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Norway, Vikings and Links To Celtic Tradition

Norway - A State of Fjords
By Vivek Kuriyal

Nature seems to have bestowed upon Norway the most of its mercy. This country is elegant and boasts of its natural wealth. If you ever wish to cruise through the deep Atlantic fjords or climb mountains, Norway is the perfect destination for you. Not only the fjords but grand mountains, astonishing waterfalls, glaciers and cities rich in natural and modern assets also make Norway a hot favorite tourist destination in the world. Its unfading beauty is something that speaks out itself the glorious history and recommends the travelers to pay a visit to this amazingly beautiful country.

The moment you get into the Norwegian territory, nature greets you with some amazing gifts of stunningly beautiful sights. Landing on the airport in Oslo, the capital city, follows some memorable sightseeing experience. Museums and parks in important corners of this charming city have something great to make you inquisitive. The Norwegian Folk museum represents the cultural history of Norway and wooden stave church is another worth visiting spot. Viking Ship museum and Vigeland Sculpture Park are also Oslo’s mot well known attractions.

Besides Oslo, Bergen and Troms are cities which treasure a lot for travelers. Troms is the best place to become aware of the cultural heritage of Norway and capture scenery of snow capped mountain. This city is the gateway to the Arctic. Street music, restaurants, pubs and bars are something very common you would observe in Troms. Number of period buildings and a Northern light Planetarium attract a good number of visitors. Bergen, once the capital of Norway and nestled between the seven mountains is considered to be the Gateway to fjords.

The national shrine of Norway, Nidaros Cathedral in Scandinavia deserves full attention of the tourists. This 12th century construction displays some magnificent glassworks and stone statue. Staying in the Fisherman’s hut on the mountainous Lofoten Islands is always a wonderful experience. The cluster of Islands has variety of animals and plant life. The Geiranger fjord is most visited and stunning fjord with 6000 ft. mountains above it. Ajostedal Glacier National Park and Nordkapp have their own importance for tourists. You can find more information on Norway Tourism on the site

A City of Architectural and Artic Excellence
By Vivek Kuriyal

The Norwegian capital Oslo is a historical town located at the head of Oslo fjord. Forest ridges surround this city. Oslo gives many reasons for attracting a good crowd of visitors. Encompassing several wilderness areas, an array of restaurants and many historically important sites, this city boasts of offering unmatched entertainment to the visitors. It is just that right blend of old and pristine resources tourists generally look for.

Winter is the most suitable time to be in Oslo and the city’s skating rink is one of the most favorite places out here. This small town treasures numerous parks, museums and some magnificent castles which describe its glorious history and contemporary achievements. One of the leading shipping cities in the world, Oslo offers abundance of things to see and do. Besides elegant shopping experience, a graceful walk in the parks, an inquisitive tour to the museums and a sumptuous dinner at restaurants, Oslo features a very long ski run and eight alpine slopes to facilitate an adventurous skiing experience.

The capital of Norway possesses more than 40 museums and several art galleries. Some of the world famous attractions include the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Viking Ship museum, Holmenkollen and Munch Museum. The Vigeland Park is a great piece of rare art where sculptures created by the famous artist Gustav Vigeland gracefully stand for the citizens as well as the travelers. Amongst 212 sculptures, The Little Hot Head and The Monolith are most renowned. Many other artistic excellence rules the streets of Oslo, Norway--the Munch Museum is one of them.

You will not be able to stop yourself from admiring the several old ships at the Viking Ship Museum. All these ships belonged to the great warriors of Norway who were known as Vikings. Architectural Excellence includes Akershus Castle and Fortress that has been there for last 700 years. It is a landmark in the city. However, only a few days of leave will be less for covering all the amazing destinations in Oslo—it has a lot to offer to you. So have a good margin of time saved for touring Oslo.

