The Online Library of Knowledge


Viking traders

A busy Viking trading portA busy Viking trading port As well as being fearsome warriors, the Vikings were great traders. The superiority of their shipbuilding skills enabled them to trade with distant lands. They built cargo ships, called knarrs, that were specifically designed to carry heavy goods, such as timber, livestock and silver. With their strong hulls, the ships were able to travel through the rapids of European rivers and make long-haul journeys across the stormy Atlantic Ocean.

A merchant with his scalesA merchant with his scales


Viking traders took furs and skins and exchanged them for cloth, wine and pottery. Some travelled to Russia and the Middle East, where they traded furs, honey, weapons and amber for silver, silks and spices. They also supplied slaves to the Arabs in exchange for silver. Trading markets, where merchants came to trade various goods, soon grew up along the trade routes to the south and east. It was not long before these markets turned into permanent settlements. They began to flourish as Viking trading towns.

The furthest afield Viking traders travelled was probably Baghdad, in modern-day Iraq, where they traded slaves, furs and amber.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile