25 Interesting Facts about Vikings

By Jeremy R 1 comment

25 Interesting Facts about Vikings


The Norsemen (Vikings) are often depicted in popular culture as violent, drunken, and one-dimensional. But the stories about them are not just for entertainment; they provide a window into their lives and history. We can learn useful facts about how to live well in their society, and even discover a little more about ourselves. Let's explore 25 Viking facts that you might not have known.


1. Nobody knows exactly what Viking means.

Nobody knows exactly what Viking means. It could be a reference to the Scandinavian term for "pirate ship," or it may have come from the Old Norse word vik, meaning "bay" or "creek." The word has been used since the 9th century, but its origins remain murky.

Viking is also a term used to describe someone who has gone on an adventure or raid, or who travels widely. The word is often used today in reference to adventurers and explorers from other times and places too.


2. The majority of the Viking trading was in slaves.

Slaves were taken from defeated foes and sold to other Vikings or to the Byzantines. Some Vikings would also be captured by pirates and sold into slavery.

In fact, some scholars argue that these slaves were more like prisoners than actual slaves because they could be freed if they worked hard enough to buy their freedom.


3. It's still unclear why the Vikings did what they did.

It's still unclear why the Vikings did what they did. Some historians argue that they were merely trying to feed themselves and their families, while others say they were looking for adventure or glory. But whatever the motivation behind their conquests, one thing is clear: The world would never be the same again after they arrived on its shores.


4. Writing was a very rare activity among the Vikings.

Writing was a very rare activity among the Vikings. The Vikings did not have a writing system, so they relied on their memories to pass information down through generations. However, the Vikings did not have any need for written records because their culture was based on oral traditions.

The only reason we know anything about the Viking Age is that monks and Christian missionaries wrote about it in their chronicles and letters. These accounts were written down by hand and later copied by scribes into books or scrolls.


5. Most of the Viking ships were longships.

The Viking ships were longships. The longship was a wooden boat with a single sail that could be raised or lowered to catch the wind. The hull was made of overlapping planks sewn together with animal sinew. These boats were also known as drakkars, knarrs and sleighs. They were built for speed and could carry around 30 people at a time.

The Vikings used their longships to travel across the seas, raiding towns and villages along the way. They were also used as trading vessels when they had peaceful intentions, carrying goods between Europe and Scandinavia.


6. Viking boat builders had great skill.

A Viking boat-builder would have been a skilled craftsman who could make or repair a wooden boat in his village or town. He would have had to be able to work with wood, iron and leather, as well as being able to read plans and drawings.

The boats were made from oak planks that were put together with iron rivets; the planks and beams were joined together with wooden pegs instead of nails, which would have been too expensive. A boatwright would also need to understand how boats worked and know how to use ropes and knots to tie them together.

A Viking boat-builder would have been paid for his work by being given some of the food grown on the land around his village or town.


7. There were three social classes in Viking society.

The three social classes in Viking society were:

1. Jarls - the nobility or upper class, who owned land and had power over others.

2. Bondi - free farmers who paid rent to the jarls for their land. They were free men who owned their own land and could pass it down to their children.

3. Thralls - slaves who belonged to someone else and had no rights or freedom at all.


8. You could raise your position in Viking society if you worked hard enough.

A person’s place in the Viking society determined the way they were treated and what kind of work they did. The higher your social status, the more respect you received from others.

You could also rise in society by winning a battle or performing some other heroic deed. If your father or grandfather had been a great warrior and won many battles, then it would be expected that his son or grandson would also be a great warrior. This made it possible for poor people who became warriors to rise in status and wealth – at least temporarily!


9. Viking women had a special position in society.

Viking women had a special position in society. They were the ones who produced all the food, so they were respected and valued by their husbands and families. They also had more rights than other women in Europe at that time. Viking women could divorce their husbands, own property and inherit goods from their parents, which was unusual at the time.

Many Viking women were also warriors. They fought alongside men on raids and in battles, using axes or spears like any other Viking warrior. Some of them even became famous as great leaders after they died!


10. The Viking culture put a great importance on personal hygiene and appearance.

The Viking culture put a great importance on personal hygiene and appearance. They bathed regularly, as well as using perfume and cologne..

The Vikings had very strict rules about cleanliness, which they believed would help them stay healthy. They washed their hands before meals, combed their hair often, brushed their teeth with a wooden toothbrush (called a "tongue cleaner") and used hand cream every day.

Viking women wore long dresses that reached below the ankles with short sleeves that ended at the wrists. Men wore tunics (tight-fitting shirts) that reached down to just above the knees, with long sleeves that ended at the elbows.


11. Combat was a major component of Viking sports.

Combat was a major component of Viking sports. The Vikings were famous for their fierce fighting and their love of combat. They considered it an art form, and they trained for it from a young age.

The warriors were trained in two types of combat: wrestling and sword fighting. Wrestling was the main method of training for the Vikings. It was a sport that could be practiced with or without armor, so it was perfect for everyday training. Wrestling matches were often held as part of festivities in celebration of weddings or religious holidays like Yule (the winter solstice).


12. In battle, the Vikings used a variety of weaponry.

The Vikings were fierce warriors, and they used a variety of weapons in battle. These included spears, swords, axes, and bows and arrows.

The spear was a favorite weapon of the Vikings. They used it when they were on foot or riding horses. They also used spears as part of a siege engine to throw at walls during sieges.

The sword was another popular weapon for the Vikings. Swords were usually double-edged and about 30 inches long. The hilt was often decorated with gold or silver wire.

The axe was another popular weapon used by the Vikings. This tool had many uses besides being a weapon. For example, it could be used as an agricultural tool for cutting trees or splitting logs for firewood or building materials. It could also be used as a tool for shaping wood or carving designs into wood panels such as those found on rune stones (stones with runic inscriptions).


13. The Vikings Often Gave Their Swords Names

The Vikings were also known to be very superstitious, and they believed that they could bring good luck and fortune if they had a name for their sword. The Vikings often gave their swords names, and the names were sometimes chosen by the owner or the maker of the weapon. Sometimes the sword name was given because of its appearance, or because it was used during an important event.

Some popular Viking sword names include:

Cerrunos - This sword was named after a god who was worshiped by farmers as he protected their crops from disease or pests.

Sigrun - This sword was named after a goddess whose name means "Victory Woman." Her name was often invoked before battles by Viking soldiers seeking victory in battle.

Blodyn - This is another god's name, although this one is associated with bad luck rather than good luck like Cerrunos and Sigrun are associated with good luck.


14. The Vikings never wore helmets with horns!

The idea that Vikings wore horned helmets is a popular misconception. The Vikings did not wear horned helmets, but this myth has been around for centuries. It may have started because they used to decorate their helmets with animal horns, but that was just for decoration and there’s no evidence they ever wore them into battle.

In fact, there are only two depictions of horned helmets in Viking art and both come from the 19th century. The first is a woodcut by an artist named Gustave Dore who lived from 1832-1883. The second is a drawing by 19th century artist John Tenniel who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). These pictures were based on older artistic traditions that had nothing to do with Vikings or medieval Scandinavia at all!


15. The most ferocious Viking warriors were called "berserkers."

The most famous Viking warriors were called "berserkers." These warriors would wear animal skins and fight in a frenzy. They were often seen running toward their enemies screaming, biting their shields, and swinging their swords wildly.

The word berserker comes from the Old Norse word ber-serkr, which means "bear shirt." According to the sagas, these Norse warriors wore the skins of bears or wolves during battle. The berserkers would go into a trance-like fury when they fought, becoming immune to pain and impervious to wounds. This gave them an advantage over their enemies as they fought with reckless abandon.


16. A Viking's average lifetime was roughly 40 years.

The average lifespan of a Viking was 40 years. The reason for this was that they lived hard lives, and had to fight in wars and raids constantly.

The average lifespan is calculated by adding up the age at which people died and dividing it by the total number of people who died. If we look at the data for all of the men who are recorded as dying in battle or on raids, we can see that their average age at death was 37 years old. However, if we look at all of the people who died from other causes, such as disease or accident, then their average age at death was 42 years old.


17. Vikings Spent Most Of Their Time Farming

Farming was the main occupation of the Vikings. The Vikings were excellent farmers, and they were able to produce enough food to feed their families and some extra crops to sell at market.

Farming was the main occupation of the Vikings. The Vikings were excellent farmers, and they were able to produce enough food to feed their families and some extra crops to sell at market.

The Vikings grew wheat, rye, barley and oats as well as potatoes and other root vegetables. They also kept pigs, goats, sheep and cows for meat as well as milk.


18. The Vikings did not refer to themselves as Vikings.

The word Viking comes from the Old Norse word víkingr, meaning "pirate" or "plunderer." In fact, the Vikings were rarely referred to as such by those who lived in Scandinavian countries during the Viking Age; instead, they were called by their own names for themselves or by specific titles.