Adorned by Mountains, Fjords and Glaciers
By Vivek Kuriyal

Norway redefines the beauty by the presence of stunning mountains, glaciers and fjords. The long sea strip and delightful summer days decorates this country with unfading beauty and splendor. Rich in historic assets and unspoiled fishing rural areas provide plenty of opportunities to spend a considerable number of days over here. The historical sites enlist Viking ships and medieval stave churches. The best time to visit Norway is between May and September. The robust character of Norway, which is unusual in Europe is achieved by the stunning western fords, enchanted forests, sunny beaches and rolling farmlands.

Capital of Norway, Olso, comprises of everything that makes you glad in any corner of the city you go. Though the capital possesses a sober reputation, it stores a lot to visit and enjoy. Besides the capital, the central Norway features highest mountains, largest glaciers and dramatic fjords. Undoubtedly, it the most visited destination of the country. Plethora of national parks, museums and old churches attract a big number of travelers. Many Nobel Prize winners in the field of literature have been the inhabitants of this great land. Bjornstjerne Bjornson, Sigrid Undset and Knut Hamsun are some of them to name.

Diverse cultural background also makes this country a special place to live or for vacation. You will find people dancing on their traditional folk tunes. Singing and storytelling also are part of their celebrations. It boasts of a pool of artistic talents that includes painter Edvard Munch, composer Edvard Grieg and several others. Staying in any corner of the country is no problem at all. A number of grand hotels in Norway are always ready to give you a warm welcome.

The Battle of Clontarf
By Colm B Brady

The Battle of Clontarf took place outside the town of Dublin on Good Friday, 1014. On one side Brian Boru led the Irish in the resistance against the Vikings of Dublin who were supported by Vikings from England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, France and Orkney Islands.

Born around 940, Brian Boru was an inhabitant of Co Clare, and belonged to the Royal house of Thomond. At this point in Ireland's history, Viking invaders had dominated the island. From an early age Brian led his followers against the Vikings, who at that time ruled large coastal areas around Ireland. He vanquished them in several battles and ultimately succeeded in clearing the Vikings from Munster. After his older brother, Mahon, was murdered in 976, Brian Boru became King of Munster. In 1002 he became King of Ireland and his main goal from then on was to clear the Vikings from the whole country.

Finally in the Battle of Clontarf the Vikings of Ireland were defeated. The Irish losses were estimated to be 4,000 including their king and most of his sons, however of the 7,000 to 8,000 Vikings and allied forces, an estimated 6,000, including almost all the leaders, were killed.

At the end of the battle, the Viking forces withdrew to their ships. During this retreat the Irish combatants were negligent leaving Brian’s tent unprotected and a group of fleeing Danes and their leader Brodir slayed him with an axe whilst he was kneeling in prayer.

Colm Brady is Director of Business Development for Thrifty Car Rental Ireland and has worked with Thrifty since 2000. Colm is continually developing the companies business through both the traditional and online channels. Among the websites that are currently under the Thrifty Umbrella are: Thrifty Car Rental Ireland, Dollar Car Rental Ieland and Malone Car Hire Ireland.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pirates
By Alison Cole

Shouting, “Shiver me timbers”, the villain with an eye patch, a steel hook for a hand or wooden leg is the vision of pirates we all have. However, a pirate is simply one who loots at sea or even in cities near the shore, without authority from any nation to do so.

Piracy dates back 3000 years. Plutarch, the Greek historian, gave us the first account of piracy and in 140 BC the word “peirato” was being used by the Roman historian Polybius. In the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” there is a mention of piracy. In the middle ages in Europe, the Norse riders, called the Danes or Vikings carried out acts of piracy. In England, they were called sea thieves or sea robbers.

The English, Dutch and French sea-faring adventurers were called buccaneers. Some of the famous buccaneers were heroes like the dashing Englishmen Sir Francis Drake and Sir Richard Hawkins. They had become rich in the many “privateering” operations against Spain, in the Caribbean and off the coasts of North America. These privateers had a “letter of marque”, from the government to capture ships belonging to an enemy country in order to weaken the opposition. They could never be charged with piracy though perhaps, that’s what they really were. In the Declaration of Paris in 1854, seven nations together suspended the use of the “letter of marque”, and later, it was completely outlawed in the Hague Convention.

Over the years, the success of the privateers saw many becoming drifting pirates, also called freebooters. Many were even slaves released from ships. In the second half of the 17th century, they became a menace in the new world or the American Continent, looting the Spanish colonizers. This period between 1560 and the early 1700s was the classic era of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Tortuga and Port Royal were two of the best-known bases during this period. Some of the most famous pirates were William Kidd, ""Calico Jack"" Rackham, Edward Teach, or Blackbeard and a woman pirate called Jeanne de Belleville.

Most of us have a very romantic notion of pirates as rich, rebellious and interesting, operating outside the rules of a rigid society. In truth, most were poor, unhealthy and died young. The work was hard and dangerous, they had to fight, loot and maintain a ship that was usually old. Their riches were usually spent in taverns sometimes in one night. Some buried their treasure and died before they could come back for it.

However, they had certain laws which were more democratic than the societies they lived in. They elected and even replaced leaders. The captain was usually the fittest and the most vicious fighter and the ship’s quartermaster had considerable authority when they were not in battle. They even shared the booty and had a fair system of sharing in place. Those injured in battle got compensation or were given simpler jobs. These laws were written down and sometimes even used to declare them outlaws in a court of law. But the pirates’ own justice system was very harsh. For simple crimes such as disobedience they could be whipped, marooned, burnt or even drowned and killed. For a pirate, “walking the plank” himself was a terrible sentence.

Modern pirates are found in South and Southeast Asia, parts of South America, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. They target cargo ships navigating slowly through narrow straits, which they overtake in their small motorboats. The safes carrying cash are looted along with personal belongings. They may even capture ships and later disguise these for their own use.

Modern day piracy sometimes takes place during civil war or times of unrest. Warlords could attack UN ships carrying food. They could hijack a ship or kidnap a person or people for ransom or exchange their victims for a wanted terrorist.

The International Maritime Bureau, a pirate-reporting center, has noted that bulk carriers and tankers are the most vulnerable. Modern piracy is difficult to control because of modern technology like satellite communication, speedboats and deadly weaponry. The reality of pirates is a far cry from the romantic notions of pirates that most of us have.

Iolite – A Gemstone Used in Ancient Navigation
By Gary Hocking

A stupendous stone in my opinion! Its colours range from yellowish grey all the way through to the most magnificent deep blues and violet and that is the colour which particularly mesmerizes me. It is often confused with sapphires and tanzanites. It is plentiful and relatively inexpensive but do not write off its high gemstone quality.

It is found in Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, the USA, Sri Lanka, India and Australia as well as many African states. It is also called cordierite.

Iolite comes from the Greek “ios” meaning violet. It was also called diochroite another Greek word which means “two coloured” stone.

On the Moh’s scale used for measuring hardness with diamond being the highest at 10 Iolite comes in at 7-7.5 which means it is about mid range for your usual high quality gemstones. That is significant as it will chip and scratch but will also stand up to normal wear and tear. It seems that it is one of the few stones that is not treated or enhanced. For reference, something like ninety percent of all rubies are heat treated and many other stones such as topaz are irradiated.

The Vikings knew about as it was found in Scandinavia. They knew a secret about iolite which may have changed the course of history. They used it as a navigation tool. By looking through the crystal they could see the direction of the sun on overcast days. This was a function of its pleochroism which means that it changes colour when you look at it from different angles. To understand that better imagine that you can hold it and look at a magnificent deep blue and just by turning it around the colour stars to disappear until you cannot see any colour at all! This is pleochroism and iolite has pronounced pleochroism.

It is a cutters’ nightmare. Well, at least it is not an easy stone to cut and get the most from even though it can be cut into the standard facet cuts such as emerald, marquise, trillion and can also be made into beautiful cabochons.

