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«Vikings» and the Viking Age

John H. Lind

The term ”Viking” appears in Anglo-Saxon or Norse sources in the so-called Viking Age. Here it simply denotes pirates, no more, no less. It had no geographic or ethnic connotations that linked it to Scandinavia or Scandinavians. By contrast, in these sources we find it used anywhere about anyone who to an Anglo-Saxon or a Scandiniavian appeared as a pirate. Therefore we find it used about Israelites crossing the Red Sea; Muslims in Galleys* encountering Norwegian crusaders in the Mediterranean; Caucasian pirates encountering the famous Swedish Ingvar-Expedition, and Estonian and Baltic pirates attacking Scandinavians in the Baltic Sea. Thus the term was never used to denote Scandinavians as such. Therefore, if we wish to maintain Viking-Age studies on a scholarly level, we must stop acting as an appendix to the tourist industry by using the term Viking as if it was synonymous with Scandinavian and Scandinavians.

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