Are There Still Vikings Today?

Quck answer

Yes, Vikings still exist in a cultural sense. The Viking era may have ended centuries ago, but their legacy continues to influence modern culture, particularly in Scandinavian countries. Today, there are still people who embrace Viking traditions, such as Norse mythology, Viking reenactments, and historical research. Additionally, Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark celebrate their Viking heritage through museums, festivals, and tourist attractions. While Vikings as a seafaring warrior society no longer exist, their impact on history and culture remains significant.

When you think about Vikings, what comes to mind? Some people might immediately think of the Minnesota Vikings, a professional football team in the National Football League. However, we are not referring to the Minnesota Vikings in purple uniforms.

Instead, we are referring to the Vikings you may have learned about at some point. You know the ones: a group of strong, blond, aggressive individuals on a boat. With large horns on their helmets, they sailed to unsuspecting coastal villages to steal and cause chaos.

You have probably seen these types of Vikings in cartoons and TV shows. They are also popular in fantasy novels that explore Viking legends and mythology. But are these portrayals of Vikings accurate? And do these people still exist today?

Considering how Vikings are often depicted in books and movies, it may not surprise you to find out that the actual Vikings were quite different. In fact, the Vikings, also known as Norsemen, were not a single nation or a homogeneous group of people.

The term “Viking” is often associated with the Scandinavian word vikingr, which means “pirate.” However, instead of being a noun, Scandinavian people used “viking” as a verb to describe the act of exploring overseas (“to go viking”).

Furthermore, these overseas expeditions were not limited to raids, but also involved searching for trade partners. Therefore, the Vikings were not defined by their identity, but rather by their actions.

Historians trace the beginning of the Viking age to a raid on the monks of Lindisfarne in 793, a small island off the northeast coast of England. The raid resulted in the destruction of the monastery, theft of church treasures, and the killing or capturing of many monks. This brutal raid set the tone for how Vikings would be portrayed in history.

Raids along coastal areas in northern Europe continued for several centuries, ending around the time of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Although these raids are often attributed to the “Vikings,” they were carried out by various peoples from what is now known as Scandinavia, including Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, these people were all called Vikings because they shared certain characteristics: they were foreigners, they were not Christians, and they were considered less civilized compared to mainland Europeans.

However, the Vikings did not spend all their time stealing and causing chaos. During the farming season, they worked on their lands back home and embarked on explorations after the harvest. Due to the scarcity of food and harsh living conditions, they were often smaller in stature than the myths and legends depict.

They did not wear helmets with giant horns, but they were fearless explorers who excelled in constructing lightweight boats. In fact, they discovered the Americas long before Columbus, reaching Newfoundland around the year 1000.

So, do Vikings still exist today? Yes and no. No, in the sense that there are no longer organized groups of people who set sail to explore, trade, steal, and cause chaos. However, the descendants of those who engaged in such activities in the past still exist today and live across Scandinavia and Europe.

In many Scandinavian countries, there are large communities of people who choose to live as the Vikings did in the past. For instance, both Norway and Sweden have established Viking villages where individuals live their lives as Vikings, recreating the tools, boats, and way of life from over a hundred years ago.

Ready to embark on an adventure in search of more information about the Vikings? Get a friend or family member to join you in exploring the following activities:

– Learn more about how Vikings communicated by creating your own Rune Stone. What message will you engrave on it? Will it be a tribute to someone special? What other ancient alphabet does the Viking alphabet remind you of?

– Discover what a typical day was like for a Viking by completing the activity sheet and comparing it to your modern life. Would you have enjoyed living as a Viking? Why or why not?

– Find out what happened to the Vikings by researching the Norman Conquest and its impact on them. Do you believe the Vikings have been accurately portrayed throughout history? Why or why not?

Sources of wonder:





1. Do Vikings still exist?

While the Vikings as an organized society and culture no longer exist, their descendants can still be found today. The Vikings were a seafaring people from Scandinavia who flourished from the late 8th century to the early 11th century. They were known for their raiding, trading, and exploration. Over time, the Viking society gradually assimilated into other cultures, and their way of life changed.

2. Are there any modern-day descendants of the Vikings?

Yes, there are modern-day descendants of the Vikings. Many people in Scandinavia can trace their ancestry back to the Vikings. Additionally, there are individuals and communities around the world with Viking heritage. DNA testing and genealogical research have allowed people to discover their Viking roots.

3. What impact did the Vikings have on history?

The Vikings had a significant impact on history. They were skilled sailors and navigators, exploring and trading across vast distances. They established settlements and trading networks in places as far as North America, the British Isles, and the Mediterranean. The Vikings also influenced language, culture, and governance in the regions they encountered. Their raids and invasions also led to political and social changes in Europe.

4. What were the main characteristics of Viking society?

Viking society was characterized by its warrior culture, seafaring lifestyle, and strong sense of honor. The Vikings were skilled warriors and often fought in organized bands. They were also skilled craftsmen, creating beautiful and intricate works of art, jewelry, and weaponry. Family and community were important, and they had a strong belief in gods and legends.

5. How are Vikings portrayed in popular culture today?

Vikings are often portrayed in popular culture as fierce warriors with horned helmets. However, this image is largely a myth. The Vikings did not wear horned helmets, and their culture was more diverse and complex than just being warriors. In recent years, there have been TV shows, movies, and books that have attempted to portray Vikings more accurately, showcasing their exploration, trade, and cultural achievements.

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