I've just came across the following sentence in an IELTS test book:

They found items such as ancient arrows and skis from Viking Age traders.

I was surprised that there was no 'the' before 'Viking Age.' I was sure that such terms as 'the Viking Age' that have an article as their part should always be used like that, so it should have been ...from the Viking Age traders. Do I get it wrong?

2 Answers 2


We use "the" if the noun is some particular identified example, or the only example of something. We leave no article if it's not specific, and could refer any of that thing.

In this case, the equipment didn't belong to some specific Viking Age traders, but to some random traders. The sentence could equally be written:

They found items such as ancient arrows and skis from some Viking Age traders.

This sentence has the exact same meaning as the original, so it's correct with no article.


When referring to the Viking Age as a regular noun on its own, you would use "the." However, "Viking Age" here is an attributive noun, which is when a noun is used similarly to an adjective to modify another noun. Here it is used to modify "traders," meaning "traders from the time period of the Viking Age." If you put "the" where you suggest, it would refer to the "traders," and the meaning would change to be speaking about specific traders from the Viking Age, rather than just some traders or traders in general.

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