The Viking Age is generally considered to have begun in 793 AD and to have lasted until the end of the Eleventh Century. During this 300 year period Viking seafarers in open boats raided the British Isles, France, Spain and the Baltic Coast. At the same time they also traded and colonized further afield, settling Iceland and Greenland and conducting epic voyages through Russia to get the luxuries available in Constantinople. Evidence has also been found of a Viking colony in North America and literary inscriptions on Scandinavian runestones point to Viking expeditions into Central Asia.
During this period of expansion the Vikings were also creating a distinctive culture, notable for its artistic and later its literary achievements. Affecting the development of this culture was the growing influence of the peoples the Vikings came into contact with, resulting in the universal change from pagan to Christian worship in both the Scandinavian homeland of the Vikings, and in the lands they settled. Furthermore, contrary to stereotypical ideas of who the Vikings were it should be noted that the Vikings created the first European parliament since the fall of Rome, and introduced the word ‘law’ into the English language, suggesting a people intimately involved in the events that affected them in a structured society.