I've been a huge fan of Vikings ever since I discovered the first episode on Amazon Prime back in 2013. Meanwhile, they have conquered Netflix, too and there have been five incredibly entertaining seasons, with the last and final season (part 2 of season 6) being released on 30 December 2020.
Although pretty brutal, "Vikings" makes for the perfect time travel trip into 8th century Scandinavia brought to life on the shores of Ireland as its main film location! Here is what the series is all about…
The Story: The Legend of Ragnar
The story is loosely based on the sagas surrounding Ragnar Lothbrok who was supposedly a legendary Viking king in the late 8th and early 9th century AD. However, the existence of the historical person is not proven, so he may be a construct of different kings and rulers who lived in Scandinavia (modern Denmark, Sweden and Norway) at the time.
Ragnar Lothbrok portrayed by Travis Fimmel. Photo: Vikings Facebook Page
In the legends as well as in the series, Ragnar sets out on several bloody raids to the land of the Anglo-Saxons (modern-day England) with the typical Viking ships. There were also fights with other Viking kings and rulers at home.
And of course there is some personal drama, too. According to legend, Lothbrok was married three times and had several children, mostly boys. As legend has it, Ragnar's life ended when one of his main Anglo-Saxon enemies, King Ælla of Northumbria, threw him into a pit of snakes.
The Film Locations: Ireland and beyond
Although the Vikings are supposed to be in what is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the series has been filmed on the shores of Ireland, more precisely in Wicklow County on Ireland's East Coast.
The hilly coastline, which is located a short drive from Ireland's capital Dublin, looks a lot like the Scandinavian homelands of the Vikings.
"Kattegat Bay" in Wicklow County, Ireland. Photo: Sonja Irani / filmfantravel.com
In addition to Vikings, the area has served as a filming location for many other Hollywood productions such as Braveheart (1995) or P.S. I Love You (2007). Film crews still regularly choose this versatile filming location.
So on a dedicated half-day Film Location Tour from Dublin you might even get to spot some film stars in action.
Read more about this film location tour in my post
Vikings Film Location Tour in Wicklow County, Ireland
The Performance: Bound by blood
Photo: Vikings History Facebook page
What I particularly like is that there is a very realistic feel about this TV series, which is partly due to all the blood that the Vikings got on their faces after a battle. Even though it's not a pretty sight, it is probably what they would have looked like in real life.
What is important to understand about Nordic mythology and the religion of the Vikings at the time is that they believed that only men who died in battle will be allowed to get into the warrior heaven "Valhalla", where they will feast on a big festive table with the über god Odin.
Thus, Viking men (and sometimes women, too if they fought as shield maidens) weren't afraid to die in battle. In fact it was something they aspired to because they would get to Valhalla. If someone died as an old man in bed rather than in battle, he would not get to Valhalla.
Another detail adding to the authentic feel of the series Vikings is the language they use. The dialogues are usually in modern English. However, some of the characters (including the main ones such as Ragnar and his wife Lagertha) speak with a slight Scandinavian accent on purpose.
When the Vikings face the Anglo-Saxons in Britain or the French in Paris, there are also several scenes where Old Norse, Old English and Old French are used to highlight the actual language barrier that the real Vikings faced on their raids.
Read On: Four Vikings-inspired Travel Posts
Travel Tip 1: In case you're finding yourself in Stockholm, a day trip to the former Viking stronghold of Birka is a must!
Travel Tip 2: A range of amazing displays, exhibitions and museums make the Viking age come alive once more in Gothenburg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway!
Travel Tip 3: To check out the stunning film locations in Wicklow County just outside from Dublin, book the half day film location tour offered by Day Tours Unplugged. I took this tour in November 2016 and have written this post about my experience.
Travel Tip 4: To trace the main film locations of season 5 (including Iceland, England and Morocco), check out my Vikings Film Locations Guide.
Over to you: What do you like about the Vikings? Its film locations, storylines or characters? Let me know in the comments below!
Ragnar's son Björn and ex wife Lagertha! Photo: Vikings History Facebook page