The Vikings came from Scandinavia. Those who came to Scotland were mainly from the west coast of what is now modern Norway. The Vikings who went to England were predominantly from what today is Denmark. Vikings from modern day Sweden travelled south and east, following rivers deep into the heart of Europe.

The Vikings homeland was largely rural; in Norway, people lived in farms along the fjords. There were few towns, although as travel and trade expanded, so trading centres grew and developed and towns were born. Harold Finehair managed to create a united kingdom of Scandinavia before he died in about 930.