5 things you didn’t know about Vikings


1. With all the pillaging and murdering, the common perception is that Vikings were rugged, dirty and smelly, but actually Viking men were surprisingly clean. Not only did they bathe once a week, but tweezers, combs, ear cleaners and razors have been unearthed at Viking sites.

2. Blond hair was the colour of choice in Viking culture, so they would use strong soap to bleach their hair and beards blond. This also had the added benefit of eliminating head lice!

3. Some of the words we use today we inherited from the Vikings – anger, hell, ugly, weak, skull and slaughter all come from Old Norse. Perhaps even more surprisingly, we can also thank the Vikings for the words cake, freckles, husband and wife.

4. The Vikings’ penchant for kidnapping and taking slaves is widely known, but these slaves eventually became part of the population. As a result the Vikings ended up as a very diverse group of people, with Italians, French, Russians, Spaniards and Portuguese all living together.

5. Although Vikings did murder and pillage (with a particular fondness for destroying anything religious), only a small percentage of the population were warriors. Most Vikings were farmers, supporting their families by raising cattle and sowing barley, rye and oats. They also worked as international merchants and built up an extensive and profitable trade network.

To find out many more surprising historical facts, pick up a copy of All About History today.