You Wouldn t Want to Be a Viking Explorer!

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1 BOOK HOUSE! Teachers Information Sheet by Nicky Milsted The book follows the adventures of a group of Viking explorers who set out from Greenland in the late 10th century AD to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an open longship. The challenges encountered on the journey include hunger, cold, poor weather, fatigue, space constraints, and navigational difficulties. The Viking adventurers arrive in Vinland (modern-day North America) to face even more challenges: finding food and shelter, and violent indigenous people (dubbed skraelings or screaming barbarians by the Vikings). It s clear that! Who were the Vikings? The Viking age is commonly described as lasting from around AD 790, when the earliest recorded Viking raids occurred, into the 11th century, when England was unified under Saxon rule prior to the Norman invasion of (It is important to note that during this period, there was no concept of the United Kingdom as we know it now.) Vikings settled in the British Isles from Denmark and Norway. Broadly speaking, Danish Vikings settled in the north of England, particularly Yorkshire and Derbyshire, whereas Norwegian Vikings ruled Orkney, Shetland and much of the Western Isles of Scotland, as well as parts of lowland Scotland and Northumbria. Viking place names that survive in Britain today indicate the area covered by the Danelaw the part of England ruled by the Vikings. Place names that point to a Viking influence often end in -by, -thorpe, and -wick, for example Selby, Cleethorpes and Alnwick. Vikings are famous for their sagas; long and detailed generational stories that weave together the narratives of gods and forebears. These were central to Viking culture, and were passed down through oral retellings and only committed to written form centuries later. Vikings are also renowned for their craft skills including boat building (like the famous longships complete with dragon-head prow) weaponry, tools, domestic goods and fine jewellery. Vikings originated from Scandinavia, and are often characterised as violent raiders and warriors. Viking people were confident seafarers and explorers; from their Scandinavian homelands they colonised Iceland and Greenland, and, in the late 10th century AD, Leif Ericsson crossed the Atlantic Ocean to North America. Evidence of Viking influences and trading has been found throughout northern Europe, around the Mediterranean Sea, and into Russia and Central Asia, as well as in Canada and North America. Although there is evidence of Vikings bloodthirsty ways, such as the raid on the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumbria in AD 793, many Vikings were simply in search of new territory to settle in. The classic picture of a Viking, a horned-helmet-wearing warrior, is largely a Victorian invention. There is to date no archaeological evidence of horned helmets!

2 Activity 1: What s your Viking name? Encourage your pupils to adopt a Viking name for their adventures as a Viking explorer. They may wish to Viking-ise their own name, or use the Viking name creator in the pupils pack. Viking names of warriors and explorers tended to be descriptive, for example Erik the Red or Sven Forkbeard. Other names were designed to instil fear or reverence: Eric Bloodaxe, Bjorn Ironside, Cnut the Great or Ivar the Boneless. A further category of Viking names are those linked to their forebears: Leif Ericsson (son of Erik the Red) and Freydis Eiriksdottir (daughter of Erik the Red). Once your pupils have chosen their Viking name, ask them to either describe or draw themselves as a Viking. Why not try Viking speed-dating? In pairs, ask your pupils to interview each other as Vikings. What is their favourite thing about being a Viking, for example? Research challenge: Ragnar Lodbrok is a famous Viking. His name is descriptive, and uses the Old Norse word Loðbrók which roughly translates as hairy breeches. Why was Ragnar called hairy breeches? Challenge your pupils to research his story, and retell it to their classmates. Activity 2: Viking expedition advert In, Thorvald is planning an expedition to North America. Challenge your pupils to design a poster or advert to encourage Vikings to join the expedition. Extension activity: The expedition is over-subscribed. Appoint a panel of pupils as members of the expedition, including Thorvald the expedition leader and ask them to conduct job interviews of the potential candidates. You could ask the candidates to prepare a CV or complete a job application form; the panel should decide on the questions to ask the candidates. What characteristics are they looking for in their expedition crew? Activity 3: Get packing! Space is at a premium on board the expedition longship. Explorers belongings were packed into sea chests that they then sat on to row the boat. Challenge your pupils to pack for the trip they can each take five items from the selection given on the activity sheet. What will your pupils choose to take, and why? Talking point: If your pupils were to undertake an expedition now, what would they pack?

