• Viking Age Triggered by a Shortage of Wives?

    by  • 18 September 2008 • Archaeology, History, Vikings • 0 Comments

    Mirabilis.ca, a source of all sorts of historical news, if there can be such a thing, points to a theory reported on Discovery about the reason for Viking settlements in Britain.  We know of course that there was what is described by Ian Armit as a “blending of cultural tradition” in the Western Isles, where the native Gaelic and incoming Norse cultures co-existed.  The scant evidence, such as the Viking age female burial found near Valtos School in 1915 which showed both Norse and Celtic influence, points to some kind of merging of cultures, and it’s generally accepted that the Viking settlers took local wives.

    Sept. 17, 2008 — During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

    The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

    “Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas,” Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.

    Although it’s believed many cultures throughout world history have practiced female infanticide, said Barrett, he admits that “it is difficult to identify in the archaeological record,” so the claim “must remain a hypothesis.”

    To strengthen the argument, however, Barrett has reviewed and dismissed several other proposed causes for the Viking Age.

    Read the rest of it on Discovery.

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