This Is Where Vikings Is Actually Filmed

Landscape is a vital part of history. You can't delve too deeply into the story of pre-European life in the Americas, for example, without acquiring at least a basic understanding of how harsh and unforgiving environments shape we poor frail humans, both at a basic biological level, and in how we organize our societies to stack the odds of survival a bit more in our favor. Staying alive can be a tough business when you're a largely hairless biped with a ridiculously oversized brain.

Case in point: arguably the most elegantly coiffured of all conquerors — the Vikings. Viking history throws up many biting examples of how, to greatly paraphrase a cerrtain famous boxer with a remarkably Viking-esque tattoo, every civilization has a plan until geography punches it square in the face. Part of what makes the six seasons of blood, gore and gobsmacking beard-craft of the TV show, Vikings, so gosh-darn compelling is its physical backdrop. From lush forests, to bleak Scandinavian shores, to the cold stone of isolated (and amazingly easily conquered as it turns out) English monasteries, these settings aren't just gorgeous to behold. They're a vital part of this gory yet oddly rollicking adventure. Which leads to the big horned helm of a question: Where is Vikings filmed?

Vikings near

In the first few seasons of Vikings, much of the hairy and heavily sworded goings-on happen in small coastal villages in Norway, as well as in isolated parts of the northeast coast of England, such as the remote island of Lindisfarne. These places are bleak, but in interestingly contrasting ways. As the story unfolds in those early seasons, it's fascinating to see the color palette shift back and forth between the slate grays and muddy icy blues of the craggy shores of Norway, and the lush greens and white sand of the dunes along Lindisfarne's oh-so-plunderable shores.

Surprisingly, all of that scenic goodness belongs almost solely to one part of the world: The Land of Leprechauns, catchy jigs, and the hermetic absence of snakes. Yep, Ireland. More specifically, most of the shooting takes place in and around County Wicklow, just South of Dublin. Wicklow has a few interesting claims to fame, according to Britannica. A place scarred and warped by a massive glacier that crunched across the land aeons ago, Wicklow has a bit of everything, geographically-speaking: Mountains, fertile lowlands, wide sandy beaches, the whole shebang. And despite a very real Viking presence in the Eighth Century, the countryside always "remained in native hands." Kudos, Wicklow. Well played.

Vikings far

In later seasons of the show, our indomitable band of explorers and conquerors seek spoils further afield. The storyline covering this phase of Viking expansion leans heavily on how deeply Bjorn and his hirsute posse of proto-hipsters have to struggle in a completely alien and hostile environment. The oppressive heat and sandstorms of Bjorn's adventures are all the more jarring when set beside Floki's quasi-spiritual pilgrimage to a land he feels sure must be Asgard itself. While Wicklow is a deluxe cruise-ship smorgasbord of geographical interestingness, finding bits of it that look like the Mediterranean, Northern Africa and Asgard (aka Iceland) is a bit of a stretch. For these exotic new locales, Morocco and Iceland brought the goods. Fun fact about Iceland: the otherworldly black sand Floki encounters was, according to EPOD, formed as lava from a volcanic eruption flowed into the sea, creating a "land of ice and fire." Hmm, that sounds familiar.

Vikings does a great job of creating a potent sense of place, and it turns out that making that cocktail happen required liberal dollops of Ireland and Iceland, with a sprinkle of spicy Morocco thrown in for good measure.