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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Old Norse and Scandinavian Place Names - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! Last week we learned about the many languages the Vikings spoke and wrote. This week we'll take a deeper dive into Old Norse and Scandinavian place names. Hope you enjoy digging in!

As we learned last week, Old Norse languagewas derived from the West Norse (Scandinavian) dialect and is also known as Old Icelandic. Eventually it was replaced by other languages such as English. Through place names we can still see the Old Norse influence.


The word "viking" may have come from the Old Norse word "vÍkingr" which meant seafarer from the vÍk arean of Norway. You can see in the map above the Vik municipality that still exists off the Sognefjord.

Ireland is littered with Old Norse place names uch as Wexford, Fota, Selskar, Tuskar, Dursey, Wicklow, Howth, Carlingord, and Lambay.


Scandinavian and Old Norse place names are scattered throughout England as well. The suffix -by means "settlement" in Old Norse. "Lund" means "grove of trees" in Old Norse.


Scandinavian -thorpe meant "village, hamlet".

Close to the city of Birkenhead, on the peninsula of Wirral, there are several Old Norse place names.
Tranmere - "sandbank where cranes gather"
Irby - Irish settlement
Thingwall - "field where the thing meets" where thing refers to their assembly
Meols - "sandbank"


The Vikings called the very top tip of the United Kingdom "hvarf" or "turning point". Today it's known as Cape Wrath. They called the Hebrides "Sudreys" or "southern islands".

Scotland contains many Viking place names as well. Scandinavian -ness meant "point, headland". Words "Ting" and "Tyn" both repesent "Thing" or assembly.

Picture References:
Ireland, England Maps - Google Maps
Hebrides - By Kelisi, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=541156


"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5

Cultural Atlas of the Viking World American Archaeology Uncovers the Vikings
What Life Was Like When Longships Sailed: Vikings Ad 800-1100 National Geographic Kids Everything Vikings: All the Incredible Facts and Fierce Fun You Can Plunder
Leif Eriksson: Viking Explorer of the New World (Great Explorers of the World) The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings (Oxford Illustrated Histories)
The World of the Vikings Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age
The Vikings: Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder (General Military) The Vikings (Journey into civilization)
Vikings, a Dark History Vikings: Warriors, Raiders, and Masters of the Sea (Oxford People)
The Vikings  

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