The medieval Norse were far travellers: not only raiders but also traders, explorers, colonisers, pilgrims, and crusaders (to name a few). Traces of their adventures survive across the world, including ruined buildings and burials, runic graffiti, contemporary accounts written by Christian chroniclers and Arab diplomats, and later sagas recorded in Iceland.
The viking image has changed dramatically over the centuries, romanticized in the 18th and 19 century, they are now alternatively portrayed as savage and violent heathens or adventurous explorers. Stereotypes and clichés are rampant in popular culture and vikings and their influence appear to various extents, from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the comic Hägar the Horrible, and J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Marvel’s Thor. But what is actually true? Eleanor Barraclough lifts the lid on ten common viking myths.