Norsemen to Vikings
Early Scandinavian History

Duncan MacDonald     
Jakarta   25  November  2021      

  Norsemen to Vikings

Ice Age

Ice Cap Europe
Ice Age Europe   approx 9,000 BCE

Glaceir receding
Glacier receding - Norway

Dover straits
Brexit really happened 450,000 years ago
Dover and Calais were originally joined by a chalk ridge 450,000 years ago. This chalk ridge acted as a huge dam, creating the lake formed from melting water in front of North Sea ice sheets. But then the lake overflowed in huge waterfalls, eroding the rock away until it broke and released huge amounts of water into the valley below, creating the now Dover Strait.

Norse Mythology

Odin ~ regarded as the principal god of Norse mythology.
Odin is a god of war, poetry, magic and wisdom. His job was to unlock the mysteries of the universe.
In appearance he was a tall, old man, with with a flowing beard and only one eye (the other he gave in exchange for wisdom).
He was usually depicted wearing a cloak and a wide brimmed hat and carrying a spear.
Odin was described as hanging himself upside-down for nine days and nights on the cosmological tree, Yggdrasil, in order to gain knowledge of the runic alphabet which he passed on to humanity.

Nordic  Runes
Nordic Runes

Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The runic alphabet was a writing system used by peoples of Scandinavia, northern Europe, Britain and Iceland from the 3rd century to the 16th or 17th century CE. Runic inscriptions were written from right to left like the earliest alphabets, thus seeming to belong to a more ancient system – perhaps from a Greek alphabet originally learned from the Phoenicians as early as the 8th century BCE.
The word alphabet comes from the Greek letters, alpha and beta.

Yggdrasil – Tree of Life
The cosmos in Norse Mythology consists of Nine Worlds that flank a central sacred tree,
Yggdrasil, an immense ash tree and considered very holy. Central to it all was Midgard – the place where humans live.

Loki Hel
Loki, Norse god of mischief - and his daughter, Hel - goddess of the underworld

Thor hammer
Thor is the Norse god of thunder, the sky and agriculture. He is the eldest son of Odin and became the most popular deity of the Norse pantheon. The modern English word for the 4th day of the week, Thursday, was named after him (Thor's Day)

Thor Skrymir
Thor and giant-king Skrymir

Balder the wise and gentle god of light, son of Odin, with his mother Frigga, goddess of motherhood

Njord Njord, god of the sea, wind and weather

Skadi choosing her husband
Skadi, a giantess of the Aesir tribe, went to Asgard, the home of the gods to choose a husband. She had to select her husband from any of the gods present by judging her attraction to their bared feet. The feet she chose belonged to Njord - and Skadi became his second wife.
The marriage failed because Njord preferred to live in his home by the sea, while Skadi was happier in her father's mountain dwelling place.

A Valkyrie watching a battle between two Norse villages
Valkyries (from Old Norse valkyrja "chooser of the slain") are female figures who select who may die in battle and those who live. Choosing among half of those who die in battle (the other half go to goddess Freyja's afterlife field, Volkvangr) the Valkyries take their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin. Valkyries sometimes take the shape of swans.

Valhalla, (from Old Norse Valholl "hall of the slain") is a majestic enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by Odin. Chosen by Valkyries, half of those who die in combat are brought to Valhalla upon death. In Valhalla the dead warriors join the masses of those who have also died in combat.

Idun, the goddess of youth, giving her Magic Apples of Immortality, to other gods.

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Stone Age

Making Fire
Stone Age Men Making Fire

Sami people tent
Stone Age Sami people

Herding deer Sami herding reindeer

Bronze Age

Bronze age family
Bronze Age family in front of their home in Denmark

Bronze tools weapons
Bronze Age tools and weapons

Bronze Age Karl
Bronze Age Nordic Karl

Rock engraving
Bronze Age Rock Carving – Bohuslan, Sweden
Sandinavia has the largest amount of Bronze Age rock carvings in Europe.

Norse couple
Bronze Age Norse couple at their village

Norse women
Norse Women
Stone Age Girl - Egtved Girl - Bronze Age Woman - Iron Age Woman

The Egtved girl was aged 16 years when buried in Denmark in 1370 BCE in an oak coffin.
She wore a loose woolen bodice and a short string skirt ending above her knees
– this indicates she was not married.

