The Last Viking Returns

Bunch of Viking Hippies


The more research I do the more I’m becoming to believe that the Vikings, with their well-deserved reputations as blood-thirsty pirates, were, in fact, more like a commune of New Age hippies. They had eco-friendly houses half buried in the ground and covered with earth for insulation, they were at one with the elements, living their lives according to the seasons, their Gods were a curious, maladjusted lot, to say the least, they sat round making jewellery, and most obviously hippyish of all, they gave their kids impossibly stupid names.

For instance, according to the old Norse sagas, North America was settled in about 1000AD by a group of Icelanders led by  Þorfinnur Karlsefni and his wife Gudridur Þorbjarnardottir. They both must have both suffered as kids with names like that, but, amazingly, they still went and named their own son Snorri? Snorri. I ask you? Snorri then had the dubious distinction of being the first European born in America.

The little colony lasted for only a few years in Newfoundland, probably because the inhabitants, who they called the Naturals,  didn’t really want them there, understandably, and regularly attacked them, so Snorri and his folks returned to Iceland while their scalps were still intact. I bet now if they could look back and see what a success the other waves of immigrants made of the place, they may not have been in such a rush to leave. Though, with a tribe of very angry Indians waving tomahawks and firing arrows at you, and no hope of rescue by the US Cavalry, I can understand their eagerness to “get the heck outa’ here.”

Their Icelandic ancestors had much more success and between 1870 and 1914 a quarter of the population joined the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and the wretched refuse of your teeming shore” and tootled off to immigration control at Ellis Island, New York,  and a potential new home in what they like to call the Home of the Free. Here they are talking about freedom, not the cost of things, obviously. 

Oddly, many settled in Minnesota,  a state a long, long way from the sea  at 1200kms, but they prospered and still have strong Scandinavian traditions.   Even their NFL  football team is called the Minnesota Vikings, and looking at a picture of the quarterbacks you can easily imagine them up on the prow of a Longship ready go berserk  into battle.


Author: normanjorgensen

I'm an Australian writer of books for kids and teenagers. I like traveling and seeing the world, especially through the the lens of my camera. I'm addicted to old movies, red wine and books and decent music.

2 thoughts on “Bunch of Viking Hippies

  1. Fascinating as well as funny, Norgan. Because of Bjork (see Snorri comment) and the sagas I am mildly obsessed with Iceland, but had no idea of the Newfoundland episode.

  2. Perhaps, in that very metaphorical way of the ancient Scandinavians, they were paying tribute to the efforts of Snorri Sturluson… … … and for a little more about Snorri’s contributions I like Maria Kvilhaug’s site

    For research purposes and general interests, I don’t know of a larger archive for the Scandinavian heritage than the Northvegr Foundation ……

    I don’t know about hippies but their way of life is not easy to discern from what clues they left for us to ponder. Then again, there is much fluff currently on book shelves regarding the nature of pre-Christian Scandinavia. A time when the successes and failures of each season seriously affected survival. To live with the elements and define one’s abilities in their context gave the best chances of living! The role women played is a passionate subject pursued by Rig Svenson

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