If you’ve been watching “Vikings” TV series, you probably feel you have some idea about the unusual history of these fierce Norse warriors and their extraordinary culture. But, while it is exciting to imagine a ruthless group of men sitting around drinking their enemies’ blood, the true Vikings were much more fascinating than the bearded barbarians the media presents them to be.
While it’s true that the Vikings gained a reputation as fearless warriors, they weren’t necessarily bloodthirsty savages. In fact, the Vikings were savvy seafarers with progressive ideals. If the Vikings existed today, they would most likely vote democrat and totally support Beyoncé.
You’re about to learn truly astonishing things about the culture of the Vikings. Click ‘Begin’ and join us on a journey into the wild world of the Vikings!
Helmets With Horns? Well…
Gone to a renaissance festival or Halloween party wearing a two-horned helmet? Well, we hate to break it to ya, but you were not going as a Viking. A Helmet with two horns is probably the most recognizable features of the Vikings in modern culture.
However, there is absolutely no evidence that the Vikings ever wore helmets with horns. One likely theory states that contemporary Christians spread this rumor to make Vikings seem more satanic. Talk about rude!
Has EVERYTHING we’ve been told been a lie? Don’t be discouraged so fast as this next fact will surprise you!
Vikings Dyed Their Hair Blond Way Before Marilyn Monroe
Popular culture often depicts Vikings with platinum locks, and that’s one thing they actually got right about these amazing people. For some reason, Vikings really loved the blonde look. However, not every Viking was born a natural blonde. What to do?
Because fair hair was held in high regard, those that weren’t born with it took matters into their own hands. To bleach their hair, they would use their very own handcrafted soap made from lye. A Viking barbershop would have been a sight to see!
They made fire out of WHAT? Click ‘Next’ for a repulsive fact!
Let’s Light a Fire With Poo, and We Don’t Mean the Bear
Despite their great hygiene habits, the Vikings had a less-than-sanitary way to start fires. Using fungus and urine, the Vikings were able to start fires, proving that these formidable seafarers were also really great when it comes to recycling.
Urine contains sodium nitrate, which was the critical component in Viking fires. Rather than start crackling fires with licking flames that would need to be contained to one location, the sodium nitrate in urine kept the fires at a smolder. This allowed the Vikings to carry their sources of heat with them as they traveled. Very cool …and very gross.
Holding your breath for the next fact? Well, you can relax your nostrils. Click ‘Next’ to find out why!
The Vikings’ Hygiene Skills Were on Point
Having a Viking buddy would be cool, but you probably wouldn’t want to be stuck on a subway with a bunch of these sweaty savages, right? The mere thought of that collective musk is enough to give you watery eyes. However, the dirty Viking rumor isn’t all that true.
Although film and television often depict Vikings as perspiring, muddied brutes, these seafarers took grooming and hygiene very seriously. Many diverse tools used for hygiene have been discovered, and are believed to have been used by both male and female Vikings. These tools included things like razors, combs, and ear swabs.
The Vikings were WAY ahead of their time with this fashion statement. Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Sported Their Own “Grills”
They say that beauty is pain, and apparently, that came from the Vikings. In 2009, archaeologists from Oxford University discovered the graves of Viking warriors containing decapitated skulls that showed signs of filings etched into the Vikings’ teeth.
The purpose of said filings isn’t clear, and archaeologists can only guess it was done as a source of intimidation or a sign of status. Basically, the Vikings created the first version of grills, and we’re happy to see that the design has improved since then.
Women had a very serious role during this time. Click ‘Next’ to be wowed!
Viking Women Were As Powerful As the Men
If you thought that Viking men had all of the power and persuasion, you are mistaken! In fact, women were more than capable of advancing in the ranks.
Findings published in the American Journal of Anthropology detailed that remains found in Birka, Sweden, were that of a 30-year-old female Viking of extremely high status and power. The really exciting thing about these findings is that they offer proof that women were extremely independent and battled just as hard as their male counterparts.
Viking women could do this?! Who knew! Click ‘Next’ for another awesome Viking fact!
