View Full Version : Myths About the Vikings

Saturday, October 25th, 2008, 09:25 PM
Vikings Preferred Male Grooming to Pillaging

But Cambridge University has launched a campaign to recast them as "new men" with an interest in grooming, fashion and poetry.

Academics claim that the old stereotype is damaging, and want teenagers to be more appreciative of the Vikings' social and cultural impact on Britain.

They say that the Norse explorers, far from being obsessed with fighting and drinking, were a largely-peaceful race who were even criticised for being too hygienic.

The university's department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic has published a guide revealing how much of the Vikings' history has been misrepresented.

They did not, in fact, wear horned or winged helmets. And they appear to have been a vain race who were concerned about their appearance.

"It seems that the Vikings may not have been as hairy and dirty as is commonly imagined," the guide says.

"A medieval chronicler, John of Wallingford, talking about the eleventh century, complained that the Danes were too clean - they combed their hair every day, washed every Saturday, and changed their clothes regularly."

The guide reveals that Norsemen were also stylish trend-setters: "Contemporaries who met individual Vikings were struck by the extreme bagginess of their trousers.

"A tenth-century Persian explorer described trousers (of Vikings in Russia) that were made of one hundred cubits of material, and a number of runestones depict warriors with flared breeches."

The traditional view of the Vikings as "illiterate warring thugs" exaggerates considerably the reality of their life, the academics argue.

"Although Norse men and women may have sometimes liked fighting and drinking, and were sometimes buried with weapons, they also spent much of their time in peaceful activities such as farming, building, writing and illustrating."

The guide points out that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a contemporary list of notable events beginning in the ninth century and running through to the twelfth, records some battles, but not for every year.

"Life can't have been as violent as we sometimes like to imagine," it adds.

Dr Elizabeth Rowe, a Viking expert and lecturer in Scandinavian mediaeval history at the university, said it was important that children should not picture the Norse warriors as an aggressive race, preoccupied with raping and looting.

"Many British children are quite likely to have Viking ancestry and we want to make them think about the reality of their past," she said.

"It's damaging to think that they were simply a violent society, and easy to undermine them as a people who have no redeeming qualities.

"The truth is that their culture was very artistic and they were keen to make an impression because they want to cultivate a certain look. They were very concerned about their appearance."

The first burial ground of Viking origin in Britain was located only four years ago. Discoveries at the site have challenged the romanticised picture of a noble savage race, perpetuated most famously in Wagner's operas and Hollywood films.

Archaeologists in Cumbria unearthed the remains of Viking men and women buried with copper brooches, jewellery, and riding gear as well as swords and spears.

Dr Francis Pryor, an archaeologist and regular on the Channel Four series Time Team, said the discovery had shown the Norse warriors to be part of an advanced society.

He said: "Far from the illiterate warring thugs in horned helmets who brought us to new depths of barbarism after landing by boat to sack monasteries and molest women, they were a settled and remarkably civilised people who integrated into community life and joined the property-owning classes."

Source (https://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tele graph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fnewstopics%2Fhowabo utthat%2F3256539%2FVikings-preferred-male-grooming-to-pillaging.html)

Friday, April 24th, 2009, 03:10 PM
And the feminization of western society marches on. Durn durn durn...

Friday, April 24th, 2009, 03:31 PM
"A medieval chronicler, John of Wallingford, talking about the eleventh century, complained that the Danes were too clean - they combed their hair every day, washed every Saturday, and changed their clothes regularly."


I think it is true that the stereotype we have is somewhat incorrect since it puts almost all focus on the Vikings fighting wars and conquering, and being brutal. It's easy to forget that they also probably lead normal, peaceful lives among themselves, took care of their homes, brought up their children, had loving family- and friend relationships and took an interest in clothes and design.

I think those aspects are sometimes totally forgotten since people are so fascinated by the other, more aggressive aspects of their personality and history.

In that sense I think this report, together with what we already know, can give a more complete and less one-sided picture of what they were really like.