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Iron Age

Iron age family
Iron Age Norse family and their farmhouse

Tolland man
Tollund Man sacrificed 2,300 years ago in Sweden. He was 30-40 years old. The bog preserved his face but his body was reconstructed from his bones. Scandinavian Gods were hungry for sacrifice.

Village Life
Iron Age   Norse   Hamlet

Villiang chief
Iron Age Norse village Chief

Longhouse woman
Iron Age Longhouse Woman

Classical World
The Classical World - 8th century BCE to 6th century CE
Italy, Greece, Malta and The Balkans

Acropolis Plato Aristotle
Ancient Acropolis, Athens                         Plato and Aristotle

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Scandinavian Ships

Bronze Age boat
Bronze Age Hjortspring boat

Knarr Norse boat
Knarr - Norse cargo ship

Viking Longship
Viking Longship

Leif Eriksson
Leif Eriksson & crew landing in North America - 1002 CE
490 years before Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus
Nina ~ ~ ~ ~ Christopher Columbus ~ ~ ~ Santa Maria
landed in America 1492

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Roman Empire

Roman Empire
The Roman Empire - late 4th century

Teutoburg Forrest
The Battle of Teutoburg Forest 9 CE
The Romans made a desperate but unsuccessful, attempt to storm the Germanic Wall.
Roman General Publius Quinctilius Varus commiting suicide.

Huns attacking
Huns attacking on horseback ~ c.430 CE

Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Hun warrior

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Hoby grave valuables
Hoby Chieftain's grave valuables - Denmark.
One of the richest Iron Age burials in Northern Europe - 1st century CE


Anglo-Saxon Map and Warrior

King Offa
Anglo-Saxon map of Britain       King Offa of Mercia

The Danelaw in England ~ Guthrum
Danish warlord Guthrum led an invasion of Anglo-Saxon England in 871. He waged war against the Wessex king, Alfred the Great, who defeated him in 878. Guthrum withdrew to East Anglia and ruled there as King from 880 until his death in in 890, from natural causes.

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Harald Bluetooth
King Harald 'Bluetooth' 958 ~ Harald being baptised ~ Jim Kardash ~ Bluetooth logo
King Harald Bluetooth united Denmark and parts of Norway during his reign from 958 to 988 CE. Jim Kardash from Intel in 1999 was quoted as saying: “King Harold Bluetooth was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link”.

Sweyn Cnut
Sweyn Forkbeard             Cnut the Great
Harold Bluetooth had a son, Sweyn Forkbeard, who forcibly deposed his father from his Danish throne in 986. Harald was driven into exile and died shortly after.
Sweyn for a period was king of Denmark and Norway. He led several large Viking raids against England. In 1013 Sweyn was the first Viking to be crowned King of England. He ruled only until his death in Gainsborough 3 February 1014 aged 50.
His children included Cnut the Great, also known as Canute. As a Danish prince, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 and ruled until his death in 1035, aged around 45. He was also King of Denmark (1018 to 1035) and King of Norway (1028 to 1035).

Viking Age

lindisfarne Vikings with looted treasure after attacking Lindisfarne Monastery on 8 June 793 CE

Vikings Iona
Vikings attacking Iona Monastery - 795 CE


        Viking village in Ireland     Devenish Island Round Tower
The Vikings who first attacked Ireland were Norwegian, while those who attacked Britain were usually Danish. They pillaged Irish monasteries, churches, fortresses of Irish Lords and farmsteads. The Vikings found that it was very easy to ransack these vulnerable settlements. In time, the monks learned how to frustrate the Vikings, by building tall stone towers known as Round Towers. The door was placed one floor up, accessible by a ladder. Inside the tower, each floor was accessed by further ladders. If Vikings were sighted, the monks would grab as much food and valuables as they could, climb into the tower and pull up the ladder.

Viking trade routes
Viking Age trade routes in North Western Europe

Isle of Man

Vikings first set foot on the Isle of Man in 798 CE. By 820 they had conquered and established a thriving Viking colony, profitably engaging in the trade between Ireland and the Scottish islands.

Tynwald hill
Isle of Man - Tynwald Hill - by George Cooke 1804
In 800 CE the Vikings founded Tynwald, the oldest working parliament in the world. This parliament is still in existence on the island today. Tynwald means ‘open assembly’ in old Norse. The Tynwald might have been local and regional to begin with and then later developed into one centralised assembly or government. These Tynwald’s were already in operation before the establishment of Parliamentary Government in England.

