For over two centuries, the Vikings dominated the seas of Northern Europe during the era that we now call the Viking Age. Whether you’re fond of the Vikings or you just simply want to impress your friends by providing them with a few tidbits about these legendary warriors, then you have come to the right page. In this article, I will take you through 10 fascinating facts about the Vikings that will capture your imagination.
Facts about Vikings
1. Viking is an Old Norse word for Pirate Raid
Vikings refer to the seafaring people from Scandinavia who raided, traded, and settled throughout Europe from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries. The word “Viking” means “pirate raid” in Old Norse which was the language spoken in all of Scandinavia during the Viking Age.
2. The Vikings landed in the Americas 500 years before Columbus
Leif Erikson, the son of Erik the Red who was the founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland, made a name for himself when he discovered the “New World” sometime between 990 to 1050 CE. He then established a Norse settlement in what they called Vinland, which could be located in modern-day Newfoundland, Canada.
3. Much of what we know about the Vikings is based on the Icelandic Sagas
The Vikings didn’t believe in the idea of record-keeping and much of what we know about them was from the Icelandic Sagas that were written based on oral traditions. There are also other accounts that were written down by people from the lands that they raided but most of these accounts are unfairly prejudiced against the Vikings.
4. Vikings did not wear horned helmets
There is no artifact or any historical evidence that would prove that the Vikings ever wore horned helmets. It is just more likely that the accounts of those people from the lands that the Vikings raided painted an inaccurate description of them. In fact, it is even possible that the Vikings did not wear any helmet at all.
5. The longship was the most iconic and influential Viking ship adopted by many cultures
Vikings were popularly known as master shipbuilders, and they built a plethora of ships in many shapes and sizes all throughout the Viking age. However, their longship is by far, the most iconic and influential for it was copied by many different cultures for centuries.
6. The Vikings travel to Uppsala, Sweden every (nine) 9 years to offer 9 (nine) human sacrifices to the gods
The Vikings travel to Uppsala to honor Odin and to ensure bounty or victory for the next (nine) 9 years. Before their travel, they would prepare their sacrifices and then carry out the ritual in the temple in Uppsala.
7. The Blood Eagle Ritual was the Viking’s most cruel Method of Execution
The Blood Eagle Ritual was performed by placing the victim in a prone position, then using a sharp tool, the victim’s ribs, lungs, and intestines were then pulled out to form a pair of wings. It is believed to be the most painful method of execution done by the Vikings because the ritual had to be carried out while the victim was still alive. Sacrifice, punishment, or revenge are the main reasons why the blood eagle ritual was performed. Some accounts state that the ritual offers the last chance for a dishonorable individual to enter Valhalla.
8. The Vikings had their own version of the Undead
Vikings believed that buried corpses would be animated again in their graves and turn into draugr or draug to guard the treasures that were buried with them. Once the dead turns into a draugr, it could return back to its home and infect everyone who crosses its path. To prevent this, the Vikings would tear open a hole in their home for the corpse to pass and then cover it back in order to close the draugr’s only entrance.
9. The Vikings introduced the word berserk or berserker
Berserk is an English word that means out of control with anger while the word berserker refers to the ancient Norse warrior who fights in a trance-like fury. These words were from the Old Norse language and berserkers were real warriors who were considered the most elite in the Viking ranks.
10. Most of the Vikings are Farmers
The Vikings may be popular for their pillages and raids, but they were not all raiders. Most of the Vikings were actually farmers who sought to settle in a place where they could peacefully farm. There are also some who travel to engage in trade and bring goods back to Scandinavia.
The Vikings are simply astonishing but which of these facts astounded you the most? Let us know by dropping your comments down below.