The Viking Age lasted from around 793 AD to 1066 AD. It was a time in which the Vikings explored a large area that stretches between the Middle East and North America.
With origins in Scandinavia, the Vikings set out on the water and made a huge name for themselves in world history. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about Viking history and some facts that you might be surprised to learn about.
Here are 6 fascinating Viking facts that you should know.
Vikings Didn’t Have Horned Helmets
One of the most interesting things about the Vikings is that they didn’t actually wear horned helmets. Although many people associate horned helmets with Viking warriors, the truth is that this type of stereotypical Viking helmet was never used.
Vikings likely wore headgear of some kind, but the only helmet that has been discovered doesn’t have horns at all. It’s possible that Vikings never wore helmets but used leather headwear instead.
The rumor of the horned helmet may have been started through paintings that were created in the 19th century. Another possibility is that the horned helmet was thought up by the costume designer Carl Emil Doepler in 1876 for a production of Der Ring des Nibelungen by Wagner.
Viking Women Had It Better Than Most
Interestingly, Viking women seemed to have more rights and freedom than was typical of other women of their time. Viking women had a lot of social freedom and shared responsibility with men in a very big way.
Viking women were able to own property, ask for a divorce in certain situations, and had a lot of other types of freedom as well. In Viking society, women also specialized in textile work while men focused on other tasks such as carpentry and metalwork.
Although there were still limitations in Viking society like with other societies of the time, women in Viking society had it better than many other women around the world.
There Are No Vikings
It may surprise you to learn that there was really no such thing as the Vikings at all. Vikings weren’t a unified group in their time and they likely didn’t use the word to refer to themselves.
The term “Vikings” is used to refer to any Scandivinians who went overseas and had expeditions during the Viking Age. This includes travelers from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The Vikings were actually composed of multiple tribes that were led by chieftains and were often at odds with one another.
Although the Vikings are now well-known as a collective group, this wasn’t always the case. In reality, they were just individual tribes who traveled from Scandinavia and had a knack for conquering settlements and picking fights with other groups.
Vikings Stayed On Top of Their Hygiene
While you may think of Vikings as being rough-and-tumble warriors who never took a bath and had poor hygiene, this isn’t the case. Vikings actually had great hygiene and spent plenty of time taking care of their bodies and grooming.
Vikings tended to bathe once a week or more and were more hygienic than many other Europans of the time period. In addition to taking baths often, Vikings used many different hygiene tools made of antlers and animal bones. This includes combs, razors, tweezers, and more.
Vikings likely took care of their appearance well and were likely more hygienic than you imagined them to be.
Vikings Spent Time Skiing
Another interesting thing to note about Vikings is that many of them spent time skiing.
Although skis weren’t a Viking invention and were invented during the Stone Age in Central Asia, the Vikings made good use of them. The Vikings spent time skiing for fun and used them in the cold weather that they experienced in the winter season.
In addition to skiing for fun, however, the Vikings also spent time skiing for practical purposes as well. Skiing would have been a faster way to get around in the snow and was likely used for hunting and traveling in addition to recreational purposes.
Vikings Bleached Their Hair
Since Viking culture tended to show a preference for blonde hair, a lot of Vikings actually dyed their hair to the color during their time.
Many Vikings were brunettes but used a type of bleach that consisted of soap and a high amount of lye to dye their hair. This allowed them to fit in more with the look of their fellow Vikings.
In addition to making a Viking’s dark hair turn lighter, this concoction also helped with other issues. Many historians believe that it helped to protect their hair from lice problems as well.
Viking Clothing Showed Economic Status
Another interesting thing about Vikings is that they wore a variety of clothing items including cloaks, tunics, and trousers.
Clothing was very important for Vikings. The type of clothing that a Viking would wear would say quite a bit about who they were. Vikings dressed differently based on their sex but also based on their age.
Vikings would also dress differently based on their economic status. Higher-status Vikings often reflected this fact in their clothing choices and the clothing they wore would be of higher quality.
Viking clothing can still be fashionable to wear in the modern age as well. You might want to buy a Viking cloak here if you’re interested in trying one yourself.
Understanding Viking History
As you can see, there’s a lot more to Viking history than you may have expected. Although there are a lot of misconceptions and myths about the history of the Vikings, the reality of the Viking Age is even more interesting.
Looking for more historical facts and information? Browse our blog now to find more interesting articles.