Viking settlement (10th century)
Typical settlements of the Norsemen were not only established in Scandinavia, they appeared on distant areas as well.
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Vikings, spreading out from Northern Europe in the 9th-11th centuries, were excellent navigators. During their raids, they reached Iceland, Greenland and North America. On these territories, they established colonies similar to settlements in Scandinavia.
These were typically founded on the seashore, in protected bays, as it was crucial to have safe ports for sea trade. Settlements were open towards the sea, but surrounded by a protective wall on the side facing the mainland. This wall consisted of an earth wall and huge logs. There were several watchtowers along the wall but usually just one gate.
Dwellings were arranged irregularly within settlements, but the most important building, the central assembly hall was in the center. This is where the council of men met and made important decisions that regulated the life of the community. The enormous hall resembled a ship turned upside down. Feasts organized for the entire community were also held here.
Family farms were usually protected by fences. Dwellings were typically rectangular and were surrounded by a small garden and several other buildings. Houses not only accommodated people, but also their animals. Typical Viking houses were built from logs, their roofs were covered with shingles, peat or thatch. The length of the houses varied, some of them might have been up to 80 m (262 ft) long. The width was determined by the size of the rafters. Cross beams were supported by two lines of posts. The floor either consisted of rammed earth or it was covered with wooden boards.
The furniture was simple. There were benches along the walls, covered with animal hide or fur and used for sitting at daytime and sleeping at night. They prepared meals on an open hearth inside, which also heated the house.
Houses were crowded close together along narrow streets covered with wood. They made ditches to convey rainwater. Cemeteries were located right at the protective rampart. Cultivated lands, fields for grazing and forests that provided building material for settlements were located outside the wall.
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