In Part Two of our in-depth look at the Vikings, we meet the greatest Viking of the era: the man who united all Norway and Denmark … and who declared himself – and all of Scandinavia – Christian.
Meet our guests
Søren Sindbæk is a Professor in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. He has, among other things, uncovered how cities worldwide were connected to each other in the Viking Age, and what the widespread networks meant for development.
Sarah Croix is Assistant Professor at the School of Culture and Society, Center for Urban Network Evolution, Aarhus University. She has a particular research interest in Vikings and Medieval Denmark archaeology.
Michael Drout is Professor of English; Chair, English Department; Director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval at Wheaton College, Massachusetts. He is the creator of The Modern Scholar audio series: The Norsemen – Understanding Vikings and Their Culture.
- Meet Harald Bluetooth.
- Is Bluetooth really named after this Viking King? Yes.
- Find out more about Willibrord.
- Find out more about Ansgar.
- Meet one of John’s medieval heroes, Bishop Eligius (the guy who freed slaves with his own money in the 650s).
- Another of John’s medieval heroes is Boniface, who you can learn more about here.
- Read more about Charlemagne here. And there’s quite a bit about him, too, in John’s new book Bullies and Saints: An honest look at the good and evil of Christian history.
- More on Alcuin of York from the British Museum (before we get to our full episode about him … because Producer Kaley really doesn’t have anything against Alcuin!)
- Discover the Hedeby bell that was found in Hedeby harbour.
- Learn more about the excavations around the Ribe Cathedral that have uncovered Viking-age Christian graves.
- One cool piece of evidence of early Christianity in the Viking era is a soap-stone mould (see right), found at Trendgarden in Jutland, Denmark, which could be used for the mass production of Christian crosses as well as Thor’s hammers.
- Harald Bluetooth’s giant Rune Stone is often called “the birth certificate of Denmark.” A united nation, under one faith. And his depiction of Christ on a cross, on the opposite side of the Rune Stone, features on the Danish passport to this day (see right)
- Find out more about Harald Bluetooth’s impressive bridge over the Vejle River valley, which archaeologists estimate took more than 300 ha of oak forest to build the thing.
- Read Birgit Sawyer’s Medieval Scandinavia and her influential paper, “Women in Viking-Age Scandinavia”.
- Visit the Godafoss Falls, where the Icelandic Saga’s suggest the decision was made peacefully for Iceland to convert to Christianity.