Friday, April 24th, 2009, 06:48 PM
This is true in large part, but also Germanic culture was about bravery, self sacrifice, heroism, competition etc.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009, 02:03 PM
Regis Boyer, French specialist in Nordic civilisation, wrote some books about this topic, already in 1992. All of his books and sogür translations are very interesting. I highly recommend.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009, 08:21 PM
I don't see anything wrong with this article other than the author's choice of words in a few places. I guess that's the spin they wanted. Are there any outright lies here?

Vikings did belong to advanced society, they did like their jewlery, they probally took more baths than Saxons if we believe the primary source, we know as a society they enjoyed poetry, winged or horned helms are a myth, etc. The basic facts are correct. I see no harm indended.

This effort might make the study of Germanic history and culture more appealling to a new batch school-age kids, who knows. It shows the complexity and depth of our ancient societies.

There will always be enough fighting and feuding in the sources and "stereo-types" so I don't see the "re-inventors" being able to fully erase it, even if they wanted to. There will always be those of us who are most interested in the more martial aspects of the Viking Age anyhow :thumbup.

No harm done, imo.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009, 09:12 PM
For those of us who have grown up with the Saga of the Norse kings, Edda and the Viking museums sost 5 minutes away these things have been evident all the time.

If you come to Oslo, take an hour or two and visit the vault at the historic museum to study some of the Viking jewelery artwork. You will be blown away over the craftmanship they had back then.

Gold wasn't the most valuable item of viking society though. The most valued thing of all was the sail of the longships. It was considered priceless and it was a capital offense to damage the sail. It took the underwool of 30 000 sheep for 3 years to make such a sail. Imagine the price in today's money for something that time and resource consuming!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009, 12:47 PM
Soon they'll be telling us that Vikings had sexual relations with African (Congoid) Slaves or were ''searching for gold'' on their longboat. Excuse my euphemisms but nothing the media could print would surprise me anymore.

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009, 01:13 PM
I can verify at least the part with the winged and horned helms. It's a myth from the christian medieval/rennaisance era, no (or very few) viking(s) ever wore a horned helmet in combat. Why should they? The vikings were cunning warriors, they used what's PRACTICAL at first. Horned and winged helms existed as decoration in viking halls though.

I agree with Zimobog. Nothing wrong or effeminate with being hygienic or being skilled in various arts.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, 12:57 AM
'Pillaging' Vikings unmasked as eco warriors

THEIR reputation for raping and pillaging may not have set them out as the ideal role-models for an environmentally-friendly way of life.

But it seems that lessons could perhaps be learnt from the Vikings after the intriguing discovery in Yorkshire of what is believed to be a metal recycling centre dating back to the 11th century.

Historians and metal detector enthusiasts have made the find which is being heralded as evidence of how the Norse invaders recycled their fearsome array of weapons.

Read the rest of this article... (http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/39Pillaging39-Vikings-unmasked-as-eco.5875485.jp)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, 09:39 AM
I don't think Eco-warriors would be the right word. Carbon steel and wrought iron were a trading commodity during that time.

They were probably taking any Ferris metals and making what were called currency bars that could be traded to other areas. High carbon steel used in making weapons was very rare during this time and was sometimes worth more than gold or silver. The weapons taken from battle were reforged into bars and made more transportable. This is a clue that the Norse had no intention on staying.

Calling them Eco-warriors is a modern term. Every culture reused iron and steel prior to the invention of the modern blast furnace. Most people have heard of the saying " turning swords into plow shears" or vice versa. I think they used the term incorrectly and as a buzz word. Pre industrial people did recycle as manufacturing new materials was time consuming and costly, not because they cared about the ecosystem.

