WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS

PBS’ Nature takes us back to a time when Vikings ruled the northern seas, exploring the unique relationship between the warriors, animals and pristine environment they encountered.

Aired February 13, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

TONIGHT WE'RE TAKING YOU BACK TO THE TIME WHEN THE VIKINGS RULED THE NORTHERN SEAS.

LONG BEFORE THE WORLD HAD EVER HEARD OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS THESE WAR WARRIORS TRAVELED FROM NORWAY TO NEWFOUNDLAND, BIRDS AS THEIR COMPASS.

THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE BIRDS ALONG WITH A HOST OF OTHER ANIMALS, ARCTIC FORKS HUMPBACK WHALES AND REINDEERS IS THE FEATURE OF A NEW DOCUMENTARY TITLED 'WILD WAYS OF VIKINGS.'

1,200 YEARS AGO THE NORTH ATLANTIC WAS PRISTINE AND PURE.

A LAND RULED BY FALCON, BY WALL RAD -- WALRUS, BY REINDEER.

BUT ANCIENT PEOPLE CAME TO CLAIM THESE LANDS.

PEOPLE LIKE THE VIKINGS.

THIS WAS A WORLD THEY EXPLOITED.

BUT IT WAS A WORLD THEY ALSO NURTURED AND REVERED.

NOW, TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO SEE THE NATURAL WORLD THROUGH ANCIENT EYES.

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO EXPERIENCE THE WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS.

JOINING US NOW WITH MORE ON THE 'WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS' IS NATURE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER.

THANK YOU.

YOU KNOW, FRED, AT FIRST BRUSH ONE MIGHT THINK 'WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS' IS A DEPARTURE FROM FROM THE USUAL NATURE OF THE DOCUMENTARY.

THERE'S SOME DRAMAIZED MOMENTS BUT CONSIDERING THE FACT WE HAVE A AS IFCY NATION WITH VIKINGS AND WE HAD INTEREST ON DOING SOMETHING ON SCANDINAVIAN WILDLIFE.

CAN WE GO TO THESE LOCATIONS AND ENVISION WHAT THEY SEE.

CERTAINLY DEPENDENT ON NATURE FOR EXISTENCE BEFORE SCIENCE AND CRAFT A SHOW AROUND WHAT THEY SAW, WHAT NATURE MEANT TO THEM AND GET NEW INSIGHTS INTO THE WILDLIFE THERE.

HOW DO WE REALLY KNOW?

YOU SAY THERE ARE DRAMATIC RECREATIONS ABOUT THE WAY THEY LIVED.

HOW DO WE KNOW HOW THE VIKINGS LIVED 1,200 YEARS AGO?

THESE REMNANTS, YOU KNOW, WE CAN SPECULATE THAT, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT WILDLIFE BEHAVIOR, FOR EXAMPLE, WE KNOW, FOR EXAMPLE, A HUMPBACK WHALE WILL FEED NEAR SHORE.

WE CAN SPECULATE WHEN THEY SAW A HUMPBACK WHALE THEY KNEW THEY WERE NEAR LAND OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

THERE ARE REMAINS OF CUPS AND BOWLS AND TOOLS AND OTHER THINGS CLEARLY FROM THE WILDLIFE THAT THEY ENCOUNTERED, SO WE CAN PICK UP SIGNS OF WHAT THEY ENCOUNTERED, HOW SOME OF THESE MATERIALS WERE USED, THEIR CLOTHING.

WE HAVE A WONDERFUL SEQUENCE JUST A FEW YEARS AGO SCIENTISTS DISCOVERED A VIKING ERA SET OF SKIS IN A GLACIER IN NORWAY AND WE THOUGHT DID VIKINGS SKI?

WELL CERTAINLY ON THE SLOPES OF NORWAY IN THE WINTER THEY WOULD NEED TO KNOW HOW TO GET AROUND.

SO WE CREATED A SCENARIO ON SKIS GOING OUT TO HUNT REINDEER.

IT'S ONE OF THE MOST FANTASTIC THINGS I'VE EVER SEEN.

TODAY, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY WE JUST SHOT IT, THERE ARE STILL TENS OF THOUSANDS OF REINDEER IN THESE INCREDIBLE HERDS, AND WHAT WE SAW WAS BEHAVIOR I'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

YOU WERE REFERRING TO A SCENE, I GOT TO SAY THERE'S A HUNTER SCARES THEM AND THEY DO SOMETHING -- THEY START, THOUSANDS OF THEM START TWIRLING AROUND TO CONFUSE THE HUNTER AND IT DOES.

THEN YOU HAVE AN AERIAL SHOT OF IT THAT'S AMAZING.

IT'S SPECTACULAR.

I HOPE WE'RE SHOWING THAT AS WE TALK.

ALMOST LIKE A FISH MEAT BALL TO CONFUSE A PREDATOR OR HUNTER THEY SPIN.

THEY RUN IN THIS CIRCLE.

SO YOU'RE CONFUSED BY THEM AND CAN'T GET A GOOD SHOT.

THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED.

