Source: Kristijan Arsov (2019)
Though we may think about Vikings only as warriors, they were actually a complex and layered culture. These resources will tell you more about the everyday life of the Viking people, from where they lived, what they ate, even to what games they played.
The Saxons generally built their houses of wood although, after they had accepted Christianity, some of their churches were built in stone. Of course, at the time, people had been building in wood for thousands of years, so they would have known far more about making wooden buildings than we do today and they had far more timber to choose from. This article provides an overview of the different types of buildings in Viking settlements, including how they were made, and how they were heated and cooled.
Only a few Vikings lived in towns. Most of them lived in the country in Longhouses. The longhouse had usually one large room. The walls were made of wood, in areas where it was plentiful, and the roof was covered with turf.
Have you ever wondered what kind of colours were used in Scandinavia during the Viking Age, and which kind of materials they extracted the colours from? If so, then continue reading, and you will be able to add the authentic Viking colours to your own palette.
During the Viking age, most people lived in the countryside around the world and that was of course also the case for the people in Scandinavia. These people lived in small villages that consisted of six to seven farms. A tight little community like this probably created some strong and close ties with their friends and family. This article describes what these villages and the houses and other buildings in them looked like.
The food the Vikings ate was very different to the type of food we eat today. This article talks about what foods the Vikings ate, how they grew them or imported them, and how they cooked.
The consumption of fish was an important part of life in the early medieval period and therefore the catching, preparation, storage and cooking played an equally significant role in everyday life. This article talks about how the Vikings caught and prepared fish, and the impact fishing had on Viking life.
A good party is something which was enjoyed as much by the people of the ninth to the eleventh centuries as is it today and the role of Feast-Giver was one to be enjoyed as well as admired. The feast hall was, in itself, a sight to behold. Great halls decorated with fine wall hangings; kept warm with fires, lamps and people; the colour and splendour of the clothes kept for such occasions all added to the atmosphere. This article talks about not only how and why Vikings celebrated with feasts, but also why they often fasted.
Provides a description of how to build a Viking style oven and how Vikings would have used it to cook their food.
The everyday life of the Viking family, every day, year in and year out, was a struggle to maintain life: to provide for a roof over everyone's head, to stay warm and to prepare food. During much of the year it was easy to get the food; but it takes a long time to prepare it, and one must think ahead and gather, dry it and put it away for the long winter. This website provides a list of Viking era recipes that you can try at home!
This website lists the archaeological digs were Viking food was found, and what these digs are able to tell us about what Vikings ate.
This article describes the different drinks in Viking culture, who drank them, and when. This includes water, beer, mead and wine. It also describes the role that drinking played in celebrations.
This website describes the differences between how Viking men and women dressed and what they made their clothes out of.
Nowadays it is common to see people wearing various accoutrements such as earrings, necklaces, pendants, or rings. The Viking Age was no different and Scandinavian fashion, both female and male, commonly featured the use of dress accessories which served a practical purpose of fastening clothing but also as a way to display wealth and status. This article provides a brief discussion on the use and place of Scandinavian brooches, pendants and pins in England.
Our knowledge of the colours that were used during the Viking Age derives from excavations of burial sites, where the archeologists have been lucky enough to find remains of textiles. The people buried at these sites were mostly from the upper class, and therefore it is anyone’s guess if the common people wore colourful clothes. This article describes how Vikings would have likely dyed their clothes and what colours they could have possibly made.
In the Viking Age clothes did not just have a practical purpose, but many of them also dressed with the intent to show their social status and to appeal to the other sex. This article lists the kind of clothes different sections of Viking society would have worn and why.
This article describes the grooming habits of the Vikings, with lots of references to primary source materials and lots of images.
Beads (along with pottery, nails and knives) are the single most common items found in pre-Christian Viking graves. However, since making beads by hand is extremely labor-intensive, beads were valuable and expensive. Beads were passed down to one's younger relatives, gathered up during raids, and eagerly purchased at the great market towns such as Haithabu (Hedeby).
An extensive look at the embroidery and designs used by Vikings. It includes pictures of common designs and patterns.
This article, originally put together to help actors make historically accurate costumes, gives an in-depth look at the clothes Viking men would have worn.
