Viking Age in Skåne

Viking Age in Skåne


The Viking Age in Skåne refers to the historical period when the Vikings, the late Iron Age Scandinavians, lived and thrived in the region of Skåne, Sweden. This era is characterized by the exploration, trade, and raiding activities of the Vikings, who left a lasting impact on the culture and history of the region. In this article, we will explore the significance of the Viking Age in Skåne, examining its historical context, cultural influence, and the legacy it has left behind.

The Origins of the Vikings

The term “Viking” has evolved over time and is commonly used today to describe the Scandinavians who lived during the Viking Age. However, it is important to understand the original meaning of the word and its historical context.

The word “Viking” can be traced back to the late 6th century, where it appears in an Anglo-Saxon-Latin dictionary as a translation for “pirate.” The Anglo-Saxon word “wicing” corresponds to the Latin word “pirata.” This early definition of the word emphasizes the raiding and plundering activities often associated with the Vikings.

The exact origins of the word “Viking” are still debated among scholars. Several theories have been proposed, including:

  1. The Vikings would wait in bays (vik) to ambush ships and launch their attacks.
  2. The word may have derived from the Old English word “wīc,” meaning market town, suggesting that many Vikings were merchants.
  3. The first sailors who raided the western lands may have come from a place called Viken, located outside the Oslofjord and Bohuslän in Sweden.
  4. The word may have originated from the practice of rowers changing sides in the boat after a long distance (vika means “shift, exchange”).
  5. Another theory suggests that the word comes from the Old Norse word “vikja,” meaning “to give way, deviate,” referring to someone leaving their country or making a trip to a foreign land.

The Viking Age in Skåne

Skåne: A Hub of Viking Activity

Skåne, located in southern Sweden, played a significant role during the Viking Age. The region was a hub of Viking activity, with its strategic coastal position providing access to trade routes and opportunities for raiding expeditions. Skåne’s fertile land and natural resources made it an attractive settlement for the Vikings.

Viking Activities in Skåne

The Vikings in Skåne engaged in various activities, including trade, raiding, and exploration. They established trade networks both within Scandinavia and across the Baltic Sea, exchanging goods such as furs, amber, and iron. Skåne’s coastal location made it a prime location for trading with neighboring regions.

Raiding was also a prominent aspect of Viking life in Skåne. The Vikings would embark on expeditions to raid nearby coastal settlements, acquiring wealth and resources through plunder. These raids were often carried out on unsuspecting communities, and the Vikings would quickly retreat to their ships to evade capture.

Exploration was another essential aspect of Viking activities in Skåne. The Vikings were skilled sailors and navigators, venturing far beyond their homelands to explore new lands and establish settlements. They traveled to places such as the British Isles, Ireland, Iceland, and even as far as North America.

Viking Age Runestones in Skåne

Runestones, large upright stones inscribed with ancient writings, provide valuable insights into the Viking Age in Skåne. These runestones often commemorate individuals and events, shedding light on the lives and activities of the Vikings in the region.

On a runestone in Härlingtorp, Västergötland, a mother commemorates her son who died on the western roads “in Viking.” This inscription indicates that the young man was engaged in Viking activities, most likely raiding or trading expeditions.

Another runestone in Skåne mentions a man who “died north in Viking,” further highlighting the Viking activities and the reach of the Vikings in the region.

The Significance of Viking Runestones

Runestones serve as historical evidence of the Viking presence in Skåne and provide valuable insights into Viking culture and society. These inscriptions not only commemorate individuals but also shed light on the Viking way of life, their voyages, and their interactions with other cultures.

Runestones also reveal the different meanings of the word “Viking” during the Viking Age. While it could refer to an activity, such as going “in Viking,” it could also denote a profession or a noun, such as someone who accompanies Vikings or guards against them. Additionally, “Viking” was used as a personal name, as evidenced by its appearance on several runestones.

The Legacy of the Viking Age in Skåne

The Viking Age left a lasting legacy in Skåne, shaping the region’s culture, traditions, and history. The Vikings’ influence can be seen in various aspects of Skåne’s heritage, including its language, folklore, and archaeological remains.

Skåne’s dialect, known as Scanian, still bears traces of Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings. This linguistic connection serves as a reminder of the Viking presence in the region and their lasting impact on its cultural identity.

Folklore and legends associated with the Vikings have also been passed down through generations in Skåne. These stories capture the imagination and provide a glimpse into the Viking way of life, their beliefs, and their adventures.

Archaeological sites and artifacts discovered in Skåne further attest to the Viking presence in the region. Excavations have revealed Viking settlements, burial grounds, and artifacts such as weapons, jewelry, and everyday objects. These archaeological finds provide tangible evidence of the Viking Age in Skåne and help paint a more detailed picture of Viking life.


The Viking Age in Skåne holds significant historical and cultural importance. The Vikings’ activities in the region, including trade, raiding, and exploration, shaped Skåne’s identity and left a lasting legacy. Runestones and archaeological remains provide valuable insights into the Viking presence in Skåne, while folklore and language connect the region to its Viking past. The Viking Age in Skåne is a testament to the resilience, adaptability, and adventurous spirit of the Vikings, who continue to captivate our imaginations today.

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