The definitive history of the Vikings -- from arts and culture to politics and cosmology -- by a distinguished archaeologist with decades of expertise
The Viking Age -- from 750 to 1050 -- saw an unprecedented expansion of the Scandinavian peoples into the wider world. As traders and raiders, explorers and colonists, they ranged from eastern North America to the Asian steppe. But for centuries, the Vikings have been seen through the eyes of others, distorted to suit the tastes of medieval clerics and Elizabethan playwrights, Victorian imperialists, Nazis, and more. None of these appropriations capture the real Vikings, or the richness and sophistication of their culture.
Based on the latest archaeological and textual evidence, Children of Ash and Elm tells the story of the Vikings on their own terms: their politics, their cosmology and religion, their material world. Known today for a stereotype of maritime violence, the Vikings exported new ideas, technologies, beliefs, and practices to the lands they discovered and the peoples they encountered, and in the process were themselves changed. From Eirík Bloodaxe, who fought his way to a kingdom, to Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, the most traveled woman in the world, Children of Ash and Elm is the definitive history of the Vikings and their time.
Archaeologist Price (The Viking Way) leaves no stone unturned in this exhaustive chronicle of the ancient Scandinavian peoples collectively known as the Vikings. Drawing on discoveries made at archaeological digs and burial sites across Europe, as well as medieval sources including the Icelandic sagas of Snorri Sturluson and the observations of Arab traders, Price pushes back against romanticized notions of Viking culture that originated during the Enlightenment. He focuses instead on more material concerns, delivering extended discussions on jewelry found in graves, shipbuilding, alcohol consumption, and gender roles, including an unexpected queer reading of Viking relationships. The infamous Viking funeral (not nearly as prevalent as popular culture imagines, according to Price) is described in horrifying detail, as are raids on the English and Irish coasts that left monasteries and villages devastated. Price also documents Viking exploration of Iceland, Greenland, and Canada, and notes that some warriors made it as far east as Constantinople, where they served as guards to the Byzantine emperor. Though the writing occasionally falters under the weight of accumulated archaeological minutiae, the breadth and thoroughness of Price's research impresses. Readers interested in Viking culture should consider this monumental history a must-read.
Took a class in medieval literature in Mexico City. Read Beowulf and was fascinated with viking history. Wonderful book and easy read from the best teacher. Thanks Mr. Price.