I am by no account trying to belittle the find. I just think they are going in the wrong direction in trying to preserve the site.:)

Thursday, March 24th, 2016, 12:40 AM
History teaches us that the Vikings were brutal, thieving invaders, but much of that history was written by Viking victims: European monks. New evidence says otherwise. / … The image we have today of the marauding Vikings is both wildly off the mark, and ignores the major contributions they made in shaping Europe during the Middle Ages. That demystification and deep dive into the world of one of history’s most iconic people is the subject of a new book, The Age of the Vikings, by Anders Winroth. Not only are the Vikings completely misunderstood, he argues, but they may have saved Europe.How the Vikings Saved Europe and Got a Terrible Reputation » Full Link (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/17/how-the-vikings-saved-europe-and-got-a-terrible-reputation.html)

Friday, March 25th, 2016, 05:03 PM
Raping and pillaging? Viking conquests were more like 'romantic breaks': DNA reveals warriors brought their women when raiding British Isles
DNA evidence suggests women accompanied men on raiding trips
Study hints men were family-orientated and children may have come too
Women played helped to establish new settlements, trade and had children
Study questions stereotype of raping and pillaging warriors
Experts from University of Oslo say that male warriors didn’t collect female slaves on the way from Ireland, as previously suggestedA study has shed light on the importance of women in the colonisation of the British Isles in the Middle Ages, suggesting that Viking men were family-orientated and not as blood-thirsty as previously thought.

Researchers from the University of Oslo have revealed that ‘significant’ numbers of women accompanied Viking men when they sailed to places like the Scottish mainland in longboats.
Their study contradicts the popular notion that raiding parties only comprised men, who were intent on raping and pillaging new territories, The Independent reported.

In fact, experts think whole families may have travelled on the iconic boats to form instant communities on newly-conquered lands.

They analysed DNA extracted from 45 Viking skeletons discovered in Norway, to discoverer that women played an integral part in establishing settlements in Britain, for example.

Professor Eriks Hagelberg, of the university, said the inclusion of women on the trips meant that Vikings could have children and spread more quickly across the northern seas, establishing communities.

‘It seems to support the view that a significant number of women were involved in the settlement of the smaller isles, which overrules the idea that it just involved raping and pillaging by males going on the rampage,’ he said.

The expert conceded that it is true that Vikings did have sex with local women, but the DNA evidence studied indicates that Norse women were at the heart of new communities set up in the Viking colonies.

She told LiveScience that Viking women established settlements and grew crops, and ‘trade was very, very important'.

The study contradicts one of the theories as to why the Viking launched raids: that there were not enough women at home, she added.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2865229/Raping-pillaging-Viking-conquests-like-romantic-breaks-DNA-reveals-warriors-brought-women-raiding-British-Isles.html#ixzz43w31JDd6

Friday, March 25th, 2016, 05:27 PM
The truth about Vikings: Not the smelly barbarians of legend but silk-clad, blinged-up culture vultures

A stunning new exhibition at the British Museum is redrawing the cartoon caricature of these 'Scandinavian savages' to reveal them in a fascinating new light

They were a contradictory bunch – shameless raiders yet shrewd traders; pagans yet culture vultures; smelly soap-dodgers who hated messy hair; and testosterone-fuelled warriors who believed girl-power won their battles.

And the look? Well, forget Conan the Barbarian, think Johnny Rotten crossed with Captain Jack Sparrow but with Jay-Z’s jewellery and MC Hammer’s trousers.

We should also banish the idea of bearskins, matted whiskers and shell necklaces. It seems they were more into silk cloaks, groomed beards and bling.

“And they were very much into their bling – sheer ostentatious showing-off.”

“They displayed their wealth and status by wearing ridiculously-impractical clothing, jewellery and weapons, and eating in style. I defy anyone to look at the beautifully crafted artefacts in the exhibition and tell me these were barbarians.

The Vikings were the original social rebels – the punks or Hells Angels of the years 800-1050. But before anyone goes soft on them, Gareth adds:

“They weren’t fluffy bunnies. They were pirates and raiders, that’s what ‘viking’ means. They were slave traders and brutal warriors.”

“But,” says Gareth, “they were also peaceful and successful traders who brought ideas on economic systems, religious thought, literacy and art from the countries they reached.”

Thanks to their powerful longships, the Viking stomping ground stretched from Constantinople and Russia in the east, across to Greenland and North America, and covered the British Isles, France, Spain and the Mediterranean.

