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Trading was a vital part of the Viking mentality. They travelled many thousands of miles across land and sea and everywhere they went they traded.
They took FROM Scandinavia:
Timber for ship-building.
Animal skins and furs for clothing.
Seal and whale skins for ship ropes.
Whale bones and walrus tusk ivory for carving.
Iron for making weapons and tools.
They brought TO Scandinavia:
Silver, cloth and wheat from Britain.
Gold, wine, pottery and salt from Mediterranean countries. Glass, silks and spices from the Middle East.
Slaves from everywhere!
Goods would normally be bought in one of two ways - payment of silver or through bartering. Bartering is the swapping of items for other items of a similar value. Payment was made in chopped up silver jewellery and coins from other countries which was weighed to an agreed amount.
Because they travelled through so many different places and dealt with people of different religions the Vikings would often convert to these religions to make trading easier. They would usually keep their own beliefs as well to ensure they were still protected by their own gods!
It is no surprise that the Vikings were good farmers - they lived in very harsh conditions on infertile land and in poor weather. To make these farms work required great skill.
A man's wealth was often measured in the number of animals he had on his farm. These animals could be cows, pigs, sheep, horses, goats and poultry which were all used for eating.
Crops were grown where possible. Methods used were very similar to other cultures of the time - simple wooden ploughs being pulled by animals where possible and by slaves sometimes! It was the desire to find more fertile ground for growing these crops that led many Vikings to sail away to foreign lands.
They would also use the milk of sheep, cattle and goats for either drinking or making cheese and butter. Reindeer were also farmed for their meat, milk and hides.
The breeds that they had were different to the farm animals of today - they would have been much more hardy and able to live in much rougher climates with less food available.
Towards the end of the Viking age, under King Harald Bluetooth in the year 975 AD, they started to mass produce their own coins and these then took the place of bartering and weighed silver.
Did you know? Viking drinking horns were often made from the hollow horns of the Longhorn cattle.
Imagine if we had to weigh out our money every time we went to Tesco...!