The recent discovery of glass fragments in Viking archaeological sites challenges the common perception of Vikings as unsophisticated barbarians, shedding light on their architectural and cultural achievements.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Vikings had windows — usually only associated with medieval churches and castles — meaning Norsemen dignitaries sat in rooms lit up by apertures with glass, Danish researchers said Thursday. The glass panes can be dated from long before the churches and castles of the Middle Ages with which glazed windows are associated, they said.
The recent findings by archaeologists in southern Sweden, Denmark, and northern Germany have revealed glass fragments that can be dated to the Viking Age, between 800 and 1100. This challenges the common assumption that early window glass was only associated with the Middle Ages. The National Museum in Copenhagen has analyzed 61 fragments of glass panes, concluding that Vikings had windows with glass panes, suggesting a more sophisticated and cultured society than previously believed.
According to Mads Dengsø Jessen, a senior researcher with the National Museum in Copenhagen, this discovery represents “yet another shift away from the image of unsophisticated barbaric Vikings swinging their swords around.” It highlights the existence of a cultivated Viking elite with royal power, comparable to figures like Charlemagne, king of the Franks.
The glass windows found in Viking archaeological sites were likely used in upper-class and religious contexts, similar to the rest of Europe. While these windows were not large and transparent like modern windows, they were smaller and probably composed of flat pane glass in different shades of green and brown. Their purpose was not to provide a view but to create a colorful inflow of light into the buildings.
The museum suggests that the Vikings acquired the glass through trade, as they were known for their large-scale raiding, colonizing, conquest, and trading throughout Europe. This new evidence challenges the simplistic Hollywood portrayal of Vikings and highlights their architectural and cultural achievements.
In conclusion, the discovery of glass windows in Viking archaeological sites offers a fresh perspective on the sophistication and cultural achievements of the Vikings. This finding challenges the common perception of Vikings as unsophisticated barbarians and emphasizes the existence of a cultivated Viking elite with royal power. The use of glass windows in their buildings suggests a more advanced society than previously believed, shedding new light on the architectural and cultural legacy of the Norsemen.