibly from Eidsborg and one from Mostadmarka, are related to the phases I—J, and thus placed in phase J dated to the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, and consequently not included in this study.

    Consequently, the total number of whetstones from phase G is also increased by four in relation to Feveile and Jensen , Fig. Seven of the finds from Mostadmarka were related to the phases G—H, whereas the rest were related to the phases H—I. Numbers of stones are too low in the pre phase B to provide percentages of significance, but possible Mostadmarka whetstones occur there.

    In the first half of the ninth century G, H—I they constitute more than half of the total. Thus, this study identifies for the first time the origin of the very fine-grained schist—both purple and dark grey—documenting long-distance trade in commodities from Arctic Scandinavia to Ribe in the eighth to mid-ninth centuries. The material suggests that since the second quarter of the eighth century, possibly before, people in Ribe received a substantial proportion—since c.

    In phase H—I —50 stones from Eidsborg and Mostadmarka are nearly equally numerous. Of the total whetstone material from the excavations in Kaupang — c. Eidsborg-type stones appear to increase with time; in the earliest phase c. Thus, from the early s onwards, a gradual shift towards a higher proportion of Eidsborg-type whetstones can be observed in both Kaupang and Ribe.

    The sailing distance from Mostadmarka is about the same to Ribe as to Kaupang—approx. Possibly, the increase in Eidsborg whetstones in Ribe c. The contemporary limited but abrupt increase in soapstone items in Ribe above, n. Until the predominance by Eidsborg whetstones in the eleventh century, Mostadmarka stones constituted the majority of whetstones in Ribe, Kaupang, and Hedeby.

    It appears that since the early eighth century and well into the twelfth, there was a steady supply of whetstones from Mostadmarka to markets and urban sites in southern Scandinavia. The precise volume is hard to determine, but a rough estimate suggests that in Ribe an annual average of approx. Hence, as an absolute minimum, an average annual supply to Ribe of several hundred Mostadmarka and Eidsborg whetstones—until c.

    Jordanes, in his mid-sixth-century History of the Goths ch. Jordanes also mentions the neighbouring Scrithifinni , apparently the Finnas, which he identifies as hunters and gatherers. From these northern regions come exquisite furs enjoyed by the Romans, Jordanes reports ch. Datable Insular loot deposited in Scandinavia based on Wamers The three sea-king zones along the west-Scandinavian coast are indicated based on Hansen and Olsen ; Skre b Although the Borg finds demonstrate that glass vessels were available to seventh to tenth century west-Scandinavian aristocrats, the latter, unlike their peers in southern and south-eastern Scandinavia, did not include them in grave furnishings Holand — Fortunate depositional and post-depositional circumstances and the sieving strategy applied in the particularly find-rich north-western corner of the hall section appear to be the main reason for the uniqueness of the artefact assemblage in Borg.

    In written evidence, the trade in commodities acquired from the Finnas through tax, tribute, trade, and plunder is a recurring theme in royal politics from the time of the first king of Norway, Harald Fairhair reign c. Prior to that, a prime driver behind political integration processes along the route seems to have been the securing of seaward traffic in general, but in particular probably the transport of Arctic commodities to sites and markets along the west-Scandinavian coast and in the southern North Sea zone.

    The common occurrence since the late-sixth century in several east-Scandinavian regions of gaming pieces made from North-Atlantic whalebone Hennius et al. All the commodities mentioned by Ohthere were high-value items for a narrow group of buyers: either luxuries down, ivory, fur or sought-after utilities ship-ropes from hide. These high-quality products from Arctic Scandinavia were in high demand in the aristocratic segment in the Continent and the British Isles.

    Essential constraints and opportunities of Viking-ship commanders of the s—s are discussed in the following, suggesting how they may have influenced their decisions on where to raid in various periods. The discussion is framed by the substantial trade in Arctic commodities along the west-Scandinavian coast evidenced by the Ribe whetstones.

    The interests of various groups in this trade produced both conflicts and coalitions. While this coalition appears to have had existed since the Roman Period, strengthening of royal authority in the late eighth century posed an obstacle for Viking-ship commanders, who now faced a stronger adversary. Their second concern, emerging through the s—30s, was that they were victim to their own success: the profitability of overseas raiding attracted increasingly greater numbers of ships and men to that enterprise, with the resulting competition reducing their spoils.

    However, this situation also produced a new opportunity: raiders could join forces in Viking fleets that had the necessary strength to conduct successful raids on prosperous and well-defended sites. By overwintering overseas, Vikings could reduce the danger of retaliation from kings and traders based in the homelands for raiding lands and waters where the latter wanted to maintain peace.