Viking Women Could Divorce Their Husbands
The girl power keeps flowing! Viking women were allowed to peace out on their marriages if they chose, and it didn’t even have to be for some grave reason. Women could even choose to walk away from marriage because of too much chest hair!
Not only that, but a divorce would require the husband to pay alimony. Keep in mind that Viking women were forced into arranged marriages between the ages of 12 and 13, so it seems very fair that they could make this decision. Vikings for the win!
Parenting skills were seriously cutthroat. We can’t believe this! Click ‘Next’!
Viking Kids Had to Prove They Are Worth Being Parented
One of the few dark sides of the Vikings you’ll see involves practices with their children. If a Viking had a child that was weak or ill, they could choose not to parent it anymore.
This often led to neglect, abandonment or even death. Viking children essentially had to prove themselves physically and mentally capable of being useful or ready for battle. It wasn’t easy being a kid—either you were prepped for serious responsibilities, or you were abandoned. We pick option C.
Some Vikings lost their minds before battle. Click ‘Next’ to find out what the heck was happening!
Many Vikings Went HAM Before Battle
When a Viking started going crazy, it was believed they were being taken hold of by an otherworldly power. The power would provoke a fury so great, it was as if it had been spurred by some omnipresent power.
Scholars believe that this rage was caused by substances like mushroom alcohol, which made the warriors hallucinate. It is also possible that these hysterics were the product of post-traumatic stress disorder. Either way, if your Viking friend started losing it, it was best to just scoot over a few campfires.
Going crazy was a scary thing, but it happened often. Find out why by clicking “Next’!
The Vikings Actually Enjoyed Going HAM
Vikings would consume “magic mushrooms” in order to alter their consciousness in a way that would lead to hallucinations. Theoretically, these hallucinations prompted Vikings to mindlessly butcher anyone who got in their way during battle.
Of course, you’ve learned now that there were plenty of misconceptions when it comes to the Vikings and that going berserk could have also been a product of PTSD, a devastating disorder that can easily develop during and after times of war. Unfortunately, diagnoses and mental health treatments weren’t exactly plentiful during the fifth century.
We can’t believe this next fact about Viking executions. Click ‘Next’!
A Specific Style of Execution Probably Didn’t Exist
This list is all about busting myths about the Vikings, so it’s nice to know that along with being progressive, well-groomed and handy, they didn’t actually perform an execution called the “Blood Eagle”.
This made-up Viking punishment was said to involve opening the back of a person and cracking each rib one by one. The Vikings would then apparently pour salt into the victim’s wounds and leave them to die. We’re pretty glad this one is a rumor.
Don’t even think about suggesting onion soup to a Viking. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean!
Onion Soup Was a Very Bad Thing
After returning scathed — but alive — after battle, Viking women would feed warriors a hearty soup that consisted of onions, leeks and herbs. Sound delicious, and it probably was but what happened after the feeding wasn’t so appetizing.
After their wounded warrior consumed the soup, the women would smell the wound to see if they could smell the broth. If they could, that meant that the wound was far too deep and far too serious to treat. The smell of onions usually meant death.
Anyone up for a serious crafting session with the Vikes? Click ‘Next’!
The Vikings Would Have Loved Martha Stewart
Vikings loved their weaponry, and part of that love was evident in how decorative they were. When it came to their swords, shields, ships, and even everyday items, they enjoyed be-dazzling them with all sort of jewels and trinkets.
A Viking in modern times would most definitely have a booth at the Renaissance Festival and YES you would spend too much money there. Vikings had a penchant for animals and would often create art that depicted things like horses, snakes, wolves, as well as fantastical animals of mythology.
Things weren’t all fighting and fashion for the Vikings. Click ‘Next’!
Too Cool for Fashion
Nowadays, we can’t get enough of whatever new fashion comes our way. If Kanye drops a million-dollar, aerodynamic hoody tomorrow, even his haters would be first in line to purchase it. In the Viking community, they were much more practical.
The Vikings were excellent weavers. They made all of their own clothes, and even children loved helping their parents turn wool into yarn. In colder weather, they added a cloak to their ensembles, and leather shoes to keep their feet warm. We dare Gucci to be that minimal at an affordable price.
This next myth must be dispelled today! Click ‘Next’ to find out what it is.
They Didn’t Drink Out of Skulls
I hate to break it to you, but the Vikings did not drink from the skulls of their enemies. To further ruin your day, the cups they did drink out of did not contain the blood of their enemies, either. Well, great.
How do we know? Excavations have never uncovered anything indicating that Vikings drank out of skulls. However, it has been found that Vikings drank from the horns of cattle — that’s kind of cool, right? Aside from horns, they also drank from boring old wooden and metal cups. LAME.
Click ‘Next’ to find out how the Vikings really met their end!
The True Tale of the Viking End
It would be cool to learn that the Vikings went out in a blaze of bloody glory; however, that wasn’t quite the case. In fact, the Vikings went quietly into the night, without putting up much of a fuss.
So, what happened? Well, more and more Scandinavians were subscribing to Catholic Christianity and the Catholic Church banned violence between Christians. Other Vikings settled in places like Normandy and Russia, where they were forced to pledge allegiance to the kings and rulers of their new residence.
Eminem would never believe this fact. But it’s true! Click ‘Next’!
The Vikings Basically Invented Rap Battles
Long before Grandmaster Flash entered the hip-hop scene and Eminem dropped beats on 8 Mile, the Vikings were mastering their own rap battles. The Nordic rap battles were known as “Flyting”. Flyting involved a poetic and ritualistic swapping of insults.
Similar to modern-day rap, flyting could often be laden with provocative subjects, including things of a sexual nature. Flyting took place in feasting halls and a winner would be decided based on the crowd’s reaction — you heard it here first!
Where did the Vikings go in the afterlife? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Death for Vikings Wasn’t Just Heaven or Hell
While some people see the after-life as only having a Heaven and Hell, the Vikings were a lot more creative with their options. They had a strong belief that the way you spent your time on Earth would decide where you went in death.
Brave warriors who fought valiantly were thought to end up in the best possible place, called Valhalla. Other admirable places to end up after death included Helgafjell and Helheim. Helgafjell was considered a lovely place to go for anyone who had led a good and admirable life. Helheim, on the other hand, was a place reserved for the “dishonorable,” which could even mean dying of old age in bed. Tough break!
You would have wanted an invite to a Viking wedding. Click ‘Next’ to RSVP!
Viking Weddings Were LIT
Like modern day practices, Viking weddings required friends and family from all over to come to town to witness the nuptials. There was careful planning that went into the ceremony, like ensuring enough food and drink was provided for guests (Very important).
Unlike us, Vikings had super long engagements, with a three-year waiting period keeping Vikings from tying the knot too quickly. Additionally, weddings lasted a week long, which makes us think they were a bit cheaper as well.
Click ‘Next’ for another crazy Viking wedding fact!
Viking Weddings Included Some Strange Rituals
In some weddings, Viking women had to strip off any evidence of their unwed selves — such as clothes, symbols of virginity, etc. — and store them away as a symbol of their entrance into married life.
Men would undergo their own pre-wedding rituals, entering a grave and reemerging with a sword to symbolize a death and rebirth. Additionally, the groom and bride were legally required (yes, LEGALLY required) to binge drink honey-based mead before being escorted up to their bedroom at the end of the night.
The Vikings inspired modern technology. Find out how by clicking ‘Next’!
Bluetooth is Named After the Viking King, Harald Bluetooth
Have you heard of Harald Bluetooth? Jim Kardach has. He’s the guy at Intel who invented Bluetooth technology. He named it after one of his favorite stories out of Viking mythology.
Harald Bluetooth was a Viking king of Denmark many centuries ago. Unlike other kings, Harald managed to bring different Viking tribes together. Since Kardach considered the new technology to be all about uniting, he decided to name his invention Bluetooth. Even better? The Bluetooth symbol blends the Nordic runes for ‘B’ and ‘H’, the initials of Harald Bluetooth. Can’t tell us you knew that!
A Viking made a discovery, but he never got the credit. What was it? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Young Lief Erikson, a Viking Traveler, Discovered America Before Columbus
Every year, we celebrate Columbus Day to commemorate the day that Christopher Columus discovered America 1492. The only problem? Columbus never actually discovered America! Enter Leif Erikson.
Leif Erikson’s father did a lot of his own traveling, and at one point he managed to travel from Iceland to Canada. He encouraged his son to also explore new lands, which led to Leif’s discovery of America. But Leif didn’t conquer the Native Americans, which kept his name out of history books. In the end, Columbus was given the credit.
If you like skiing, you’ll love this next fact. Check it out by clicking ‘Next’!
The Vikings Loved Skiing, and They Had a Skiing God
The Vikings knew how to fight, but they also valued play. Although they usually took part in a form of skiing as a way to hunt more easily, it’s thought that they were one of the first people to partake in these activities as a form of fun.
The Vikings took their skiing very, very seriously. So seriously in fact, that they actually worshiped a God of skiing, known as Ullr. According to Norse mythology, this God was all about outdoor activities.
Will our board game lovers please stand up?! Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Played Board Games
Forget raiding and pillaging — game nights were a big thing in Viking culture. We’re not talking Twister or Fortnite, but they definitely had their fun. One board game that was extremely popular was called Hnefatafl.
On a four-cornered board, pieces are placed to be the king and his defenders, as well as soldiers trying to overthrow the king. The objective is to get to one corner of the board if you’re the king and to capture the king if you’re an attacker.
A common misconception about Vikings is up next! Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Weren’t as Big as You’d Think
Not to burst your bubble, but Vikings weren’t exactly tall, muscular men a la Chris Hemsworth in Thor. The average height for a Viking man was a little bit over 5 feet 7 inches. Moreover, they tended to be lean as opposed to burly.
Part of the reason for this could be due to the short summer seasons along with economic difficulty. Resources could be scarce, forcing the Vikings to ration their food. This also served as a motivator for Vikings to seek other lands for financial gain.
The Vikings had some serious skills. Click ‘Next’ to find out more!
The Vikings Could Sail Through ANYTHING Using a Special Stone
Legend has it that Vikings were able to sail through the roughest of waters and the darkest of skies with ease. We know that Vikings were expert sailors, but they had an interesting way of ensuring that their overseas expeditions were successful.
They could actually find the sun thanks to the use of a sunstone, known as the Icelandic spar. Vikings would hold this up to the sky and find the sun thanks to the stone’s ability to react in a way that creates a visual effect known as “Haidenger’s Brush.”
The Vikings possessed something magical. Click ‘Next’ to find out what it was!
The Vikings Possessed a Special Compass
While engaging in trade with China, the Vikings obtained the mineral “Magnetite”, which is crucial in the creation of magnetic compasses. Having such a compass was extremely important during overseas expeditions.
These types of compasses were extremely important for general navigation and were particularly helpful when the Vikings sailed through heavy fog. Even the savviest sailor can find themselves lost at sea when cloaked in cloud mist, so compasses were critical to coasting toward their next location.
Death wasn’t the only way to settle disputes. Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Had Their Own Unique Justice System
Any family or communal disputes and crimes were handled in a unique system of law and order known by Norse culture as “Althing,” which can be translated as “The Thing.”
People attended regular meetings at The Thing, where a “law-speaker” would settle different disputes. Sometimes disputes were settled through peaceful means and done with the help of an objective third party, similar to the courts of today. But other times law and order was decided through violent wrestling matches, some even leading to death.
If you don’t like boats, you might not love this next surprising fact! Click ‘Next’!
Being Buried in a Boat Was Super Hype
For some reason, it was considered an extreme honor to be buried in a Viking boat. It was a privilege, but also a rarity. Boat burials were reserved for the most respected and prominent individuals in Viking culture.
In some cases, the boat would be set on fire and sink into the deep blue. The Vikings who were “buried” in these boats were adorned with a variety of weapons and other treasured pieces. Less elite were cremated or had standard burials.
The Vikings loved to talk. Click ‘Next’ for an awesome fact that made them unique!
They Preferred Talking Over Tweeting
There isn’t a lot of documented history straight from the Viking’s mouth. This is likely because they preferred to talk instead of write things down. Whether this is because they were illiterate or simply disinterested, a lot of the history about these people is lacking.
Since their enemies never got to experience the Vikings in their natural, peaceful homes, there is more about their pillaging and violence than anything else. Fortunately, we now know they were much more than just barbaric fighters.
If you love comics, you’ll love this surprising fact! Click ‘Next’!
The Vikings Heavily Influenced Modern-Day Comics
When you look at popular culture, you’ll see that the Vikings heavily influenced a lot of trends. Some of their ways are still recognized today with their rich stories of heroes and gods, providing a basis for some of the most revered comics and movie franchises today.
Odin, Thor, Loki, Freyja, and so many more characters in Marvel were derived from actual gods in the Norse pantheon. Not only did they influence modern-day comics, they may also have had a hand at the days of the week. Thursday (Thor’s day), Wednesday (Woden/Odin’s day), Friday (Freyja’s day) just to mention a few.
The story of middle-earth wasn’t a new idea for J.R.R Tolkien. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean!
The Vikings Inspired ‘The Lord of the Rings’
It’s true! It turns out that the Vikings were an inspiration for the iconic book series and movies. J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by the story of Andvari’s Ring, which is a Norse legend that revolves around a ring that will curse anyone who wears it.
The legend takes place in a universe known as Midgard. Midgard also means “Middle-Earth,” so it’s clear where the inspiration for the entire world that makes up The Lord of the Rings franchise came from.
The Vikings gave us WHAT words?! Click ‘Next’ to find out!
The Viking Language Gifted Us with Some Pretty Lit Words
Although the Norse language is quite different from present-day English, there are actually quite a few words that have made their way into our dictionaries, thanks to the Vikings.
Some of the harsher words that we’ve adopted include “anger”, “hell”, “skull” and “slaughter”. Other dark words that we use on a daily basis include “ugly” and “weak”. It’s not all bad news, however. The Vikings left us with some fun words to use as well, including “freckles”, “husband”, “wife”, and our all-time favorite, “cake”.
This next fact is making us hungry. Click ‘Next’!
The Viking Diet Could Sustain a Vegan
When you picture a Viking sitting down for a meal, you probably imagine large men noshing on slabs of meat and drinking hooch from skulls. Although there were carnivorous elements to a Viking’s diet, there was more to it than that.
Vikings usually partook in everything our food pyramid has to offer, aside from maybe sushi and Starbucks smoothies. Many Vikings were farmers, so they had easy access to plenty of grains, vegetables, dried fruits, milks and cheeses, and meats.
Vikings might not have actually liked their name. Click ‘Next’ to find out what we mean.
They Didn’t Call Themselves Vikings
In a crazy turn of events, the Vikings never actually called themselves Vikings. If you saw one today on the street and yelled “Hey, Viking!” it’s likely that man would just keep on walkin’.
The term “Viking” referenced any Scandinavians who took part in oversea expeditions. If Vikings referred to themselves in a collective way, they most likely called themselves “Ostmen” or “Astmen,” which translated, means “East-men.” The origin of Ostmen resides in Dublin. This makes sense, being that these East-men were Scandinavians who settled along the East coast of Ireland. Try one of these names next time you see one, instead.
These people were way more advanced than you’d think. Click ‘Next’!
They Practiced Democratic Views
Vikings were way ahead of their time in a variety of ways. They practiced democratic views and even decided who got to be king via a voting system that operated like a presidential election!
In most cases, the majority always ruled and all voting results became law. In terms of punishment, no man was ever sent to prison for his crimes—instead, they were made to pay a hefty fine. For those who felt like they didn’t want to be a part of the society anymore, they were more than welcome to leave and go forward without judgement.
A Viking version of Beyoncé and Jay-Z definitely existed. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean!
Power Couples Were Totally a Thing
In 2012, the tomb of a Viking “power couple” was discovered in Harup, Denmark. Archaeologists concluded that the pillaging power couple was likely of high status judging by markings on the tomb, as well as a pair of keys that signaled the woman was of a noble birth.
According to excavation leader, Kristen Nelleman Nielsen, the axe was like a “machine gun” of the Viking age. Basically, being the owner of this type of axe meant you were NOT someone anyone wanted to mess with.
You would never assume this about Vikings! Click ‘Next’ to find out what it is!
Many Vikings Were Actually Farmers
Although Vikings are most often thought of as bloodthirsty barbarians, not every Viking was a pillaging warrior. In fact, most Vikings were actually farmers. These skilled people worked very hard to grow various crops and raise livestock.
Agriculture on a Viking farm included all kinds of produce, and would likely rival the largest produce sections of today’s fancy grocery stores. Everything from beans, to cabbage, to leeks and turnips were grown. Vikings were extremely efficient and forward-thinking.
Vikings were serious about their pads. Click ‘Next’!
Viking Cribs Were Seriously Well-Made
Both men and women in Viking colonies spent a lot of time at home and on their farms, so they needed households that would stand against time and bad weather. Their homes were usually built from local materials such as wood, stones, moss and turf.
To keep out cold winds and rain, the walls of the home were built strong with intertwining sticks. This layer was then covered in mud, and any other strengthening materials they could find. These warm homes usually had one room with a fire cooking in the middle. It’s safe to say privacy wasn’t really a thing back then.
Did every Viking know all other Vikings? Click ‘Next’ for the truth!
The Vikings Were Not Part of One Tribe
“You’re a Viking? I have a Viking friend! Dave! Do you know Viking Dave?” The answer to that question would be a seriously unimpressed “No”. Many Vikings didn’t know each other, even though they all originated in Scandinavia. So, don’t be that guy.
There were several different Viking groups. Each group had a chieftain who would lead the group on their overseas expeditions. Since each group was ruled by a different chieftain, it is quite likely that the members had zero knowledge of other groups.
The Vikings didn’t always stick within their own groups. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean!
Love Was in The Air
It appears that the Vikings didn’t leave America without capturing at least one Native American woman. A DNA analysis of a group of families living in Iceland indicated that the meeting with the Native Americans didn’t end with the Vikings simply sailing away empty-handed.
A genetic marker was found that indicates Native American ancestry in some Scandinavians. The marker is over three centuries old, meaning that at least one Viking and one Native American woman became intimate at some point and conceived.
Have you met a real Viking? Maybe! Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Live on, Among Us
The English eventually conquered the Vikings and forced those remaining in England to assimilate into their culture and abide by their laws.
One Viking king known as Harald Hardrada ferociously attempted to reclaim his power in England by igniting one final fight known as “The Battle of Stamford Bridge”. Unfortunately, he died in battle. Vikings who had assimilated to English life peacefully continued on there, marrying and having children. So, we have many people among us with Viking ancestry — you could even be one of them!
Vikings loved being in the kitchen. Or did they? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Mealtime Was a BIG Deal
The breakfast of champions for Vikings consisted of leftover stews, breads and fruit, while children would eat porridge. The night meal included some type of protein, such as fish or meat, stewed together with some vegetables grown from their crops.
A dessert likely included some more dried fruit with honey, and the main beverages included ale, buttermilk and mead. When it came time to host a large feast, the Vikings essentially ate the same foods, except in larger portions. Where was Martha Stewart when they needed her?!
This Viking fact was super surprising! Click ‘Next’ to find out for yourself!
Their Food Storing Systems Were Impeccable
The Vikings used quick and out-of-the-box thinking to develop ways of life conducive to their environment and needs. This was no different when it came to preserving food for their harsh winters.
It was not the easiest job to raise livestock in such cold conditions, when the grass meant to feed them was such a tough thing to come by. Thus, fish was salted and dried, meats smoked and cured, and common vegetables like cabbages and peas were stored in dry areas to preserve.
We wouldn’t want to disagree with a Viking. Click ‘Next’ for a crazy fact.
The Vikings Weren’t Taking Anyone’s Crap
It isn’t clear why the Vikings began their raids when they did, or how they chose their target areas. However, based on the history of the time, experts have made some conjectures.
In the 9th century, Charlemagne had come into power and started brutally and without mercy forcing the conversion of pagans to Christianity. At the same time, the Roman Republic had fallen, leaving a great deal of Europe fractured and defenseless, as well as unsettled politically. This may have spurred the Vikings to act in defense.
Being a Viking wasn’t all fun and games. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean.
Friendly Games Often Turned Deadly
Today’s forms of rugby, hockey, and perhaps even UFC are considered extremely violent sports; however, none of these hold a candle to the games Vikings played. Their playfulness was extremely violent, making today’s rougher sports look like games of cricket in comparison.
In fact, it was common for men to be seriously injured and even die during these little ‘games’. But because the Vikings were prideful people, it often kept them from ‘tapping out’ early enough to save themselves the brutality that could cripple or kill them. We’ll still with board games, thanks.
You had to be tough, or you had to go. Click ‘Next’!
No Blood Was Ever Too Thick
They say blood is thicker than water, but there were times when this wasn’t the case. The Vikings valued strength above all else. Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon to devalue anyone weak or infirm to the greatest extent.
If any relative was born with a defect, was extremely weak, or grew very ill, they would be abandoned – completely cast out and deemed useless. While we might see this as horrendous today, it was a commonality that helped the Vikings stay strong, much like aiding natural selection.
Are things getting hot in here? Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Were All for Climate Change
Drop it like it’s hot, Vikings! Heat helped with survival during a time known as the “Medieval Warm Period”, which lasted from 950 to 1250 A.D. During this time, the Vikings migrated from Iceland to Greenland in order to settle into new land.
Oceans laden with ice weren’t going to make these trips easy, but during the Medieval Warm Period, lots of that ice melted. Sites that Vikings settled in enjoyed warmer temperatures, and easier travels from one place to another.
Click ‘Next’ to find out how the Vikings really lived on a daily basis.
They Were, Like, Totally Chill
Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings were not all about burning homes and stealing everyone’s stuff. While it is true that there were groups who used force instead of fairness to win disagreements, not every run-in ended up in a blood-soaked battle.
In reality, there were a variety of Viking groups that used peaceful practices in areas like Greenland, Iceland and smaller islands. They placed emphasis on farming over fighting, and followed very specific laws to keep the peace. Who knew?
The Vikings would have loved the NHL. Click ‘Next’ to find out why!
Not to be confused with “Knattle, IKR”?
One of the Vikings’ favorite games was a sport similar to ice hockey known as “Knattleikr”. It was very close to what is played today, except a lot harder to say.
Now, imagine the Vikings squaring off with hockey sticks instead of swords and shields, and you’ll realize that horned helmets never would have worked. Although the sport probably would have been all in good fun, we wouldn’t have wanted to be in the middle of it when a foul was called.
The Vikings had things figured out. Click ‘Next’!
Work Hard, Play Hard
While “Sunday Funday” might be a regular part of your weekly activities, the Vikings’ lifestyle had a bit more going on than mimosas and brunch with friends.
They utilized their time with work and play, in ways that bolstered their community spirit from village to village and kept them fit, healthy, and as always – ready for war or attack. Towns were always a hive of activity, especially during the day time. People ate together, drank together, and enjoyed each other’s company. And guess what? There wasn’t a cell-phone in sight. Frightening, right?
Click ‘Next’ to see if you could have lived amongst the Vikes!
The Vikings Were Frightening but Fair
The Vikings often had scuffles between people of different regions, and many would rob their own and enslave the defenseless. You can stop saying “I told you so” though, since even fights like this had set rules.
Rules of engagement were no joke in Viking communities. For example, they did not attack those they considered unworthy foes. For a proud community like theirs, it would have been seen as a disgrace to attack a place that had no means to defend itself.
Not all things can be explained. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean.
Not Everything Made Sense
The Vikings seemed to have been obsessed with conquering England, though other than conjectures about it having fruitful land, there’s no real explanation. For 80 years, they held back and only seemed to invade the British Isles, Scotland, and Ireland.
Eventually, the “Great Heathen Army” landed in Northumbria and marched on northern England, capturing York and settling. Battles for the territory continued for centuries, and their conquests led to various lands. Not everything they did made sense, but they still did everything with determination.
The Vikings had serious goals. Click ‘Next’!
The Vikings Were Really Good at Expansion
The dogged exploration of lands and pursuit of glory led the Vikings to create and expand through major cities across Europe. Ireland, Wexford, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and even Dublin began as Viking colonies.
Viking descendants in Russia founded Smolensk, Novogorod, and more. Travelers created the city of Rekyavik, and their settlements in England influenced culture and heritage, especially in York (but really across the entire country). The coast of France even became the “Land of the Northmen”, or those who would eventually be called the Normans (hence Normandy).
Life wasn’t so tough for these people. Click ‘Next’ to see what we mean!
Vikings Lived the Good Life
The entire Viking culture was shaped around their religious beliefs in hundreds of gods, goddesses, and ruling heroes to worship. They had access to rich cloths and jewelry, with chieftains wearing silk and uniquely crafted trinkets.
And as you’ve learned, their diet was incredibly rich and diverse. Between their hard work and the way they ate, it’s no wonder these people were so strong and vibrant. Even the dead were celebrated with riches and sent off in valuable longboats based on their spiritual beliefs.
Organization was the name of the game. Click ‘Next’ to find out how people were ranked.
The Class System
‘Jarls’ in the Viking culture were chieftains and makers of the rules. These ‘nobles’ were wealthy landowners and merchants directly tied to the king, and who controlled a very large workforce.
Beneath them were ‘Karls’ (also the derivative of the English ‘earl’), or freemen. This made up the vast majority of the population, who could own land but not property. They farmed, built and lived a life dedicated to their chieftains, but not particularly under their thumbs. Lastly were thralls, which were the slaves we mentioned earlier.
Click ‘Next’ for another fact you might not know about the Vikings.
Many Vikings Had Slaves
Vikings had slaves known as “thralls.” In fact, when it came to the iconic Viking raids, a purpose in many of these raids was to capture people from different areas and turn them into thralls.
Experts have posed different theories for Vikings deciding that they needed to have slaves. One theory suggests that captured slaves were women and that the less elite Vikings enslaved these women in order to make them their brides. Other theories include using thralls as workers who world help with farming and carpentry.
What else is there to know? The story keeps growing. Click ‘Next’!
There’s Much More to Learn
A lot of the information about the Vikings that’s been gathered was based on what their enemies recorded about them. The excavation of archeological sites and true scholarly study of the Viking culture has only truly been undertaken in the last century, not really beginning until the 1900s.
New translations, study of artifacts, and a keen interest in dispelling dramatic myths in favor of the truth have spurred the effort. More is still being learned about the intriguing men once thought to be complete
The story of the Vikings continues to expand. Click ‘Next’!
Vikings Were Way More Complex Than We Thought
Vikings were extremely hygienic, intelligent craftsman, merchants and farmers who used their skills to thrive during their time. Moreover, Vikings proved to be extremely progressive for the time period in which they lived.
Women were given far more rights than would be expected, having the freedom to fight alongside men and divorce them if they found themselves unhappy in their marriages. It just goes to show you that, as much as you may think you know about a subject, history can prove to be very surprising.
We think we would have liked the Vikings. What do you think? Click ‘Next’!
All Good Things Must Come to an End
It seems like the main reason the Viking Era came to an end was simple burnout. Some scholars theorize that more and more Scandinavians were being converted to Christianity, which banned their violent practices.
Others point to the settlements in other regions of the world – where eventually, the Vikings simply assimilated to the local lifestyle. What we know for certain is that, after a long and prestigious reign, the Vikings seemed to fade away in 1066, when the last great leader, Harald Hardrada, fell while invading England.