The Viking Age

c. 790-1066

The late ninth-century Oseberg ship, in the Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ship Museum) in Oslo. Photograph by Ben Allport.

The Viking Age: c. 790–1066 is a resource for students and teachers of Viking Age history, society and culture from primary schools up to undergraduate level (including GCSE History courses and the OCR A-Level course “The Viking Age”). It covers the history, society and culture of the medieval Scandinavian peoples (the Norse) and their actions and interactions in Britain, Ireland, Western and Eastern Europe and the North Atlantic during the period 793-1066. In addition to the pages on individual modules, study resources are also provided, including a study guide for independent research and a guide to pursuing medieval-themed Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) topics. Links to further resources can be found on the About page.

What was the "Viking Age" and why is it referred to by this name?

It's important to think about why we use the terms that we do. The Old Norse term víkingr referred to a raider, but the term “Viking Age” is used by historians and archaeologists to refer to the time period in which Scandinavians increasingly interacted with north-western Europe: not only as raiders but also through processes of trading, migration and settlement. This time period is usually defined as the period from the earliest confirmed raid on English shores in 793 to the Norwegian invasion of England by Harald Hard-Ruler in 1066. This is a very Anglo-centric definition. These pages show that the Norse were active at slightly different times and many different places throughout Europe and the North Atlantic.

As you read these pages, consider the label "Viking Age". Is "Viking" an acceptable label for the Norse and their culture? Is it reasonable to use this time span to refer to the period? 


The content and design of this resource were produced by Dr Ben Allport and Dr Jonathan Hui of the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, at the University of Cambridge. Please note that not all elements are fully optimised for mobile use.