    Thus, we suggest that Viking raiding overseas began as Vikings became the weaker party in a longstanding conflict in the homelands. As their activities gained volume and momentum through the s—30s, the homeland conflict with traders and kings maintained significant influence on where Vikings raided. Bately , 56—7. Ohthere must have received the same privilege by others to be permitted to travel across the various political and cultural zones on his long route.

    In the best of these were situated manors rich in monuments and lavishly furnished graves spanning the early Bronze Age to the Viking Age. While rich finds also occur in the much more fertile and densely settled districts in valleys and along fjords further inland, the archaeological record of the outer-coast manors is unsurpassed. Among them, in Rogaland and Hordaland, are the five manors that according to the Icelandic saga tradition belonged to Harald Fairhair. Between the three zones the islands and headlands along the sailing route are too barren to support large or numerous settlements.

    Based on excavations here, Skre b argues that from the third to the eleventh centuries these manors served as supply bases for the sea kings who exerted authority over the sailing route. By fighting Vikings who lurked in the innumerable islands and bays along the route, the sea kings could provide safe sailing for traders and other travellers. In the same saga ch. Although aristocrats would have had their own ships and men to defend their lives and cargo, it would have lain entirely within their interest to support royal peacekeepers along the route.

    At Avaldsnes such evidence i. The same person could of course be a trader, Viking, and royal warrior in different waters or at different times—after all, the same skills were needed by all three: seamanship, negotiating abilities, and martial proficiency. While some sea kings mentioned in sagas and skaldic verse were evidently Vikings, Harald appears to have been a warrior who rose to power in a peacekeeping sea-king milieu along the sailing route in Rogaland and Hordaland, subsequently extending his realm from the sea route to the inland Skre b.

    Other rulers e. Already by the late eighth century, kingship appears to have developed at the southern end of the route, in Rogaland and southern Hordaland. They maintain that kingship there was modelled after the Anglo-Saxon version, and that the burial rites of the two first Scandinavian ship graves near Avaldsnes—the ships were built c. The increase in the s and peak in the s in the total number of whetstones deposited in Ribe each year—annual average in ASR 9 of 3.

    The reason for the increase is probably that this period saw the heyday of trade in the Channel and the southern North Sea zone Coupland ; Verhulst Contemporary developments of royal authority over Viken Fig. It appears that the earliest Viking raiders in the west emerged from the western coast of the Scandinavian Peninsula, suggesting a connection to the contemporary peak in the transport of Arctic commodities along the very same coast and the building up of royal authority there.

    Following a brief summary of the whens and wheres of the early raiding, these suggested connections are explored below. Beginning in , the earliest reported Viking raids in the west were a series of disparate attacks on coastal settlements from the Bay of Biscay in the south to the Atlantic Scottish Isles in the north Fig. While, surely, many attacks are unreported, the overall chronology in England, Francia, and Ireland is rather well testified.

    Northern Scotland is the least reported Barrett , but was probably targeted early. Based on reported raids, beginning in Portland in Dorset in , the English Channel coast from Kent and westwards seems to have been hit first Downham From c. From the mids, Viking activities entered a third phase: larger armies attacked Ireland, England, and Francia, penetrated inland, and in some cases began overwintering. There is little Insular or Continental evidence as to where in Scandinavia the ship crews of the pre-mids raids originated; the information in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that the ships in Portland came from Hordaland is an addition to the chronicle a century after the event Downham and thus less reliable.

    The origin of the culprits in the early raiding in northern Great Britain and Ireland, however, is indicated by Scandinavian evidence. Admittedly, such items may already have been old when taken, and burial customs in southern Scandinavia provide a meagre basis for quantitative comparison with those of the western Scandinavian Peninsula. No such find patterns can guide the search for the origin of the early raiders in England and Francia, but western and southern Scandinavia is a safe bet.

    The royal power that emerged in southern and western Scandinavia in the late eighth century will have had two effects, both of which produced redundant military capacity. Firstly, royal power would have subdued rivalry between smaller polities and among royal pretenders, and leaders previously engaged in such unrest will have been ready to direct their troops elsewhere. Secondly, royal power provided safe sailing for traders, thus reducing spoils and increasing risks for Vikings who previously had parasitized on traders.

    However, the latter enterprise was available only for those who produced or had access to commodities that were in demand overseas. Once rising royal power put the damper on raiding close to home, warriors and ship commanders in southern and western Scandinavia would have looked overseas for alternative hunting grounds. Why, then, was raiding c.

