Did you know that there was a whole era called the Viking Age? In the late 19th century, historians began to refer to the period from 796 AD to 1066 AD. During these earliest years of the Middle Ages, pagan natives of what are now Denmark, Sweden and Norway began to explore the world. The word "viking" comes from Old Norse. As a noun it refers to a seafaring expedition; as a verb it means to make a seafaring expedition. It was never used to refer to people until the late 19th century.
The modern image of Vikings depicts them as barbarians who raided and pillaged everywhere they went. That isn't entirely accurate. Of course they did SOME raiding and pillaging, but the primary purpose of their expeditions was trade and exploration. They traveled as far south as Byzantium and north Africa, as far east as Greenland and Newfoundland. They were the first Europeans to set foot on the North American continent. They did not accept Christianity until the 11th century. So, the Christian communities they visited considered them (and all non-Christians) to be savages.
Did they really wear horned helmets? Probably only for ritual or ceremonial occasions, if at all. Archaeologists believe that they didn't wear them in battle. Think about it. Those horns could be dangerous to your own side. So where do we get the horned helmet image? From a costume designer working on the premiere production of Richard Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen in 1869. The four-opera cycle, based in part on Norse mythology, gives us images of Valkyries and the hero Siegfried. (It also gave rise to the expression "it ain't over until the fat lady sings." The final piece of the cycle, Götterdammerung, ends with a lengthy soprano aria by the Valkyrie Brünnhilde. In the early days of Grand Opera, many sopranos were overweight, leading to the stereotyped image.
If you want to become a Viking or a Valkyrie, check out our selection of Viking costumes. We have them in sizes and styles for men, women and kids, along with accessories to complete any look. You can be a fierce warrior, a regal princess, a Valkyrie, a Norse god, or a rough-and-ready Viking explorer. Or perhaps you could be an eloquent skald, composing and reciting poems about the deeds of the gods, warriors or explorers.
If you're planning a Viking-themed party, you need a skald for entertainment. You add to the fun with board games such as chess or Nine Men's Morris. Plan a menu that includes fish (cod or salmon), beef or pork along with plenty of vegetables. Skoal!