Shinta, Duncan MacDonald – Diana, Richard Gozney
Jakarta wedding reception - 2003
Note: We first met Sir Richard and his charming wife, Lady Diana Gozney, when they attended Shinta and my wedding reception, in Jakarta on 3 October 2003. At that time Richard was the British Ambassador to Indonesia. He is the former Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, retired August 2021 after serving 5 years 4 months – dMAC


Scotland map
Scotland - Kingdoms of the Isles and Man – End of the 11th century

Vikings colonised parts of Scotland from the 8th to the 15th centuries CE.
The Northern Isles were the first to be conquered by the Vikings – and the last to be ceded by the Norwegian crown to Scotland, in the 15th century.
In 1156 CE, despite having fewer men and resources, a Gaelic/Norse warlord, Somerled, captured ships and equipment and established a fleet of smaller ships. His galleys out-manoeuvred the Viking longboats and eradicated the Manx fleet, creating an empire that stretched from Lewis to Man.

Somerled watching over one of his Birlinn galleys.

Lewis Chessmen
The Lewis Chessmen are the most important chess pieces in history.
They were found on the west coast of Lewis but made in Norway 1150-1200 CE. The 3 Rooks in the front row represent Viking Berserkers - they are biting their shields.

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Viking Warriors

Hedeby market
Norse Trader with scales, at Hedeby Market
Hedeby was an importaint Danish Viking Age trading settlement at the southeastern end of the Jutland Peninsular.

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Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge 25 September 1066 ~ King Harold II,
last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, defeated invading Viking army.

Bayeax Tapestry
Battle of Hastings - 14 October 1066
The Bayeax Tapestry is an embroyded cloth nearly 70 meters long and 50 centimeters tall that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

Anglo-Saxon Lord     Anglo-Saxon Warrior     Norman Warrior

Rollo  Charles
    Rollo Duke of Normandy         Charles the Simple of France

Normans Saxons Battle of Hastings 1066
Norman Cavalry         Anglo-Saxon shield wall

Harold William
    King Harold II         William the Conqueror

Great Domesday Book (the larger book - not the original cover) ~ Page 5 written in Latin

Lady Godiva
Lady Godiva was the first female landowner recorded in the Domesday Book.
Here she rides through Coventry.

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Ice Age Europe

Glacier receding - Norway

Dover Strait formed 450,000 years ago

Odin, god of war

Yggdrasil – Tree of Life

Loki and daughter, Hel

Thor god of thunder, the sky and agricultrure

Thor and giant-king Skrymir

Balder with his mother Frigga

Njord god of the sea, wind & weather

Skardi, a giantess, choosing her husband by his naked feet

A Valkyrie watching over a Nord battle

Valhalla, "hall of the slain"

Idun giving her Magic Apples

Stone Age Men making Fire

Stone Age Sami people

Sami herding reindeer

Bronze Age family in Denmark

Bronze Age tools & weapons

Bronze Age Nordic Karl

Bronze Age Rock Carving - Sweden

Bronze Age Norse couple at their village

Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age Women

Iron Age Norse family and their farmhouse

Tollund man sacrificed 2,300 years ago.

Iron Age Norse Hamlet

Iron Age Norse village chief

Iron Age Longhouse Woman

The Classical World 8th century BCE - 4th century CE

Ancient Acropolis, Plato Aristotle

Bronze Age Hjortspring boat

Knarr - Norse cargo ship

Viking Longship

Leif Eriksson landing in America

Christopher Columbus in America 1492

The Roman Empire

Iron Age Celts - Iberian Warriors

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest

Huns attacking

Attila the Hun

Hoby Chieftain's grave valuables

Anglo-Saxon map and Warrior

King Offa of Mercia

Danelaw - Guthrum King of East Anglia

King Harald Bluetooth

Sweyn Forkbeard - Cnut the Great

Vikings attacking Lindisfarne

Vikings attacking Iona

Viking village in Ireland - Round tower

Isle of Man


Somerled - Gaelic/Norse warlord

Lewis Chessmen

Viking Warriors

Norse Trader at Hedeby Market

Battle of Stamford Bridge - King Harold II

Battle of Hastings

Anglo-Saxon and Norman Warriors

Rollo - Charles the Simple

Norman cavalry - Saxon shield wall

King Harold II - William the Conqueror

Domesday Book

Lady Godiva