8 Interesting Facts About The Vikings
Do you think you know all there is to know about vikings? Well, you may be surprised to know that a lot of the commonly known “facts” about them are actually wrong. Vikings were full of surprises! Check out these 8 interesting facts about them that you should totally bring up in conversation:
#1 They Didn’t Wear Horned Helmets
Vikings never work that horned look that everyone is always associating with them. Depictions dating from the viking age don’t show it. In fact the only authentic viking helmet ever discovered was completely, 100% horn-free.
It was 19th century painters that fabricated the notion, and the trend took off as an artistic trend. They were probably inspired by the northern Europeans, such as the Greeks and Romans. Maybe even the Germanic and Norse priests, who long before the vikings’ time, wore horned helmets during ceremonies.
#2 They Had Excellent Hygiene
In a time when many people didn’t even detangle their beards, let alone shower, the vikings took great pride in their hygiene. Men and women alike where to wash their faces, style their hair, use tools like tweezers and razors, or combs and ear cleaners.
They bathed at least once a week, which was by far, amazing for that time period. Most of the other Europeans of the time wished they could bathe that frequently. Vikings even soaked in natural hot springs to unwind, rejuvenate, and clean up.
#3 They Discovered America
Christopher Columbus really took the credit, didn’t he? We all learned it in elementary school, that he sailed across the open sea and said “Oh, look everyone, it’s a land that has gone this long without anyone finding it! I’m going to call it America.”
Well, around 500 years before he did that, the vikings had already visited its shores, landing in what’s now Canada. This was about AD 1000.
Just goes to show you should really do your research before proclaiming things that just aren’t true. Or taking credit that isn’t yours to take.
#4 They Liked to Ski for Fun
That’s right, imagine big, burly, bearded men holding axes just skiing down a snowy slope. It’s hilarious, but true. Roughly 6,000 years ago, the vikings used skis to hunt, travel, and just have some fun. They even had a ski god, called Ullr. Oh, and they loved the sport so much, that they would hold skiing competitions. The best skiers would win prizes.
That means if you’re a manly dude and love to ski, but think it’s not a very rugged sport, think again. If it wasn’t too girly for the vikings...
#5 Women Had More Rights
Even in today’s modern world, women still face an array of social pressures, closed doors, inequality and sexual harassment. So it’s no surprise that during the viking times, women still didn’t have basic rights.
What is shocking, however, is that viking women had more rights than basically any other type of woman at the time. They could inherit property, file for divorce, and reclaim settlements if the marriage failed. In other words, a woman could leave her husband, take her land, and carry on with her own life, and no one would bat an eyelash.
#6 Vikings Started Interesting Fires
Vikings were known as clean people, but hey, even they weren’t above the efficiency of human urine. They actually collected fungus, touchwood to be exact, from tree bark, boiled it for several days in urine, and then pounded it into something akin to felt. The sodium nitrate found in urine would make the material smolder rather than burn to a crisp, so the vikings could take fire with them on the go, like in torches.
See? Vikings knew how to use science to get tasks done. And this was before the age of modern science!
#7 Vikings Liked to Farm
Sorry people, but vikings weren’t all raping, pillaging, and stirring up some trouble. In fact, viking men spent most of their time farming. It’s how they made their living. It’s how they put food on the table, and kept their families well-fed.
It was the minority of viking men who only stepped off their boats to burn villages and steal everything in sight. And of course, that’s what modern day people want to believe all vikings did, that’s what makes good entertainment, so that’s precisely what’s portrayed in TV shows and movies.
#8 Fenrir Was Everything
Fenrir Grayback, the werewolf in Harry Potter books, was named after the ferocious giant wolf from ancient viking mythology. In the myth, Fenrir was the son of Loki and Angrbooa, the giantess. He grew at an alarming rate, however, which is why the gods chained him up.
Of course, it took three times to get it to work. But don’t worry, although Fenrir was chained up, he broke free at Ragnarok, devouring everything in his path. He even killed Odin himself before finally being taken down by one of Odin’s sons.