7 Things You May Not Know About The Vikings Part 1
It’s hard to truly know how the Vikings lived. Their stories and way of life were passed down verbally until close to the end of the Viking age and later. Much of what is known about them comes from the Poetic Edda, a collection of poems dating to the 9th and 10th centuries, as well as the Prose Edda, a collection of tales based on older stories. The Prose Edda was written several centuries after the Vikings were converted to Christianity and comes from stories passed down through the generations. Many of the civilizations that the Vikings raided or traded with documented their experiences with the Northmen and we get a fair amount of information from these writings.
Join us for this 7 part series as we learn more about the myths and facts of Viking life.
The Vikings Were More Clean and Hygienic Than Other Cultures of the Time.
Evidence from both literature and archeological sites show that the Vikings were not the filthy savages they’re commonly portrayed as.
“Combed and washed every thoughtful man should be” a line from the Reginsmál in the Poetic Edda (exact quote varies with each translation), is one of the first clues to show their cleanliness.
They took great pride in their appearance, keeping their hair washed and trimmed. A soap made of animal fat and ash was used and would be left in their hair to bleach it, as blonde hair was considered more desirable. It is believed that the women kept their hair long and were responsible for the cutting of men’s hair. In nearly every archeological dig, instruments used for grooming have been found. Typically made from bone, wood, or antler; tweezers, combs, toothpicks, and ear wax scrapers are among the most common items with the occasional addition of washbasins
Pictured: Modern reproduction of hygiene items found in archeological digs
Viking men likely kept their beards long and the Brennu-Njáls saga suggests that those who couldn’t grow beards were mocked. An antler carving from the Viking age (pictured below) shows a helmeted man with neat, trimmed hair and a long beard and mustache.
The monk John of Wallingford in his chronicles wrote:
”The Danes, thanks to their habit to comb their hair every day, to bathe every Saturday, to change their garments often, and set off their persons by many such frivolous devices. In this manner, they laid siege to the virtue of the married women, and persuaded the daughters even of the nobles to be their concubines.”
Yes, this means what you think it does. The people of England were such irregular bathers the Vikings were having no trouble seducing their women. Of course, they were known for stealing women during their raids, but would you be surprised if some of them may have gone willingly to get away from their smelly husband?!
All of the above (and more!) inspired our line of beard grooming products and can be found in our Etsy Shop!
Know any info about the Viking's grooming habits that we missed? Drop a comment below!
Check back soon for Part 2 and more!