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The Viking way of life and other topics about Vikings. Jack Butler
Were Vikings really wild axe-wielding maniacs with horns on their helmets? They were considered barbarians and devils by every village they plundered because they were a strong and warlike people. They were a successful nomadic civilization that lasted for four hundred years, until being defeated by William Duke of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings in the year 1066.
Eighth century Ninth century Tenth century Eleventh century Areas that were frequently raided by Vikings
Viking territories over the years
Vikings are actually Norse men or “Scandinavians” who originated in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Vikings were known for their lightning fast raids. They used “Longboats”. This was how they traveled so fast and disappeared so swiftly after plundering a village, almost like ghosts. Viking pirates raided sites in Britain, especially undefended monasteries. Though notorious for their fearsome Viking raids, Scandinavians were also farmers, black smiths and craftsmen.
The Viking social structure is very typical of the time, with the richest at the top and the poorest and slaves at the bottom. When the Viking warriors plundered a village they would be rewarded with some of the plunder and artefacts they had stolen. In the heat of battle slaves were taken as battle prizes to be sold or used as labourers.
Chieftain and Wife
Skilled labourers, warriors
Serfs, blacksmiths, craftsmen, freemen
Viking Social Pyramid
Only the rich could afford tapestries like this one.
Viking houses were constructed out of wood and soil and for the roof, straw thatch or wooden shingles. Often the whole house was completely covered in a thick layer of soil. This was used to insulate the house, it helped to keep the heat in and the cold out. These longhouses were big enough to house up to 40 people.
Each family had a private house that was much smaller than the longhouse. The family slept in the main hall of the private house beside the fire pit along with some of the farm stock. When the Vikings had conquered new land or territory any Viking man rich or poor, could claim as much land as he could walk around in 24 hours.
Long house also house of the rich Nobles and Viking Kings
Common Viking house
Wealthy Vikings owned slaves, a huge long house and were usually related to Viking Kings or other Viking Nobles. The rich wore gold, silver and bronze jewellery. Only the wealthy could afford a longboat. These longboats were a vital playing card in the game of ambush! The clothes that were worn by the rich were very colourful and embroidered. Other signs of wealth were gem inlaid daggers, fur coats and. high quality food.
Only the rich or wealthy would be able to afford expensive chain mail and a finely crafted iron helmet. These items were the ticket to success on the battlefield!
The Vikings ate tremendous amounts of food and drank lots of beer and a honey based alcoholic drink called mead. Viking feasts went on for hours sometimes even days. The feasts were held either outside or in the long houses. They celebrated births, funerals and victories. Typical Viking foods included...
• dried fish• dried venison• pork• beef• shell fish• crab• boar• goat• chicken• lamb• horse meat
• eggs• wine• beer• mead• berries• nuts• dried crab apples• dried plums• honey• bread
Viking were very loyal and all of the family members looked after each other, so there were lots of aunts, uncles and cousins around. The mother of the house would make all of the decisions when the father was away. The family would probably own three slaves to help run the house. Viking children did not go to school but were taught by their parents about what they would need later on in life such as fighting and cooking skills.
Family social structure
Vikings usually got married at the age of 17. This is because Vikings died very young. Men died in their thirties and women in their twenties. Men had to pay the father of the bride a large amount of silver in order to marry the daughter. The priest in pagan weddings would bless the new couple with spells to allow them have children. The feast that celebrated the wedding lasted several days. If the couple became Christians they had a church ceremony. After they were married one of them would move their belongings into the home of the other family and live there. If a Viking woman wanted to have a divorce she could by declaring her reasons to the witnesses of her marriage. If a Viking man wanted a divorce all he would have to do was to do the same as the wife, explain why he wanted a divorce in front of the people who witnessed his marriage.
Viking ring found in peat bog
Births were always welcome to a Viking family because it meant the future survival of the family. After the baby was born it was washed by servants and taken to the father. If the father saw that the baby was strong and healthy he sprinkled the baby with holy water and gave it a name. If he saw that the baby was sickly or weak he might have decided that it was not worth rearing. If that was his choice then he would have told a servant to leave the baby somewhere exposed, where it w not survive for long. Vikings celebrated child births with feasts and much drinking.
Viking children did not have a childhood similar to child hood today. Viking children had a very harsh lifestyle. They had to endure the cold harsh weather of Scandinavia. If a child was born into a rich family the child would always have good food and toys to play with along with fur lined clothes to keep him or her warm. If a child was born into a poor family it was completely different story. The child would probably wear rags and go hungry most of its life. He or she would have work for what little money other Vikings would pay for jobs like cutting wood or feeding livestock.
do not go to school learn to fight learn to hunt and forage serve guests at feasts may have a job at the age of 14 sleep around fire serve at banquets and feasts hunt for food may get married as early as 15 build my first sword and construct my first shield learn battle tactics take daily archery lessons eat around fire learn about the gods travel by horse
go to school do not work buy food from shops study for tests eat in house play with friends on the weekend go to swim training play rugby play video games watch TV read books sleep in bed live in a house go on vacation travel by car eat ice cream
My childhood Viking child hood
Viking children did not go to school but were home schooled. They were taught how to fight, to work the land, to respect their elders, how to build houses and longboats and also they learned how to cook. Viking children had to learn which plants you could safely eat and which were poisonous. Viking children's lives were full of play fighting and building up strength for when it may be needed in the battle field or when plundering a village. Children were taught to hunt deer and forage for berries. Viking children were taught to ride horses and to sail. They had to serve food to the men and women who attended feasts, so that they learned to be humble and respectful. If the children did well serving guests they may be paid a silver coin or as a reward.
Aegir – God of beer, gold, hospitality, sea & water.
