The Vikings: Truth Revealed

When you think of a Viking, you most likely think of some buff dude with long hair from Scandinavia, carrying an axe.  Such is the portrayal of these people in today’s popular culture.  However, a lot of what has morphed into today’s Viking is not necessarily the most authentic picture.  So, let’s take a moment to sift fact from fiction.

One of the attributes Vikings take a good deal of flak for is being extremely bloodthirsty and severely cruel.  Media definitely hasn’t helped the cause, but contrary to popular belief, these guys weren’t any more violent and brutal than any other civilization of their day.  In fact, Christian armies of the time may actually take the prize here!  Take the Viking contemporary, Charlemagne, for example.  He was basically responsible for the genocide of the population of Avars and had many beheaded.  The Vikings, on the other hand, never did anything quite this drastic!  Yes, they were fierce fighters, but not savage brutes!

Viking Warrior Helmet:

Viking Warrior Helmet

Another popular culture perception of Vikings depicts them as being armed with monstrous double0handed battle axes.  Sure, Vikings used axes, but they were single-handed and light weight.  No evidence of double-handed axes in Viking civilization has been dug up.  And more so than axes, support shows that the primary weapon of choice in this era was the spear.  And no doubt other weapons were in play as well.

As far as who comprised of the Viking people group, it tends to be assumed that these crazy cats all inhabited Scandinavia and were their own nation.  You may be interested to know that this is merely myth.  In reality, the Vikings were comprised of merchants, warriors, and explorers separated into various groups and ruled over by a chieftain.  The mix of people consisted of Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes, but was not limited to this.  According to the Old Norse meaning of the word “Viking”, it refers to any individual who takes part in a sea journey.  Thus, Vikings were diverse in their makeup and anyone who joined their expeditions was considered one.

Due to the diverse mix of people in Viking civilization, this dispels the stereotypical image of being big, bulky, and blonde.  For whatever reason, Viking are thought of as tall, but truthfully, documentations shows the average height as being 5’7”.  So, we’re not talking Goliath, but a modest size!  When it comes to blonde hair, this was highly regarded in the Viking age and many men bleached their hair.  However, many people who joined the Viking ranks came from captive slaves and were often Spaniards, French, and Russian to name a few.  Needless to say, Vikings were not homogenous in their appearance and surfaced in all shapes and sizes.

17th Century Viking Battle Axe:

17th Century Viking Battle Axe

And last, but not least, how can we not touch on the horned Viking helmet?  Yeah, it’s a cool look, but sorry to say, this is not a historically accurate representation.  Horned helmets are nowhere to be found in Viking era research.  There is speculation that horned helmet variations may have been used in ritual processions, but this theory lacks concrete support.

By gaining a more accurate view of the Vikings, it is helpful in having a deeper understanding and appreciation for this impactful civilization.  To view our collection of Viking weapons, helmets, and armor, go to http://www.armorvenue.com/.

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