The Vikings Were Pretty Hygienic In Viking Age

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Vikings Were Pretty Hygienic In Viking Age 

Believe it or not, the Vikings, both men and women, were pretty hygienic back to the Viking Age. 

People in any region cared about their appearance but it didn't mean they pay attention to their personal smell and hygiene. For the Vikings, their appearance mattered and so did their hygiene. Proof? In the Viking Age, to badly insult the Vikings in their time, call them ugly. 

In the modern adaptations of the Vikings, we often catch sight of a filthy man with almost perfect shape. The only thing that comes to our mind when we see that Viking man is if only he could take a bath. The filthiness according to some writers would help the characters look more awesome. Indeed, it does help to buff the characters. But it also helps to distort the historical truth. 

The Vikings were clean 

In some accounts from which we have the knowledge about the Viking Age, the Vikings would comb their hair every single day. They would change their clothes frequently and took a bath every Saturday. 

The Vikings would never share the same bathing or washing tub, even if it was used to wash their hands only. The Icelandic Vikings even made use of the volcanic springs where they could bathe and relax.

Well, these activities of the Vikings might be nowhere to compare with ours in the modern time. But back to their age, they definitely beat other tribes in the contest of hygiene. 

According to the archaeologists, the most common artifacts that they usually discover inside the Viking grave are combs, tweezers, nail scissors, toothpicks, and even little spoons for ear care. 

Viking artifact dated back to the Viking Age

Viking combs are the most commonly found artifact in Viking excavation

Viking personal ear care

Viking personal ear care

In the saga of Harald Fairhair the King of Norway, he swore not to comb his hair until he had conquered Norway. The context was that Harald was a petty king, he wanted to marry the neighboring princess who refused his proposal. The princess said that she deserved someone better and she only married the King of Norway. Harald wasn't angry with these words. He decided that he had to conquer all tribes in Norway and would marry this princess someday. There he vowed not to comb their hair until the day he became the King of Norway. About ten years, he never combed his hair but every effort paid off. The day he cut and combed his hair, Harald earned the nickname "Fairhair" and won the heart of the neighboring princess. 

Combed and washed

shall the wise man go

Meanwhile in other parts of Europe?

According to some literary texts, the Christian monks seldom took a bath, once or twice a year. For example, St Fintan of Clonenagh was believed to have taken a bath once a year, before Easter, for 24 years. These men believed that cleaning their body meant they refused the holiness of their God. So no bath meant holiness. 

A text from Medival Europe wrote that:

A man should not go into the steam bath after a meal, unless he wants to become fat.

A man should also not eat at the time when he comes out of the steam bath, but rather wait for a good while after.

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