Finds of clothes from the Viking period are rare. These often consist of small pieces of material preserved by chance. Our knowledge about Viking clothes is supplemented by written sources, as well as clothes depicted on small figures and tapestries.
This article talks about how Vikings viewed illness and medication, based on evidence from ancient poems.
We have very little information at all about Viking medical practices. It is thought that women were probably the primary medical practicioners. This article lists the information we do have about medical practices, mainly from the sagas.
In addition to magical arts, the medical arts were also practiced in the Norse era. Classical herbal remedies appear to have been known, along with local herbs specific to the Norse region. Medical treatments consisted of: lancing; cleaning wounds; anointing; bandaging; setting broken bones; the preparation of herbal remedies; and midwifery.
This article discusses the types of money used by Vikings, and what archaeological finds of coins can tell us about Viking culture.
Woodworking would have been a common skill at least at the level of being able to execute simple repairs, as even modern homeowners know today. Some more skilled craftsmen, as with the Mästermyr artisan, would have been more of a general "handyman" and perhaps were itinerant craftsmen at times. Specialists in various wood arts did exist, however, for the Old Norse literature records specialized boat-builders as well as expert homebuilders and carpenters. This article describes the different types of woodworking Vikings would have used.
The Vikings were great traders, travelling far and wide buying and selling goods. This interactive website shows what a trader would have looked like, and lists some of the items they may have traded.
This Viking Game must rank as one of history's great board games. It was at its most popular during the Dark Ages in Northern Europe. This was a period when very few records were kept and when populations were always moving. Like so much of the history of the Dark Ages our knowledge of the Viking Game is patchy. The mystery of the game is now half solved as a result of archaeological research.
Singing and playing music were important to the Vikings, both in everyday life and for festive occasions. They sang songs when they were happy and when they were sad. They danced, sang songs and played their instruments when they had celebrations of some kind. They had songs to accompany them when working, making the work easier. They sang love songs, and lullabies for their children. This website provides links to articles about Viking music and to samples of what Viking music might have sounded like.
Traders, raiders, and artists? When Vikings are conjured in the popular imagination they clasp swords rather than chisels, but many of the Viking Age objects found in the East Midlands demonstrate intricate craftsmanship that still survives after a thousand years. This article looks at the art of Vikings in the East Midlands area.
Music has since we were cavemen been part of our culture, and that was of course also the case in the Viking age. Today we can still find the remains of the musical instruments in our soil that the Vikings used during their lifetime. The archaeologists have found a wide range of Viking instruments, and many of them still look like musical instruments that are being used today in some parts of Eastern Europe. This article lists some of the instruments we know the Vikings used.
What kind of games did the Vikings play, when they were not busy with their daily routines? Just like today, life in the Viking age was not just all about work. There have been undertaken many excavations at Viking burial sites by the archaeologists, and not everything they have found has been was weapons, clothes, and treasures, but also games and entertainment from the Viking age. This article lists some of the things Vikings would have done for fun.
This website provides a basic summary of Viking law and government.
The Viking society was divided into a hierarchy of four social classes. At the bottom were the slaves, above the slaves where the Karls, in the middle where the Jarls, and at the top where the royals, such as the Kings and Queens. This article describes the four classes and the mythology behind their creation.
Like most medieval peoples, the Vikings had a rigidly stratified caste system. At the bottom of the social order existed those who were unfree: these were termed þræll or "thrall", which means literally, "an unfree servant." This article describes the practice of slavery in Viking society and how slaves were treated.
This article talks about names in the Viking world and the writing of Old Norse language.
Eight year old Gisli from Reyjavik, Iceland, talks to you in his native language, the genuine language of the Vikings.
The runic alphabet that was used during the Viking Age is called Younger Futhark. These runes can be found on hundreds of runestones throughout Scandinavia. This alphabet does not consist of many runes, and that is because the Norse language evolved a lot during the Iron Age, which meant that the runic alphabet was reduced from 24 to 16 runes. Each rune has its own name and sound. Some of the runes are used to spell the same letter, for instance, the Týr rune is used for the letters “t” and “d”, and kaun is used for “g” and “k”. The article includes a list of the runes and a video on how to pronounce the runes.