For example, if a person was from Norway and lived in Norway during the Viking Age, he or she might have been called Noregsmanni (man of Norway). If a person was from Denmark and lived in Denmark during the Viking Age, he or she might have been called Danir (men of Denmark). And if a person was from Sweden and lived in Sweden during the Viking Age, he or she might have been called Svíumanni (man from Sweden).


19. Long swords were the most prized weapons

Long swords were the most prized weapons for vikings. They were used for both offensive and defensive purposes and were often given names. Long swords were used by both men and women, but they were more common among men.

Long swords were typically made out of high quality steel, which was a very rare material at this time. The sword was usually about three feet long, with a handle that was about 18 inches long.


20. They were able to navigate with zero visibility

The Vikings are said to have been able to navigate with zero visibility. They used sunstones (also known as polarizing filters) to determine the position of the sun at sea, but it is not clear how they did it.

Sunstones work by polarizing light and then rotating them so that light can pass through them. It’s like putting on polarized sunglasses and then rotating them until you can see through them again. Sunstones were made from a rock called calcite which can be found in Iceland and Norway where Vikings lived in the 9th century A.D., who used them for navigation purposes during winter months when there was no sunlight at all. Scientists say that these stones could only be used when there was no sunlight because if you put them into water they would lose their polarization capacity in less than 10 minutes.


21. Viking justice system was (nearly) similar to ours.

The Vikings had a unique legal system that worked in much the same way as ours. Court cases were heard by a jury of 12 men and women, who were expected to reach a unanimous verdict. The prosecution presented their case first, followed by the defence. Witnesses could be called to give evidence, but there was no cross-examination.

The accused had no right to silence and could be tortured if necessary. A guilty verdict required eight or more jurors to vote for conviction – anything less was considered an acquittal.

There were no lawyers, but each side could bring in witnesses who would give evidence on their behalf. If you wanted someone else to represent you at court, you had to pay them yourself – although it was possible for someone else to sponsor your case and cover their costs too.


22. They merged with other cultures

Vikings were a culture that was able to adapt to their environments, and as such they merged with other cultures. One example of this is the Viking's settlement in Greenland.

The Vikings first traveled to Greenland around 985 CE, when Erik the Red led an expedition of around 500 people from Iceland. They settled there because it was thought that Greenland would be a land of plenty due to the large number of resources available there. However, they soon found out that this was not true and that they had to adapt their lifestyle in order to survive in this new environment. They were forced into adopting many traits of the Native Americans, such as hunting and fishing for food, and taking on their religion also helped them assimilate into their new home.


23. Cats were favorite pets

Cats were a big part of Viking life. Vikings kept cats around to help with pest control, and they even kept them as pets. Cats were very important to the Norse because they were good at keeping vermin away from the farmsteads. A cat could keep a rodent population in check, which was important since the Norse relied on their crops for survival.

Cats were also considered good luck by Vikings. In fact, there is an old saying that says "The Vikings loved cats so much that they took them to Valhalla." This probably isn't true - we know from historical accounts that dogs were used more often in battle than cats. Cats were also thought to be magical creatures by the Vikings, who believed that they could see ghosts and spirits better than other animals.


24. Each house had a single room

Viking houses were built for functionality and practicality. They had a single room that was used for everything, including sleeping, eating and cooking.

The houses were usually rectangular in shape and made of timber with a thatched roof. The walls were built with logs or split planks and sealed with moss or clay. The floors were also made of split planks or wooden boards which were laid on top of the ground.

Viking houses had no windows or glass so they usually had an open fireplace in one end of the house where people could cook and heat the house during winter months. In some cases, there might be an opening in one wall where smoke could escape from the fireplace while allowing light into the house through a small hole at the top of this opening.


25. They ate decent meals.

Nowadays, we tend to associate Vikings with eating raw meat and drinking blood. But this is a stereotype. In reality, their diet was much more varied and sophisticated than most people think.

Vikings ate a lot of fish, which was an important source of protein. They also ate wild game such as deer as well as various types of domesticated animals such as cows, sheep and goats. Finally, they cultivated crops like barley, wheat and rye to make breads and porridge.



The Vikings are a diverse society, no doubt. They are anything but simplistic, and their history is a tangled web of different cultures and people. But the culture that emerges from their midst is undeniably fascinating, a real testament to their ability to adapt and learn from other people.

The most astounding thing about the Vikings is their fierce independence. Many of the widely held stereotypes about them are just plain wrong. But one thing remains true: Viking history, as well as Viking design, was a beautiful blend of cultural traditions, which ultimately helped them carve out an enduring legacy in history.

1 comment

  • Tim

    Great account of these people i liked there life style free

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