Genetic Ancestry of Scandinavians

In a new international study, researchers found that DNA from archeological remains reveals exceptional immigration to Scandinavia during the Viking era.
Researchers say that the Viking Age left an imprint on the genetics of present day Scandinavians. The authors analyzed 297 ancient Scandinavian genomes dating back two millennia with the genomic data of 16,638 present-day Scandinavians. Women from the east Baltic region and, to a lesser extent, the British and Irish isles contributed more to the gene pool of Scandinavia than the men from those regions during that time.
"With this level of resolution, we not only confirm the Viking Age migration. We are also able to trace it to the east Baltic region, the British-Irish Isles, and southern Europe," Ricardo Rodríguez-Varela of the Centre for Palaeogenetics said in a statement. 
"But not all parts of Scandinavia received the same amounts of gene flow from these areas. For example, while British-Irish ancestry became widespread in Scandinavia, the eastern Baltic ancestry mainly reached Gotland and central Sweden." The study also found that British-Irish ancestry was widespread in Scandinavia starting during the Viking Age, which extended from about 750 to 1050 A.D. The authors said that eastern Baltic ancestry was found to be more localized to Gotland, Sweden's largest island, and central Sweden. "The increase of eastern Baltic ancestry in these regions during the Viking Age is consistent with historical sources attesting to contacts such as tributary relations and treaties," Rodriguez-Varela, one of the study's leaders, said. "Therefore, we don't see any evidence with the present data to support that women were abducted and brought back during raids."
While ancestry from southern European locations like Sardinia was concentrated in people in southern Scandinavia, the group determined that modern Scandinavians have less non-local ancestry than Viking Age samples.

Vikings in America

We know through an archeological dig on the northern tip of Newfoundland that the Vikings had a settlement in North America. How far did they travel in the Western Hemisphere? Could it have reached as far as Central America?

"The most credible claim – that the Vikings reached North America around the year 1000 – deserves more attention. It arose in the 19th century, following the publication of C C Rafn’s Antiquitates Americanae (1837), which proposed that the place the Icelandic sagas called Vinland (meaning ‘vine land&rsquoWinking was located somewhere near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, or the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. (The Vinland Sagas refers to two different orally transmitted sagas about these early voyages: Erik the Red’s saga was written down shortly after 1264, and the Greenlanders’ saga was copied into a collection of different materials in 1387.)"

More information can be found here.

Viking DNA Shows Diversity

In a recent article and using modern Science, researchers are finding that not all Vikings were Scandanavian. The genetic picture is more complex than expected.

"The so-called Viking Age begins with the earliest record of a Viking raid, dated to 800 A.D. The age lasted through the 1050s. During that time, Vikings raided monasteries and coastal cities, but also engaged in less violent activities, trading fur, tusks and seal fat.
Researchers knew the Vikings altered the political and economic landscape of Europe. In the 11th century, a Viking, Cnut the Great, ascended to the thrown of the North Sea Empire, comprising Denmark, England and Norway. But until now, researchers weren't really sure what the Vikings looked like, genetically speaking."

One can learn more about this research

Vikings, A Trip

I like to watch the TV series on the History Channel called Vikings. I have been to Norway and have visited the Viking museum. We have seen Viking ships that have been restored. They are not large. It is hard to believe they crossed the Atlantic in them but they did. They are now going to cross the Atlantic in a Viking ship again. The story of the voyage is found here.

Vikings and Navigation

So did the Vikings use crystal 'sunstones' to discover America? This article discusses the possibility.

"Ancient records tell us that the intrepid Viking seafarers who discovered Iceland, Greenland and eventually North America navigated using landmarks, birds and whales, and little else.
There's little doubt that Viking sailors would also have used the positions of stars at night and the sun during the daytime, and archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a kind of Viking navigational sundial.
But without magnetic compasses, like all ancient sailors they would have struggled to find their way once the clouds came over.
However, there are also several reports in Nordic sagas and other sources of a sólarsteinn 'sunstone'.
The literature doesn't say what this was used for but it has sparked decades of research examining if this might be a reference to a more intriguing form of navigational tool."


Christians and Vikings

I have written about the Vikings television show before. One of the characters is a Christian priest who is captured by the Vikings and kept as a slave. He becomes a believer in the Old Norse Gods and is conflicted with his Christian past. This article describes the scenario and the author believes the scene with the attempted crucifixion is not historically plausible.

Viking Exhibit in London

The Vikings are part of the history of England. They fought and conquered much of England, Ireland, and Scotland in territory. They went on to intermingle in the populace and would bring a large part of their culture with them that became a part of how the English progressed. The city of York in England has been hugely influenced by early Viking development. There is a fascinating museum there describing the impact. Now, the British Museum is having a display currently about the Vikings and this exhibition has been very well attended. One centerpiece is the frame of a 121 ft. Viking longship. We saw similar longships at the Viking Museum in Oslo. Read about the exhibition here. A bit of flavor for what is there.

“More than 50,000 visitors have so far absorbed the tales of wily Nordic gods, admired treasure hoards from as far afield as what is now Uzbekistan and shrunk from a warrior skull used to scare off enemies on the battlefield.

Vikings have long had a special place in British lore, not least as the guys who got there first. They roamed the seas and established far-flung trade links centuries before the British did. They enslaved and conquered and built an empire, albeit briefly, that included large swaths of England and Scotland. One of their descendants, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, even went on to beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole in 1911.”



What with the new Vikings television show on the History Channel, it brings back the visits to Norway and the Viking museum outside Oslo. The long ships are impressive and it is amazing that the Vikings traveled across the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The TV series is set in 739 A.D. when the Vikings were setting out to raid Britain and Ireland. This was a turning time in history, the Vikings brought a lot of murder and mayhem along with many things that are part of our English history such as towns and markets. An interesting article on the find of a possible “Viking Sunstone” that may have been used to find the sun and navigate across the large open waters. An allusion to such a crystal or sunstone was made in the TV series.

A Viking Ship
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