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That cry, at one time, struck fear in the hearts of farmers and villagers.

The Vikings were pirates. They attacked the weak, stole what they could, enslaved whom they could.

They were not someone you wanted to have come to visit. Think about three or four boatloads of young men descending on the shores of Gimli to rob, rape and pillage.

The townspeople wouldn’t be amused. As has happened all through history, young men get older, settle down, establish homes and families, take a day job. There weren’t a lot of choices in Viking times, of course. Farming, raising sheep, milking cows, fishing.

Still, as Vikings got older, a warm fire and good food must have seemed a lot better than an open boat in bad weather. When the Vikings come to Gimli, everyone is happy to see them. They set up their village on the hill in front of Betel.

They create a fence with a wicker gate and have two Vikings in chain mail guard the entrance. Inside the village, the modern-day Vikings provide both views of Viking life. There are daily battles but there are also peaceful scenes of Vikings making crafts or cooking meat on a spit over a bed of coals.

You know the Vikings in the village know more about Vikings than most people because their helmets don’t have any horns on them. They strive for accuracy; however, it is difficult because there is not all that much that is really known.

To confuse matters, a lot of people make up romantic versions of Vikings based on little or no knowledge. Viking wasn’t applied to any particular ethnic or racial group. It was used to describe anyone who went raiding.

The first settlers of Iceland cannot properly be called Viking. They didn’t come to raid and pillage. They came to settle. They may have left Iceland at times to raid or trade, to explore and so have gone a Viking.

It doesn’t matter to most of us. The Gimli Vikings are a welcome addition to Íslendingadagurinn. The Viking helmets with the cow’s horns are a lot of fun. The helmets even come with blonde hair now. A plastic sword allows for bloodless battle. In the end Hollywood always wins.

 

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