The Viking Heritage Archives is a blog about everything related to the ancient Norse cultures in and around Scandinavia, and of course, Vikings. Whether you are 2% or 100% Scandinavian or just curious about Norse culture, history, and mythology, you are most welcome here. Til árs ok friðar!

Who Were The Vikings?

Who Were The Vikings?

The Vikings, renowned for their seafaring courage and undoubted ferocity in battle, were Nordic warriors who raided across Europe during the 9th to 11th centuries.


Before we go into Viking heritage let’s get a clear definition of what heritage actually means. According to the Oxford Learners Dictionary, the definition of heritage is “a person’s ethnic or religious background; the countries, cultures, religious groups, etc. that a person’s parents or ancestors come from”. Does this definition apply to Viking heritage then? Well yes and no. Although the terms Viking and Norse are often used interchangeably, there is a noteworthy difference between them. Viking is an identity associated with the aggressive raiding and seafaring of the Scandinavian people. Norse, on the other hand, refers to a much broader cultural heritage regarding pre-Christian Scandinavian civilization.

This includes literature, ritual practices, language, art, and even architecture stretching from 500 BCE up until today with certain surviving Nordic languages. The fundamental distinction between these two identities is that Vikings were warriors whereas Norse is a deep cultural legacy and heritage, shared by the people of Scandinavian descent. So what does the term “Viking heritage” mean? To have true Viking heritage means to have an ancestor who was an actual Viking and part of a Scandinavian raiding family or clan during that time. This usually involves researching one’s history and determining from what lineage a particular ancestor comes from to better understand who their ancestors were thousands of years ago.

viking heritage


For most people, it is close to impossible to prove any Viking heritage. This is due to the lack of reliable records from that era, more than one thousand years ago. Even during Norse times, records were kept in oral forms such as sagas and Eddas instead of written documents, leaving a large number of discrepancies and uncertainties about events in this period. Furthermore, names used at the time changed quite frequently, and many records are incomplete or lack verifiable information needed to prove ancestry. Even archaeological excavation involves various interpretations and claims can never be denied with absolute certainty. So to suggest one has Viking heritage or ancestry would be a claim that would be extremely hard to back up.