Viking Towns

Earls (or Jarls) were Viking leaders, and the most powerful ones became kings. When there were disagreements, people met outside to settle problems. (It may help you to picture people coming to Moses and having him decide who was responsible for the dead sheep and such.) In community areas, people also traded stories, met up with friends, and arranged marriages. These discussions led to a common law that was only known in an oral tradition, meaning they didn’t write it down; they just said it, remembered it, told each other, passed it onto their children, etc. Anyone could kill someone who broke the laws.

Of course, when someone was killed, their family felt justified to kill someone in the killer’s family, and back and forth, in what are known as “blood feuds.”

While family was important, men were away fighting or trading for months at a time. Women ran the homes and farms while they were away.

Skilled craftsman used wood or stone to make everything needed such as pots, locks, cups, and dishes. Leather workers could make clothing. They would sell their goods in the market.

Blacksmiths worked with metal, heating the metal and then hammering it into the shape of different tools, knives, and swords. They also made spurs for horses, locks and keys, and simple things like nails. They would travel to different settlements to provide their services.

Can you answer these questions?

Which of these was made from wood?

What happened to outlaws?
They could be killed by anyone.
They were forced into slavery.
There were no laws.

The Vikings had a written law.

What happened in a blood feud?
families kept taking revenge by killing someone
CORRECT! Photo by Don Hainzl on
They killed a pig on the other person’s farm.
They were put into stocks.