Viking majolica toby jug produced by Rorstrand of Sweden circa 1900. The Vikings were Scandinavian pirates and traders, renowned for their savage assaults with intent to pillage and plunder. Seafarers and explorers, they ravaged Northern Europe between the eighth and eleventh centuries, inspiring terror wherever they went. The Vikings occupied much of eastern England and eventually Knut, King of Denmark, took the English throne in 1016. They went on to establish settlements in Ireland, Normandy, Finland, Poland, and Russia. They were highly expert seamen whose explorations reached Greenland and even the shores of North America long before Columbus. Their skillfully-constructed long boats, with the mystical dragon figureheads, were solid proof of their advanced comprehension of engineering and boat design.