As the carat size increases iolite generally gets darker and less attractive. The smaller stones are often the most attractive. The lighter blues and greys are less expensive with the richer the blue colour being the more expensive. It is not a birthstone and as a significant gemstone perhaps iolite’s time has not come yet but it is getting more and more popular every day so expect to see it become very popular in coming years. I heartily recommend it to you. A yellow gold ring with diamonds and a central iolite is simply adorable.

Author: Gary Hocking is an Australian manufacturing jeweller and he has his own website: Please feel free to copy and use this article as long as you keep the bio and attached live link to his website.

Which Came First, The Valhund Or The Corgi?
By Michael Russell

The Swedish Valhund resembles the Welsh Corgi in some respects and there has been much debate as to whether the Corgi or the Valhund came first in the order of the development of this breed. The Valhund in Sweden is certainly one of the older species, having been there historically at least as long ago as the Viking explorations. The word "Valhund" in Sweden means "forest dog" . He is known as a dog of many talents, being not only a cattle drover and herder, but also a watch dog and ratter and general farm dog. At present he is a member of the herding group of the Kennel Club of England and is a member of the Miscellaneous class in the American Kennel Club. When a dog is registered in the Miscellaneous Class of the A.K.C., it is not yet eligible to gain a Championship title.

The Valhund or "S.V". is long in the back and low to the ground. The relationship of his body to his height should be twice the length of the height. The height should be between 12 and 14 inches. His head is remarkably like that of the Corgi, with prick ears and a wedge shape to the skull. The coat is also similar, double in nature and quite dense. The Swedish Valhund should have "harness markings" of a lighter color than the body saddle, this is a required part of the standard of the breed. The Swedish Valhund should also have a fox like appearance to the face and a lighter color "mask" around the eyes. The coat care is minimal, although he sheds on a regular basis and will need extra brushing at that time, the coat is stiff and stands off from the body somewhat, therefore it does not mat easily.

The breed's most important function through the years has been that of a herding dog. He is equipped for this capability because of the lay back of his shoulders, which is quite long and gives him the flexibility to move quickly and make sharp turns . Herding cattle requires that a dog be able to move with speed to avoid being kicked by an angry or recalcitrant cow and the Swedish Valhund should be built to accomplish this.

This is a breed that should become popular as a companion dog when he is seen more in the United States in the show ring. He has all the attributes that make a popular pet breed, being small enough to live in an urban environment and having the temperament to fit well into a household. He is anxious to please and a quick learner, very intelligent and trainable. He of course will want to give chase, this is part of his nature and like all herding dogs should always be in a fenced in area or supervised when outside. He already is experiencing some popularity as an Agility dog and does well in the Obedience ring. He has a stable character and should never be vicious, he is also not territorial and should accept other breeds without jealousy.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dogs

The Viking Age
By Aaron Schwartz

The raid on the Christian monastery of Lindisfarne in 793 began a new era in the history of Europe. The attack was a big shock for the rulers of Brittany and the rumors about the fearless Nordic men quickly spread over Europe. No matter what was the course but the North people started moving outside Scandinavia in the end of the 8th century and had a great influence on the history of Europe. Historians call this period “The Viking Age” and often regard it as a dynamic historical drama. One of the main its characteristics is dynamism. The North people were striving for prey by any means. They were seeking for new lands, for gold, for power and influence. Fearless and always ready to give the life in fight, these people didn’t appreciate the lives of others and didn’t see any abstractions for making their aggressive plans true.

The raids of the North – aspects that give much food to our imagination and thing that the North and often even the Vikings are mostly known for. The European historians called the raiders the most impudent people. But the raiders themselves didn’t find anything terrible in their way they earned their living. The most notable thing for the raid is their success and extent. There are several reasons that explain so vivid success of the raiders. Good strategy of the flash fights, fearlessness and good war counting were the parts of theirs success. There were also technical circumstances which determined the victories. The Viking raiders depended on legendary superiority in shipbuilding technology and their supreme navigation skills in a great deal. Their ships could land almost any place thanks to their shallow drafts. And also a successful combination of the sail and ores made the ships speedy and maneuver that let them to escape the chase easily and to move quickly in the parts of the seas unreachable for the contemporary ships. The North were definitely good and unbending fighters and almost always reached their goal and very seldom by peaceful means. But still the bloody and cruel picture of those raids was often exaggerated by contemporary and modern historians and scientists. With the flow of time the raids became cluttered with new picturesque details of their cruelty and unscrupulousness sometimes imaginary that it’s not easy sometimes to detach the truth from the falsehood.

