Viking Women Warriors
The modern remakes of Viking stories usually revolve around the brave Viking men warriors, don't they? Even though people are debating the historical existence of Viking women warriors, we definitely have them in our legendary sagas.
The Viking women warriors were also known as the Shieldmaidens. These Viking Shieldmaidens were described as the ones who dressed themselves to look like Viking men warriors and what they focused the most in their life was their devotion to the war that they joined. In many illustrations these days, the shieldmaidens wore iron mail, hands holding shield and swords, armed to the teeth generally.
Viking Shieldmaiden Lagertha
They were as powerful as the Viking men warriors, some even much mightier. The most famous shieldmaidens in surviving materials must be Lagertha. This shieldmaiden was the wife of the Viking hero Ragnar Lothbrok. In the tales, Ragnar fell for Lagertha for her bravery and great skills. She then took part in many battles alongside with her husband Ragnar and the Viking army. She even stood in front of the lines of the bravest Viking men warriors with her blonde hair loose over her shoulders.
Lagertha and Ragnar Lothbrok
As far as we know, the shieldmaidens and the Valkyries in Norse myth had things in common. The Valkyries appeared in battles only to choose who would die and who would live. And they Viking women warriors did, too (of course there were times they lost their battles).
However, there was evidence that showed us the Viking women did take part in the battles and got an honorable death in the Viking sense. Hjalmar Stolpe discovered a grave in the late 1800s. This grave was located in Birka, an important Viking trading center dating back to 10th century. The dead in the grave was placed with things like two horses, sword, shield, axe, and arrows. This indicated the dead in the grave devoted life to the battles and achieved certain fame and wealth when living. The joy of this discovery overwhelmed the careful look at the skeleton. Until nearly one century later, Anna Kjellstorm happened to re-study the skeleton. She found out that the cheek and hipbones of this skeleton resembled a woman more than a man. The study from DNA extracted from the body showed that the dead was likely to be a woman.
Whether the shieldmaidens did exist or not doesn't really decrease our love to the stature of shieldmaidens as long as we live with the Viking spirits. If the Viking women warriors existed, we have more things to be proud of. We can be proud of the fact that the Vikings were the most civilized in their age for their respect toward women. If the Viking women warriors existed only in lore, we are still proud of this literal image which inspires the prowess of a woman.