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Why did the Vikings travel from their homelands?

There was not enough land in Scandinavia to go round, so Vikings took to the sea to look for their fortune elsewhere. They traded and raided their way around Europe.


How did Vikings travel so far from their homelands?

By sea. The Vikings were superb sailors. Their longships were strong enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean. For trading voyages and for settlement they used broad-beamed cargo ships, called knars. The skills of navigation and shipbuilding were developed in the tricky coastal waters of Scandinavia.


Were the Vikings raiders or traders?

Both. The first Vikings who came to Britain were raiders who sacked the monasteries and returned home, laden with plunder. Later descendents earned their living through trade or farming. The first Danes who attacked Britain were raiders too, but their descendants, who settled here in later years, earned their living through trade or farming.


How do we know about the Vikings?

Most of the written evidence comes from people who met them or saw them. Very little of what the Vikings wrote remains. Later, Vikings were buried with their possessions, which give clues about how they lived. We know more about the earlier Vikings than the later ones because, from about AD 950, more and more Vikings became Christians and the custom of burying the dead with their personal possessions died out. Sites like Jorvik, in York, tell us about how they lived.


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