Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Vikings: Victims and victors

It's ironic that we remember the Vikings best for one small failure -- their frozen far-north Greenland colony. We should instead be praising the Vikings for struggling through the cold and stormy Dark Ages, for designing those fabulous dragon ships, for swaggering their way through the abundance of the Medieval Warming -- and ultimately for leaving many of their descendents in warmer locations to survive the Little Age..

Overall, the Norse were big winners in their struggles with the earth's abrupt climate change cycles. When the cold, stormy Dark Ages set in about AD 600, the Norse had just succeeded in clearing enough Scandinavian land to support their dairy cattle and a few hardy crops. They had also developed their famous long-ships, for catching codfish on the Dogger Banks offshore.

Then, suddenly, the Dark Ages shortened the northern farmers' already-short cropping season by weeks. The colder and stormier seas drove the codfish and herring further south, away from their nets and hand-lines. Even their trading voyages became far more dangerous.

Click here to read this article from Enter Stage Right