Thursday, December 22, 2016

Traveling Back in Time to Viking Europe...with Carole P. Roman

If you were me and lived during Viking times, you would be born sometime in the year 870 AD in the northern part of Europe over eleven hundred and forty years ago. Your home could have been on the coast of Norway...
Some way the word Viking is from the Norse word vik which meant bay or creek. Others say it meant overseas expedition. Either way, people associated it with those who came from the North.
A Viking was an individual who went on those expeditions. Some of these explorers were known to travel plundering foreign towns, taking both prisoners and belongings. However, vikings were also brave explorers,settlers, and experienced traders.
By the time you were born in the year 870 AD, many had traded their swords for farming tools and created towns to open up trade with new populations.
When a person traveled on his ship for trade or war, he was known as a Viking. When they stayed at home and tended their farms, historians considered them Scandinavians. When they moved and settled in foreign lands, they were called Norsemen.

If You Were Me and Lived In...
Viking Europe

By Carole P. Roman
Illustrations by Mateya Arkova


Viking Europe is a second series for children, aimed at older children, grades 3-8, age 8-14, and is an excellent reference for bringing history into a child's reading book. Most people who hear the word Viking think of men of adventure--men who left home and sailed the seas... Actually, other than for a war, men who traveled the sea were doing so as the way to make their living.

And, of course, their families were back at home, waiting for their father, husband, or uncle to return... If you were a boy living as a viking, your name might be Knut or Ulf and girls might be called Hilde or Sigrid...

Each name meant something: Knut meant know, Ulf was the word for wolf, Sigrid was a beautiful woman, and Hilde meant fight. Why do you think they named a son knot and a daughter fight?

Most people went by two names; their given name and their family name. They were usually called after their father, so if Knut's dad was named Eric, he was known as Knut Ericson. His daughter would be called Hilde Ericdottir...




Being famous for traveling, many Vikings traveled to Normandy in Europe where the Franks lived at that time and sometimes settled there. But many traveled to various ports and brought home new products--amber for jewelry, salt, wine and glass. Vikings were merchants as well... But Vikings had three classes: those wealthy were called a Jarl and might have many horses, a long house and owned slaves. Jarls ran the government...

Karls were free peasants or farmers. 

I found it interesting that Viking homes were shaped similar to a ship with oval sides. And families might include even aunts and uncles and cousins since family was so important. There could be as many as 30 people living together. Even the animals were housed in the building--walled off, but their sounds carried through the home... Wow, and we Americans think about "personal space" being an important issue.

Then consider that inside firepits were built in the center to provide both heat and for cooking...and also an inside latrine! But it was intriguing to read how they had divided their homes and met all their needs, while still making it workable for all that lived there...

When the book started talking about wood carving, I began to think about the boats that they had built, especially those with the wood seeming to curl... plus the detail of their boat carvings as well as the interior...and a couple of other items that caught my eye...

I love wood carvings, don't you?! And then there was the inventive use of animal horns as drinking cups!










Have to admit, I was enjoying history like no other time, as I learned about these people who built everything, or used every natural resource, to create a home and a life! I was impressed... both with learning about the people and with the book...

There is much more about home life but one idea stopped me, as we think back in history about forming alliances...In this life, sons were "traded" with another family to both becomes friends, but also to learn valuable things from that new ally. Very cool, in my opinion... But it also was just one part of how the entire family, including children, each had a role in working in support of those with whom they lived.

Even play time was related to physical activity--dancing, archery and those that would be needed to help with protection--fist fighting, use of knives, etc.

They even had a special alphabet called runic...and carvings on rune stones would be used, similar to our signs guiding us to various places today...


You were taught to worship many gods. There were gods for all the critical aspects of life...
Your favorite was Thor because he was the god of thunder...
~~~

Do you remember any Vikings that you learned about in school? I remembered Leif Erikson, but you'll be learning so much about both famous and common people and the roles of, say, the grandmother... An excellent book that I can highly recommend... 

With Happy Scandinavian Holiday wishes to all of you!






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