Vikings have a strong sense of mystery. Much of what the public knows about them comes from myth and imagination. In fact, many impressions of the Vikings are false. Here are 20 photos that show you the real Vikings.
1. The Vikings were the first to reach North America
500 years before Christopher Columbus landed in North America, Leif Eriksson had already discovered the land. Encouraged by his father, Erik the Red, who was the first to establish a colony in Greenland, Leif explored the new land but had no intention of invading the Native Americans.
2. The Vikings were not giants
The Vikings are usually portrayed as terrible, inhuman giants who plunder and kill. However, unlike the legendary Rollo or Thor, the Vikings were generally about 5 feet 7 inches tall. Describing them as giants with horned helmets is just a way to make the Vikings seem scarier.
3. The Vikings loved blonde hair
The Vikings were obsessed with blonde hair and even defined beauty by whether or not they had it. If someone was not born with blonde hair, they used a special soap to bleach their hair until it was blonde. Some Viking men even bleached their beards to make them blonder.
4. Viking women had basic rights
Although the Vikings followed the rule that men were the “men of the house,” women had basic rights, such as the right to inherit property and to seek a divorce. There are even stories of shieldmaidens, women who fought alongside Viking men.
5. Vikings buried the dead in boats
In the Nordic religion, it was believed that great warriors needed a boat to pass to the afterlife and reach Valhalla. Therefore, honorable Vikings were laid to rest on a Viking ship loaded with weapons, food, treasure and sometimes slaves.
6. The Vikings cultivated a lot
Although the Vikings are known to be raiders, they actually spent more time farming than others. A farmer was the most respected position in Viking society. Even the legendary hero Ragnar Lothbrok was once a full-time farmer.
7. Viking tradition inspired the Lord of the Rings trilogy
Who would believe that Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was inspired by a Norse legend? In Viking mythology, there is a ring that first belonged to Andvari. This ring also had the power to destroy anyone who wore it, just like the ring of the Dark Lord Sauron.
8. Vikings did not use skulls to drink beer
The Vikings may have been raiders, but they were not savage enough to drink human blood or use skulls to hold beer. The Vikings only served their drinks in horned cups lined with gold and other precious metals.
9. The Viking wedding party lasted a week
The wedding was one of the most important events in Viking culture, and it usually lasted a whole week. Before the wedding party, however, the couple had to be engaged for three years. They also had to make sure they had enough food and drink for all the guests.
10. Viking houses were strong and durable
Believe it or not, the Vikings were also talented builders. Vikings intertwined wood with branches, covered it with mud and other materials to build their houses. There was also a fireplace for cooking in the middle of the house.
11. The Vikings dictated their history
For reasons unknown, the Vikings kept their history purely oral. This action may be the source of the Vikings’ reputation for violence. Written accounts of their enemies tell us much about the atrocities the Vikings committed during war, but very little about what they did in peacetime.
12. The Vikings liked big breakfasts
The Vikings usually made breakfast the biggest meal of the day. While the children had their porridge, the adults helped themselves to leftover stew, fruit and bread. Of course, dessert was a must and included beer, buttermilk and dried fruit with honey.
13. The Vikings were omnivores
Although meat was a predominant part of the Viking diet, this does not mean that they ate only meat. In fact, the Vikings had a balanced diet that included fruits, grains and vegetables. Even milk and cheese were part of their daily cuisine.
14. Vikings did not wear horned helmets
When we think of the Vikings, their horned helmets come to mind. However, this statement has been proven false, as there is no record that the Vikings wore horned helmets on the battlefield. This misconception may stem from the savage depiction of Vikings in the Victorian era.
15. The founder of rap battles
Surprisingly, the Vikings had started rap battles centuries ago. The Vikings were allowed to use any form of words to insult their brethren, including poetry. Whoever got the biggest reaction won.