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Vikings: Valhalla: Was Kattegat a real place in the Viking Age?

Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson and Gavan O'Connor-Duffy as Nial, as seen in Episode 1 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla Season 1
Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson and Gavan O’Connor-Duffy as Nial, as seen in Episode 1 of Vikings: Valhalla Season 1. Pic credit: Netflix/Bernard Walsh

Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla has just dropped to the streaming service after a long wait for fans of the original series, Vikings, which aired on the History Channel.

The TV show is very similar in style to the original series and that’s because many of the sets and locations were included from Vikings. Most notably, Kattegat is still a central hub in Scandinavia.

However, was Kattegat actually a vital port?

Kattegat is an essential area in Vikings: Valhalla

In both Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla, Kattegat is the central hub in the Viking world. Situated in Norway, it is the place where Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his wife, Lagertha (Kathryn Winnick) first started out as farmers before Ragnar went on to rule the small town.

Lagertha then went on to rule in his stead after his tragic death at the hands of King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) at the bottom of a snake pit.

Now, 100 years on, Kattegat has grown even more in size and is still a crucial tactical location for Scandinavia.

Once more, Kattegat is also ruled by a woman, Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson).

But, did it really exist in Viking times?

Caroline Henderson as Jarl Haakon and Frida Gustavsson as Freydis Eriksdotter, as seen in Episode 2 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla Season 1
Caroline Henderson as Jarl Haakon and Frida Gustavsson as Freydis Eriksdotter, as seen in Episode 2 of Vikings: Valhalla Season 1. Pic credit: Netflix/Bernard Walsh

Kattegat did exist in Viking Age Scandinavia – but it wasn’t a town

While many fans of both TV shows are invested in Kattegat as a growing hub for the region, the sad news is that the location never actually existed as a town in the Viking Age.

However, it was – and still is – a sea.

It is situated in the waters between Denmark and Sweden, the Kattegat Sea is traditionally regarded as a dangerous stretch of water due to how shallow it is as well as the various reefs and tricky currents, both of which tend to shift.

Various ports are associated with the Kattegat Sea, including Gothenburg, Aarhus, Aalborg, Halmstad, and Frederikshavn, but not a town named after the body of water, unfortunately.

The Kattegat Sea is a continuation of the Skagerrak, which is a strait that runs between Denmark and Norway. Because of this location, this body of water is much closer in location to the Kattegat town featured in Vikings: Valhalla and Vikings.

While the Kattegat Sea may be somewhat treacherous, the Skagerrak is actually a very busy shipping route thanks to the robust fishing industry. Because of this, ships from all around the world pass through the Skagerrak, making it more like the Kattegat of Vikings: Valhalla than the actual present-day Kattegat Sea.

To make things more confusing, neither Vikings nor Vikings: Valhalla actually filmed anywhere near the Kattegat Sea. Instead, Lough Tay, County Wicklow, in Ireland was used extensively for filming.

Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla is currently streaming on Netflix.

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