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Viking Music and Poetry

Feasts and celebrations were an opportunity for indoor fun for the better-off within Viking communities. They consisted of not only drinking and general excesses, but they also gave the opportunity to listen to professional skalds. A skald was roughly the same as a medieval troubadour or minstrel, and was a member of a group of poets who would recite poems and narratives within the courts of the Viking Age leaders. Skalds were common in both Scandinavian and Icelandic courts. There is no evidence that Skalds sang therefore most scholars believe that Skaldic poetry would be spoken not sung. They may however have been accompanied by simple musical instruments. It is unknown if the skalds performed the Viking Epics.

With the Christianisation of Scandinavia professional skalds became essentially extinct by the 11th century in Scandinavia. However, professional skalds continued to exist until the 13th century in Iceland. There are over 300 known skalds from 800AD until 1200AD.

During feasts and celebrations there would also be music and dancing. Unfortunately we know little about Viking music. Viking musical instruments are very rarely preserved, because they would generally be constructed of wood or other perishable materials. We do know that lyres or harps were played. We also know that simple flutes and pan flutes were used as well as a kind of violin.

LastUpdate: 2016-06-20 10:59:55