The Truth About Vikings: 15 Wild Fun Viking Facts
Whether you're a fan of vikings or have a passing interest in these marauders, there's something for everyone!
Do you love Norse warriors? Do you love trivia and history? Wow. You're at the right place!
1. VIKINGS DIDN'T HAVE HORNS ON THEIR HELMETS
There's no historical evidence to suggest that the warriors decorated their helmets with animal horns. The reason we imagine this type of headgear is thanks to Carl Emil Doepler, who designed costumes for a production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in 1876.
Historians reckon that if Vikings wore helmets at all, they were more likely to be made of leather.
2. VIKING MEANS 'PIRATE RAID'
The word was used in Scandavian language called Old Norse. Historians say that Vikings didn't walk around calling themselves Vikings, even though they totally were. The Viking Age began in 793 AD, when a monastery on Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland was raided by you know who...
3. MANY VIKINGS WEREN'T SO... VIKING-Y.
Many were actually peaceful people, who were more interested in farming and swapping crafts with people in other countries.
4. VIKINGS WOULD SAIL THOUSANDS OF MILES TO ATTACK OTHER COUNTRIES
They sailed in longboats, which were powered by oars and, if they were lucky, windy weather. We all know they arrived in Britain – just look at the Jarrow Vikings amateur rugby team – but went as far as Italy, Iraq, Spain and North America.
5. A VIKING ARRIVED IN NORTH AMERICA BEFORE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS!
His name was Leif Erikson and came from Iceland. His dad, Erik the Red, set up a Viking settlement in Greenland. A family of globetrotters, then. We're not sure if he took any souvenirs back home to his marauding pals.
6. VIKINGS HAD SET MEALTIMES
They would eat a meal called dagmal in the morning and finish off a busy day with an evening meal called nattmal. No Viking snacks, it seems!
7. VIKING LETTERS ARE CALLED 'RUNES'
Vikings used runic letter called 'futhark', which is named after the first sounds of their alphabet: f, u, th, a, r, and k! It looks mysterious, basically because we've not learned what each letter means, to be fair.
8. VIKINGS DYED THEIR HAIR AND BEARDS BLOND!
Blond Vikings were regarded as blam, so to get their look salon-fresh, they would use lye – a paste obtained from wood ashes – and slap it on their hair. The men would also use ashes to smear around their eyes to protect them from the sun's glare on snowy days. They basically looked like a heavy metal band from the 1980s. Röck and röll!
9. IN NORSE MYTHOLOGY, ODIN HAD TWO RAVEN SIDEKICKS...
They were called Huginn and Muninn, and flew around and spied on stuff. Then they reported back to Odin, who we assume could speak... raven?
10. THESE NORSE WARRIORS WOULD ALSO DO A SPOT OF FARMING
Vikings had to grow their own food, so planted things like wheat, oats and barley. They also planted vegetables and kept animals on their land. People didn't just farm – they would make things out of iron, like swords, or create jewellery and accessories out of leather.
11. VIKINGS DIDN'T GO TO SCHOOL!
They learned how to farm and make things, and when they were old enough, they were probably given a shield or something. No school sounds fun, right? Wrong!
No school holidays, that's why. Plus they missed out on the chance to learn lots of cool things on school trips. It's no wonder they were so keen on invading and shouting.
12. VIKINGS WOULD SKI FOR A LAUGH!
When not rampaging around Europe, Vikings would often take to snowy hills and mountains for a bit of skiing. They even had a god of winter fun, called Ullr.
We don't have photos of Vikings bombing down the slops, so here's a modern picture instead. Imagine he's called Erik Longboat or something.
13. NAMED DAYS OF THE WEEK? YOU CAN THANK THE VIKINGS FOR THAT...
Vikings named the days of the week after their gods. We'll list the days and we'll see if you can work out which one day is which is which. Top tip: -dagr is 'day' and Þ is a 'th' sound. Ready? Mánadagr, Tysdagr, Óðinsdagr, Þórsdagr, Frjádagr, Laugardag, and Sunnudagr.
14. THE VIKING AGE ENDED IN 1066!
Which, of course, was the last time England men's team won the World Cup. LOL! Seriously though, we mean the year of the Battle of Hastings, which didn't even take place in Hastings. Long story short, the Vikings were led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and they attempted to invade England. They were defeated by the English and that, as historians say, was that. No more questions (for now).
15. THERE ARE NO ACTUAL VIKINGS IN THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS NFL TEAM!
We felt that was just worth pointing out. The viking on their logo has horns on his helmet. Should anyone tell them? Perhaps not.