3 Activity 4: Viking exploring and settling Vikings left their homelands in Scandinavia and explored and raided across the North Atlantic and around the coast of the British Isles. They colonised Iceland and Greenland, and traded (and raided!) around the Mediterranean Sea. Pupils can label the map of Europe from the book on the activity sheet, in order to create their own version. Using arrows, can they mark on routes taken by Viking explorers? Talking point: Have any of your pupils visited places that the Vikings explored? How did they travel to get there? Extension activity: Viking settlers left their mark on Britain in place names derived from Old Norse which are still used today. Most Viking place names are made up of a prefix, which was often related to a person, and a suffix that described the place. Viking suffixes include -by, - thorpe, -haven and -wick, for example Selby, Cleethorpes, Whitehaven and Alnwick. The by suffix meant village or settlement; thorpe meant farm; haven related to a harbour; and wick relates to the Scandinavian word vik for a creek or bay (some wick place names are from an Anglo-Saxon root, rather than being specifically Viking, and mean port or other trading place). Other Viking place name suffixes include: toft a single homestead or farm ness a coastal headland kirk church (this is sometimes seen as a prefix as well as a suffix) A good example of a very Viking place name is Grimsby, which was believed to be first settled by a Danish Viking fisherman called Grim. The town s name simply comes from Grim's by, meaning Grim s village. Either: Ask your pupils to choose one or more of these suffixes and mark settlements that include them onto a blank map of Britain. Is there any pattern? Can they spot the parts of Britain where there was greater Viking influence? Or: Using an ordnance survey map of your own locality, ask pupils to identify settlements that may be Viking in origin. Can they spot any? Are there any patterns with their distribution? Many settlements with a Viking origin are close to the coast or along navigable river courses. Why not try... naming your own Viking settlement? Encourage your pupils to come up with their own Viking place name based on their Viking name that they chose in the first activity. Whereabouts would their settlement be? For example, if they named a settlement Erikshaven, would it be inland, or on the coast? You could create a new map of Viking Britain using all of your pupils new places!

4 Activity 5: Longship maths Obviously the speed of longships varied from vessel to vessel. Under sail, a Viking longship with favourable winds could travel at a top speed of up to 20 knots (approximately 37km/h). Longships could be powered by as few as 12 pairs of rowers. An archaeological discovery during the 1990s in Roskilde in Denmark uncovered a huge longship 37m long (the longest ever discovered). It had more than 30 rowing positions on both sides. When powered by oars, a longship with a rowing crew of 32 (i.e. 16 pairs of rowers) could travel at a top speed of around 4 knots (about 7.4km/h). There are some maths challenges linked to these facts on the longship maths sheets. Your more able pupils may be able to devise their own maths challenges for their peers using these facts too. Talking point: can your pupils discuss some of the factors that would affect a longship s speed? Think about both the ship itself, the crew members, and the sea/weather conditions. Talking point: a knot is a measurement of speed when travelling at sea; it equates to one nautical mile per hour and was first used in the 17th century. Can your pupils think of other terms used to measure speed? Activity 6: Board games There is archaeological evidence for Viking board games, including the game hnefatafl which is mentioned in. Archaeological finds of game boards suggest that this was played on a board of either 11x11 or 13x13 squares or dots. Various Viking sagas also include references to board games. It is thought that in hnefatafl, the pieces are moved around the board to try and capture the king but nowhere are full rules given for the game! Split your class into small groups to create a board game based on hnefatafl. They need to decide how their board will be laid out and make it, how many pieces each player has and make them (from clay or using small pebbles, for example), and discuss the rules of their game between themselves where do the pieces start on the board, how can the pieces move, and how is the winner decided? Each group should write a set of rules to their game. When the groups swap games, can they follow the rules written by another group? Why not try playing other board games, such as backgammon, draughts, nine men s morris, and chess. Does playing these help your pupils to create their own game?