Freya- God of fertility, prophecy, war, wealth & weather.
Odin - God of death, knowledge, poetry, rune magic, travel, war, warriors, & wisdom.
Thor – God of the life force, lightning, strength, thunder & thunder storms
There were 53 Viking gods. Here are 4 of the most well known...
The Vikings believed in gods for almost everything. They believed that if you died in battle that you would be granted a place in an after life called Valhalla (hall of the dead) for eternity. That was why the Vikings were so bold and fearless in battle. They believed that leaving food outside the main hall for the gods was vital to their success, so they always left a large piece of meat and drink of beer. If the food and drink was gone then the clan or tribe was heading for good luck but if it was still outside the next day it would mean that they would run into trouble.
Above: Vikings created “rune stones” that honoured the god. In the time period that this one was made the runes creators were probably Roman Catholic due to the cross in the middle of the stone
Thor was the Viking god of thunder, rain and farming. Many Viking wore miniature replicas of Mjollnir. This was Thor’s war hammer, his “weapon of choice”. The Viking people believed that by wearing Thor’s symbol would honour him therefore in turn he would protect the Viking who wore it. The symbol was worn mostly as a necklace or pendant. If someone insulted a God there would be punishment of up to one and a half years of banishment.
Above: Thor with his mighty “hammer of the sky's”
Thor’s war hammer jewellery
Viking clothing was made from linen, wool or fur. How the clothes fitted depended on the climate they lived in. The cooler climates meant they wore snugger clothes. The warmer the climate, the more loosely the clothes fitted. The Vikings liked bright colors and would create dyes from natural sources. They did not use pockets in their clothing so they either tied their items to themselves by using a belt, or they would hang them from a pin at the front of their garments.
Viking women wore an ankle length dress with an apron and a shawl. If she was married, she would wear a scarf around her head that was knotted below each ear.
Viking men would wear tunics, jerkins, pants held up with a sash or drawstring and leather boots.
Men and women's clothes were often decorated with fancy braiding made by the women. They would also both wear cloaks of linen or fur depending on the climate. Vikings did not use knots or buttons. They held up their clothes by using decorative brooches, which were often very intricate and made out of gold, silver and bronze.
The Vikings had many different forms of art. They had painting, wood crafting, metal working, poetry, storytelling and glass work. The Vikings learned most of what they knew from overseas experience and trade. The Vikings loved recreational exercises like telling and writing poetry and stories.
The Viking's instruments included
pan flutes, horn pipes, lyre, rebec, harp and lurs. The main part in Viking music was the singing. Viking music sounded very like when the hobbits celebrate after taking Isengard in the movie “Lord of the Rings”. It was very jumpy and almost fairytale-ish. The Vikings weren't just raiders ,looters and warriors but loved to play and relax.
Vikings held a festival that could go on for days when a Chieftain or Nobelman died. The Vikings did this to celebrate the mans life and to help grant a safe passage to Valhalla. They never celebrated a woman’s death. When Vikings celebrated Valhalla they would all have been drunk and full to the gut with roast boar and bread. The Vikings burned the body of the Chieftain or Nobel in a longboat along with a young lady to keep him company, a cow, four chickens, his sword and armour, all of his clothes and two servants. All of these items were burned along with the Chieftain or Nobel to keep company, protect and honour the dead man.
< Here a burning long boat laden with goods and offerings carries the dead man to Valhalla.
Vikings did kill, plunder, rob, steal and attack people and villages but they were so much more... They were a civilization only crushed because of one defeat in battle. If they had won that Battle of Hastings they would have flourished for centuries to come. Vikings were a strong, wealthy and nomadic people who knew how, when and what to do at the right time. They were the civilization that changed the course of history in Europe and will never be forgotten.
Title page: Helmet =flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2580159054 Longboat head=flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/20457444 House=www.geograph.ie/photo/1255183
Slide 2) Map= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Viking_expans... Long Boat= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Viking_longsh...
Slide 3) Viking helmet + axe=flickr.com/photos/bergie/3769412120/
Slide 4) Tapestry= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oseberg_tapes... Sword Hilt=www.flickr.com/photos/vintagedept/4498119478/
Slide 5) House1= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Viking_house_... House2= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stöng_Viking...
Slide 6) Armour and weapons= flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2853041155
Slide 7) Boar= www.flickr.com/photos/briangratwicke/3595133084/ Crab= http://www.flickr.com/photos/foxypar4/2334761926/Slide 8) Viking Man= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eiríksstaði...
Slide 9) gold Viking Wedding ring= fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:The_Ring.JPG
Slide 10) Baby= www.flickr.com/photos/peasap/2954792591/
Slide 11) Viking Children= http://www.flickr.com/photos/archeon/514831259/
Slide 12) Me= My pictures (documents on my computer)
Slide 13) Viking alphabet= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/file:Viking_alphabet...
Slide 14) “Rune” stone= http://www.flickr.com/photos/mararie/2035204481/
Slide 15) Thor= www.flickr.com/photos/viking_thor_hammer... Thor’s war hammer= http://www.flickr.com/photos/paffi/4163653366/ Slide 16) Viking clothes= flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/384916123/
Slide17) Picture stone= flickr.com/photos/mararie/2171469590/ Double flutes= www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3371082787
Slide 18) Funeral= commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Viking_funera...
Slide19) Dead Viking= flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/395517022
Site/Book BibliographySite: Vikings Wikipedia Creative commons
Book: “Going to war in Viking times” by Christopher Gravett “Back to basics, The Vikings” by McRay books “The Viking News” by Rachel Wright “Viking” by Eye Witness Books “Life of the ancient Vikings” by Hazel Richardson “What life was like when longships sailed” by Alexandra and Virginia