Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Category: Vikings

World Tree Project

Check out this cool fundraising item from the World-Tree Project. They are building “an interactive digital archive for the teaching and study of Norse and Viking cultures.”  The link below will take you to there page where you can learn a lot more.

Viking Round Shield

I’ve been a bit under the weather and surfing a lot. I had to share this video where Dark Horse Industry Arts shows how they made a sweet-looking Viking round shield.

Warrior Women in the Viking World

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Viking grave photo courtesy of Dark Ages Re-Creation Company

This interesting article from Tor.com talks about how some of the bodies found in Viking graves with weapons are actually women. It seems that even though the sagas speak of women fighting alongside the men, many archaeologists would just assume that if there was a weapon in the grave then the person buried there had to be a man. Pretty lame move in my opinion.

Ignore the subhead of the article. The study they reference claims half of the “settlers” were female, not half of the “warriors” found in graves but why expect a journalist to let truth stand in the way of a good headline? (Is my bias against lazy writers who don’t bother to read the entire article they are lifting quotes from showing?)

Anyway, I highly recommend reading the comments, there are some thoughtful additions and a few links to further reading.

Vikings on Pinterest

Viking longship by Flickr user Jomme

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Pinterest. It is a social networking site that focuses on sharing cool images with other users. When you find an image or article that you like you can pin it – kind of like making a bookmark for it. The nice thing about Pinterest is you can then organize boards that collect together your pins based around a particular theme. Other people can then follow those boards and see what you’re up to.

As you can probably guess, I follow a lot of boards that feature Viking themes and Valkyrie artwork. There are some really stunning images out there that I would not have run across if I wasn’t on Pinterest. (Like the awesome picture I’m using for this post.)

My own boards feature my artwork or neat images I’ve found. I also like to start a board for whatever book project I am involved in (or just thinking about.) I pin stuff that I find inspirational or might want to use for reference at a later date.

Here are a few boards that I think you should check out:

Modern Viking Crafts – modern day interpretations of traditional Viking work

Norse – a nice mix of new and old Viking-related items from tools to posters and funny images

Viking – Anglo-Saxons – lots of great illustrations and really good photos of people in authentic dress from these two ancient cultures

Go on and check them out. If you have any favorite boards, show them some love by posting a link in the comments.

Viking Tattoo Designs

Hi folks, I have a bit of a treat this week. The editor of vikingrune.com was kind enough to write a guest post for me with some excellent advice on how to pick a Norse tattoo that is both accurate and unique. If you get excited by what you read I would recommend checking out the rest of Victor’s site. He’s got a lot of good information on the various systems of runes and he even has a rune converter that will change English words into one of five different rune sets. It’s well worth a visit. Now on to Victor’s article.

Viking by MARTINEZ
Art-line Crew Tattoo, Poland

How to Make Your Norse Tattoo Unique

One of the most popular Viking tattoo designs is meant to represent an actual Viking warrior. If you are to get a Norse tattoo, you would probably want to have an image of something real, historically accurate. Then reject all the designs that represent Norsemen wearing helmets with horns. Such a presentation of a Scandinavian helm grew popular as late as in the 19th century. The only extant authentic helmet that dates back to the Viking Age was found in Gjermundby, Norway, and it has no horns. Norse warriors were very practical people and their weapons’ designs were usually rather simple. They valued usability, not spectacular effects. It is true that there are a few Viking Age images representing ceremonial helmets with two protrusions ending with birds’ or snakes’ heads, but they look altogether different and were not used in battles. The same applies to wings. Winged helmets are not historic. Vikings did not use them.
The other thing to avoid in authentic Viking tattoo designs is the massive double axe. The axes used by Norsemen were rather light and used single-handed. In the period of transition from the Viking Age to Middle Ages, Scandinavians also used the so-called Dane axe, which was indeed large, but it was not double. No double-headed axe has been found from early medieval Europe. Such wrong ideas about Vikings are certainly to be avoided in a tattoo.
A Norse inscription is perhaps the best way to make your Viking tattoo design truly unique. However, getting a correct inscription is a real challenge. I would advise to proceed as follows:

  • Decide whether you’d like to have an inscription in runes or letters
  • If you want it in runes, decide which runic system to use (there are several different runic alphabets)
  • If you still want it in runes, decide if it will be in Old Norse or just English words in runes

In my opinion, a cool Norse inscription does not have to be necessarily in runes. After all, the Icelandic sagas, our main source of information on Vikings, were not written down in runes. A quotation from a saga in the original Old Norse would certainly make a very cool Viking tattoo design.
If you want the inscription in runes and you’ve got the exact idea of what the inscription will be (you have the text in English or in Old Norse), then the next step is to decide which runes to use. The Elder Futhark was used by all Germanic tribes from the 2nd through the 8th centuries. The Younger Futhark started to develop at the end of the 8th century and was accepted in the whole of Scandinavia by the 10th century. It existed in two versions: Long Branch and Short Twig Younger Futhark. You may also want to use Anglo-Saxon runes. There existed even a secret variant of runes called staveless runes.

Viking: The Norse Warrior’s [Unofficial] Manual – Review

VikingManualI recently finished reading John Haywood’s Viking: The Norse Warrior’s [Unofficial] Manual and highly recommend it. The author covers basic details such as why a Norseman would choose to be a Viking in the first place, the various social levels in Viking times, weapons and tactics and the various types of Viking ships.

I like the way Haywood packs in a lot of historical information about life as a Viking and manages to do this without ever being stuffy. The whole book is written in a friendly tone that comes across more as a talk between friends than a lecture or lesson. There is a nice sections that breaks down the different countries of the world and describes them in terms of how hard it was to raid them and what kind of spoils you could expect to plunder there.

There are a good number of period illustrations scattered throughout the text along with some color photos of a modern combat reenactment group demonstrating some fighting techniques. While the book delivers a ton of information it also lists sources for further reading. John Haywood definitely has the pedigree to write an authoritative book on this time period. With Viking: The Norse Warrior’s [Unofficial] Manual he has written abook that is also entertaining.

© 2017 Mark Neumayer

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