Opening Conference for the 50th Anniversary of the European Cultural Convention
9-10 December 2004
Awards Ceremony for Five Cultural Routes
9 December 2004
“The Vikings Routes”
Presentation by Mr Dan CARLSSON
Associate Professor at the Gotland University, Visby, Sweden
(To be checked against delivered speech)
In the year AD 789, three strange ships arrived at Portland on the southern coast of England and Beaduheard, who was the reeve of the King of Wessex, rode out to meet them. He took with him only a small band of men under the mistaken impression that the strangers were traders: “and they slew him ...” records the Anglo-Saxon Chronicletersely. It adds, with over a century of grim hindsight, “those were the first ships of Northmen which came to the land of the English.
This was the beginning of a period known to us as the Viking Age, normally dated to around AD 800-1050, when Scandinavian people from the modern countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden influenced much of northern Europe and beyond.
By their ships and travels they connected far distance places into a network, that was the foundation for the Hanseatic League, and today, some 1000 years later, the history of the Vikings and Europe is still alive. Exhibitions in plenty, books in hundreds and activities in thousands are keeping the story alive. During the last years, the Viking theme has clearly become an important part in culture tourism and living history.
But sorry to say, there are many misunderstandings of this period of European history. Just to remind you of a typical misconception - the Vikings did not have horn on their helmets -! In this perspective, the importance of the Viking Route being a part of the Council of Europe’s.
Cultural Routes should not be underestimated. Therefore, for all Vikings, living or in Valhalla, we all deeply express our gratitude to the Council of Europe for the honour of being a part of the cultural routes of Europe.