Forever Conquered: The Changing Role of Vikings in Modern and Contemporary Anglo-American Culture



Ever since their disruption and subsequent invasion of the British Isles in the early Middle Ages, the Scandinavian raiders known as 'Vikings' have had a significant presence in English culture and its self-perceived past. Anglo-American popular culture has become the primary home of the subject in the centuries since, with the Vikings appearing as everything from lecherous, bloodthirsty pirates to proud Christian heroes in the media of the English West. A timeline of this evolution can be drawn between Victorian era England and modern-day America, with works such as Walter Scott's The Pirate, Richard Fleischer's formative The Vikings, John McTiernan's turn-of-the-century The 13th Warrior, and DreamWorks Animation's highly successful How to Train Your Dragon presenting compelling examples of the conceptual transformation that the Viking image has undergone. The popularity of Vikings in media and the form in which they have been used also reflects the way that literary and visual symbols have contributed to the spread and impact of major sociocultural and political movements throughout this period. As a result, the study of the Vikings' presence in Victorian and post-Victorian popular media is also the study of the Vikings' importance in the Anglo-American zeitgeist, enabling us to see the degree to which differing national climates have both shaped and platformed the Viking image across the last two hundred years.

Keywords: Vikings, Vikings in Film, Western Nationalism, Anglo-Saxonism, White supremacy, American popular culture, Neopaganism, Heathenism

How to Cite: Kramer, M. (2024) “Forever Conquered: The Changing Role of Vikings in Modern and Contemporary Anglo-American Culture”, Iowa Historical Review. 10(1). doi: