What makes a British Christmas? Well, Father Christmas, snow, lumpy Christmas stockings at the end of the bed, going to church at midnight, the smell of a Christmas tree when you plant it in a tub, festive food, The Vikings? Okay, so the Vikings would appear to be the odd one out in this list but a quick delve into Viking history and customs and all will be revealed! According to Viking traditions, Thor's personal mode of transport was a wagon pulled by a herd of horned goats and the most powerful Viking god Odin gave gifts to all, Father Christmas follows suit in this practice.
The Viking Museum at York, TV history programmes such as The Blood of the Vikings and books such as J D Richards's Viking-Age England have given us new ways of looking at the Scandinavian adventurers who raided, traded and settled in many parts of Europe, including Britain, between the sixth and eleventh centuries.
Example areas of study
There are two freestanding BA honours degrees in Viking Studies but courses in ancient history, Irish and Celtic; Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic; archaeology and Scandinavian Studies may have modules in the Vikings that you can study. The two Viking Studies courses have very different core and optional study subjects and emphases. The list below gives you an idea of the modules that may be available:
- Danish, Norwegian or Swedish language learning
- Old Norse
- Contemporary Scandinavia
- Linguistics and the Scandinavian languages
- Scandinavian history
- Sources for medieval archaeology
- Early medieval archaeology of Britain
- Medieval Scandinavian mythology and religion
- The Viking legacy in the British Isles
- The early Christian and Viking period in Iceland
- Early historic and Viking period in Scotland
- Year studying in Scandinavia
- Research methods
- Learning history
- The birth of Europe 500-1200
- Introduction and approaches to archaeology
- Medieval studies
- The Dark Age and medieval Europe
- Environmental archaeology
- The Viking Age
- English place names
- Edda and saga: an introduction to Icelandic literature
- English studies
- Research methods
Some career possibilities
Past graduates have gone into a wide range of employment sectors, for example publishing, teaching, translating, tourism, museum work, journalism, finance, business, central and local government, politics and administration. Postgraduate study towards higher qualifications is another option.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for courses in Viking studies are listed below. For other courses with modules in Viking studies you will need to check with the institutions themselves as to the grades and qualifications they require.
- UCAS Tariff: 300 points including English literature/language and/or history
- A-level: BBB including English literature/language and/or history
- SQA Advanced Highers: BBB including English literature/language and/or history
- International Baccalaureate: 32 including English
For your application or interview, evidence of the following could be useful:
- Visits to Viking sites, for example Lindisfarne, York or Lincoln, and knowledge of their Viking links
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk
Some of this article was developed from You Want to Study WHAT?! Volume I, 2nd edition by Dianah Ellis, published by Trotman & Company Ltd, 2003.