Much of what is known about the Vikings comes from archaeological study, but documentary sources also exist. Epic Scandinavian stories called sagas reveal much about Viking culture. Chandler Map Tourist Attractions The Vikings originated in Scandinavia in the area of present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Over many years, what had originally been small communities of Neolithic farmers, hunters, and fishermen evolved into Iron Age feudal kingdoms.
Viking culture reached its peak between the ninth and eleventh centuries. During this period, the Vikings, who had always depended on the sea for food, owing to the short growing seasons of the cold North, became a seafaring power. As seafarers, the Vikings excelled at shipbuilding. From thick Scandinavian forests, Viking shipwrights built stout, deep-drafted vessels known as knorrs to haul cargo around the seas and fjords of Scandinavia. They also built sleek long ships.
These lengthy (60- to 90-foot), shallow-drafted, open boats had high sterns and prows carved to resemble mythical creatures, such as dragons. Along the side rails, a crew, numbering as many as ninety, would display their colorful round wooden shields. A single mast with a square sail or oar power drove the craft. The Vikings’ navigational skills were as advanced as their ships, and both enabled the Scandinavians to range throughout Europe and beyond.