Three Things You May Not Have Known About Vikings

16 Apr 2014

It is fairly safe to say that everyone has an idea of what we could expect a Viking to look like and with all the caricatures and stereotypes that we are exposed to it is not surprising. However, it seems that the real truth might be somewhat different. Here are three interesting things about the Vikings that you may not have know!

Vikings did not wear horned helmets.

Forget almost every Viking warrior costume you’ve ever seen. Sure, the pugnacious Norsemen probably sported headgear, but that whole horn-festooned helmet look? Depictions dating from the Viking age do not show it, and the only authentic Viking helmet ever discovered is decidedly horn-free. Painters seem to have fabricated the trend during the 19th century, perhaps inspired by descriptions of northern Europeans by ancient Greek and Roman chroniclers. Long before the Vikings’ time, Norse and Germanic priests did indeed wear horned helmets for ceremonial purposes.

Viking men spent most of their time farming.

This may come as a disappointment, but most Viking men brandished scythes, not swords. True, some were callous pirates who only stepped off their boats to burn villages, but the vast majority peacefully sowed barley, rye and oats—at least for part of the year. They also raised cattle, goats, pigs and sheep on their small farms, which typically yielded just enough food to support a family.

Vikings skied for fun.

Scandinavians developed primitive skis at least 6,000 years ago, though ancient Russians may have invented them even earlier. By the Viking Age, Norsemen regarded skiing as an efficient way to get around and was a popular form of recreation. They even worshipped a god of skiing, Ullr.

If you are interested in all things Viking then this weekend’s Battle of Clontarf Festival is for you. This Easter weekend you will have a chance to visit a battle re-enactment, a Viking village, a boat workshop and lots more.

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