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Old May 5th, 2011, 10:25 AM   #1

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The Last of the Vikings?


Many sources quote the end of the Viking Era in England being 1066 (battle of stamford bridge), but it seems that the Viking Era persisted for quite some time in the Scottish Isles. The end of the Viking Era in these parts is generally quoted as 1266 (Treaty of Perth).

So in the late 1230's and early 1240's Harald Olafsson (son of Olaf the Black) was the Norse king of Mann and the Isles. Would the Norse people living on these islands have been real Vikings? By which I mean would there at least have been some people remaining who still fought and lived in the traditional viking ways and who may have:
a) Worshipped the norse gods and had not been converted to christianity
b) Taken part in viking raids on the longships
c) Been 'berserker' warriors or 'bear coats'

So in essence I am interested in whether there were still remnants of the traditional vikings in the scottish isles about 1240 AD, some leftover Norse people sticking to the old ways that were more typical of the viking era from the late 8th to 11th century.

Any assistance would be much appreciated, thank you!
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Old May 5th, 2011, 10:30 AM   #2

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viking culture and pagan belife i think persisted in Greenland for quite some time
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Old May 5th, 2011, 11:38 AM   #3

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Greenland was Christian from the 11th century.

The Orkney's may have been Christian by approximately 995 AD due to King Olaf Tryggavason's forced conversion, or it may have happened gradually. A bishop's see was established and a cathedral built around 1050 in Birsay.

As for the Isle of Man, there are hardly any contemporary sources, the first account we have of the goings on there starts about 1066. However, it seems likely that the Norse here were Christian by the end of 10th century as well. During there are far more decorated stone crosses from this period than there are pagan graves.

So, I would have to say, no. By the 13th century, if there were any who still followed the old gods they would have to have been very few in number I imagine, if they existed at all. I doubt they went raiding by that time either.

Last edited by Tuor; May 5th, 2011 at 11:47 AM.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 02:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishcrusader95 View Post
viking culture and pagan belife i think persisted in Greenland for quite some time
Vikings lasted in Greenland into the 15th Century. Does one have to be pagan to be considered a Viking or were they still considered a Viking after they converted to Christianity?
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Old May 5th, 2011, 02:29 PM   #5

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Thank you Tuor, you are obviously very knowledgeable on the subject. It does seem that Christianity seems to be all pervading by this point in the 13th century, but as you pointed out it may be possible that there were a few who could still have secretly followed the old gods at this point but its hard to know.

Focusing more now on conflicts around these times rather than religion. Olaf the Black was involved in a struggle for power where battles took place on Skye and on the Isle of Bute where they captured Rothesay Castle. I am also wondering whether the Norse warriors involved in these battles in the 13th century would have been similar in style and weaponry to the Vikings who raided England and Scotland during the earlier Viking era from 8th to 11th century? Were the 13th century norsemen of the scottish isles more modernised in a military sense, or were they like the vikings of old?
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Old May 5th, 2011, 03:09 PM   #6

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I'm fairly certain that the equipment the Norse used developed at the same rate as arms and armour used in mainland Europe.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 03:15 PM   #7

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Christianity didn'r really slow down the Norsemen much in terms of their fighting prowess. Norse and English mercenaries constituted the bulk of the elite Varangian Guard in the Eastern Roman Empire and were, justly, famed for the skill in combat and loyalty. Check out
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Old May 5th, 2011, 03:20 PM   #8

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I don't think anyone said it did.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 03:24 PM   #9

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Just saying since the Christianity thing was mentioned as a possible reason for exclusion from Vikinghood.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 03:27 PM   #10

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could it be possible that some vikings while appearing to now follow christianity were secretly still worshiping the old gods like the lithuanians are said to have up until even the 20th century in order to avoid persecution
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