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Still Waters

Were the Vikings really so bloodthirsty?

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Still Waters

The Viking story has fascinated people for centuries. But as a major exhibition opens at the British Museum, have people got them all wrong?

The longships arrived on 8 June. The monks at Lindisfarne didn't know it then - the year was 793 - but it was the beginning of 300 years of bloody Viking raids on England.


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I don't think they were much more bloodthirsty than other cultures.. what made them seem so, was their mobilty... Most other "raider" cultures went over land, and the 'raidees'

generally had some warning (the next town over going up in flames, etc)... The Norse/Danes (remember that "Viking" was an action- not a people) had those marvellous ships

that could as easily go up a river as across the North Sea... Made it darned hard to get any warning of their arrival...

Also the Norse had a custom when first arriving in a strage area.. They weren't sure if the people they were meeting were people - or demons (what ever word they used for it anyway)

and so they tended to kill the first person they met, to make sure they were dealing with humans... Makes no sense to us, but perfect sense to them...

They weren't always raiding (or on a Viking) as often as not they were on trading missions... They were master traders...

The life of an ordinary person back then was described as "Nasty, Brutish and Short" and it is a fair description of the times...

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