The Vikings, referred to as Varangians in Eastern Europe, were known throughout Europe as traders and raiders, and perhaps the creators or instigators of the first organized Russian state: Kievan Rus. It is the intention of this paper to explore the evidence of the Viking or Varangian presence in Kievan Rus, more specifically the areas that are now the Ukraine and Western Russia. There is not an argument over whether the Vikings were present in the region, but rather over the effect their presence had on the native Slavic people and their government. This paper will explore and explain the research of several scholars, who generally ascribe to one of the rival Norman and Anti- Norman Theories, as well as looking at the evidence that appears in the Russian Primary Chronicle, some of the laws in place in the eleventh century, and two of the Icelandic Sagas that take place in modern Russia.
The ‘Birka dragon’ symbol is synonymous with the famous Viking Age town of that name, an association born from the 1887 discovery of a casting mould depicting a dragonhead. Recent excavations in Black Earth Harbour at Birka have yielded a dress pin that can, almost 150 years later, be directly linked to this mould. This artefact introduces a unique ‘Birka style’ to the small corpus of known Viking Age dragonhead dress pins. The authors discuss and explore the artefact's manufacture, function and chronology, and its connections to ship figureheads.