5 Activity 7: Viking rowing song Vikings spent a long time on board their longships. What better way to pass the time than a bit of a Viking sing-song to keep their spirits up whilst rowing? Challenge your pupils to come up with some words for a Viking rowing song. A good rhythm is useful to keep the rowers in time, so your song may be more of a chant than a complicated tune. Remember that the rowers would have to have enough breath to row too! The words should be motivational and encourage the rowers to keep rowing. They might relate to where the Vikings are going, what they expect to find/steal, why Vikings are the best, and how they never give up. Why not try setting up your own Viking longship using pairs of chairs, and perform some of your Viking songs in a school assembly? Activity 8: Arty challenges! Viking longships had intricate carved prows, often featuring dragons or fearsome birds such as eagles. Can your pupils design their own longship prow? They could even try making them out of clay or papier-mâché. Viking longships were often decorated with shields on either side, which were also used in fighting and raiding. These were circular and had a central boss. Can your pupils design their own Viking shields? A template is given on the activity sheet. Again your pupils could make their shields strong cardboard from packing boxes makes great shields, and the central boss can be made out of a ball of newspaper or an upturned yoghurt pot. Pupils pack contents Viking name generator Me as a Viking activity sheet Viking explorer job application form Get packing! activity sheet My Viking exploration map activity sheet Longship maths activity sheets (4) Viking crossword Design your own Viking shield Blank sheet with the border top and bottom for your pupils own artwork and writing

6 Answers: Longship maths (1) 1) How far would your longship travel when powered at top speed by oars, in: a) 2 hours? 8 nautical miles b) 10 hours? 40 nautical miles c) 1 day? 96 nautical miles d) 2 days? 192 nautical miles 2) How far would your longship travel when powered at top speed by sail, in: a) 2 hours? 40 nautical miles b) 10 hours? 200 nautical miles c) 1 day? 480 nautical miles d) 2 days? 960 nautical miles Answers: Longship maths (2) 1) How much further would your longship travel when powered by the sail rather than oars, in: a) 1 hour? 16 nautical miles b) 5 hours? 80 nautical miles c) 8 hours? 128 nautical miles 2) Your longship gets stuck in the fog! Your rowers row at half speed. How fast are you now travelling? 2 knots 3) Rowing is hard work! Your rowers row at full speed for 1 hour, half speed for the second hour, and quarter speed for the third hour. How far will you have travelled? 7 nautical miles 4) There s a hole in your sail! Your longship sails at three quarters of its full speed. How fast are you travelling? 15 knots 5) You spy land! You travel for 30 minutes at full speed under sail, and then row at full speed for 30 minutes before reaching land. How far out to sea were you? 12 nautical miles

7 Answers: Longship maths (3) 1) What is the perimeter of your sail? 44m 2) What is the area of your sail? 121m 2 3) a) How many white stripes are there? 6 b) How many red stripes are there? 5 4) In total, what is the area of the white stripes? 66m 2 5) In total, what is the area of the red stripes? 55m 2 Answers: Longship maths (4) 1) How fast, in km/h, can your longship travel when powered: a) by oar at full speed? 7.4 km/h b) by sail at full speed? 37 km/h c) by oar at 3 4 speed? 5.5 km/h 2) It is approximately 460 nautical miles from Bergen in Norway to Grimsby in the UK. How long would this journey take in your longship: a) by oar at full speed? 115 hours (or 4 days and 19 hours) b) by sail at full speed? 23 hours c) if you travelled for 10 nautical miles at both ends of your journey at full speed by oar, but spent the rest of the journey travelling at full speed by sail? 27 hours (or 1 day and 3 hours) 10 nautical miles would take 2 and a half hours by oar (10 nautical miles 4 knots) The crew rowed for 10 nautical miles at both ends of the journey, making 20 nautical miles in 5 hours = 440 nautical miles still to travel by sail. This was done at full speed, so = 22 hours. The total journey thus took 5 hours by oar + 22 hours by sail = 27 hours.

8 Answers: Viking crossword Across clues 1) Pyres 5) Erik 6) Hnefatafl 9) Odin 10) Tar 12) Thor 13) Beserk Down clues 2) Runes 3) Skraeling 4) Leif 6) Hudfat 7) Longship 8) Valkyrie 9) Oar 11) Axe

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