Follow the Vikings: Background

FOLLOW THE VIKINGS: BACKGROUND

Follow the Vikings

“The Vikings were the first people to visit four continents of this globe, a staggering fact, made all the more astounding when we take into consideration how far off the beaten track their Scandinavian homeland was.  They fought and traded with American Indians and Saracens; with Eskimos and Florentines; with Finns, Turks, Slavs; with Irishmen, Franks, Spaniards, English and Germans, and frequently with themselves.  The Emperor of the West knew them just as well as the Emperor of the East.  They had trading privileges in Byzantium, and permission to roam in the noisy bazaars of the Caliphate city.  The range of their expeditions reached incredible dimensions – from Vinland in the west to Särkland in the East, and finally to Baghdad.”

The Norsemen (Count Eric Oxenstierna)

This quote demonstrates how extensively the Vikings travelled, traded and settled.  Vikings left their mark in at least 25 European Countries.  They established important mercantile centres such as at Hedeby, Birka, Jorvik, Dublin and Kiev.   They also left a clear legacy behind them wherever they went.  This can be seen in their early law courts, known as things, local place names and language, social structures, their legacies of art and literature and surviving architecture and archaeological sites. Much of the Viking story is recorded in the form of intangible heritage such as sagas, recounting the deeds and travels of the Vikings.

The Vikings had profound cultural effects on the societies they visited, transforming them as well as the Scandinavian homelands themselves. These effects resonate in the culture and identities of today’s modern European societies. European history and heritage is a key facet of the overall European identity.  The shared Viking legacy is, therefore, highly relevant at a European level, representing European memory, history, art and heritage.

Nearly everyone in the world has heard of the Vikings but the truth behind their story is far more complex, interesting and important than most people realise.

This project brings together a network of partners from across the Viking world to broaden and develop the audience to Viking heritage and its sites across Europe.  Through transnational networking, it will seek to:

  • Explore audience development through the use of new technologies
  • Develop and test new business models to improve competencies and to deliver sustainable business opportunities
  • Improve the presentation and quality of the visitor experience
  • Bring together a group of artists and actors to tour Europe to present the Viking story through theatre, art and literature and work with local artists to develop their skills in this field, thereby celebrating Viking artistic endeavour in its own right and as a catalyst for creativity today

The Follow the Vikings project is a multi-faceted project to promote, celebrate, transfer knowledge and skills and facilitate the exchange of tangible and intangible cultural material relating to the Viking World.  It presents a tremendous opportunity to add value to and build on the Council of Europe’s Viking Cultural Route, to firmly put the Vikings on the global cultural map and capitalise on the enormous strength resulting from all the disparate but resonant elements of the Viking world.  There are around 50 sites on the Route including examples of forts, towns, farms, quarries, ships, objects, museums, archaeological remains and reconstructed longhouses. 

The Route is a traceable and identifiable non-lineal journey through the Viking world. The borderless Route encourages the exchange of stories, ideas and travel between shared Viking roots. Europe has a huge potential for growth in heritage tourism.  This Viking network of sites provides the opportunity to promote borderless tourism across the continent and beyond.

The Destination Viking Association (DVA) is the Manager of the re-accredited Viking Cultural Route and all the partners in the project are members of the Association.  The DVA was formed in 2007 recognising the need to re-energise the work of the former Viking Cultural Route.  Its main objective is to develop a strong Viking brand for tourism and sponsor co-operation between groups within Europe and beyond.  The DVA currently comprises 36 members from 13 countries, from Greenland in the west to Russia in the east, and from Norway in the north to Spain in the south.  The DVA continuously strives to encompass more parts of the Viking world in its membership, and will enter into co-operation agreements with other associations and organisations in order to stimulate long-term cultural co-operation and exchange on the Vikings.  Shetland Amenity Trust, the lead partner or for the project, has been at the centre of the DVA since its inception and James Moncrieff, the Trust’s General Manager, is currently Chairman of the Association.

Destination Viking is a new travel experience concept. Partners from a number of countries have come together to develop a borderless tourism destination focusing on the Viking world.

Quality is a key word for Destination Viking - as a visitor you expect quality at every level, and we will deliver it. Quality means quality of activities, quality of presentations, quality of workmanship, quality of sites, quality of food, quality of souvenirs. In short: quality experience!