Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quest ~ Eastward of the Swedish Vikings

Theme ~ Swedish Rhapsody

Quest: 1. a seeking  2. a journey for adventure 

We all know about the vikings' voyages to the shores of Germany, England and France, arriving in huge fleets under the leadership of big, bearded and fierce chiefs. They plundered coastal towns, villages, and cloisters, sometimes reaching far into these foreign countries. Normandy, for example, is named after the Norwegian vikings who settled there. This quote is from my old history book: People in the Christian countries prayed: "Dear Lord God, please protect us from the rage of the Norsemen!"

I saw this ship in the Viking Museum in Oslo, Norway ~ An impressive sight.
These are well-known facts about the vikings from Norway and Denmark, who also traveled as far west as to the coast of North America. What may be less known are the voyages of the Swedish vikings, most of whom traveled east to Russia and continued as far as to the Caspian Sea.
Rode Orm ~ Red Snake. At Home and in the East, by Frans G. Bengtsson.

Actually, the majority of the Swedish vikings traveled east, far into Russia, where many of them settled. The words Russia and Russian are thought to be of Swedish origin from a coastal part of Sweden, around Stockholm, called Roslagen. In their new country, the Swedes were called Russians, or men from Roslagen.
A ceremonial axehead ~ The god Thor's symbol in the Viking Age was both an axe and a hammer. The serpent on the axehead was also associated with Thor.
Many warriors came over from Sweden and traveled on the Russian rivers as far as the Black Sea. They often had to drag their ships across land and shallow waters, but that didn't seem to be a problem. At Dnjepr, they founded a new Swedish community and the city of Kiev. 

Head of a monster, carved in wood and found in the Oseberg, Norway, ship burial ground. 
From the Black Sea, the Swedish vikings continued to the Balkans and Constantinopel, which they called Miklagard, or big city. There, they were defeated, but the emperor realized that they were good fighters and hired many for excellent wages. (I translated the last sentence directly from my old junior high history book.)

A Viking Age spearhead ~ The spear was the weapon of the god Odin.

Swedish vikings also explored and plundered along the Volga river, all the way to the Caspian sea, where they met up with Arabs who traded there.
A book by Michael Crichton, called Eaters of the Dead, is in part based on the writings of the Arab ibn Fadlan, who in the 10th century, traded in areas where vikings were present. He lived for a while in the Volga region where he observed and recorded encounters between the Oghuz Turks and the Norsemen who were frequent travelers on the rivers of what would later become Russia. A strange, barbarian, and brutal book, yet very interesting.

Viking grave in the form of a ship on the Swedish island of Gotland.

The Viking chapter in my old history book ends with this:
"In Russia, the Swedes forgot their own language and traditions after a time, and adopted those of their slaves. But on the throne of Russia sat Rurik's descendants for 700 years." 
Rurik was a Viking chief and the Viking era took place in the 9th and 10th centuries. 

A note: Thank you so much for visiting and commenting yesterday. After I came back from town, I had to work on this post and I found no time to visit anyone's blog. This morning, I'm off to town again for most of the day. Thanks also for asking about Samson. He's doing fine. He runs around the house at a great speed in that crazy big cone, keeps running into things, but doesn't get perturbed. He is very patient and mature about all this. Sutures come out and cone comes off Saturday. Soldier is also doing well on his pain medication. We'll begin our daily walks next week.


  1. I just love learning about the ancient history of the Vikings and their travels. In the UK we hear more about the Norwegian Vikings and some of the Danes -- but very little about the Swedish expansions. It's all so interesting how we have really been a global community, for rather a long time!

  2. Hi Inger,so interesting. On my Dad's side our family history can be traced back 1000 years to a Viking by name of Korn...I haven't been able to find out much about him though...

  3. The travels of the Vikings are so interesting! I want to get the book "The Kensington Rune Stone" and would love to be able to write in...runish? in Runes?Read the Runes. Actually Rune would be a lovely name. Thanks for the post. In one place, my husbands relatives (on some internet genealogy site) are traced by to Asgard...which is supposed to be in eastern Europe. I sort of think it was highly imaginative tracing of the family tree...but who knows? I am Finnish

  4. Hi Inger .. glad all is well with everyone .. look after yourselves.

    The Vikings and Swedes were amazing - those central rivers, lakes etc were the early trading routes - and we forget this .. they were still used in Medieval times ..

    Great Q word too .. love the history and background you've given us .. I'm sure you went all the way to Canada ... and I know you conquered the early Normans ..

    History is fascinating .. we just got 'hollered' on all sides - Vikings from the east, Normans from the south .. and anyone who wanted to sail round from the north and west!!

    Cheers Hilary

  5. glad the pups are doing well.

    like those ship relics! and that grave is impressive!

  6. Fascinating--& I love that grave!

    Our surname meant "people from Kiev". Do you suppose you & I are related?

  7. hey, so glad the pups are doing well...I don' know why but I love the grave in the shape of the viking ship. I also think the head of the monster looks lik the och Ness monster. The ship in the building is gorgeous! Wouldn't you like ot sit in it?
    IT'd be cool....

  8. Intressant inlägg. Bra att friska upp sina historiekunskaper. Va fint!!
    Kul att Samson är på bättringsvägen. Kram från oss..

  9. Thought you'd enjoy today's translation of Lindsjo's comment:

    Interesting speech. Good that healthy up their does. The Va fine!!
    It's great to deposit is on the mend. EMBRACE from us..

    I would think twice before I asked them to translate a legal document!

  10. Liesl: 1,000 years, that's amazing!
    fishducky: I feel related now, just through the fun! And that translation -- I'm trying to figure out the Swedish word that would make Samson into Deposit, but I can't come up with anything. On the mend was good, as was embrace.
    Thanks to the rest of you for visiting and leaving a comment.

  11. Oh how I enjoyed reading your post today. I love history.

  12. While I, like many, knew about the Norse expansion in Britain, France, and even Canada, I didn't know about the Swedes and Russia. All very fascinating.

    Aside: there is a story to the effect that when Christopher Columbus "discovered" the New World, he was using a Viking map.

  13. Quest is a great choice! I wish I'd thought of it. And I'm glad Samson is better, and I liked your tributes to your pets...

  14. Just the picture of that ship is impressive. I can't imagine seeing it in person!

  15. I, too am researching my family and most of them were Norman (who were Vikings)...some go back to ancient kings. VERY interesting!

  16. Hi Inger .. I'll have to come back and go through your A-Z 2012 posts again ..

    Loved this one on the Quest .. they certainly spread their wings did the Vikings ..

    Cheers Hilary


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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