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    Hypothetically, resistance was weaker there. In an abrupt shift in the mids, extensive Viking raiding commenced in England and in the Empire. Unprecedented in magnitude, this wave of raiding has been considered to have dealt a blow to craft production and trade in those countries. Dorestad was sacked in and annually again for three consecutive years. The internal disputes between Louis the Pious and his rebellious sons in the early s and among his sons following his death left the Empire vulnerable.

    For several decades, coasts and riverbanks from Frisia to Bordeaux were heavily and repeatedly sacked Nelson ; Walther — In England a large army landed in on Isle of Sheppey in the Thames Estuary, heralding several decades of intense raiding in England, targeting towns Southampton in and , London in , culminating in the invasion in of the Great Heathen Army that ravaged eastern and northern England for more than a decade.

    How did the interests of Vikings come to eclipse those of Scandinavian traders in the mids? This is a complex issue and we will restrict the discussion to suggesting some factors that may have contributed to these developments. As a prelude, the question of precisely how harmful Viking raids were to trade needs to be weighed. Hodges — has downplayed the significance of raids, arguing that in the s, trade in the southern North Sea zone was already dwindling, while Dorestad, London, and Southampton were in recession; thus, Viking attacks were not the main reason for the slump in trade and the abandonment of towns around However, the archaeological evidence he refers to is not dated with sufficient precision to determine whether the recession began before, during, or after the s.

    the vikings the islamic world volume 2 the vikings and the islamic world series Manual

    When production and trade in Ribe dwindled, this was probably due to the breaking of trade connections to the south and west, particularly to Dorestad. Clearly, Hodges is right that the recession in Carolingian economy in the mids has a complex background, but his reasons for minimizing the impact of Viking attacks on this development do not seem convincing.

    Trade in the Baltic prospered in these years as the eastern riverine routes towards the Finns, Slavs, Kahzars, Bulgars, Arabs, and others opened, and urban sites in the Baltic flourished Callmer Contemporaneously, brooch types from the west-Scandinavian coast, which did not occur at Kaupang in the early ninth century, began to predominate in cemeteries there. Evidently, trade routes along the western coast of the Scandinavian Peninsula shifted from the North Sea zone to Skagerrak, Kattegat Skre b , and the Baltic Skre c —the very route followed by Ohthere.

    In view of the above, it seems likely that the Viking raids in England and the Empire from the mids were detrimental to trade in the southern North Sea zone, and were thus contrary to the interests of kings and traders in western and southern Scandinavia. Why, then, were they not stopped? Secondly, the motivation on the part of Scandinavian kings and traders to stop Viking raids in the North Sea may have been undercut by the viable alternative in the Baltic trade.

    When proceeds decrease below an acceptable level, one solution would be to establish a settlement in the vicinity of the potential loot so as to exclude others from raiding in the surrounding territory. While Kurrild-Klitgaard and Svensen see this as the logic behind state formation and taxation, it may equally well contribute to explaining the two shifts in Viking behaviour in the mids: the start of overwintering and the taking up of raiding in England and the Empire.

    The motif of establishing well-defended longphuirt in Ireland Sheehan may not have been to protect only against the Irish but also against other Vikings who sought to obtain spoils from the region. Thus, defended Viking bases in Ireland and Scotland may have compelled latecoming Viking-ship commanders to look elsewhere for prey. As the numbers of Vikings increased, attacks on prosperous towns and regions in southern England and Francia became realistic ventures. Large fleets that could undertake such operations were formed through agreements between ship commanders, possibly up to 50, each in command of only a few ships Price The earliest record of overwintering refers to Ireland in , the first in the Empire at Noirmoutier Island off Aquitaine in , and in England on Thanet Island in Kent in However, all these instances may have been preceded by overwintering in Scotland.

    Permanent Viking camps in Scotland, possibly also in Ireland, appear to have been the bases from which many of the subsequent raids set out for England and the Empire, not to mention for occasional raids against the west-Scandinavian coast. The paucity on the western coast of the Scandinavia Peninsula of Frankish and south-Anglo-Saxon buried loot as compared to Northumbrian, Scottish, and Irish loot suggests that few of those who pillaged in the south returned to the western coast of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and conversely that some of those who pillaged in the north did return to the homelands.

    Irish annals mention no kings among the Vikings until , after which their deeds were mentioned on several occasions. While this discussion involves intricate philological and historical problems that will not be addressed here, we suggest that the conflicting interests of overwintering Vikings on the one hand and west-Scandinavian traders and royal peacekeepers on the other may be of relevance for these debates. As discussed in the beginning of this paper, the primary driver for economic complexity within regions in early medieval Europe appears to be aristocratic wealth.

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