The Vikings were such fascinating people, and they have shaped so much of our culture, history, and mythology. Entering the scene after the Anglo-Saxons, these Scandinavian sea warriors were known as vicious fighters and were actually much more advanced than people first thought. There is a lot we know, or assume we know, about the Vikings, but there is also plenty that remains a mystery.
We know that the folklore of these guys has made its way into film, television, and literature. But, we also know that the history books tell us how important the Vikings were to historical evolution. Prevalent in the 10th and 11th Century, Vikings were known for pillaging coastal towns, but these are some of the things you never knew about the Vikings.
They didn’t wear horned helmets
In almost all portrayals and depictions of Vikings, we know them to have worn horned helmets. In fact, horned helmets have become a synonymous part of the culture and mythology associated with Vikings. Which is peculiar, because they never actually wore them. The only authentic Viking helmet that has been unearthed was completely horn-free. Nevertheless, the look became popular among artists and painters depicting Vikings in the 19th Century.
They beat Columbus
Christopher Columbus is widely regarded as the first person to discover (and name) the continent of North America and is a key figure in American culture as a result. Well, it might surprise you to hear that Columbus wasn’t the first; in fact, the Vikings beat him by about 500 years! Apparently, around 1000AD, the Vikings are thought to have landed on what is now Canada. Norse explorer Leif Eriksen briefly colonized a part of North America he named Vinland, and it’s thought the Norse Vikings may have traveled further into the continent than we first thought.
They had excellent hygiene
Due to their pillaging of towns and cities, and their fearsome reputation, it was thought that Vikings were very primitive and unclean. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth; the Vikings were actually known to have excellent hygiene. Viking men were thought to have bathed at least twice a day and groomed themselves well. Excavations of Viking sites have even revealed amazing discoveries, such as combs, tweezers, and razors! These guys definitely went all out to make sure they looked great.
From what we know about the Vikings, it would be easy to assume that they just took what they want after plundering from others. But, it is well-known that they were active traders, and enjoyed a good relationship with other nations and people. As keen farmers, they had crops to barter with, and they are known to have been active in the slave trade scene as well! They worked as international merchants and built up an impressive and lucrative trade network.
Well, we bet you didn’t know these things about the Vikings, did you? You probably thought they were just a bunch of savages who sailed to other lands, killed people, and took what they wanted. In fact, the Vikings were actually pretty civilized, and there is evidence that few of them were warriors. Now you can impress your friends and colleagues with your encyclopedic knowledge of the Vikings – you’re welcome!