Viking Daily Life Krystel Parras

Vikings were seagoing nordic people that lived around the time between 800-1100AD. They originated as independent groups just after the fall of Ancient Rome and lived in Scandinavia, in countries that we now call Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. The remains they have left behined from their daily life have helped archaeologists find out more about how they lived.

Scandinavian Vikings:General Appearences

High ranking vikings dressed lavishly, and this is important to find out about viking social structure.

High ranking Men: Metal helmets showed high status. Only one fully intact Viking metal helmet has ever been discovered. Double edged swords had heavily ornamented hilts and could be more than 90cm long. Viking elites wore chain mail.

High ranking Women: Bronze brooches (oval shape for Scandinavian women, circular for Finnish and triangular with a flat top for Gotlantic) had beads strung from them. They hung tools such as knives from their brooches or belts. Their clothing was multilayered, and the underdress was made of linen.

Rus Vikings: General Appearances

Rus vikings were swedish traders*. The high ranking people in society dressed luxuriously. Clothing is an important factor in finding out about viking social structure.

High ranking Men: They wore hats made from exotic furs with trim and a silver tassel. Their Caftans were made from wool. Decorations were silk and trim. Their baggy, eastern style pants became fashionable across Scandinavia.

High ranking Woman: If a woman was married, she may have covered her hair. The Rus adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, so women often wore crosses. They also wore lots of silver jewellery as a result of trade with Arabia.

*The Vikings 1979, Time-Life books, New York.

Clothing (a more detailed description)

Vikings weren't concerned about fashion except for keeping warm. MOST CLOTHES WERE MADE FROM WOOL OR LINEN. THE MATERIALS WERE THICK AND CLOSELY WOVEN TO TRAP WARMTH All social classes wore the same style clothes, but the rich used better quality materials.

Shoes: Mostly made from goatskin with a hard leather or wooden sole were secured with a strap or buckle. In the winter, fur lined boots and leggings were worn for extra warmth.

Brooches and jewellery: Both women and men wore heavily decorate brooches to fasten their capes. These were usually worn by noblemen and women. Vikings from all classes liked to wear ornate accessories like buckles with their clothing. The rich adorned themselves in fine jewellery; for example an armband with the ornately carved head of a dragon on the end. Most Viking jewellery was either imported or stolen.

National Geographic February issue, a very reliable source, considering it is a world known and highly respected publication.

Infrastructure: forts, houses and grave ships

Infrastructure such as forts and houses are crucial for us to learn about vikings and their daily life. The ruins found in the northern atlantic have given archaeologists insight to viking living standards.

Forts: They could be circular or Trelleborg-style (also known as a ring fort). They were used for defensive or business and trade purposes.

Longhouses: Had room for additional storage as well as space to eat and sleep. They were made from a vast variety of materials such as wood, stone and turf.

Grave ships: High ranking men and women could sometimes be afforded a grave ship, which included the entombing of weapons, jewellery, fine clothing and sometimes sacrificial animals.

National Geographic February issue, a very reliable source, considering it is a world known and highly respected publication.

Sea Life

Vikings were seafarers. The sea was a source of food, a trade route, and a transportation method. Evidence of this is viking longships, and other technology they used at sea such as suncompasses and sunstones.

Longships were revolutionary. They could travel up channels that no other ships could as they had shallow draughts so they could travel in shallow areas. They had oars in case there was no wind or the sails broke, and were very wide so they would not tip over in strong wind or stormy waters. There were many different styles of longships, all with different purposes. A Gosktad ship had 32 oars, and was invented in 895CE. It could travel at 1.15 miles per hour, and was multipurpose.

Vikings also had different kinds of technology that helped them at sea. A sun compass was made of a disc of wood with a protrusion in the centre that was floated in a bucket. Its shadow helped the longships maintain a constant direction when sailing by finding north and south. Another piece of technology was a sunstone, made from a transparent variety of calcite. When it was a cloudy day, the stone would be held up to the sky and would show where the sun was. This would help determine east and west.

Source: National Geographic February issue, a very reliable source, considering it is a world known and highly respected publication.

Religion

Vikings believed the universe was shaped like a tree, and that our life decides whether or not we will go to asgard or hel. They WORSHIPPED A NUMBER OF norSe GODS AND GODDESSES, EACH WITH THEIR DIFFERENT PURPOSES.

Asgard: The home of the æsir gods, and split into many territories such as Valhalla, the great hall where the mighty god, Odin, housed those he deemed worthy of living with him. In this hall, there was a huge feast as well as a battle which lasted for all of eternity.

Midguard: The home of humans. Midgard was the inhabited world where a person's life was the deciding factor on if they went to asguard or one of the seven hells.

Hel: Was pronounced like 'hell' and was ruled over by a goddess of the same name. People were believed to spend their time doing the same things that they normally did: eating, drinking, fighting and sleeping. It wasn’t a place of eternal bliss, but it wasn't a place of eternal torture either. it was simply a continuation of life.

Source:Hel(the underworld) n.d., Norse mythology for smart people, accessed 26 March 2017, <http://norse-mythology.org/cosmology/the-nine-worlds/helheim/>.

A reliable source because of its references to authentic Viking texts and scripts.

Leisure Activities

By reading various Viking sagas, archaeologists have discovered that viking life was not without leisure

Many physical activities were violent and a show of manliness or strength. According to written accounts, the ideal man was strong and skilful. Games were a part of training to raid villages and go to battle.

While physical strength was a valued aspect in viking culture, board games were also a leisure activity. Game pieces were found in ancient ship wrecks, suggesting they played to kill time at sea. In Viking sagas, nobles were described as having played board games, implying it might have been a popular aspect of viking life. Games like this required thinking capacity and problem solving skills, possibly also used in battle.

While men played physical and board games, women watched; but there were games that they played too, like drinking games. Vikings loved to party, so these types of competitions were not uncommon.

Source: How Vikings Killed Time n.d., ScienceNordic, accessed 25 March 2017, <http://sciencenordic.com/how-vikings-killed-time>.

A reliable source, as it was written by the well known archaeologist Leszek Gardela.

Viking Women and Children

Women baked bread, spun and weaved wool into thread and then cloth, and looked after their husbands and children. Although some women in the Middle Ages had no rights, viking women did. If a woman was abused by her husband she would be able to arrange a divorce and her ex-husband would be punished.

There is very little evidence suggesting that children went to school, but instead they must have learned the ways of their parents; girls learnt to cook and clean, boys learnt to fight, raid and go to war.

Vikings: Family Life n.d., BBC, accessed 25 March 2017, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/family_life/>.

To Conclude...

From the information represented above, Vikings were not just bloodthirsty savages. They had a far more sensitive side; they traded far and wide, played board games and used their resources like the sea to their full potential. Vikings adapted to their cold living environment and dressed accordingly, showing that they were intelligent and progressive people.

Credits:

Created with images by Ylvers - "styggkärret reserve burning" • nick_russill - "Icebergs in Greenland" • Moyan_Brenn - "Iceland" • Pia1973 - "greenland sunset by the water" • D-Stanley - "Wooden Homes" • Jack_IOM - "_MG_0058" • corsi photo - "Scenery, Kelheim" • nick_russill - "Northern Lights, Kulusuk" • ThoKi2025 - "stave church norway back light" • LarsBorris - "viking burial stone" • federicoghedini - "viking park vikings denmark"

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