The raids consisted only one aspect of the Norse expansion. In their expansion the North were looking for three things – for victims to raid, for new lands to settle down and for new trading partners. And we often exclude two later aspects stressing out only their raids. Weather as traders of raiders but the Vikings reached almost every part of Europe. From the Nordic kingdom they reached the west European coast, through the Strait of Gibraltar they reached the Mediterranean Sea and from there Italy, Spain, Morocco and the Holy land. They penetrated the continent and traveled the Russian rivers using the Baltic Sea. In the West, trading was carried on throughout France, Scotland, England, Ireland. They traveled to Asia to meet Chinese caravans. High navigate technologies gave a great power to the expansion of the Vikings. Thanks to their ships they could move faster and further and the contemporaries which gave them one of the vivid advantages.

Skillful warriors, the Vikings were also the people of trade. The trading routs were built throughout Europe from Sweden and Norway. The main towns of the Viking Era such as Dublin, York and Birka grew and became contemporary trade centers and most of the trading routs flowed there. The Gotland Island very luckily strategically positioned became a common ground for trade uniting both the East and the West Baltic areas. Among the main items of their export furs, walrus ivory, and slaves can be named. A lot of rarities which posses a great historical and cultural value were brought to Europe by the Viking traders. Their influence on the life of the world was much more constructive than it’s commonly considered. For a long period the Vikings dominated an essential part of Northern Europe. They founded and developed new towns, trading system of Europe and not only Europe in general. They brought new forms of forms of administration and justice which have affected even our modern life. Some forms of art were brought to Britain by the Vikings. And not only the trade and raid were the sources of income for the Scandinavians. The remains of craft industry were found by scientists. The blacksmith, woodworker, bead-maker, specialist jeweler, leather-worker and stone carver carried out their businesses in workshops spread throughout the town. The shipbuilding industry was highly developed producing so necessary for the Vikings ships. Over nine hundred of the most common English words come from the Vikings and are commonly used at our times. The raiding and piracy were an occasional source of income and they also were attended by the great risks. It was only trade that could provide the regular and stable income and the achievements of the Scandinavian traders proved to be the most vigorous and profitable.

In fact the West was greater influenced by the peaceful Scandinavian traders of the Viking age than by the severe Northern raiders. Talented and ambitious merchants, the Viking traders have brought a new life to the economy of Europe and have established new trading links and economical connections. The word “Viking” was used in the meaning of “raider” or “pirate”; and this is the image which has fastened itself to the Northern folk. But the Vikings who eared their living by raiding and piracy constitute only a part of the Norsemen most of which lived peacefully.

The Vikings, mostly known as violent and merciless raiders were in fact more successful in trading, farming and settling down. A lot of towns were established for the trade purposes in the carved by the Vikings lands of Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy. The great achievement of the Vikings was a finding and colonizing Iceland and Greenland. It’s also proved now that six centuries before Columbus, the Vikings landed in North America continent.

The modern archeologists dare to declare that not only the raid was flash and bone of the Viking Empire. The whole picture includes trade, craft, art, farming in addition to commonly known piracy and raiding. Their activity left traces for entirety and there are good and bad things to remember them for. If we emphasize more on the trading, on the great mythology and poetry, more on the technological achievements than on the raiding, pillage and piracy we will be able to understand more these strong people from the northlands of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and to see the positive impact they’ve brought to the history along with the stories of cruel fights and unscrupulous raids.

Aaron is a professional freelance writer at custom essays writing service: Research papers & custom essays Now he is a technical writer, advertising copywriter, & website copywriter for Custom Essay Network.