At the gates of Valhalla, Odin, the God of War and Death, welcomed the bravest of the slain warriors arriving in flaming longships for their final battle. It is a fiery legend still celebrated annually in the Shetland Islands, 150 miles north-east of Scotland, where Vikings ruled for 500 years. In the streets of Lerwick, modern-day Norse descendants form vast torch lit processions, before burning a sacrificial longship in a Festival of Fire called Up Helly Aa
From the late 8th century, when Viking raiders first appeared, to the end of the 11th century, Scandinavian men and women travelled to many parts of the world, from Newfoundland to Byzantium in a cultural expansion that lasted for 300 years. But tales of terrifying berserkers may have been the mere propaganda of contemporary Christian chroniclers. Beyond the blood and brutality of legend, Viking colonists shared their culture and craftsmanship leaving behind an enduring legacy.
In "Vikings," historian Rodney Castleden, successfully separates the truth from Norse myth and examines the achievements of the Viking Age, the people, their artistry, technological skills and seamanship. Learn more about the history of the Vikings, and also when to separate myth from truth in "Vikings," a true account of what really happened to the Vikings as well as their culture and history.