The Vikings: Law breakers or law makers?

The big Thing

Although the Vikings had a reputation for law breaking in the countries they raided and attacked, back home in Scandinavia that kind of behaviour was not tolerated or encouraged.

Norse society was governed by quite strict laws which were discussed and decided upon at a meeting called a Thing. Usually held at a specially chosen field or open space, the community would assemble at the Thing to settle disputes and disagreements and enforce these laws that had been handed down from generation to generation.

Since the Vikings didn't really write things down, it was the responsibility of the local law-speaker to remember the laws and remind the community about what had been agreed at previous Things.

The trials of people who were thought to have broken the law were also held at the Thing. If a person was found guilty the relevant punishment would be handed out by the law-speaker.

Find out what happened at a Viking Thing.

Viking Crime and Punishment

Click on the Vikings below to find out what punishment they could expect to receive at the Thing for breaking certain laws or committing a crime.