10 Things You May Not Know About Vikings

Vikings S3, an original series by History channel featuring a Viking warrior who dreams of exploring the distant shores across the ocean, will premiere on 27 February at 10pm, on StarHub Channel 401.

To pique your interest about Vikings S3, here are some things that you may not have known about the Vikings.

Credit: HISTORY.

The Vikings had great hygiene. Photo Credit: HISTORY.

1. They had great hygiene

Despite common belief that Viking warriors stink because they row boats and decapitate enemies, this is far from the truth. They bathed once a week – more frequently than other Europeans of their day – and often dipped in natural hot springs of water. Tweezers, razors, combs and ear cleaner made using animal bones and antlers have also turned up in excavations of Viking sites.

2. They didn’t wear horned helmets

Viking warrior costumes do not really have horns. What you see in TV shows and movies isn’t true. In fact, the only authentic Viking helmet ever found, is horn-free. It is said that this trend of the whale and horn-festooned helmet look comes from the 19th century, perhaps inspired by descriptions of northern Europeans and Norse and Germanic priests, who did wear horned helmets for ceremonial uses.

3. Dead Viking people were buried in boats

Ships have always been held in high esteem by the Vikings, so it would naturally be a great honour to a Viking, to undertake their final journey at sea. In the Norse region, deceased Viking warriors were said to enter into festive and glorious realms upon their passing and the boats that served them well in life would supposedly help them to get to their final destinations. So distinguished Viking men and women were laid to rest in ships, surrounded by weapons, expensive goods and sometimes even slaves – who were sacrificed for them.

4. Vikings started fires using unique liquids

Though the Vikings were known to be clean, they collected touchwood, which was a fungus, from tree bark and mix this together with urine. Then they would boil it for many days and then pound it into something similar to felt. The sodium nitrate in urine would make the material smoulder and not burn. So the Vikings would take fire with them on the go.

5. Vikings were heavily involved in the slavery industry

Vikings commonly seized not only women, but also young men from the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Slavic areas, and then sold them at huge slave markets throughout Europe and the Middle East.

6. Viking girls had more freedom than other women during their times

Though Viking girls were as young as 12 when they wed and had to mind the households when they husbands were sailing away on adventures, they had more freedom than other women during their times. That’s because they could inherit property, get a divorce and get their dowries back if their marriages ended.

7. Vikings loved skiing

To the Norsemen, skiing was an efficient way to get around as well as a great form of having fun. As well, they also worshipped Ullr, who was the God of Skiing.

8. Vikings spent plenty of time on the farmlands

Though some Viking men were pirates and preferred wielding swords and burning villages, the majority of Vikings were farmers who sowed barley, rye and oats for most of the year. As well, they raised cattle, goats, pigs and sleep and produced just enough food to sustain their families.

9. Viking gentlemen bleached their hair

Because blond hair was preferred by the Vikings and their culture, those who were born brunette usually used a strong soap with a high lye content to bleach their hair. Sometimes they also did the same to their beards. This common treatment was said to solve the problem of head lice too.

10. Vikings didn’t call themselves Vikings

In those days, there was actually no such term as Vikings. They were merely Scandinavians who participated in expeditions overseas. And during the Viking age, Scandinavia merely comprised of Chieftain-led tribes fighting against each other – whenever they were not exploring and burning down other countries.

Catch Vikings S3 on the History Channel (StarHub Channel 401) on 27 February at 10pm.

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