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Although there is a wealth of literature and online information available about
the Danish Vikings, stamps illustrating them are rather few and far between --
and at any rate they mostly illustrate Viking ships at full sail on troubled
seas with foam crested waves. This, however, is only half of the truth. In
this section you can read more about the Danish Vikings and their occupation of
most of present-day England for two centuries
Viking Age Ship Design
Perfection in the design and structure of the materials used in Vikings
ships was not the result of the of any one shipbuilder or the work done in any
one year of the Viking Age. Like most technologies, it was the result of many
years of improvements to an existing design. In the case of Vikings ships, it
was the result of slight changes made over six thousand years that began with a
simple Stone Age dugout. The Vikings built many different shaped and sized
ships. Each one had a different purpose. But, all were based on the same design;
overlapping planks, solid keel, matching bow and stern and open deck.
- Denmark 1970. Danish Shipbuilding. Detail after the Bayeux Tapestry. Read
more on the page about the British Isles.
- Denmark 1976. Skuldelev Viking Ship. The stamp is No. 1 in a set of four
issued for celebrating the bicentenary of the American Declaration on
Independence. The surcharge is for the benefit of Danish churches in USA,
social measures and scholarships in the USA for the study of Danish
history. The village of Skuldelev is located not far from the Danish town
Roskilde, c. 30 km directly west of Copenhagen. In later years the Skuldelev
Ship has been reconstructed by the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, and
named "Stallion of the Seas".
Years ago, archaeologists did not believe dragon prowled Viking ships
existed. They thought these ships, often mentioned in Viking sagas and other
historical writings, were as fictional as dragons themselves. It was believed
the people who fell prey to Viking raids exaggerated their stories to make the
Vikings appear worse than they were. This belief in Vikings ships changed in
1880, when a whole ship
was excavated in a burial mound on Gokstad farm in Sandar, Norway.
Although it was not the legendary longship or dragonship, the find did
dispel some of the doubts about the shipbuilding abilities of the
Vikings. By studying this ship and many others discovered since, we have gained
a better understanding of the design and construction of Vikings ships and
have a greater appreciation of the builders' skills.
Denmark 1993. The winning stamp of a children's competition for
stamp design. The artist is Anna Styrbæk, at the time 11 years old.
Anna's design shows the prow of a Viking ship, and the silhouette of a
traditional Viking ship in the far horizon. Well done, Anna :-)
|Silver coins found at the Björkö [Birka] settlement in Mälar
Lake, Sweden, is the inspiration for the design of the stamp on the right,
is one of a set of two.
The stamps were issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nordic
Association [Foreningen Norden] and the Nordic postal co-operation. A
similar Swedish stamp of the higher value (blue colour) is shown on the page
about Swedish Vikings. All stamps from the five countries were engraved by
- Denmark 1969. Joint issue with Norway Sweden, Iceland, and
Hedeby and Other Danish Viking Settlements
was an important settlement in Viking Denmark, flourishing from the 8th to
11th centuries and located towards the southern end of the Jutland
Peninsula, located immediately south of the present-day border to
Germany. It developed as a trading centre at the head of a narrow,
navigable inlet known today as the Schlei which connects to the Baltic
The location of Hedeby is favored because there is a short
portage of less than 15 km to the Treene River which flows into the Eider
with its North Sea estuary, making a convenient place where goods and
Viking ships could be ported overland for an almost uninterrupted seaway
between the Baltic and the North Sea and avoiding a dangerous
circumnavigation of Jutland.
||Hedeby was the largest Nordic city during the Viking
Age, and used to be the oldest city in Denmark.
Denmark lost the territory on which Hedeby was located to Austria
and Prussia in 1864 (The Second War of Schleswig). The name 'Hedeby'
means the "town on the heath". The settlement was
abandoned about the end of the first millennium.
Danish Viking items are continuously unearthed
everywhere in Denmark. Only few of them have been described on
stamps; here are two of them, the so-called Gripping Beast items,
unearthed on the small Island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea,
southeast of Sweden.
In the Viking Period up to the late Middle Ages the
southern part of Sweden, now defined as Scania, was part of
Denmark 1979. Gripping Beast Pendant from the Island
Denmark 1979. Gripping Beast Key, from the same
Trelleborg Viking Settlement
On the West coast of Zealand, near the town of Slagelse, you find an
important part of Danish history - an excavated viking fortress.
Inside the fortress were some of the only real
roads, made of oak planks, constructed during the viking age - they
were extremely rare, and were probably considered status symbols.
The main means of transport in then were the waterways at the
joining of two (what used to be) rivers close by. Still, Trelleborg
wasn't closer to the rivers than it was possible to keep it hidden
from the rivers, and thus keep potential attackers away.
The ring indicates four longhouses made of oak, and
separated by gateways. Each of the buildings housed 36-50
inhabitants, who lived and slept there together with their animals
and other belongings. Not much privacy in those days!
Lindholm Høje [Lindholm Hill] is one of the best preserved Viking burial sites
in Denmark. It is located in the harsh landscape of the northern part of
the Jutland Peninsula, on the northern bank of the narrow fiord [Limfjorden]
that penetrates Jutland from the North Sea and cross-country into the
inland sea Kattegat -- thus making this part of Jutland an island in its
own right. The site contains several hundreds of stone circles in the
shape of a boat, marking the place where the ships were burned and buried
together with its owner.
|From the top of the site there is spectacular view of
the Limfjord, which already in the Iron Age had great importance as
a food resource and trading route. By the end of the Viking Era the
whole area was covered by shifting sands, and has therefore been
preserved until our time. During the extensive excavations in the
1950s, parts of the original Viking village was found together with
a newly ploughed field.
End of the Danish Viking Age
The viking Age in Denmark is considered to have ended by the beginning of the
second millennium, when Christianity was introduced. Memory of this is
provided by the famous Runic Stone at Jelling, where the Danish king
Harald "Bluetooth" buried his parents, King Gorm den Gamle [Gorm
the Old], and Thyra Danebod [Thyra the Dane] by the end of the first
millennium. Both Jelling and Roskilde Cathedral are designated World
Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Denmark 1953. Jelling Runic Stone. The stamp is the
first of ten stamps in the Danish millennium series commemorating
"Kingdom through 1000 years" (the period 900-1000).
Denmark 2003. Jelling Runic Stone.
Denmark 1998. Millennium of Roskilde Cathedral, which
was the official seat of Christianity when it was
introduced in Denmark by the beginning of the second millennium. The design
of the stamp is probably chosen to honour the nearby Viking Museum at
the township of Lejre (which houses the finds from Skuldelev (see
stamp top right on this page), and also to mark that the Viking era is
considered terminated by the introduction of Christianity.
The saga of the Danish Vikings on
The British Isles
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