American Vikings: How the Norse Sailed into the Lands and Imaginations of America


A vivid and illuminating new history—separate fact from fiction, myth from legend—explores the early Viking settlements in North America.

Vikings are an enduring subject of fascination. The combination of adventure, mythology, violence, and exploration continues to grip our attention. As a result, for more than a millennium, the Vikings have traveled far and wide, not least across the turbulent seas of our minds and imaginations.

The geographical reach of the Norse was extraordinary. For centuries, medieval sagas, first recorded in Iceland, claimed that Vikings reached North America around the year 1000. This book explores that claim, separating fact from fiction and myth from mischief, to assess the enduring legacy of this claim in America. The search for “American Vikings” connects a vast range of different areas; from the latest archaeological evidence for their actual settlement in North America to the myth-making of nineteenth-century Scandinavian pioneers in the Midwest, and from ancient adventurers to the political ideologies of the twenty-first century. It is a journey from the high seas of a millennium ago to the swirling waters and dark undercurrents of the online world of today.

No doubt, the warlike Vikings would have understood how their image could be “weaponized.” In the same way, they would probably have grasped how their dramatic, violent, passionate, and discordant mythologies could appeal to our era and cultural setting. They might, though, have been more surprised at how their image has been commercialized and commodified. A vivid new history by a master of the form, American Vikings explores how the Norse first sailed into the lands, and then into the imaginations, of America.

Other Reviews

“A vivid and highly readable history that teases out the most likely scenarios regarding early Norse exploration of North America. Weaving in other origin stories of European culture in the Americas, including legendary Irish expeditions, the first English colonies, and Christopher Columbus’s voyages, Whittock presents astute observations about what each creation story has meant at different times in the history of the United States. Popular-history readers will be enthralled. Popular-history readers will be enthralled.” Shelf Awareness

“Thoroughly researched, carefully presented, and written with a wry humor. American Vikings is a deeply researched and engrossing book that fully explores the multiple dimensions of the Viking story in the Northern Hemisphere. Any reader who wants to know more about their legacy will find Whittock’s book full of anecdotes and insights.” Christian Science Monitor

“While this is not the only book to detail Norse exploration of the Americas, it offers more information and research than similar titles. Moreover, it offers a very good look at how Viking nostalgia continues to be very popular in America right up to the present day, giving it a fresh and timely feel. It will appeal to those interested in either the Norse themselves or medievalism.” —

“This deep-focus bibliography offers a wealth of additional reading that expands on this endlessly intriguing subject.” Post and Courier

“American Vikings is always entertaining. American readers might be surprised to learn how Viking they’ve always been.” Open Letters Review

“Whittock takes the reader on this 1,000-year journey in an entertaining and informative fashion, leveraging his extensive background in history to seamlessly incorporate details about the flora of specific American states or the evolution of Marvel comics.” The Viking Herald

American Vikings is a compelling exploration of the Viking presence in North America. Through meticulous research, the author challenges popular misconceptions and sheds light on the cultural exchanges between Vikings and indigenous peoples. Its wealth of information and accessible writing style make it a valuable resource for Viking enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Whether you are a seasoned scholar or a curious reader, American Vikings offers an engaging and informative journey into the world of the Vikings in North America.” Medieval Archives

“Whittock’s accessible and engaging examination of the United States’ fascination with Vikings approaches the subject from both historical and cultural perspectives. A fascinating, eminently readable exploration of Viking presence, both real and imaginary, in the United States.” Library Journal

“Its comprehensive and engaging style, encompassing everything from medieval Norse sagas to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be appealing to both high school and college students, as well as the general reader.” World History Encyclopedia

“A lucid survey of Viking lore, archaeological finds, and modern interpretations. The book is authoritative in its details and engagingly written. A solid examination of how the Viking story continues to be told, embellished, and contested.” Kirkus Reviews

American Vikings: How the Norse Sailed into the Lands and Imaginations of America by Martyn Whittock
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 3.9 stars
Publication Date: November 7, 2023

Author: Martyn Whittock

Martyn Whittock

Martyn Whittock

Martyn Whittock is a Lay Minister in the Church of England, a seasoned historian, and the author or co-author of fifty-five books spanning a broad spectrum of historical and theological topics. His work encompasses school textbooks, detailed historical analyses, and explorations of faith’s intersection with politics and culture. Whittock’s contributions have not only enriched historical discourse but have also engaged with contemporary issues, earning him recognition as a commentator and columnist across various media platforms. His insights into the dynamics of faith, politics, and culture, as well as his interpretations of events in the USA and beyond, have made him a sought-after voice in both academic and public spheres​


  • Martyn Whittock | Author | Premier Christianity. (2024). Premier Christianity.

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