(1807) [from Old Norse vikingr].
Also called norseman, or northman. Pirate Norsemen (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish seafaring warriors) who plundered, raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the 9th to the 11th century.
Viking took on the meaning of "pirate" in the early Scandinavian languages, but the name originally meant "a man from the Vik", the Vik meaning the huge "bay" between Norway and Sweden that has been called Skagerrak since 1500. The term Viking Age has come to denote those years from about 800 to 1050 when Scandinavians went on innumerable plundering expeditions abroad.
How the vikings dressed
Viking men first put on a long woolen shirt and long cloth trousers which were held up by a sash or a drawstring. On top of this was worn a sleeved jerkin or a three-quarter coat with a belt. On his feet he would wear socks and soft leather shoes or long leather boots. In battle he would wear an iron helmet and a mail-chain to protect himself.
Viking women wore long linen dresses. It could be either plain or pleated. Over the dress they wore a long woolen tunic, a little like an apron. It was held up by a pair of brooches, sometimes joined by a chain or string of beads. Over the tunic she might wear a shawl. Her legs and feet were covered with thick woolly socks and soft leather shoes.
Both men and women wore fur or woolen hats and cloaks in cold weather. The cloaks were fastened at the shoulder with a brooch or a pin.
Wool was important to keep warm in the cold northern climate. Wherever the Vikings traveled and settled, they brought sheep with them for wool and meat. "The Faeroe Islands" means "the Sheep islands"! The women spun and wove to sew clothes, as well as sails for the ship. They also dyed the threads and cloths with mineral and vegetable dyes of red, green, brown, yellow or blue.
The art and knowledge of dying is still kept alive today, just look at the vibrant colors in the picture above! The shoes to the right are an example of dyed wool made into felt and worked into the desired shape. Here, a child's slippers.
Viking heritage in England
standard English words with a Scandinavian etymology
The Viking Network, an excellent site for finding information about the Viking heritige today, origins of place names, family names, standard English words with a Scandinavian etymology. Supported by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs.