There are many things you may not have realized about the Scandinavian raiders we call Vikings. Listed below are some of the craziest and interesting things we may have forgotten. The Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets, as popular culture likes to believe; rather they wore simple bowl-type helmets with a nose guard.
In spite of their raiding and invading reputation, the Vikings were clean people. Archaeological burial sites have revealed combs, razors, and tweezers.
It has also been confirmed that they bathed once a week, which is quite a bit more than any of their European counterparts that were living during these times.
The Vikings gathered a tree bark fungus – the hard, fibrous substance lying beneath the bark – and boiled it in urine for several days. They then pressed it into a felt-like material and used it to create fire. The reason for this process is that the urine would cause the felt-like substance to smolder rather than burn. This inventive technique allowed them to take fire with them on their raiding voyages.
Being buried aboard a Viking ship was perhaps the greatest honor for a Viking. Their belief was that the Viking ship would sail them to the afterlife. Also, there were usually a lot of material goods buried with them, somewhat like the Pharaohs – surrounded by weapons and valuable goods.
Slavery was crucial to the Vikings. While they were plundering Slavic, Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon villages, they often would capture as many slaves as they could. The slaves were sold or traded in markets across Asia and Europe and were known as thralls.
The Viking women would typically take care of the household while their husbands were off pillaging. The women had a lot of freedom for that period, though. They could reclaim a dowry, own property, and divorce, as long as they weren’t thralls. Often, the Viking girls were married as young as 12 years old.
In spite of their pillaging reputation, most Viking men were not warriors but farmers.
Vikings were skiers! That’s right; the Scandinavians developed primitive skies nearly 6,000 years ago. It should be noted, though, that some scholars believe that ancient Russians may have developed them earlier. The Vikings utilized skiing as an efficient method of transportation.
Viking men preferred to be blond. The Viking men with darker hair would use powerful soap with an elevated level of lye to lighten their hair. Most Vikings that bleached their hair would also bleach their beards.
Only Scandinavians who participated in overseas voyages were designated as ‘Viking.’
The Vikings never saw themselves as being one nation of Vikings or part of a unified group. During the Viking Age, what is now Norway, Sweden, and Denmark were simply made up of several tribes who were continuously fighting with one another when they weren’t off pillaging.
The average life span of a Viking was 40 years of age.
The Vikings’ teeth were worn down by the hardy grit in their bread long before they reached that age.
A Viking’s most cherished possession was his sword. Over generations, this prized sword was often handed down from family member to family member.
There you have it! Some crazy and interesting facts that you might not have known about Vikings.