Misconceptions About the Vikings That Last for Decades

Posted by Ms Elly on

Misconceptions About the Vikings That Last for Decades 

Viking warrior is so excellent inspiration for the writers and artists to produce their art. But things start to go wrong when they focus too much on attracting more viewers. This means they have to create some kind of men based on the Vikings, yet these men are not the historical Vikings. By far, there have been many misconceptions about the Viking Age. Below are 9 Misconceptions about the Viking that become a universal yet wrong image about the Viking warriors. 

All the Vikings were filthy and wild-looking

As we can see from many sources on media, they depict the Viking men in dark clothes and filthy faces. In reality, the Vikings were not. Back to then, the Vikings loved wearing colorful clothes yet not all of the Vikings could afford it. Red and blue were their favorite colors and they were extremely expensive and time-consuming to produce. 

The Vikings were not filthy

The Vikings were not filthy. Rather, they were pretty hygienic compared with other tribes of the same period. 

The archaeological evidence pointed out that the most common artifacts found in Viking graves were combs, razors, and tweezers. The Vikings were listed among the cleanest tribe back to the Medieval times. They bathed once a week and despised sharing their washing water with others. 

Viking warriors drank with skull cups

That the Vikings were savage raiders was needless to say. But they didn't drink anything from the skull cups. A skull cup was a drinking vessel made from a human skull. However, no archaeological evidence confirmed that the Vikings had skull cups. 

The Vikings didn't use the skull cups to drink

The Vikings didn't drink anything from the skull cup

The Vikings were 100% Scandinavian

The Viking warriors did originate from the Scandinavian countries. But only a small portion of them took on raiding. 

Over time, when they piled up experience in raiding and voyaging, the Vikings started to reach and settle down in Russia, North America, Africa, etc. And back to the Viking Age, only some tribes and clans in Scandinavia were at wars with each other. 

No horned helmet for battle

Horned helmets looked cool but they were not historically accurate. The horned helmet was brought the public by a 19th-century opera work that made the horned helmet viral. However, no archaeological evidence showed that the Vikings had the horned helmet. The only horned thing that the Vikings had was the drinking horn. However, the drinking horn was not the common cups for the Vikings. It just appeared in the royal feasts or picture stones only.

Viking horned helmet was not historically accurate

Regarding the horned helmet, it was impractical for a warrior to wear a horned helmet to join the battle. Although it could intimidate their enemies, it increased the risk of being stuck to the tree or being held back by the weapons of the enemies. Overall, the horned helmet for battle was not practical. 

Vikings were a unified army

It was not historically accurate that the Vikings were a unified army. The Vikings were just warriors, traders, and merchants living under the rule of the chieftains. Kings only appeared in the later time of Viking Age. Scandinavian regions back then were scattered pieces of land. Only some were known as the Viking king who unified clans together. For example, King Harald Bluetooth was famous for unifying the Danes under a banner. Yet, he didn't possess all Norwegian territory and only had power over limited regions. 

The Vikings were huge and blonde

Back to the Viking Age, the average height of the Vikings was 170cm (5.6ft) which was not considered to be high in their time. And their hair was not naturally blonde. They loved blonde hair and set it for the beauty standard of their society. Some of them bleached their hair. 

Viking weapons were crude 

The common belief was that the Viking weapons were crude. Archaeological evidence debunked this belief pointing out that the Viking weapons were not crude. Rather, they were quite sophisticated. While the axe didn't take them much time and money to create, the sword did. Prior to the 9th century, the Vikings produced their sword with the techniques of pattern wielding which demanded the smiths to forge pieces of metal together until they could produce a long sword. 

Another example was the Viking Mammen axe one of the most beautiful Viking artifacts ever excavated. It was inlaid with silver and gold as well as decorated with bird and floral patterns. 

The Vikings were buried in the dolmen

The truth was that the Vikings from high social rank were buried with ships. This reasoned why we could excavate Oseberg ship and Gokstad ship with remains of Viking warriors inside. Only those from the wealthy family could afford such type of luxurious burial. Other normal people in the Viking Age could also be buried with the stones shaped like a boat. 

Viking ship Viking Oseberg ship in the museum. The Vikings buried the wealthy and noble figures with their ship which was believed to bring the Vikings to the better afterlife

The Vikings spent their time raiding and plundering

It was true that some Vikings took up the life of seafaring warriors. However, those only dominated a small portion. The majority of the Vikings were the farmers who dedicated their time and labor on the field with grains and cattle. 

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