IT TOOK THE VIKINGS 200 YEARS TO TRAVEL FROM SCANDINAVIA TO NORTH AMERICA BECAUSE IN BETWEEN THEY WERE COLONIZERS.

THEY COLONISZE SCOTLAND AND THEN YOU SHOWCASE THE ANIMALS THAT THE VIKINGS NEEDED TO SURVIVE ACROSS THAT TREK.

TALK ABOUT SOME OF THOSE ANIMALS.

YOU TALKED ABOUT THE REINDEER.

OTTERS.

SEALS.

WALRUS.

A HUGE COLONY OF BIRDS.

THE VIKINGS WOULD CLIMB UP AND TAKE THE EGGS THEY NEEDED TO SURVIVE.

DUCKS.

NOW IT'S INTERESTING, THE DUCKS WOULD PLUG FEATHER FROM THEIR CHESTS TO LINE THEIR NESTS ON THE GROUND.

AND VIKINGS WOULD APPROACH THESE NESTS AND WITHOUT DOING ANY HARM TO THE DUCKS PULL OUT THESE DOWN FEATHERS AND USE THAT AS WE WOULD FOR CLOTHING.

AND REPLACE IT WITH STRAW.

EXACTLY.

SO THEY WOULD USE IT IN THAT WAY.

ANTLERS WOULD TURN INTO CUPS FOR THEM.

AND THEY VALUED ALL THIS STUFF AND IT WAS PASSED DOWN GENERATION TO GENERATION BECAUSE, AS YOU KNOW, THEY COULDN'T RUN OUT TO WALMART TO REPLACE ANYTHING.

SO WHATEVER YOU CREATED TOOK SOME TIME AND WAS QUITE VALUABLE.

EVEN THE CLOTHING THEY MADE WOULD LAST 100 YEARS.

IT GOT PASSED DOWN TO DIFFERENT GENERATIONS BECAUSE OF, YOU KNOW, HOW HARD IT WAS TO COME ACROSS ANYTHING.

THEY USED THE IVORY FROM THE WALRU WALRUSTUSK TO MAKE THESE BEAUTIFUL CHESS PIECES.

THE FALCONS.

THEY DOMESTICATED THEM AND SOLD THEM TO NOBILITY IN EUROPE.

I DIDN'T KNOW THE VIKINGS WERE SO ENTERPRISING.

FALCONER GOES BACK A THOUSAND OF YEARS.

WE HAVE THE BIGGEST FALCON IN THE WORLD AND VIRTUALLY ALL WHITE AND JUST BEAUTIFUL AND YOU CAN SEE WHY ANY CULTURE WOULD PRIZE SUCH AN ANIMAL, FALCONS ARE KILLING MACHINES.

THEY ARE INCREDIBLY FAST AND KIND OF -- THEY JUST STOOP DOWN ON THEIR PREY.

SO TO HAVE THAT IS COOL.

YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THE VIKINGS AND THE DOCUMENTARY MAKES THE POINT HOW THE VIKINGS WERE, YOU KNOW, USED ONLY WHAT THEY NEED, PRESERVED THE REST AND THEN SAVED WHAT THEY GOT FOR GENERATIONS AND GENERATIONS.

WHY DID THEY DO THAT?

WERE THEY PRO ECOLOGYISTS?

I DON'T THINK THEY HAD ANY CLUE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY.

I THINK THERE WAS SUCH LIFE IN GREAT NUMBERS.

BIRD COLONIES AND FISH AND HERDS OF ANIMALS AND IN EACH OF THESE LOCATIONS THERE JUST MIGHT BE A COUPLE HUNDRED VIKINGS.

SO IT WAS QUITE EASY TO GET WHAT YOU NEEDED AND AS MUCH AS YOU NEED BUT MADE NO IMPACT ON NATURE THAT WAS THERE.

ONE OF THE REASONS WHY IT'S SO EASY TO RECREATE AT LEAST THE VISUAL NATURE OF WHAT THEY EXPERIENCED.

THAT'S WHY I SO ENJOYED THE SHOW BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE WATCHING IT YOU SORT OF -- YEAH IT KIND OF LOOKS LIKE WHAT THEY WOULD HAVE SEEN.

IT'S NOT AS IF WE'RE TRYING TO RECREATE 17th CENTURY MANHATTAN WHERE IT, OBVIOUSLY, LOOKS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BUT CAN YOU GO BACK TO THESE LOCATIONS IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC AND SCANDINAVIA AND IT REALLY DOES LOOK LIKE AN UNTOUCHED WILDERNESS WITH GREAT NUMBERS OF ANIMALS AND IT'S CAPTIVATING IN THAT WAY AND YOU CAN SEE HOW DIFFICULT LIFE MIGHT BE FOR THEM BUT ALSO THE GREAT POTENTIAL OF WHAT WAS THERE.

YEAH.

ALL RIGHT, FRED, GREAT DOCUMENTARY, OF COURSE.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING HERE TO TALK ABOUT IT.

MY PLEASURE, THANKS.

JUST A REMINDER 'WILD WAY OF THE VIKINGS' PREMIERES WEDNESDAY AT 8:00.

Announcer: 'METRO FOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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