Norse History Books

As a philosopher and historian, I crave the ability to understand the past. One of the areas I focus on is Norse history from the Viking era and how it connects with what preceded it and how future generations have developed from it. Below are some of the books that I have read or am reading that are informing me.

Neil Price’s books on Viking history and late Iron Age cognitive archaeology.

Neil Price is a great resource for understanding Viking Age-Scandinavia. The Viking Way, based on his Ph.D. examines the cognitive archaeology of late Iron Age Scandinavia. He provides insights into Iron Age Scandinavian beliefs on deities such as Óðinn and Þórr, and Norse magical practices (e.g. Galdr – incantations, and Seiðr – norse magic concerned with fate). I am only a couple of chapters into this book, but I really enjoying the in-depth academic investigation into late iron age Norse magic and sorcery. I really feed off of a solid academic book that has a point to make on a particular subject matter and does it by comparing and contrasting their research with others who have researched in that area.

Children of Ash and Elm is Price’s thorough (624 pages) overview of the Viking Age, . Since he is an archaeologist, this book will provide the perspective of an archeologist, examining their politics, cosmology, and religion.

Byock’s classic Medieval Iceland, the Book of Settlements (Landnámabók) and The Book of the Icelanders (Íslendingabók).

Jesse Byock has done extensive writing on the Viking Age, having done translations of many Norse sources. I have acquired his book Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas, and Power to gain a better contextual understanding when I read the Sagas.

The Íslendingabók is a short work which describes the settlement of Iceland, the establishment of the Alþingi (Assembly), partitioning Iceland into quadrants, the discovery of Greenland, and the Icelandic conversion to Christianity c.1000 CE.

The Landnámabók tells the story of how the island of Iceland was found.

Haywood’s book is a straightforward history that progresses by region (for example, there is a chapter on Lindesfarne, followed by Paris, followed by Orkney). This allows me to dip in and read about a particular geographical region when needed.

Winroth’s book is a history by subject matter. So with this book I can read a chapter on ships, boats, and ferries if I am interested in that, then if my interests change to farm life, there is a chapter I can read on that.

Friðriksdóttir’s book covers women in the Viking world. This book takes the approach of what life would be like for a woman in that time from infancy to old age (each chapter covers a different time in a woman’s life).

I do have other books, but I consider these the highlights.

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