Vikings: Farmers, Traders, and Great Builders of Their Times

Posted by Ms Elly on

Vikings: Farmers, Traders, and Great Builders of Their Times

Do many of us truly understand how life was in the Viking Age? Are some books and TV show historically correct? Or they are merely "written by the victors"? Indeed, history is forever written by the victors and framed according to the prejudices and bias existing on their side. The Vikings, as far as I'm concerned, are greater than what depicted on TV shows. They were farmers, traders, and even some were great builders. 


Believe it or not, the majority of the Vikings were farmers. While the Viking men worked on farms, their wives would stay at homes and run family. They grew crops such as barley, oats and rye and kept cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and horse. They lived in timber house. Many generations lived together and some families even allowed slaves and cattle to live with them. 

Viking farmers
The Vikings were the farmers

Seemingly, life was pretty much peaceful. Being the farmers, winters were the most awful thing that the Vikings had to encounter. Because their main source of food came from their crops. And no sun, no crops, and no life. Coincidentally, Ragnarok - the most unwanted event in Norse mythology, happened when the three consecutive winters befell Norse Worlds. 

But when the Vikings became overpopulated, they started finding new lands. That's reason why the Vikings started voyaging. 


The Vikings travelled to many places, more than what are written in history. Because we can see the Viking influence in languages and many places. Several artifacts found in Viking graves. For example, archaeologists once found the buddha statue inside the Helgo treasure. The statue seemed to be preserved very carefully when the archaeologists found it beneath the land. This Buddha Statue even appeared on a Swedish stamp to commemorate the Vikings. 

Buddha statue in Helgo
Buddha statue in Helgo treasure 

Another artifact was a Allah-patterned cloth found inside the Viking grave. The archaeologists claimed that it was a part of the funeral clothing of the deceased inside. At that time, when hitting the headlines, this news excited a lot of Viking enthusiasts.


No stone forts like the Christians, the Vikings built forts in their own way. The Viking forts can be known as the Viking ring forts or the trelleborg. Although by far, there have been only seven or eight forts found on Earth, they could prove how talented the Vikings were. 

According to the historians, the Vikings learnt this building techniques from another tribe. But it turned out to be that they mastered it. They built their own forts which were considered to be the most geometrically perfect. That's why we can call it "ring". As round as a ring. 

Viking trelleborg
Viking trelleborg seen from above 

Not only the forts, the Vikings mastered at building their own ships. Viking ships must have been the reasons that made their name famous. Not only did the Vikings build their ship to travel, but they also showed off their carving skills on the ships. These patterns once became a Viking historic style. For example, the Oseberg ship - the most beautifully carved Viking ship ever found on Earth - carries on herself the Oseberg pattern. Although she was not famous for travelling across the sea, the patterns made herself famous. A look at the ship can explain why I call the Vikings great builders. 

Viking Oseberg patterns
Viking Oseberg patterns 

Some might not agree with the viewpoint that history is written by the victors. But I bet we cannot disagree that books and TV shows always exaggerate things. Without making a mountain out of a molehill, they cannot become "best selling" ones. I have been spending my time listening to many people saying that the Vikings were the most brutal in the medieval times. Were they really brutal? Or they were just the fighters when some other non-Vikings came to their ancestral lands to claim what had belonged to the Vikings for centuries? Or they were just the offspring who truly wanted to protect their own belief and mental pathways?

If we put all of the historic stuffs asides, we will see how great the Vikings lived their life. They learnt like Odin once learnt They fought like Thor once did. They loved their ancestors and offspring like Frigg once loved her son. They were cunning as Loki. And after all, they sacrificed as heroes like Tyr. 

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