They traded amber, whale bone, furs, weapons, wine and jewellery. But whether raiding or trading, the Vikings had to look dapper. Gareth says: “They wore big metal bracelets of set weights – decorative and ostentatious but practical because everyone knew their value.

The Vikings may not have smelled good, a contemporary chronicler called them “the filthiest of God’s creatures, never washing themselves”, but hair was another matter.

“They took their grooming very seriously and combs are one of the commonest grave finds,” Gareth explains.

Their solid-gold toiletry sets included delicate ear spoons for scooping out wax. The men also used a kohl-like eyeliner – “think Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean,” says Gareth.

Viking men were also heavily tattooed but their most striking and fearsome fashion statement was their gnashers.

They would file horizontal lines into the enamel on their front teeth and paint in red resin.

Another myth about Vikings is that of the “berserkir” or berserker warriors, from which we get the expression “going berserk”.

They were said to have worked themselves up into a feel-no-pain frenzy with the help of henbane, a hallucinogenic plant.

But while shape-shifting was a Viking belief, Gareth thinks they were just high on adrenaline, carrying bear claw charms and showing bear-like ferocity – rather than actually being bare.

The Vikings believed in Valkyries – terrifying female spirits of war – however, Gareth is not convinced there were female soldiers. He thinks the weapons may have been heirlooms buried with the last in a family line.

But Viking women were quite independent. They could own their own property and controlled the purse-strings in the marital home.


Friday, March 25th, 2016, 05:39 PM
The Vikings: it wasn't all raping and pillaging

New research suggests they were model immigrants who co-existed peacefully with the natives

Scholars will argue that they should be seen as an early example of immigrants who were successfully assimilated into British and Irish culture. Their so-called "invasion" led, to some extent, to the creation of trans-national identities, a process that has particular relevance to modern Britain.

Some Viking kings learnt to speak English, Welsh and Irish as well as Latin, the language of the elite in Britain, and adopted Anglo-Saxon names.

One king who settled in Ireland was honoured with "praise" poetry dedicated to his rule by the indigenous community. The Viking kings of Dublin, said Dr Ní Mhaonaigh, became a very active element of the city's political scene.

"What is clear is that the popular picture of Vikings is not quite as it seems, and when viewing their long-term presence, it is quite untrue. The communities were mutually transformed in the process. Of course, there was plundering and pillaging, but those who started to build camps and started to settle began interacting in a very different way," she said.

Over the centuries the importance of this cross-fertilisation was overshadowed by a skewed mythology of the Viking age that was created by 12th and 13th century Irish chroniclers and poets long after the Scandinavians' golden era had ended. A host of poems and prose narrative emerged which depicted the Vikings as "otherworldly beings" who came and stream-rollered across the cultural terrain of the British Isles.

These Irish writers went to great lengths to "extol the virtues of their Celtic ancestors who had fended off the Vikings", and so circulated this mythology of the maurading invader. It is only now, in recent decades, that academics have begun to unpick the stereotype and reveal an altogether different story.


Friday, March 25th, 2016, 06:21 PM
After the Christianization came to the Danish borders the 'i viking' started. That means the raiding of christian lands, especially France (invading it and having their own kingdom there) and as well in christian Britain (most missionaries came for England and Ireland), being colonized by heathens and later skandinavians the hostile way. Also Ireland was invaded and colonized by skandinavians.

That christian monks, who could write, chronicled the skandinavians in a very unfavorable and unhuman (for them unchristian) way is only understandable.

That the slandering of heathen viking was a main interest of christians to make sure everyone is against the heathen raiders.

That christian did the same everywhere else was of course blindsided and not talked about, especially not in negative terms.

So we see heathen vikings today through the eyes of hostile christians.

That heathen lived a different reality as those in a monastery is selfevident.

monks also considered ordinary christians as lower than them and are not really favorably chronicling them.

All documents and chronicles have been destroyed by christians/monks and replaced with forged copies to give a positive image of christians and their missionaries.

So what should read history from christians, reporting heathen, with a grain of salt.