What is it about?

The article explores how the need for exotic goods and opportunities to build personal reputations and relationships could have played a key part in luring ’vikings’ to raid beyond Scandinavia.

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Why is it important?

Understanding why the Viking Age happened is central to understanding the society of the time.


I wrote this little piece for my students. It came out of a TV show I did, and soon became a lecture I used to start debate in masters classes. The idea was to present Viking-Age economics as something very different to today: it wasn’t about ‘shopping’ or ‘stealing’ in the way we understand those terms today, but was much more complicated and socially embedded than this. The tabloid press interpreted this article to say that Vikings were the first package holidaymakers!

Dr Steven P Ashby
University of York

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: What really caused the Viking Age? The social content of raiding and exploration, Archaeological Dialogues, May 2015, Cambridge University Press,
DOI: 10.1017/s1380203815000112.
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