What Country Has the Most Viking Heritage?


Anyone who knows anything about history knows that Scandinavia is the area most often associated with Vikings. But which of the Scandinavian countries has the most Viking heritage? Is it even a Scandinavian country with the most heritage, or could it be one of the other famous “Viking” countries, such as Iceland, instead?

There’s no clear answer as to which country has the most Viking heritage, but most people keep their arguments to the big three: Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. Iceland’s language most closely resembles the language of the Vikings, and Denmark and Norway retain plenty of Viking beliefs and heritage.

This article will further explore these various countries and their Viking heritage, DNA, and artifacts. It’ll also cover which Scandinavian country has the most Viking DNA and why England has so much Viking heritage.

country most Viking heritage
What Scandinavian country has the most Viking DNA? See below

What Scandinavian Country Has the Most Viking DNA?

Of the three legitimately Scandinavian countries, Norway appears to have the most Viking DNA. Denmark comes in second, and Sweden brings up the rear with about 10% of its population boasting Viking heritage. These results are based on DNA sequencing and surname/lineage tracing. [1]

Though not technically a “Scandinavian country,” Iceland also has an impressive amount of Viking DNA relative to its population. 

Additionally, parts of the United Kingdom, Greenland, and even Poland and Russia also have noteworthy percentages of Viking DNA and ancestry. This is thanks, in large part, to the fact that the Vikings were so nomadic; they moved, conquered, invaded, and settled all over the place. 

They married and slept with locals in those new places, as well, spreading Viking DNA throughout many different areas and regions. 

Viking artifacts
What country has the most Viking remains and artifacts? See below

What Country Has the Most Viking Remains and Artifacts?

All of the Scandinavian countries have an impressive selection of Viking remains and artifacts, but Norway probably has the most. Two of the three most impressive Viking-related museums are in Norway – Oslo and Borg – and in 2020, archaeologists unearthed a 1,200-year-old pagan temple there. [2]

There are other places people can go to get a glimpse at Viking remains and artifacts. For example, the National Museum of Denmark is home to the world’s largest surviving Viking ship, Roskilde 6, which dates to the year 1025. [3]

Birka in Stockholm, Sweden, is another fantastic place people can visit if they’re interested in learning more about Viking culture. [4] Instead of just a museum, it’s more like an entire town dedicated to giving people the Viking experience (much like people can find in Williamsburg, Virginia or the Salem Witch Village in Massachusetts). 

However, the city of Birka also has an actual museum where people can go to see ancient wooden objects, iron weapons, and a lost rune stone. There are also recreations of general types of people who probably lived in Birka during the Viking age and an interactive Viking Village. 

Despite these excellent sites, many Viking remains and artifacts remain in Norway, and 2020 was a fantastic year for finding them. 

In addition to the 1,200-year-old temple to Thor and Odin uncovered near Ørsta, a Viking-age skeleton turned up under a Norway home, and archaeologists also found over 800 Viking artifacts in the mountains of Innlandet County, Norway. [5]

In that one single find, archaeologists discovered a plethora of artifacts, including the following: 

  • Horseshoes
  • Arrowheads (some of them feathered)
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Walking sticks
  • A horse snowshoe
  • Droppings from Viking horses
  • A partial sled

Other notable Viking-related things you can see in Norway include: 

  • The Oseberg Ship
  • The Gokstad Ship
  • The Tune Ship
  • Viking burial mounds
  • Reconstructed Viking villages
  • Viking weapons (swords and axes)
  • The Gjermundbu helmet
  • Blacksmith tools and casts
  • And more

Other Great Places to Visit in Norway

Most Norwegian people are incredibly proud of their and their country’s Viking heritage, and there’s a lot of important Viking history that happened there. Along with Viking remains, there are other exciting sites in Norway. 

These include sites of historical battles and events, “Viking villages” aimed at reenacting the Viking lifestyle, religious and sacred sites, and educational sites. Some of these places include: 

  • The Historical Borre at Borrehaugene: This is Scandinavia’s biggest Viking cemetery, and there is plenty of info on the graves and even some of the people buried there.
  • Avaldsnes: Aside from the breathtaking scenery, Avaldsnes is also a fantastic Viking Village. Here, people can immerse themselves in the life of a Viking. There’s also a ton of great information about Norse mythology in this site’s History Center.
  • The Viking Swords Monument: Most people have heard of the legendary Sword in the Stone; this monument, which commemorates the 872 Battle of Hafrsfjord, has three, and they are an amazing sight to see.
  • Stiklestad Cultural Center: This is the site of the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. There are also plenty of activities one can immerse oneself in here.
  • The Viking City Kaupang: This was Norway’s first established city; it dates back to about the year 800.
Viking ship
Why Does England Have So Much Viking Heritage? See below

Why Does England Have So Much Viking Heritage?

England has a substantial amount of Viking heritage – just a bit less than Sweden – because so many Danish Vikings migrated there in the 9th and 10th centuries. And Danish Vikings weren’t the only ones; many Vikings from Norway, Sweden, and other Nordic regions moved to or raided England.

Anyone who’s ever watched the History Channel’s hit show Vikings knows that they fictionalized much of the plot and characters. However, they did get some things right. One of those things was why Vikings raided. 

Part of the reason so many Vikings raided or moved to England was for fame and riches, but a more significant one was the need for fertile land that they could settle and cultivate. Furthermore, after the first few raids, they saw what easy targets the pious, ill-equipped-to-fight-back English were. That made them even more interested in raiding. 

Some scientists, archaeologists, and researchers have even posited that Vikings raided because they were looking for eligible women. [6]

Whatever the reason, Vikings were raiders and conquerors, and – though it isn’t talked about as often – voracious traders. Whether by interacting while trading or something else, lots of Vikings – and Viking DNA – made it into England. 

Conclusion

For learning more about Vikings, experiencing Viking culture, and seeing Viking artifacts, Norway is the place to be, but all of Scandinavia is interesting.

References:
[1] Source
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[6] Source

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