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Importance of Norwegian Fishing to the Vikings

In some parts of Scandinavia especially along the Norwegian coasts fishing played a significantly larger role to the Vikings Age economy than agriculture.

The Viking Age fishing equipment which has been found shows that nets, lines and harpoons were in use. Both Seal and walrus were caught in the northern seas. Ivory from walrus tusks was highly prized all over Europe at this time. It was not until the 13th century that elephant ivory began to replace walrus ivory. From that point onwards the trade of walrus ivory was in decline. Walrus hides were cut into strips and then twisted to make rope. Lakes and rivers supplied plenty of freshwater fish. Salmon was especially common in Finland, and regular fishing expeditions went north during the spawning season when the rivers would be swarming with fish.

Fish and seafood played a major role in the Viking Age diet. There is a significant amount of archaeological evidence to support this. There have been large numbers of fish bones and shells found in waste heaps from Viking Age towns. Evidence at the Viking town of Birka, Sweden shows that plenty of fish were caught locally in the nearby rivers. However, it is also clear that many fish were transported to Birka from very far away. These transported fish would undoubtedly have had to have been salted in barrels to avoid spoiling during their long voyage to Birka. It is well known that a main staple food on Viking ships was salted fish. By preserving fish in salt the Vikings could guarantee some form of food for their long trading or raiding journeys.

LastUpdate: 2015-04-10 11:39:30