Vikings along the Silk Road

Vikings along the Silk Road

The Vikings Cultural Route contributed with a SWOT-analysis to the Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative.

Despite extensive research on the Vikings, little was known about their connection to the Silk Road. With her study Silk for the Vikings, Marianne Vedeler shed some light on this interesting topic.

By collecting and studying available manuscripts and documents, she discovered that the Vikings entertained extensive trade relations with neighbouring countries and foreign empires. Hence their knowledge and appreciation of silk primarily resulted from peaceful exchange, as opposed to previously held, more violent, views.

Research of key Viking sites where silk was found indicates that Viking silk had two main origins: the Byzantine Empire, especially from its capital Constantinople (Miklagard for the Vikings), and the Persian Empire. The Russian rivers Dnepr, leading to Constantinople, and the Volga, which flows into the Caspian Sea, functioned hereby as the main modes of transportation.

The so-called Viking Age ranged between 800 and 1050 AD, a time during which Vikings reached significant ship building achievements, as well as unprecedented navigation skills. This allowed them to trade and settle throughout Europe. They also bequeathed to future generations a language, including sagas, literature and story-telling traditions.

Among many interesting findings, the research on the Vikings highlights the potential of Silk Road thematic cruises. Building on the historic significance of rivers as trade bridges, thematic cruises connecting northern Europe and the Russian Federation, underpinned by niche tourism products such as gastronomy, could enhance the attractiveness of the Western Silk Road route and diversify its tourism offer.

    Learn more about the Vikings on the Silk Road in the brochure.