Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings

Edited by Peter Sawyer

Rating: 4 Stars


I really enjoyed this collections of essays for a number of reasons. My primary level of interest in is Anglo-Saxon England and the Wessex kings especially - Alfred the Great is great for a reason (and the only king of England with this descriptor!) I also enjoy learning about the Vikings, as so much of the history of Norway, Iceland, and Greenland was only passed down from one generation to the next by word of mouth. What we do have written is truly a treasure, as these people and cultures can come alive to us once again by these words.

The text is a series of essays. Each author focused on their own area of interest, ranging from the Vikings in England, the end of he Viking age, Vikings in Russia, the ships, and so on. While I am not really interested in the ships themselves, or learning about maritime travel, that essay still help valuable information. One essay I found especially interesting was 'Religions Old and New', which discusses the old religion of the Vikings and their gods and the advent of Christianity. Greenland and Iceland were of particular interest too, not only because it is amazing that the ships were able to travel that far, but even beyond to reach North America - long before Columbus and his germ warfare. I would love to see the settlement ruins someday, and it is definitely on my bucket list. The essay focusing on Ireland, etc. was of great interest as well, as I have been to Dublin. Upon my visit with Mom in 2010, I had no idea that the Vikings had ruled Dublin for so long and that it was an area of focus for them. When visiting Dublin Castle on one of our tours, we were able to go below street level to see what remained of not only the medieval castle from the 13th century, but the earthen bank/stone wall of the original Viking town. Photographs belong to me and were taking in Dublin in July of 2010.

Helpful info to start with (2010) Unfortunately I don't have a great shot of the remains of anything but the medieval castle.

Overall, while some of the essays were a bit more dry than others, I enjoyed this collection. Certainly recommended for those interested in various aspects of life as a Viking.

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