The homeland of the Viking Kings

Draken Harald Hårfagre was built in Haugesund, in western Norway. The region has been a centre of power for thousands of years. The strait between Karmøy and the mainland, which narrows to become a tight passage at Avaldsnes, created this centre of power.

The harsh sea outside Karmøy forced vessels to go through the passage and it was easy to control the very important marine traffic. The strait is known as “Nordvegen” – “The way north” and gave name to Norway. That was how important seafaring was and still is.

When Harald Hårfagre unified Norway ca 870 AD, he followed the tradition of many sea kings before him, and placed his royal seat at Avaldsnes in West Coast Norway. From here he sent his ships westward across the ocean.

Photo: Fjord and Waterfall in Etne, Espen Mills

Trolltunga, 3608 ft high cliff, Hordaland Fylke, Norge


The rough sea on the outside of Karmøy that forced marine traffic in to “Nordvegen”.


“Nordvegen” the narrow strait between Karmøy and the Mainland.


Forsand, Norway

Where did the vikings travel?

There are evidence of Vikings traveling as far west as Newfoundland. But the Vikings also traveled east and south, there is plenty of traces of their presence in all of Europe, Asia Minor, Russia, and even North Africa.

Viking findings are present in our everyday life, not least in the English language. One of the most obvious ones is the word “Thursday”, which means the Norse God Thor’s day. Other examples are: window – vindauga, guest – gestr, anger – angr, husband – húsbóndi. And there are several hundred more.


The Vikings sailed over vast distances, from America in the west to Asia Minor in the east, and perhaps even farther. This suggests that the written sources are right: Viking ships were unique for their time.

Read more:


The modern Vikings


Who where the Vikings?


Without the Viking ships –
no Viking Age

The Vikings were accomplished navigators, artisans, traders and story tellers, but their greatest triumph was the ship they built.