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Danish Vikings
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Swedish Vikings
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Norw. Vikings 
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Norway 
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Finnish Vikings
- Finland / Aland Isl.

Danish Vikings 
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Denmark 
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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. 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.
  • 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. 

Denmark 1993. The winning stamp of a children's competition for stamp design.

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, which 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 Czeslaw Slania. 

Denmark 1969. Joint issue with Norway Sweden, Iceland, and Finland.  

  • Denmark 1969. Joint issue with Norway Sweden, Iceland, and Finland.  

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 Sea. 

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. 

Denmark 1980. Danish coin from Hedeby, minted c. 800.

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. 

  • Denmark 1980. Danish coin from Hedeby, minted c. 800. Stamp engraving by Czeslaw Slania. The stamp is the first in a set of three stamps showing Danish Coins. 

Bornholm

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. 

Denmark 1979. Gripping Beast Pendant from the Island of Bornholm. 

Denmark 1979. Gripping Beast Key.

  • Denmark 1979. Gripping Beast Pendant from the Island of Bornholm. 

  • Denmark 1979. Gripping Beast Key, from the same find. 

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. 

Denmark 1953. Trelleborg Settlement.

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!  

  • Denmark 1953. Trelleborg Settlement. It is the second in a set of ten stamps in the Danish millennium series commemorating "Kingdom through 1000 years" (the period 1000-1100). 

Burial Places 
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. 

 Denmark 1980. Regional series "Jutland North of the Limfjord".

  • Denmark 1980. Regional series "Jutland North of the Limfjord". The stamp is the first in a set of four stamps. Engraved by Czeslaw Slania. 

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. 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.
  • 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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Copyrighted © 14th January 2007. All Rights Reserved
Revised 18-apr-2007

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Contact me: Ann Mette Heindorff